NOTE: Originally posted on Reddit and was told to post here: (https://www.reddit.com/r/Wonderlands/comments/uk4amj/the_future_of_borderlandswonderlands_my_feedback/)
This is a list or group of changes (a lengthy post at that) that I strongly believe should be considered for either Wonderlands and/or the BL series in general to greatly enhance the gameplay experience and growth of the franchise. Though GBX has made some solid content that’s quite fun and expanded the series, there are many core mechanics that are holding it back for proper growth–some of which are quite apparent in Wonderlands–and this could create further annoyances for player experience (and potentially developers) down the road. So lets get started.
Starting off with a major one here. BL3 had some definitive issues here but kinda made it work with insane scaling from Lifesteal to maintain Health Gate. BUT Health Gate is not a “healthy” mechanic to rely on for balance. It plays off of extremes and imbalances in a system. It’s simply a band-aid. Survivability in Wonderlands was severely drawn back with Dark Magic (heal per second based on Max HP) which made “Life Steal” a MUCH more controlled mechanic–and honestly better than Lifesteal because it can be controlled–but enemies were not scaled down to compensate and it shows plus many classes don’t even have ways to regen HP or Shields. If we tailor back the damage of enemies and bosses to balance against the players’ Survivability, we can then increase mob density in return to make more exciting combat experiences. So diving into the first big culprit of this situation:
- Self Damage: This one is MASSIVE in my honest opinion and really sets the stage for how “Survivability” for players scales and can drastically improve the gameplay experience. The problem here is simply our damage scales off the charts while enemy damage is much more linear and gradual. In other words, our weapons became another boss we have to deal with. So many times FFYL is administered from my own puddles or splash damage lol. And Moze in BL3, was an epitome of this and was constantly mentioned because she enhanced Splash Damage Radius so much yet had 0 protection to the infinite scaling of her output. So how to fix? Actually, pretty simple. We put a cap on “Self Damage DPS.” Here is a basic example:
4 x (Player Level) per .5 seconds = Max Self Damage Taken
How does this work? Well, at level 40, any source of damage that is our own (Splash Damage, Puddles, Status Effect, etc) cannot deal more than 160 damage per .5 seconds to ourselves. This is a hidden mechanic that inherently has a “cooldown” mechanism to control our “self-DPS.” If you have a weapon with Splash Damage that deals 5k damage per shot (and we know this is easily possible lol) and shoots every .25 seconds, you will only take 160 damage from the first shot which then the mechanic goes on a .5 second cooldown, thus the 2nd shot will deal 0 damage to yourself. After .5 seconds, the next shot deals 160 damage. Quite simply, 360 damage per second from player sources is the max.
Now you can see how much more control GBX has to scale self damage. No longer do we have those damn random puddles that 1 shot our asses or that explosive we shot to the melee enemy thats 5 feet away lol. But what makes this mechanic SOOO important? Simply, we have taken away the only major form of damage a player can take that infinitely scaled (ie GBX could not control) and now a players “Time to Die” is much easier to calculate from arena to arena. This honestly, was a major reason Health Gate needed to exist–outside of potential enemy damage bugs mentioned below lol. Also, all those niche builds that required you to deal Self-Damage still exist. So don’t worry, we did not harm build variety. But this allowed those “Splash Damage Mozes” of the world to go much more ham on enemies.
- Enemy Base Damage: Enemies need rebalanced with their damage and scaling of it. Way too many 1 shot potentials by endgame CL35. Draw the enemies damage back based on type of attacks. A boss who has a charge up attack that may take like 3 or 4 seconds (and is not used constantly), these are understandable if they hammer out something like 5k damage to a level 40 player at CL35. But the animations or design of the attack has to be dodgeable (more on that later). On top of this, there seems to be a bug occurring at times or just enemy damage mechanics are poorly unstable. Sometimes Wastards Fireball attack will 1 shot me at CL1 and at CL35 (with 5500 Ward & HP total). And other times he will deal maybe 700 damage and not even break my shield. The longer I play in 1 sitting, the harder his attacks seem to hit and I noticed this on crabs as well who will eventually 1 shot melee me. This really needs looked into along with just improved overall enemy damage control. Also, these 1 shots make content like Gravebornes Action Skill “Reaper of Bones” near useless since its timer is based on HP…yeah it sucks when you proc this and immediately lose the skill from being 1 shotted lol.
- Chaos Levels (Endgame): This may need rescaled as well. As stated right above, enemy damage does seem to be bugged and highly inconsistent right now. But I do much prefer the gradual increase for CLs, it just may need to be considered that Damage is potentially a diminishing return on Chaos Levels vs the other enemy stats. But this can be much easier to tune if the overall base damage is controlled better.
