The White Challenge in TPS

I hadn’t played TPS in awhile, and decided to do a play-through using the restriction of only white gear. Just finished it this morning, but it wasn’t anywhere near as enjoyable as it was in BL2.

Most of the same elements are still there:

  • money can be a real challenge, even most of the way through the game, when there are numerous desirable white items in vendors
  • ammo restrictions (with only white upgrades) mean changing weapons more often
  • swapping gear, reconfiguring, and scavenging in general is more important

The last one in particular is the essence of the challenge. With only one color of gear usable, you don’t find your go-to weapons as often, and have to make do with substitutes. And that also increases the desire to find more gear, and there are generally good payoffs when you’re hoping for ‘white’. (Which is a fun perception-altering condition in itself!)

So what went wrong? I think it comes down to two basic details.

  1. Even though I went straight through story missions with no side-quests, I wasn’t under-leveled anywhere near as much as when doing the same thing in BL2. Using white gear isn’t all that crippling unless you’re also fighting mostly ‘skull’ enemies, and I think the TPS leveling tries to be more ‘fair’ to the player than BL2.

  2. White COMs remove some of the best parts of TPS. I think they did a superb job with character abilities, but part of that greatness happens when you boost the skills past the 5 max. (And the search for COMs that boost what you want, etc). Since white COMs have no skill boosts, that element is gone.

Comments or alternate challenge ideas for TPS are welcome.

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I’ve recently considered a green challenge, with a must-use restriction once green gear is available to replace white. But all-white seems so . . . punishing. I also hadn’t thought of limiting Crazy Earl upgrades to a particular color. Wow, white-only there as well? My hat is off to you if you got all the way through that way.

I take it you wouldn’t even pick up higher-value gear, even to sell off (since you said you had money troubles)?

Alternate challenge: Single gear manufacturer for everything. Must use only that once found. This seems a lot easier than all-white, though.

It’s really not ‘punishing’, if you embrace the concept. Even a white Jacobs sniper was good enough to one-shot (or two) many of the skull enemies. Granted, you have to find one, (and keep finding them since they age-out fairly quickly). But that’s what I tried to describe with the “essence of the challenge”, because as one weapon gets old, you tend to find a good version of another type before finding a good one of the same type. A good tesla grenade, elemental gun, shottie, etc. So decisions were often based around the best weapon I had “right now”.

I waffled a bit on whether to pick up and sell other colors, but ultimately decided to do that because I thought it would be more fun having the extra cash at vendors. It doesn’t solve the money problems (vendors are a great source of whites, but you can’t afford to keep buying them). I don’t think I ever bought ammo either.

I’m definitely not one of the elite players out there, so this is very doable, and not even super-hard. (I’d say less than half as challenging as it was doing the same thing in BL2). I only ran into a few trouble spots in TPS where I died multiple times.

I considered the single manufacturer, but when I tried that in BL2, I found it more dependent upon luck of the RNG (the pool of usable loot is smaller than it is with white-only). It’s full of larger swings in difficulty based on how long it had been since my last good drop. And it was also much less variety in play, when using a single brand.

I’m thinking of moving on to TVHM, and maybe seeing if I can open up other COM colors to address that aspect, while keeping everything else white. That might address the leveling and general difficulty issues.

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I was going to do the all orange challenge but I didn’t find any :confused: Seriously though you highlighted a point I was making for a long time and that while it is doable it is not that enjoyable. In the same way you grow your character over time with skill points and BAR you should also experience a shift in the type of gear that becomes available. It adds more to the experience if you can grow in every aspect of the game. White/green gear should become rarer as the game progresses. Blue/Purple should replace the vast majority of whites/greens and the oranges should become more prevalent. Hardcore fans may not agree but I think a lot of people who can’t be bothered to finish at least one playthrough might be encouraged to continue if they found better gear over time (not just white gear with a higher level). This game really shines when you get to the end and max out you character(s) but so few people do that and that needs to change for BL3.


Orange challenge is actually an interesting idea in TPS, because we have the grinder. So it isn’t totally dependent upon being able to find them. (And a large cache of golden keys is a good source for purples). I suspect it’s more of a fight against the RNG though, than a fight against the enemies. It’s likely more tedious and repetitive as a result.

I decided to continue the white-only game into TVHM, and it was actually working out pretty well. I was consistently under-leveled a bit, creating the challenge I was looking for.

Deadlift pretty much owned me in fact, and after 5+ deaths, I had to play very carefully to get past him. The Darksiders were great – nice and tough without being outrageous, although the latter category went to RedBelly. One hit from his fire weapon and you’re health-gated, so that was pretty annoying. After a couple of deaths there, I realized I could retreat to the outside area, being in vacuum to nullify the high fire damage. (An inflammable shield, or possibly even adaptive would have been a big help, but I didn’t have one).

