What makes a "good" Borderlands game? ( Sort of a Poll)

Obviously, this is gonna be subjective as hell. But, I’m interested to hear what people think.
The things I’ve enjoyed best about borderlands over the years (Stuff like the skill trees, and loot gained without farming) aren’t the same as what others prefer (such as farming and raid bosses), so I thought it might be good to find out what this community likes best in their looter shooters.

There’s almost 150 options, some of which are bound to be divisive.
Feel free to discuss below, but remember that it’s all just a matter of opinion. =]

EDIT: Apparently, I can’t make a poll with this many options (lol), so just comment below with the ones you think are most important and why.

Options are:

  • Story
  • Quality of main antagonist(s)
  • Side missions
  • Humour
  • Good mission rewards
  • Good playable characters
  • Number of playable characters
  • Diversity of playable characters (how different they are to PLAY)
  • Good NPCs
  • Good skill trees
  • Number of skill trees
  • Good skill tree synergy (between multiple trees)
  • Good skill tree synergy (with other mechanics, like anoints)
  • Powerful skills (that represent majority of damage output)
  • Powerful guns/gear (that represent majority of damage output)
  • Weak skills and guns/gear (majority of damage output comes from other sources)
  • Powerful secondary attacks - melee, slidekicks, slam, etc (which compete with your main damage output)
  • Fast/easy secondary attacks - melee, slidekicks, slams, etc
  • Powerful action skills (while active or upon triggering, deal high damage, representing the majority of damage output)
  • Interesting/fun action skills
  • Number of action skills (per character)
  • Number of action skill augments available
  • Number of action skill augments that can be equipped together
  • Ability to change element damage caused by action skill
  • Big number of possible guns/gear in game
  • High percentage of endgame viable guns/gear
  • Good weapon scaling
  • Number of loot rarity tiers
  • Good loot tier scaling
  • Aesthetics/Looks
  • Sound effects and/or music
  • Big maps only
  • Small maps only
  • A good mix of map sizes
  • Lots to do within maps (challenges/hidden areas)
  • Farming feeling rewarding
  • Farming being quick/easy to do
  • Farming not being available and/or needed for loot
  • Bosses being interesting/fun
  • Bosses being quick/easy to beat
  • Number of bosses
  • Variety of bosses
  • Mobbing areas
  • Rare spawn enemies/events
  • DLCs
  • Cosmetics
  • Complexity of cosmetics (more than just heads/skins)
  • Gun cosmetics (gun skins and trinkets)
  • Personalisable “hub” area (decorate your room)
  • Seasonal events
  • Endgame areas (proving grounds/circle of slaughter/takedowns)
  • Raid bosses
  • Badass rank system (gain bonuses to stats and/or perks, from completing challenges)
  • Guardian rank system (gain bonuses to stats and/or perks, from gaining XP)
  • High level caps
  • Fast level progression
  • Slow level progression
  • High drop rates
  • Low drop rates
  • World drops (loot that can appear anywhere)
  • Dedicated drops (world drops with a location that has higher chances to appear)
  • Unique drops (loot that can only be gained from one location)
  • Mission-only rewards
  • Challenge-only rewards
  • Ease of farming mission or challenge rewards
  • Ability to obtain mission or challenge rewards from a vending source
  • Co-op (splitscreen)
  • Co-op (online)
  • Easy fast travel
  • Being able to fast travel from anywhere
  • Good maps
  • Clear/Easy-to-use inventory
  • Large inventory
  • Large bank
  • Shared bank
  • Non-shared bank
  • Tabs and/or search functions in bank
  • Additional currencies (eridium, moonstones, seraph crystals, Torgue Tokens, etc)
  • Mail system for items
  • Weapon proficiency system (using a type of weapon increases your stats with that type)
  • Different playable characters being better at certain weapon types
  • Lack of fall damage
  • Lack of aim penalties after movement
  • Eridian weapons being included
  • E-tech weapons being included
  • Laser weapons being included
  • Alternate fire modes being included on weapons
  • Movement options being included (sprint, crouch, mantle, slam, slide, etc)
  • Number of elements (slag, radiation, cryo, etc)
  • Explosions being an element
  • Each manufacturer having a unique gimmick
  • Each manufacturer having different stats
  • Number of different manufacturers
  • Manufacturer-specific vending machines (even if only in set areas or limited in number)
  • Good gunplay
  • Good survivability (time between deaths or entering FFYL)
  • Good FFYL play (how easy/fun it is to play while downed)
  • Fast respawning after death
  • Cheap respawning after death
  • Frequency of new-U stations
  • Frequency of fast travel points
  • Frequency of vending machines
  • Number of items shown at vending machines
  • Legendary gear spawning in vending machines
  • Being able to “refill all” ammo easily at vending machines
  • Being able to “sell all junk” at vending machine
  • Being able to “sell all non-favourites” at vending machine
  • Being able to pick between selling junk or non-favourites at vending machines
  • Being able to re-spec skills for free
  • Being able to re-spec skills at any time/place
  • Being able to re-spec skills individually, instead of resetting all
  • Small bonuses that can spawn on gear (luneshines)
  • Large bonuses that can spawn on gear (anointments)
  • Interesting/varied equippable shields
  • Interesting/varied equippable armour
  • Interesting/varied equippable grenade mods
  • Interesting/varied equippable class mods
  • Interesting/varied equippable Oz kits/air tanks
  • Interesting/varied equippable artifacts/relics
  • Multiple playthrough progression (TVHM/UVHM)
  • PvP areas (Arenas)
  • Gameplay modifiers in set zones (mutator modifiers)
  • Gameplay modifiers in whole game (mayhem modifiers)
  • Modifiers that encourage changing weapons and/or tactics
  • Modifiers that encourage changing builds/skills
  • Modifiers that change gameplay mechanics (such as punishing crits, forcing movement, no FFYL, etc)
  • Being able to select specific modifiers
  • Difficulty increases without (or separate to) modifiers
  • High number of difficulty increase tiers
  • Not having to stand around listening to dialogue for more than a few seconds during missions
  • Not having to keep returning to “hub” areas to progress story/missions (using echo to communicate, generally)
  • Fast menus (loading times and quick to manoeuvre)
  • Flashy menus (with cool features like showing your character, showing images of all your loot, animated images, etc)
  • Lots of enemies spawning in each mob
  • High chance of badass enemies within mobs
  • Variety of badass types within each enemy category
  • Number of badass tiers (badass, super BA, ultimate BA, etc)
  • Enemies spawning/revealed when close
  • Enemies spawning/revealed at long distance
  • Intelligence of enemy AI
  • Enemy types with unique effects (like leveling up/evolving, healing by consuming bodies, burrowing, etc)
  • Weapon/Gear rerolling (using a currency to alter parts of the weapon at random)
  • Weapon/Gear grinder (putting loot in and getting new random loot out)
  • Weapon/gear leveling/augmenting (being able to improve looting items with currency or special items)
  • Weapon/Gear crafting (being able to select which parts of loot that you want to change and what to)
  • Social politics (things like renaming “midgets” as “tinks”, etc)
  • None of the above (if you pick this, you need to explain as a comment, please)