- Environmental Hazards: Though I have not tested these thoroughly across the board, I can say, barrels need dialed back for what they do against players. A bit too aggressive. I would set hazards so they scale to Player Level more appropriately but of course still can be highly effective against enemies. Though they seem pretty good right now on that part.
- Mob Density: Why is this apart of this section? Well, if you increase the number of guns shooting at the player from 1 to 2, you effectively increased enemy DPS potential by 100%. And because we effectively have dialed down some obnoxious, over the top damage potentials above, we can now properly increase Mob Density to create a more chaotic and fun experience without the feeling of being in FFYL every second.
- Player Survivability (Healing and Health Gate): For the capstone of this topic. Because we now appropriately have created a much more controlled environment for the damage a player can take, we can effectively scale Healing and Damage Reduction to counter. Healing in Wonderlands is actually well designed in concept except I think Dark Magic is bugged right now lol. But the concept that Healing scales to Max HP and NOT Damage output allows for this control of Survivability without the player being completely invincible per se–though some builds will still pull that off but that’s where patches and balancing comes into play. Dark Magic was also smartly done as an element where it actually did less damage across the board in return for increased Survivability potential. Just needs further refinement I believe such as making the Status Effect more true to how much Healing is received per second from each enemy with the Status Effect. We could also add other forms of healing for some classes such as Stabbo where if Executioners Blade hits an enemy, the Player regens 5% HP (1 second cooldown). And with everything above in mind and tuned, we actually could in essence, get rid of Health Gate once and for all.
This one will compliment above indirectly but also can greatly impact a player experience. Overall, I find Wonderlands’ bosses to be a step down from BL3. Not from their personalities or writing but from their actual mechanics when fighting. I will start with visuals and a specific mechanic (that most people hate lol) first then go into some rework ideas on a couple bosses.
- AoE Hit markers and Visual Clarities: This was actually utilized quite well in BL3 yet for some reason Wonderlands is just near nonexistent. Things like Dry’s slam attacks could have a hitbox graphic on the ground 2 to 3 seconds prior to his slam to help players gauge where to dodge or through some of the chaos, know it’s incoming. Things like this help a bunch in fast-paced games. Knightmare is quite awful with the visual appearance of his ‘blue’ AoE attacks. The first few times I fought him, it was so difficult to know if I jumped or crouched on some of these attacks. Was very frustrating. Overall, better visual indications and feedback would be welcoming.
- Boss Shield/HP Regen Mechanics: Oh boy. Yeah these are just VERY poor in their current design of Wonderlands. First and foremost, these completely neglect build variety and even gut tons of weapons from working due to the requirement of insane DPS. So, to put it simply, if a Regen mechanic is to exist with a boss (which I’m perfectly fine if it does), IT MUST HAVE COUNTERPLAY potential that any build can play against. Plain and simple. Since we rebalanced Survivability above, we actually gave greater potential for certain “tanky” builds to exist and those may have their peak DPS cut down. Those builds would not be able to get through these bosses. Below, I will explain some rework concepts for Dry’l and Son of a Witch (SoaW) that this can be utilized.
- Son of a Witch Rework: Overall, I find this boss boring to fight. Seems more like a miniboss thus I’m going to try and spice him up a little.
First, going to rework his healing mechanic. When SoaW summons his Aegis Specter, instead of constantly healing him, the specter will instead be the one calling in the Wyvern bombardment. The specter will float in the middle of the arena (will be more visible and larger in size) and can still be destroyed though maybe a bit tankier. Now, the Wyverns will have about 50% increased AoE but now the player will get about a 2 second marker on the ground of where they will impact (it’s still random in the arena). IF a Wyvern hits the player, it will deal average damage and heal SoaW for 5% Shield. Thus, the player can now dodge or get under the balconies to counter this healing mechanic. Now we have counterplay. Destroying the Specter also stops this bombardment.
SoaW’s main fireball attack will deal less damage (seems to 1 shot currently at CL35). Honestly, at max level and CL, it should probably only be doing about 2500 Damage or so at max. I would like to see 1 more attack pattern from here that is potentially a directed AoE attack. Something to spice him up a bit more.
As for his final form, this seems more for memes but I would like to add 1 attack that could be kinda hilarious and fun altogether: a frog jump attack. He will spend about 2 seconds in a stationary, squat animation and we will see a “purple charge” at his feet. He will then jump quickly at the player location and upon landing deal splash damage in a medium to small radius–A marker will show where he is landing when he begins his charge up. Also, when he lands, he will send out a slow ring from the shockwave that the player must dodge as well. Overall, not too difficult but something a bit more fun.
- Dryl Rework: This guy does not need too much work with his attack animations. Just added visibility of some of his AoE attacks of where they will land and I would also slow down the animation of his slam attacks by about a second. They’re pretty vicious and near impossible to dodge for builds with no movespeed.
