Let's talk about Borderlands 3, and how we can influence Gearbox decision to make sure its not another Borderlands the presequel

With everyone getting excited for the announcement of Borderlands 3, i wanted to discuss what we the gamers, can do to help Gearbox build the best game they can possible make. So i wanted to take a look at the past three games and see what those games got right and wrong, what they should in the future. And Borderlands the Presequel is the perfect example why we should all have these type of discussions and in more depth. Now let me be clear about something before i continue, i have no problem with the presequel. I personally thought it was a cool game, telling Jacks story before he went insane and power hungry in Bl2 was a neat idea. Aside from that, the presequel fell flat with the players, this is partly due to gearbox rushing the game in a unstable state. I don’t know if you guys know this but the presequel was a broken mess. Missions were buggy, the game would crash if you tried to grind three purples at a time. The game was not ready for public consumption, now dont get me wrong is was playable, but there were some obvious problems with the game that a casual observer would have noticed. Now some people would argue “BL2 was the same thing, buggy and broke.” But the presequel was more than buggy, it was a total chaotic mess, and i dont want to speculate but this rushed game was partly due to 2K Australia wanted to peel away destiny players, because after destiny released, BL2 saw a major player population drop, so 2K released the presequel 2 years after BL2 was out to take a slice of the player population pie from destiny. Now this is all speculative i know, but what else can i argue for a broken game. Now i dont wanna spend too much time on this one point, cus then i feel like my arguments are overshadowed by my tinfoil hat. Regardless,the other problem the presequel had was a stupidly compressed skill gap. If you take a look at BL2 over powering level system, that game has a very high skill gap. For a brief refresher, overpower or “OP” levels were this added leveling system that augment your gear to accommodate the enemies reaching a much, much higher level than your character. In order for you to obtain these levels, you had to run the raid a total of eight times. Each level progressively getting difficult. Forcing players to think of new ways to approach new ways to each fight, while also making slag a more powerful element. It gave a new dimension to the overall games quality, and it personally gave me more hours to enjoy the game. Now fast forward to the presequel, Not a whole lot of difficulty, despite UVHM being implemented just a few months after. Which brings me to my next point, why did we need to pay 10 bucks for a new playthrough? Personally, i feel like that mode could’ve been shipped with the base game itself, but of course the question is, is the holodome worth 10 bucks itself? I think not. But you guys let me know if it was for you, The holodome honestly was just a huge arena with a repeatable badass round for rewards that really arent worth the money, but i digress. Now if were gonna talk what really made the presequel really bad, was the over simplification of its own map design.What i mean by this is each map essentially boiled to clearing a room of bad guys, move to the next room repeat again and again. The maps themselves just had one big area with a straight path to the boss in the end. Each map basically did the same design with one lane, especially in the claptrap dlc. The game also had rooms basically had no purpose other than to further the story, i.e. the meriffs office.
Now lets talk characters. Each character in the presequel was very well done, each had a very different playstyle and have depth in each their skill trees. Although nisha was ridiculously overpowered, having aim bot with stat boost, Tombstone and various other skills that made nisha a powerhouse. She really didnt require any skill to use her, you just literally point and shoot. And with the game not having a op system, everything in the game just gets murked. Or with claptrap action packages being completely random with no control of what he chooses, what Gearbox should’ve done is have claprtap load up two action packages, and have the player choose which he prefers. Keep it random of course but the player chooses the one he/she prefers best. And since were on the subject of action packages, lets dicuss the flaws of some of them. The minion has a aim of a fly trying to get out of a wide open window, Torque Fiesta hurts you and your friends. Or rainbow coolant literally just obscurring your field of view, or how one shot wonder affects everyone. None of these skills do more harm than good for claptrap as a viable character. Now i know those skills do have some benefits to the team, like having unlimited grenades, or have claptrap stack maniacal laughter so he can heal pretty fast. But your better off not spending a point in either of those skills cus it will irritate your team doing worthless “skills”. Claptrap really was a cool idea but in execution he was sorta a random mess, and if he is to ever make a return needs to be reviewed to more a useful character, aside of him being completely random with no self control.
Another thing that really turned off alot of players from this game was the lack of content this game provided. We really didnt have that much end game content to play with, the way we could make the most of the end game content was replay the entire game, fight the reskinned raid boss, the holodome or run the Haxor arena(which is my favorite thing to do in this game). Another major problem with this game was the reskinned weapons. Apart from the new look, these guns are just reskinned from BL2.
Major Tom, Fatale, Cheatcode, Sledges Shotty, Magma, Pitchfork, Invader, all these guns werent changed apart from their new look. But most of them really were just the same guns from BL2. Now to their credit, the laser weapons are fun to use and require skill to use. But why couldnt we have all six weapon manufactures develop laser weapons, Vladof and scav dont have any laser weapons which personally for me was very disappointed.
Now the last point i want to make is the lack of immersion this game had, i strongly believe that making this game a Australian theme game really fell flat with it audience. I want to be very clear, i have nothing against Australians , i have a couple of a aussie friends. They agree with me that the presequel over did the accent, and for me personally it just felt odd. Every npc, enemy just felt silly with their accent. Tho it does make lol when i see a midget screaming in that accent. But aside from the awkward theme, most of the missions designs were linear, and there was this major inside joke where the npc apologizes for messing up and leaving you to defend a thing, If you recall, felicity trying to open a door, defending claptrap, defending the bug in the dlc. And all these missions literally have the npc apologize to you as soon as they mess up. I know this is a minor thing, but after this happens more than 3 times in the main game, it gets old really fast. Its hard to explain this concept but for those who know what im saying, you know what i mean.
Now the question is, what can we the gearbox community do to influence their decisions to make the best Borderlands and not another presequel. We need to talk in specific detail and have discussions on game mechanics that we think might be cool. And look, its best to talk about this now, while gearbox is going through the conception phase, where theyre just spit balling ideas. And with that being said, i want to thank you for reading long college thesis paper. I have been working on my writing as a gaming journalism, let me know how i did. Thanks for reading, slap that Like button if you agree, argue with me if your disagree…Peace guys.