I made one modification to the challenge for TVHM, which was allowing higher level COMs. In addition to helping a bit with the increased difficulty, the decision was more about increasing the skill options and build configurations. There’s more skill points available in TVHM, and the additional combinations available with advanced COMs adds considerable fun-factor, and restores that excellent element of TPS. So far, I’m keeping everything else white, including ammo upgrades. The only other one I considered was Oz kits, since whites never have elemental slams. (I miss cryo slams). For the moment though, I’m avoiding the temptation. Cryo is a pretty big crutch in TPS, and the white-only challenge means no Fridgia/TwoScoops or any other high-reliability freeze. It has forced some different tactics at times, and that’s a “good thing”.

Another unexpected result in TVHM, is that money is getting tight. Between buying more-expensive COMs and an increase in respawn fees, I’m under $50k, which means being frugal at the venders again. It’s an element that usually isn’t a factor in BL, which makes it a bit of fresh air to have to think about money for a change.

Unfortunately, I’ve now hit a brick wall at Intelligences of the Artificial Persuasion. I’m level 29, and the mission is rated at 35 ‘impossible’. With white gear, that exceeds the frustration tolerance, so I have to break one more and do some side missions to level-up a bit more. Up to a few levels below the enemies is great for forcing a greater attention to tactics, but beyond that, it’s just diminished fun for me.

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Did you also turn off BAR for this challenge? If not then this may not be a true test of the White challenge as your character started with artificial buffs making it a bit easier than it should really be.

That’s a good point, and no, I didn’t do that. It might have helped improve the difficulty a bit in the first play-through, but I don’t think it would have been enough to make it a real challenge. (Would have only made the few tough spots even tougher). The real problem with the normal play-though, is that the game is balanced to not be too hard for beginning players, and so it never gives you enemies much above your level until pretty late in the game. So it wasn’t as difficult, or as fun, as it was doing the same thing in BL2. (I was doing this for the sake of something new and interesting, as opposed to a ‘test’ or achievement).

OTOH, it would likely change the TVHM experience quite a bit, since I found myself challenged frequently here, and occasionally near the tolerance threshold. I’m guessing a bit, but the effect of no BAR might be that one needs to spend even more time scrounging for new gear as the good ones get leveled-out. (Finding 20% better gear offsets the BAR buffs, and narrows the difficulty gap). Being someone over 50 however, I’m going to chalk it up to being my age ‘handicap’. :slight_smile:

Ultimately, self-imposed restrictions are about whatever makes the experience more enjoyable or meaningful to the person that does them. For me, TVHM in white (with BAR) was just about what I was looking for. Better players than me should find it doable with BAR-off. But it’s prohibitive anyway to have to go through an entire play-through to reach a point where the White Challenge becomes interesting.


I dunno if this falls within the rules of what you’re doing, but you could always take the mission item Freezeasy if you wanted reliable cryo for the end of TVHM. The one you get for use during the mission is white rarity but still freezes pretty reliably.

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Late 40’s myself so I hear you on that one.

The problem I have with white (even green) gear it is just plain uninteresting to use in general. The white/green gear suffers badly from combinations of slowness, low capacity, low accuracy, low power, poor aim and so on. The game play is crippled for far too long until it gets to the good points where your skill builds and decent gear make you feel effective in your decision making. For most of the game it feels to me like a grind to get to the next area.

Even if you get to a point of no money you should still be able to get access to a basic level of ammo. Pistol, rifle and smg ammo should be flat out free and when you get to a vending machine it just fills you up. Specialised ammo like sniper, rocket launcher, grenades, shotgun should remain restricted and purchased. Run past/over ammo and you should just pick it up.

The way I see it is that games should be fun and also challenging. If they can only be one then they should be fun and for me Borderlands has changed so much that it has now become more challenging than fun, I would like to see and option to play it with a fun style if I choose. Rather than limiting access to the better gear they should focus on making the enemies better, more tactful and more challenging. I would like to see badasses with cool guns that drop them when you kill them and other enemies nearby sneak in and pick them up if your not quick enough to get there first. Have the enemies randomly change the guns/sheilds they hold just like the player can to add some variety to the mix. Maybe have a glow on the character if they change a shield to signify they are adapting to the play. It seems the way they have solved how you can beat the game is to create gear capable of doing it and then making that gear so hard to get. Of course you can grind and grind with less capable gear and you might get through but where is the fun in that. As you level up you should see less and less crippled gear and more for the refined stuff that matches the evolution of your player and also the enemies.

The gear model in BL is getting worse. I don’t want to feel like I have to grind it or get it through golden keys in social media, or buy it through vendors or collect a bagillion moon rocks to buy one. What is wrong with what they did in BL and just have loot chests that have good loot in it.

