Story Writing, Continuity, Story Direction, Spoilers

First I wanted to say to Gearbox thank you for this game. Here’s hoping they actually read and pay attention to these forums.

With that out of the way I attempted to watch every single video and read every article critiquing the game and it’s obvious that the game itself, the mechanics, are a vast improvement to the predecessors. The problem I keep getting is I’m being told “the story is horrible.” Even knowing people said that I was not prepared for what the game does to the vault hunters and crimson raiders.

The whole situation that happened to Lilith, which…I think unlikely, is possible. This sets up the story, gets some mechanics going in the game but doesn’t ultimately remove the character. Plot was created without having to completely destroy something that was already established.

Cut to Ava and Maya. While I initially didn’t like Ava she started to grow on me. She may have only had one side quest that was mostly like “boo hoo my life was so bad before maya picked me up” but Ava had a lot of potential as an apprentice to Maya and I was really excited to see that evolve.

Then about the midpoint of the game happens and the writers decided that they wanted to repeat the Lilith scene but add more drama. While drama can be a powerful motivator, all that was done in this case was prove to me that the writers don’t care about this franchise at all. It is one hundred percent obvious that the characters and community were completely disrespected.

The Maya death scene was handled wrong, taking a powerful character and killing them off so easily it made them a whimpering victim. Maya had time to notice something was wrong and get an entire message out to Ava before she died. In the time it took her to do that she’d have been able to shoot Troy in the face, slit his throat, or dash him against the wall. Instead she simply stood there and was turned into dust. On top of all of that, upon the vault hunters return, everyone learns of Maya’s death. We got a small scene where they lament a little then decide to soldier on because it’s war. We get a small bit of shouting then it’s basically never mentioned again and no one seems want to really point the finger at the culprit: Ava.

Ava is currently a character whom could have been removed from the game and no one would have noticed. This passing the torch bit to a completely undeserving character and having to kill off a good character that just started to get more development? More than unacceptable. The dynamic Gearbox had going between the two characters was very interesting but I simply do not feel that Ava has the strength to stand alone and now the whole Maya thing has destroyed any interest in that character.

I obviously feel very strongly about this and also do not know what plans Gearbox has. I also understand that sometimes people in these things die. Its also likely going to be true that Maya is dead forever but that in and of itself irks me to no end. This situation, above everything else, literally took the magic out of Borderlands for me. I had gotten so mad initially that I had to quit for a while. Even after starting back up I ignored all side quests and pushed through the main story in hopes that something cool would happen but even victory over the twins felt hollow. I did not feel a hero this time. I feel defeated. Now I don’t feel as if any of the characters matter, I don’t feel as if the writers will give any of the character any thought as to what they can actually do and consistency will fall the way of bad comic book writing. At this point, in order to be able to play through the rest of the game, they’d need to add the ability to skip all cut scenes because I just can’t bring myself to go through this main story any longer. Dramatic I know but it is how I feel.

As always there are ways the writers could still use this situation to achieve the impossible while still telling a good story. In Borderlands 2 Jack refers to the new you stations specifically. These things are acknowledged as something that exists in the world rather than just being a player character mechanic. Why not have a situation where Tanis with her new found powers was able to figure something out, find Maya’s code digistructed in one of the New You’s and pull her out in time for some amazing scene? Two sirens having the same power has also now been canonized by the Calypso twins both being power parasites. They may have had to have a bond but who’s to say inheriting the power of a previous Siren couldn’t be a strong bond? Lets also not talk about how cool it would be to have Krieg team up with Tanis and Eva to do this.
On top of that we have seen that, through various sciences, people have been able to be brought back from death.

Ultimately I feel that doing some sort of resurrection through new you and Eridian would be emotional and heroic. Some may think reversing Maya’s death would detract from Ava but I counter that her dynamic with Maya together was amazing and having a team siren like that would be endearing and fun. There is a lot more to be done with Sirens as we’ve still hardly even jumped into what their powers are, can do, or their purpose and origin.

This whole thing felt so contrived and forced…it bothered me so much I just really wanted to get my thoughts out there.

I look forward to thoughts and comments.

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Excellent post!

I agree wholeheartedly.

I would also like to add that giving us the AMAZING teaser of The Red Watcher saying “War is coming” at the end of the PreSequel, making us wait five years with that awesomely mysterious character and that oh-so-suspenseful line swirling around in our heads, and then having BL3 come out and having neither The Watcher or the “War is coming” line be included or mentioned in the game IN ANY WAY was honestly downright insulting.

Also, in BL2, the characters of BL1 played an incredibly central role in every bit of the story.