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Not to be the grammar police but- shorter paragraphs would do wonders in making what you said readable- and more easily understood. As it stands, one look at this wall of text and most folks will abandon any thought of trying to see what it is you have to say…

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This. 1000%.

As to your post, Gearbox would do well to make BL3 in much the same manner as TPS. Why? Because it had new ideas. And for the most part, those new ideas were wildly successful. Laser weapons, the grinder, moxtails and luneshine, glitch weapons, zero gravity, and the new skill trees; all of it were a major success with dang near everyone who played TPS. It is unfortunate that a lot of the loot system was copy-pasted from BL2, but I blame that more on marketing and 2K’s desire to get the game out earlier, not any design choice taken by the dev team. I’m sure they would’ve done more given enough time. As long as they don’t rush the release of BL3 I don’t see any issue there.

To your point on OP levels, I don’t feel to confident about that. When you look at the way the characters were designed in TPS, it might actually serve to make them even more OP.

For starters, think of how some of the healing skills work. Nisha’s Celestial COM red text effect scales with her damage; the more she does, the better she heals. Now, most enemies will have kind of big shields and tissue paper health. So she will basically have constant regen from Bonafide Grit killing all the trash, and be doing an even more absurd amount of damage (relative to the tiny health pool of enemies) that she will be extremely hard to kill.

Claptrap, on the other hand, might be hurt by OP levels. His healing skills (at least the novas, not sure about killbot) scale based on his unmodified health last I heard. Since that would stop scaling after OP 0, his healing skills would get less and less effective the more his health pool was modified by gear. It might actually make him more dependent on his AS for healing.

One thing I really want to emphasize are your points about the characters in TPS. Your criticisms have been voiced by many others over TPS’ lifetime, but I feel that some of it can be remedied by a simple change in perspective.
Firstly[quote=“the1pnk, post:1, topic:1551608”]
Although nisha was ridiculously overpowered, having aim bot with stat boost, Tombstone and various other skills that made nisha a powerhouse. She really didnt require any skill to use her, you just literally point and shoot. And with the game not having a op system, everything in the game just gets murked.
[/quote]

Nisha is similar in many ways to Salvador. The most difficult thing about her was learning how to optimize her build to make her a powerhouse. Anyone can just throw a Shredifier on her with Tombstone active and say “she wrecks face” but they wouldn’t be anywhere near the power of a properly specced Jakobs Nisha. Like Sal, she needs an optimal build, especially because, unlike Sal, she can’t crit share, moxxi heal and do damage with guns, or do weapon swap shenanigans. She has no notable ammo regen, so if you don’t maximize her damage, she will run out of ammo and do 0 DPS. What other character actually has to pace their damage in a way that won’t leave them as a sitting duck?