Aside from that, the major change he needs is his Shield Regen mechanic. Man, first time I fought this in Chaos Chambers with my Sporewarden, I creamed through the normal stages and got nearly brickwalled by a Dry’l who was healing almost every 15 seconds. Took me about 30 minutes to kill him. Hated it. So what we will do instead is when Dry’l moves off into the distance, there will be 4 Crystals around the arena. Dry’s will lift his Spear into the air and the Crystals will begin charging it over 8 seconds. The player must shoot each Crystal once in order to stop the charging. IF Dry’l finishes the charging, he will regen 25% of his Shield. Because the regen is tied to the crystals that don’t require DPS, any build can now counter this mechanic. Also, the Crystals WILL scale to player count. This may need some tweaking but for now, if there are 2 players in a coop, the Crystals will require 2 shots each (of course multi projectiles will work). Ricochets will not be effective against these.
With tweaks in animations, visual AoE cues, and his shield regen so it includes proper counterplay, Dry’l should be a much more enjoyable boss to go up against.
This one is going to be interesting. One of the big problems BL3 faced was the inclusion of Anointments. To cut to the chase, adding Anointments as another variable to gear EXPLODED the number of combinations in RNG thus HORRIBLY diluting the loot pool. I liked the new mechanic but it was an obvious problem. I wrote an extensive post on GBX forums about this at one point not long after release. To give an example, BL2 had a shotgun that had roughly 40 different combinations. BL3 took that same shotgun, added maybe 40 Anointments thus increasing the number of combinations to 1600…yeah no wonder Legendaries were a dime a dozen lol.
The Anointment Reroll machine undoubtedly remedied this situation to an extent BUT it was just another form of RNG. And honestly, sometimes there is too much RNG. We also saw GBX scrap a chunk of Anointments in order to help with the diluted loot pool. I was displeased when they did this (cut content of course) but fully understood why. And I’m someone who just loves a theorycrafting sandbox that has near endless build combinations. So here is the solution that people came up with in BL3 with some of my reasons to why it should be done and what I wish Wonderlands would have done in the first place:
- Enchanted Trinkets: Remember those Trinkets from BL3? Well now they are the Anointment/Enchantment system. Apparently there were some performance issues with these so it does not need to be the Trinkets per se but the example will help make this easier to visualize. So what happens is when you obtain those Trinkets, you will be able to freely apply them to your gear. The Trinket UI will be clear to show the different types of Trinkets be it Offensive, Defensive, Utility, Class Specific, etc etc. Now, how GBX decides to go about this, I will leave it up to them but my suggestion is make Trinkets a permanent acquisition and NOT a consumable style thus we have to recollect everytime. But you can make the stats on the Trinkets have their own “level” system where Moon Orbs can improve the quality of the trinkets thus optimizing the stats. Hell, maybe you could create a cool crafting system around this. I don’t know. But why make this a permanent acquisition? Well, remember when GBX cut some of the Anointments from the game because of a diluted loot pool? That never has to happen again. GBX, create as many cool Enchantments as you want! I love a theorycrafting sandbox with near endless combinations!!! And because we now cut down on the number of variables to a reasonable amount in the loot pool, we have yet again controlled drop rates. I.E. - Legendaries don’t need to be dime a dozen.
Now that is 1 method (and my preferred). This does alter the “visual” appearance of loot because now no gear is Enchanted upon dropping anymore. So lets say we STILL want to maintain that COOL visual appearance of an Enchanted piece of gear dropping but keep the “Enchanted Trinket” system above. We create a 2nd class of gear: Enchantable. Simply put, you will have basic gear that a Trinket cannot be attached to and then you will have gear where you can attach a Trinket to. Nothing too special but instead of having 1600 combinations for that one type of gun, you will have 80. So much more in control and GBX does not have to go through and completely overhaul the Luck system for how it weighs between basic gear and enchanted gear.
- Armor Crafting/Rerolling: Armor drops in very specific combinations of Skills right now. I don’t like it. Just putting it bluntly. Again, I like having as many potential combinations for crazy builds as possible (within reason of course). Borderlands is the semi sandbox to theorycrafting. And I want that to scale to tremendous heights. We solved the Enchantment/Anointment problem on that front. But now we have Armor. So, this one can be done in a million ways but a simple example I have would be: When armor drops from an enemy with random skills and points allocated, we can take that to an Armorer who will allow us to choose to “Freeze” any number of the Skills for a cost of course (Moon Orbs?). Points will be randomly allocated. Now, if you get an armor piece with a single skill you wanted with all the attributes, you can freeze that skill to reroll the others. Once you get a 2nd one you wanted, you can then freeze the second to then work on the third. You can never freeze the points allocated though. These will be random. This can help cut down on the number of combinations BUT it maintains the need to Loot armor pieces. The perk of a piece of Armor and it’s attributes CANNOT be rerolled. In other words, if you need Tides with +Gun Damage, it can only be found in loot from the world.