In BL3, for some unusual reason (and I suspect it was to attract a bunch of NEW players who could get into a game populated by mainly new characters so those new players wouldn’t have to feel in the dark if they hadn’t played any of the previous instalments), they chose to basically ignore, give a tiny amount of lip service to, or unceremoniously kill off, the main & DLC characters from BL2 and TPS and focus on either obscure characters (Aurelia, who, in the grand scheme of things, and despite how much I loved playing her, was pretty obscure, and Rhys, who I honestly didn’t even know about at all as I sadly have barely played Tales) or brand new characters (Vaughan, Ava, Lorelei, etc).

As much fun as I’m having with the looting, shooting, and new and improved mechanics, I’m pretty upset and betrayed feeling about the story and character choices.

If they are choosing to withhold The Watcher / “War is coming” for a future instalment just to make sure all us old school fans buy that title, that’s ■■■■■■■■ and makes me quite angry!

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Yeah. Main emphasis on the passing the torch to a relatively undeserving character.
They’re going to have to put their best writers in to making Ava awesome to make it worthwhile.

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Just thought I’d mention that Vaughn is actually from Tales from the Borderlands too (which I fully recommend playing, as the story is great and the humour is on point).

Also I’ll just add that I too am frustrated we didn’t get to see other characters (Axton, Salvador, Gaige, Athena, Janey etc.) Krieg’s echo logs were nice, but with how much they were pushing the whole ‘all your friends are here’ thing in the early trailers, and how the Pre-sequel ended, I feel a bit cheated.

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I was angry too. You raise a good point about Maya just now getting development. “Wait until the next game where they’ll be an NPC with proper dialogue” seems to be a consistent theme for borderlands vault hunters (they’re improving, slowly), except this time Maya carks it after basically two scenes. Not nice.

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One good thing is that we at least already have pretty well established vault hunters this time. Many of the vault hunters of BL1 and BL2 were basically emotionless and/or not interacting at all with what happened around them. They did that much better in TPS which for me made Aurelia being a bad girl much more sensible as I was basically just waiting for her to turn on everyone for the sake of her own enjoyment. Her character fits the role she got.

On the other hand I think that Ava as a character just wasn’t needed. Like I wrote many times by now, there would’ve been multiple ways of letting the story resolve with the same results without Ava existing at all. On Athenas? Maya leads us through it all. The vault of the Rampager? Troy steals her powers while she defends the vault hunters that were knocked out by the twins “explosive entrance”. The fight vs. Troy? She gets her powers back and then dies while fighting against Tyreen after she absorbed her unconscious brother. The scene on Necrotafeyo? Tannis deploys a shield like Zanes to withstand Tyreens onslaught, problem of Phaselocklessness solved. Also, this way Tyreen could use Phaselock-attacks in the end, so that would make her battle a bit more interesting.

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I agree. The watcher seems to have been completely forgotten. Mind you, I did not run around to the Eridian symbols to listen to that lore. I’m interested in it and will get to it eventually but Tales had absolutely amazing writing. Knowing that it was a different team suggests to me that this team of writers was willing to look at what we had previously but they took the idea of each of the characters and past events but removed the context from all of it. It’s a bit like saying “I’ve eaten amazing chicken before” then giving us something dry and unappetizing.

This mainly happens when a storyteller wants to force a plot point and makes it feel wholly contrived and inorganic. Maya didn’t even have to die for all of this. Maya could have been in a coma with no power, the twins could continue to poke fun at our vegetable friend, Ava could inherit the powers after some trauma and we could have though “crap Maya died” and been left wondering. The emotions that were supposed to be felt here could have been there without writing something that seems so final. At the end Maya could awaken or they could leave that for some DLC with Tanis and Eva finding a way to fix her, powers back, or not.

I’m just tired of the plot point “gotta kill the character for drama”. Too many writers fall back on this.

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The passing of the torch theme has always been a big part of Borderlands but I feel it was always more deserved. The new team always showed their willingness to join the new group after being wronged by the antagonist then built up through the storyline to finally defeat them so I do get a sense of why they’d do it.

My main issue is this feels like the same poor story decision that Diablo 3 suffered from. We get introduced to Deckard Cain’s niece after he had been the voice of lore and story through out two games. She follows in his footsteps and helps us for a while then he dies. I was like crap that sucks but at least we have his niece but then they decide to have us stand there and watch as her cultist mother kills her even though we’re literally three feet away and it would take less than a second to smash the mom’s face. Player agency removed, heroic moment sabotaged by forced plot point, now there is no lore-master and something we loved about the game will never be there again.

The Maya thing feels exactly like that where as Roland didn’t. I think the Roland thing was done right even though it was really sad. At least they paid him respects once it was all over and even named Rolands rest after him.

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Why didn’t Roland have a Shield on that day?!?

RIP.