Optimizing her to that point was challenging, and required skill. It’s a skill that isn’t acknowledged as much, because that skill loses value as soon as someone posts a build guide on YouTube and everyone copies it. But it is still a skill, and one that takes time to learn at that.

Even after that though, she still only gains power on a kill, mostly in an atmosphere. Otherwise, Athena and Jack have access to far more potential power than Nisha. Even with Tombstone active, she has middling DPS compared to Jack and Athena under optimal conditions. She may reach those optimal conditions easier, and thus we may say that she is the most powerful for the least effort. However, Gearbox has a character like that in every game, so it’s not like Nisha will be going away for BL3.

That’s kind of the point. GB really went out of their way to drive home the fact that Claptrap was a random mess. It’s in his personality and in his skills. The whole point of Claptrap is that you have to be able to adjust to whatever crap he gives you (or be thankful when it’s something useful). If you can choose what you want to do, then you can always choose the best option for the situation, and it kind of takes away that infuriating but unique aspect of having to deal with his crap.

(Also, how the heck would choosing skills in the middle of combat even work? It would feel so wonky and break the flow of everything if I had too much time, but would be just be a useless formality if it gave me only 5 seconds. Then it might as well just give me the “better” skill that I would have chosen anyway and be done with it. The illusion of choice applies heavily here, as there is no way anyone would choose anything over gun wizard, or ever take med bot or the clap-in-the-box.)

Also, since you brought up Nisha and the lack of “skill” it takes to play her, if you give players the ability to choose which action package they get, it takes away the skill of using Claptrap. If you get Rubber Ducky during the Sentinel fight, you may do things you wouldn’t have done otherwise. You may jump more often to get a bonus from strafing run or precision strike O2 kits, or you may slam more often to abuse Cryogenic Exhaust Manifold and cycle through action packages or abuse Tripleclocked. However, if you had the choice between rubber ducky and mechro magician, would you really choose rubber duck?Probably not.

And isn’t one of the dimensions of “skill” weighing risks and benefits, and finding solutions that maximize the potential upsides and limit negative outcomes? Action packages in that sense are the embodiment of skill, as you have to figure out how to maximize whichever one you get, or maximize your chance of getting a desirable package for the situation. All of this plays into “skill”.

A lot of the criticisms of this nature (randomness from the action packages, aimbot for Nisha) stem from the fact that players don’t feel in control. However it is exactly that element of design that GB should experiment more with. In what other game would YOU have access to the same aimbot the enemy murders you with? What other game will FORCE you to adapt to whatever horse manure it feels like flinging your way? Compared to the Action Skills of BL1 and 2 (which were fairly vanilla), these are dynamic, engaging, and unique. They are totally different from anything they’ve done before, and they should try to capture more of that magic with BL3. Sure, some players won’t like it. But it added a lot of depth to the characters, in terms of both skill and personality. It would be a shame if they didn’t pursue these ideas further in the next game.

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TL;DR

I also think that GBX already knows that TPS wasn’t a hit.

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TPS was a good game. That said, BL3 is not being outsourced to another developer. With the track record Gearbox has when it comes to Borderlands, I have full confidence that BL3 will be amazing like the first two games.

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The pre sequel is personally more enjoyable than BL2 in many aspects, but the levelling is pretty bs. I started a new Jack utilising a pet build and surprisingly, since starting UVHM, I have only levelled up once. From 49 to 50. And I’ve finished systems jammed. The levelling is stupid, in normal I was 3-4 levels lower than most enemies. Why is that a thing?

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I think the philosophy behind TPS’s leveling is “there’s always something new to learn!”

j/k… who knows why. TPS’s scaling and leveling is much gentler than BL2’s (I think just about everyone who has played both games realizes that you don’t “outgrow” gear as quickly in TPS, but it’s not as bad as BL1 where I was able to use a level 18 Firehawk pistol well into level 40+ in one instance), so maybe this issue is the byproduct of this gentler level scaling and the actual amount of combat and missions you face, and thus XP earned, as the game is played through. Getting a balance just right like that could take a lot of playtesting and tweaking and maybe they just fell short in that area.

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