I believe this is important because we still want to maintain the integrity and importance of Looting in a “Looter” Shooter. And this creates a happy medium. We will still want Armor to be fully optimized and this a method of doing so. Like I said, a million ways could be worked around this and if anyone has some cool ideas, I would like to hear them.
- Dedicated Drops and Chaos Chambers (Endgame Grind): This one I expect to be fixed soon but just felt I needed to reiterate. Chaos Chambers is a core endgame grind and honestly, quite a decent one that can be expanded and improved upon (fixes a lot of things about Mayhem honestly). But Dedicated Drops from bosses and other sources (be it Obelisks as well) needs to remain intact with scalability to Chaos Levels to help diversify the grind. Chaos Chambers should be great for its specific loot and World Drops (when efficient, should be the best place to loot world drops). But specific loot should still be more efficient at specific sources when trying to fine tune a build. That’s my opinion. Thus we still have the best of all worlds when balanced. --Note: as for enhancing Chaos Chambers, here was an idea I made about it: https://www.reddit.com/r/Wonderlands/comments/ul2cvq/chaos_chambers_why_endless_mode_is_perfect_for/
- RNG: Now I technically already went over the solutions to RNG above but I wanted to reiterate this one a bit more. RNG is centerpiece to any Looter Shooter. As GBX knows, it can have a fine line between great player experiences and poor. The one problem to RNG is diluting the loot pool. Talked about it already but its important to know that every new variable added to gear exponentially increases combinations which then can make obtaining specific loot exponentially longer to get for a player. So it’s important to create mechanics that sometimes separates these variables into their own “pools” or features so “time to acquire” for players is not daunting.
You also have to consider the fact that RNG works on a bell curve. You’ll have a majority of players that may get a specific piece of loot within a certain number of tries but then you’ll have other players with poor luck (not ingame luck lol) who unfortunately take many more tries. Flat rate RNG offers ZERO guarantees. Which is something I strongly dislike. So we always want to create mechanics that can remedy this situation so that players will always be rewarded for their efforts, or at the very least, makes it seem much less daunting.
Hell, it may not hurt to finally look into a robust crafting system for weapons. Something players have talked about forever and seeing the “parts” of different weapons, its kinda already in place to some degree. Just needs finished so we can start taking parts and craft our weapons. But I wont go into too much detail since this can be done in a billion ways and who knows if its even possible with how the game is coded. I have stated to GBX in the past that they should consider their game both a “Collector” and “Looter.” Create an interface where we can track all the different combinations of a specific weapon type and even craft from it. People LOVE to collect. Maybe Borderlands can be the “Pokemon” of weapons and gear lol.
- A major aspect to Borderlands is the fact we have multiple classes. Traditionally (and in most games) this involves starting a new character and replaying the entirety of story again. I’m indifferent about this design. Part of me wishes we could skip all of this and just get to the endgame. And sometimes I want to rerun the campaign with the pleasure of a different personality and enjoy the different voicelines. So it’s a toss-up and I’ve seen people argue both sides. My suggestion: Gives us the choice. When we create a new character, allow us the choice to either refresh all story content and collectibles (minus Dice haha) or have the ability to start that character right at the same progress as our 1st character (levels and everything). This also falls in line with New Game Plus. Some of us just want to re-experience the story again (and on potentially slightly higher difficulty to scale against). This should ALWAYS be a thing. In the end, this is a single player/coop game thats meant to be enjoyed and not competitive. So I don’t see the harm in having this choice and QoL.
- I wont go into too much detail on this one since its been covered in length. With so many mechanics and variables, GBX needs to do a better job of improving this experience to sort through types of gear along with manage inventory. Things like Rerolling Enchantments which resets the page so we have to refind the weapon is kinda a surprising oversight. And improved ways to look through tons of loot on the ground (Loot Bunnies specifically). Just needs a lot of tuning. Honestly, this is where having that “Crafting” interface idea could alleviate some of these problems for weapons specifically and the Bank. Just a more concise and straight forward system.
I know this was a long post. I appreciate it if you read through it and even if you only read part of it, still thank you for taking the time. I wanted to give my feedback on the mechanics of the game since I am a long time fan of the series. Always loved these games, even when I may strongly disagree with certain design decisions ( ahem Coiled Raptors DLC ahem ). I’m open to friendly criticism or additional ideas on top of what I wrote. So please feel free to comment.
P.S. - to expand on Damage Taken for players, this definitely has some issues as mentioned. I did another test using Stabbo and Swordsplosion and when I went into From the Shadows, I straight 1 shot myself and SKIPPED my Health Gate and went straight into FFYL. Definitely some bugs in existence around here. Or mechanics that need fixing lol. Also, these 1 shot mechanics that throw you into immediate Health Gate or FFYL ruin some mechanics like Gravebornes Reaper of Bones Action Skill.