I buy ammo early in the game, but when the price rises to ridiculous levels, I just scrounge for it. The game makes it difficult for you to run out anyway. When an ammo pool gets down somewhere below a quarter of the max, it starts throwing it at you from every conceivable source. (This is a big problem for Jack and his missing-grenade perk.)

Here’s one easy way to fill up on one particular kind of ammo: Go to the Hyperion Hub of Heroism, and go down the hall to the big room full of ammo containers. Shoot the weapon you want to replenish until you get below 25% capacity. Open 6+ large containers without grabbing the ammo. Then collect all the ammo.

I completely agree with your last paragraph.

I’m older than both of you guys. C’mon, age is no excuse. :wink:

Oh, and that Freezeasy suggestion is terrific.

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Especially because as I level, I stop even considering using white or green items. I end up with usually blue rarity items or beter in every slot and not willing to swap in a white or green even if the new item is multiple levels higher. Usually I won’t even compare them. Sometimes I have enough space to collect all the items for selling or grinding though. But often, not even that.

I don’t entirely agree but it’s an interesting perspective. I would, for example, like to see the enemies switch guntypes or tactics.

But I don’t think that they designed the game so tough that you NEED only the most capable gear. But rather a combination of using the gear that you find or receive through quests or drops, gaming skill, tactics, selecting the right gear, and skillpoints. And the freedom with that is so liberating that when I try to play other FPS games, I feel “imprisoned” or bored by a lack of choices. If I am trying to go through some mission in another FPS and I keep dying, it might be due to a bad savepoint, an unfair mission design, not saving my game enough, ammo issues, game design, not being good enough. The only smart way out for me at that point is usually to try different tactics. But in Borderlands I can go look for an elemental gun in a vendor, change up my skilltree, try different tactics, try different gear, and a large variety of other things. And I love how many things stay the same when you die in Borderlands. Dead enemies are dead. In multi, their health is still where it was.

In BL the game was not so specialised that you have to know how everything works to the nth degree and I really liked that. Now so much has changed by TPS that you need to know how things multiply and compound together in order to know if it is effective enough and this is fine for the 5% of hard core but for those of us who just want to run around and shoot stuff its a pretty crappy deal. The just being fun element has somehow been removed and now you have to really know how to make the game fun to get the most out of it. Its the vibe of it.

My experience differs I have been in situations where I have flat out run out of money and ammo in TPS. It was at this point that I reflected on the game being poorly designed for the just for fun aspect and realised they have decided to make a game for the hardcore players in mind.

Each game they try to make things so much better but adding more of something and building in more complexity of choice gives more options but does not always make something better. I think in BL3 they need to be more clever in how they make the game better rather than just compound in something new to make it different.

Now I get what you’re saying. Still don’t completely agree. I do read a lot about how to maximize my effectiveness and skilltree reviews to understand what people think of each talent. Some of the players on here do the effectiveness testing I don’t really bother to attempt and I find that convenient. I admit it’s way more “research” than I do for any videogame. (I also did a lot for minecraft + mods but I don’t play that anymore. ) Many videogames I just play, but Borderlands I love to immerse into.

So perhaps it’s hard for me to think of this series from the average player of the game. I should assume that most people who play don’t even look up secrets or things for the game online. Or should i? Is the most common research method youtube now? I don’t even use that tool very much for Borderlands. But I do sometimes. I’m more likely to do it for a game when I feel the answer to my question will be visual and I’ll need to see someone walk through a level for me to pick out the thing I’m missing.

But, either way. Assuming again that if I went to play BL1, BL2, or TPS, I might stumble on quite a few aspects of the series. Some of these items do apply to every borderlands I must admit.

  • being overleveled or underlevel sometimes.

  • likely to not understand the point or even existence of TVHM, or that I can play the game in different “difficulties” that don’t fully explain their separation or difference.

  • sometimes being completely surprised or confused by quest goals or destinations.

  • Underlevel quest rewards

  • armored guys that don’t show that they are armored

  • Easy to be underlevel for content if you don’t do any side missions

  • Being taught lessons that are hard to fight through if you’re a new player. (Deadlift is probably the most unforgiving early boss in the series)

  • Not knowing that the Borderlands series always gets lots of patches that tend to add great free features and fixes. You could have been an early player of all 3 and never had any idea just how much depth was added later. Or that you were using bugged talents that were only patched after you stopped playing the game after two weeks after beating only the first playthrough.

As for which one probably has the lowest barrier to just playing and not knowing more? My guess is BL1 or BL2. I think you’re probably right about 1 being the easiest/simplest. Mostly because they added even more powerful/interesting skills in BL2/TPS that they also probably felt the need to increase some of the difficulty.

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