:joy::joy::weary::weary::disappointed::disappointed::sob::sob:

I think most of the criticism of BL3’s writing revolves around Maya’s death and Ava inheriting her siren torch. The death of Maya itself wouldn’t have been a problem in and of itself. However, it is intrinsically linked to the character of Ava, who is under-developed, over-emphasized, and an unwarranted teenaged deus ex machina.

Unlike other kid NPCs in previous games, such as Tina and Pickle, Ava has no relevant or interesting background story, no unique skills or knowledge to speak of, and no engaging personality worth mentioning. Ava becomes is Maya 2.0 but without the character growth and development. She cheapens Maya’s death and the impact of all the other established characters in the franchise. If Ava wasn’t even introduced, there wouldn’t be as much complaints abotu Maya’s death (there would still be some, but they would be fewer of them and for other reasons).

Jack never makes such a reference. Gearbox has been cited as stating that the New-U stations are not canonical in BL2 and merely a game mechanic using to be consistent with the first BL game.

Not true. If we accept that there are only six sirens in existence at one time, then we know who those six sirens were at the beginning of first Borderlands game: Lilith, Commandant Steele, Angel, Maya, Amara, and Tyreen. Troy doesn’t count as a siren, and only possesses siren traits due to an unusual circumstance (being a twin to an actual siren).

On another note, the idea of Sirens within the game universe was interesting within its own right. However, BL3 changed the direction of Sirens and their importance in the franchise. Before, their role was unknown but was linked to the Eridians in some way. Now, much of what was assumed to be established in previous lore has all changed. Sirens went from six relatively unknown but unique individuals within the whole universe, to being a secret society whose members were pursued by the known population. Originally, the Vault(s) and Eridian culture were isolated to the backwater planet of Pandora. Before Tannis started her extensive studies, much of what was know of the Vault were mostly rumors, heresay, and local legends. Now, legends of the Vaults were actually interplanetary, with the first Vault Hunter being something of a historical figure.

These new permutations of Sirens also weaken the already unique status that Sirens held in the game universe. Originally, there were supposely six and all were female. Now, we find out that there was a seventh male “siren” in the form of Troy. However, the odd circumstances of Troy’s existence could be chalked up to him being twin to an actual siren, which could be believable exception to the rules. Before, there was no word of being a siren as nothing more than mysterious chance or an accident of birth. Now, we learn that “siren-ness” and its accompanying powers could be past down from one siren to another potential siren. Or at least, that is the case with Maya, but it hasn’t been established whether that is possible with all other sirens as well or if Maya is a special case. Originally, the powers of a siren seem to be inherently and intrinsically linked the individual siren they correspond to, marking them as the unique individuals they are. Now, it loks like siren powers can be “downloaded” by anyone with the proper knowledge, though it’s unclear whether this was intentional or accidental in Tannis’ case.

So you have three special cases involving the already-special sirens. You could probably get away with just one such exception within a given story, without having to break down everything that has been established. But having three special cases of sirens all happening at the same time lessens the impact of each of these new “discoveries,” and makes me wonder if the writers actually tried to stay true to previous material, or if they just decided to “■■■■ it” and write whatever the hell they wanted without regard to what was already established.

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I think it was probably this.

Only minimum lip service is given to the vast majority of previous Borderlands lore and characters.

I also wonder if part of their intention was (and I mentioned this in a previous post) to somewhat make this instalment much more open ended and not so intrinsically linked to the previous instalments the way the three previous titles had all been deeply, deeply interlinked with each other via the Vault Hunters from 1 becoming the central mission givers and plot advancers for 2 and the PreSequel providing backstory for many characters from 2 and ending with events that continued the story of 2.

By ignoring or barely mentioning a lot of those details, they could make this instalment much more accessible and fresh to a whole wave of new players and potential long term (or, sadly, short term) fans who may literally have never played any of the previous titles, who could play 3 without constantly thinking “Well, just who are all these people and why don’t I know any of the events they are referencing?”

This, as I’ve also already said, feels insulting at best and like a betrayal at worst.

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Theres 7 sirens. Troy still isnt one but thats what the siren who left the eridian writings said. Shes the 7th with phase leech and locked it away as she died. Typhon and his wife released it by opening the vault and giving ty an troy the power

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Normally I’d agree with you on this but in BL3 you do a side quest for Vaughn in which you go save his “best friend or bestette” from her apparent torture and death by saving her mind from the VR and she has a new body digistructed in just as the New You’s do. Gearbox canonized this technology themselves in their own game so the previous is no longer the case. Also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjOE3feO3OY this is Jack actually quoting what I said so Canonical as of BL2 regardless of what Gearbox may have said for whatever reason. Not to mention a side quest in BL2 of handsome jack telling you to kill yourself. If you jump off of the cliff and die he calls you a sellout after you come back.

