Though I can kinda see the OP point of view, I just can’t quite buy it.
And considering the magnitude of what they are attempting with this game on both the PVE & PVP front, I would never use terms like lazy or incompetent.
In the Beta it was pretty clear that the campaign was going to be episodic, and that the campaign wouldn’t have the traditional story-telling continuity that you get from a ‘RPG’ game such Borderlands. (Not OP’s argument, just mentioning it since it seems to come up a lot)
The only gripe that I really have in terms of the Beta Campaign vs the Release Campaign is that there wasn’t any ‘protect stationary objective’ objectives in the first two episodes, and this is a primary focus of 3 of the episodes (Renegade, Experiment, Sabateur) and represents over 30% of the mission types…and this type of mode has been the one with the most problems.
They should have had Renegade available in the Beta so everyone could see that type of Episode Mode.
My personal favorite episode is The Sentinel, so because I like it more than the first 2 episodes I can’t really be upset by saying that I was misled by Gearbox by the first two episodes.
Also, as was mentioned earlier, of course the enemies were more unique in the first two episodes…as those were the episodes to introduce enemies. Borderlands 1 isn’t much different. There isn’t a whole lot of variety in the vanilla game.
Finally I do want to mention that all of the levels do have a unique boss with differing mechanics.
Some of the bosses can of course be considered reskins, but their mechanics are different, which at the end of the day is what separates one enemy from another.
Algorithm - Obviously the 4 uniques
Void’s Edge - Conservator
Renegade - Hylis (Dual Shielded Thrall companions)
Archive - Gunhulk (Invulnerable till turrets break shield)
Sentinel - Old Sentinel (Swarmer Lance, Health-Regen from Shard Stations)
Experiment - Supervisor Antem (4 different shield phases)
Saboteur - Foreman Grall (Those Varelsi Phantoms which provide invulnerability)
Heliophage - Rendain
Also, it seems as if most of the episodes have their place (from a gamer perspective)
1.) Algorithm - Great Boss Mission. Unique Bosses with Unique Mechanics. Hope to see more like this one.
2.) Voids Edge - Best Mission to start a new character on to learn. Quickest mission to farm for XP.
3.) Renegade - Best (Or Second Best) Legendary Drops (In my opinion). Can be finished in about 25 minuete solo
4.) Archive - By far the best mission to complete damage/skill-related lore challenges. (Don’t save the minion bots)
5.) Sentinel - My favorite mission. Best/Second Best Legendary Drops. Love the traps/hidden shard rooms. Love the dialogue. Love the easy shard farming at the start to get gear all set up before hitting the main level. Boss Mission, but not as good a boss mission as Algorithm…due to not having multiple unique bosses.
6.) Experiment - Not much from a gamer perspective…but Buldur is awesome in this level.
7.) Sabateur - Worst mission and little replay value. Nova dialogue is best part of mission.
8.) Heliophage - Best mission to test your skills. Love the Boss Rush at the end, and also love the randomness of which bosses will appear. Only thing I dislike is the timer to start. Wish there were pick-ups or something to extend the time limit.
Anyway, I find myself basically playing 6 of the 8 missions pretty consistently, depending on what I’m trying to accomplish.
I will admit that once I get the Oath of the Sustained & Leechsteel Brooch, I will probably stop playing Renegade, which will drop my go-to levels 5.
But I can’t really complain if there are 5 missions out of 8 that I think have a lot of replayability. It will be interesting to see what the 5 PVE operations look like.