I love your work as a general rule. For a very long time I didn’t play fps, I felt like I couldn’t figure out the controls and that it was too fast paced for me to process. Then I decided one day that I was going to figure it out and picked up Borderlands. And I’ve been in love ever since. Your work is the scale by which all others are measured. The controls are simple but effective. The worlds are rich and filled with adventure. Your “classes” are enough different that each playthrough is a new experience and I want to play them all. The same is true for Battleborn (or it will be after you’ve added a few more missions). My husband and I have played through the current missions almost 200 times at this point (no pvp, I felt physically ill when I’ve tried it in other games). I enjoy this game a great deal.
All that being said, I have to bring up something I detest and find to be a cheap strategy. We see it creeping in during Borderlands: The Presequel, and it contributes greatly (almost single-handedly) to that being my least favorite of the franchise. I hate these narrow walkways and islands and the proliferation of knockback as a strategy for killing my toon. In my opinion, knockback only makes sense for characters that work better at a distance and tend to be squishy. Knockback for these types of characters makes sense as a survival strategy. One of the most ridiculous mechanics I’ve ever seen is a melee character that has knockback (your not the first to do it, this has been a peeve of mine for a while) because the character knocks you back then has to run you down again to reengage. A person that’s a close fighter wouldn’t ever let you get out of their range. Boxers irl are a prime example. Guys with reach want to keep some distance. Guys without reach want to get in tight and close and stay there. A knock up or stun would make more sense for melee range crowd control.
I don’t have a problem with knockback as a crowd control method when it makes sense, but coupled with your maps (I’m looking mainly at Tempest) it takes frustration to a whole new level. Having to keep my back to a wall isn’t strategic genius. You funnel me into areas where I can’t use mobility and in many cases can’t even use my skills because they’ll either take me directly off the map or cause me to bounce out of control and end me. You hobble me and expect me to enjoy the challenge. It’s not challenging or interesting. It’s frustrating. Why aren’t you giving me challenges that try my skill at using the tools you’ve given me rather than taking all that away? Saboteur and Heliophage are the least played missions on our box because I dislike this combination of narrow aisles and knockback. And the proliferation of these narrow spots reduces the bonus I can pick up because it almost without exception falls off into the void (final boss on Renegade, mini bosses in Saboteur). I generally love the encounters themselves. The defense targets in Saboteur are challenging and total bedlam, fun, fun, fun. But the narrow aisles and islands to get from spot to spot make me want to throw my controller and I’m generally not a temper tantrum throwing sort. And what can I say about Heliophage. The bosses hit hard, there’s lots and lots of adds, you fight boss after boss each with their own strategy. It could stand all on it’s own for challenge. But you had to add a cheap, uninventive mechanic that doesn’t test my skill with your tools, it only tests whether I can run endlessly so I don’t get hit or whether I can keep my back to a wall. And now I’ve found the bosses using a suck you in and knock you back technique which negates keeping my back to a wall… So frustrating (please read here “not fun”).
People will no doubt make comments about how I suck as a player. That is probably true. I don’t dispute that. No I don’t play with a full team, I’m sure the experience is completely different. There’s just the two of us and we’re playing your game our way, which is your tagline. We have enjoyed hundreds of hours together in your games, in your worlds. My biggest concern at this point isn’t whether you will read this and change Battleborn to better align with my tastes and preferences. My greatest concern is that this new design (which actually isn’t new) will find it’s way into Borderlands 3. I encourage you to look at your original creations before you make that sort of decision. I’d be willing to wager that one of the things listed when people talk about what they love about your games isn’t “I love how I can fall off or be knocked off the world.”