That said I do know that an interview was done where a/the writer regrets putting dialog into the New U station but to continue on with Hyperion Digistruct technology in the way they did BL3, even going as far as to show the digistructed monkey shows that the creatures that are digistructed are still alive and able to use things like scent. Maybe the writers are just trying to have fun with it but these situations are still tied to character that the writers want us to become invested in and to keep seeding things into the world that betray or contradict the ongoing important narrative really sucks. They themselves are pushing concepts that give people hope even though we’re basically left sitting here knowing they’re making these decisions and they are likely permanent.

This is why I say I feel abused by the writers as a fan and there are plenty of reasons or ways to make it work once or twice without having to undo everything. The situation BL3 put us in is unique and there are plenty of ways to go with it without breaking the entire narrative. Not to mention that, even if we do not know their intent for the future, this Maya situation feels like a huge misstep, was handled incorrectly, and rather than feeling like it really pushed a good narrative, did nothing but piss off a whole bunch of people instead.

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@Kage

Niiiiiiice.

Honestly, at this point, it would be appreciated if the writers would acknowledge how far they have pushed this somewhat 4th wall breaking mechanic into actual canon via their own continued decisions of including it in the game and find a way to actually use it. Roland not coming back is easily explained by Hyperiod deleting his New U data and blocking it off. We’ve also seen that Sirens with sufficient Eridium are able to do some absolutely wild things and the calypsos proved that. Who says Tannis can’t do something amazingly powerful with that tech while hopped up on a whole bunch of Eridum? Who else would be crazy enough to try?

There is also this quote that shows Gearbox isn’t 100% attached to there being a dedicated “this is how sirens work” stance.

"Um, that’s an interesting question. I mean, there’s a lot of ways that someone can become a Siren. It’s not a de facto X-Men kind of thing. There’s some different conditions that kind of arise. Yeah, Sirens are unique and I feel like we like to keep it a little amorphous. What we like the most is when fans kind of create their own myths and stories about how this kind of stuff happens. As a writer we try not to definitively say one thing because there’s a lot possible. Danny Homan "

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Really? I will need to find that Eridian writing then. Do you know where that writing is, per chance? If that is true, then that completely contradicts what has already been established in BL2, that there are only six sirens. And it further demonstrates the lack of forethought by the BL3 writing team.

That’s still not using a New-U station for actual resurrection, though. Vic (the "bestette) was technically still alive with her head in VR. In the previously stated cases, the person is already dead to begin with. This argument is invalid.

You need to cite your source. Gearbox NEVER canonized the tech within the game story.

Those are quotes that were never released in the final version of the game. They are not canonical, desptie whatever you might want to believe.

An exception that doesn’t define the rule. It’s a 4th wall-breaking mission added for fun and not to be taken seriously. Hell, the fourth campaign DLC entirely breaks the 4th wall. You can cite this as much as you want, but it doesn’t contradict any of the important deaths already occured.

??? Dude, please work on your sentence structure, so you are more cohenrent. But from what I can understand for this, the fact that jabbers can smell things implies that New-U stations are legit. Whatever, that logic doesn’t make sense. Try again. Or don’t.

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This is a pamphlet you can find in The Pre Sequel that references a location mentioned / visited in Borderlands 1.

Read the exhibits.

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[spoiler]It is all so they can bring a rampaging Krieg in on a DLC… he embraces his psycho side since she is gone and goes berserk. Since they dont plan on adding new playables, this means we have to kill him to end it.

Or they bring Maya with Lilith and Maya has different or no powers since Ava took the torch. Just kidding… it was a huge let down and a low point in the story. Not because I liked Maya particularly. I mained Roland but never did endgame Maya. I did like Krieg a lot though so it sucks that he didnt show up and she is gone. Best they can do now is play with him actually being Tinas dad. [/spoiler]

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After all this setup from Pre-Sequel for a “war” this game didn’t really feel like there was much of a war. More like a chase. The fact that the Watcher (Where did that THING go during all of this???) tells Lilith to get “All the Vault Hunters they can get” there is substantially less people in this game period which makes me wonder…

Where did EVERYONE go?
Did they all die during the 6 years between the 2 games? (WTF happened during that time anyways) Or was Lilith such an incompetent leader compared to Roland that she got most of the Crimson Raiders killed and caused everyone else to leave?

Considering some of the big roles these missing characters played, its more than a bit disappointing and I’m not sure if its going to get better as the credit photos imply things went back to normal (or as normal as you get in Borderlands) and the war the Watcher warned everyone about was just a over exaggeration.

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“We don’t talk about Sanctuary II.”