Edit: added these:

  • Vehicles being available in maps
  • Number of types of vehicle
  • Lots of vehicle customisation options
  • Flying vehicles
  • Vehicles weapons feeling powerful
  • Vehicles having multiple choices of weapons
  • Loot midgets/tinks
  • Chubby/Tubby enemies
  • Claptraps
  • Psychos

I fixed it to my liking.


Lol. =]


Is there a tl:dr version?


Mine in bold. :rofl: Well that’s my TLDR


Not really, lol. Just say what you think the most important things about a good borderlands-style game are, and they’ll probably be on the list somewhere. If not, I might add them.

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Not gonna answer the poll but here’s some freeflow thoughts instead.

Wall of text incoming most likely. This is such a wide thing where problems branch on top of each other so I apologize up front but this is likely going to be fairly rambling as it’s kind of impossible to make logically flowing package out of this.

First off, credit where it’s due. BL3 guns sound and feel amazing. They have a certain weight and feel that just never was there before.
I don’t like cars in Borderlands but for what it’s worth they play a lot nicer than they ever did before. There’s a constant issue with the game not remembering the car parts that I want to use but the actual driving and how it handles small bumps on the road etc. is a lot better.
The environments are beautiful and while I think the game lost some of it’s charm moving into this artstyle I’m not going to deny it looks gorgeous.
There’s a lot of small gameplay improvements over BL2 that I won’t start listing separately.

But there’s a lot lacking here.
One of my main gripes with BL2 was that to play UVHM I had to go through 2 modes that had just gotten really boring to me until I could access the 3rd one but in BL3 it somehow manages to feel worse with just one. TVHM is redundant and there’s no challenge to be found anywhere while leveling in BL3. You get to max level from dicking around in normal mode. The story quality in BL3 does not help here in the least. Two twats repeating “great vault” and “become gods” doesn’t make for compelling villains. It feels like the story got axed at some point because it was going into something interesting before it made a U-turn and went back to that. I’m not making more characters because I don’t want to replay the leveling process (aka the story). A hard mode would probably help a bit here though I doubt I’d personally feel like doing it again anytime soon even with that as another problem of the game is the forced talking and waiting. OK for a first playthrough, not so much on repeats.

Then there’s mayhem vs OP levels. I personally liked OP levels a lot. I didn’t like Peak for multiple reasons but there was a progression to gaining the OP levels and I enjoyed the OP8 gameplay a lot. Mayhem is basically the same piss easy base mode that BL3 is to begin with + annoying random crap thrown on top of it and you just turn a slider to get from 0 to max. Both games have problems introduced by scaling but BL3 feels like it’s taking a dive into a pool of dump when it comes to scaling. On a sidenote, you could make a harder mode by just adding some health and perhaps some DR to enemies without scaling everything to hell while doing it.

Another side of the scaling is also the anointment system. I’m not gonna say I wouldn’t feel like my skills do nothing but it’s amazingly backwards how my builds damage output can go from meh to absolute amazeballs by finding one of the correct 1-3 anointments for a gun that I want to use. I won’t write another paragraph about how the farming in this game feels because everybody knows that issue and it’s tied to anointments anyway.

Besides the anointments there’s just a lot of gunplay and general buildplay that seems to be missing all around. Now, I know a lot of people didn’t like slag. I personally did and here’s why: it added something to the gameplay loop that is just missing here. I literally almost never swap weapons in BL3 on any of my characters meanwhile in BL2 I felt like a 5th or even 6th weapon slot wouldn’t go unappreciated. Moxxi guns weren’t perhaps the greatest thing in the universe but to me the biggest offender was how badly Grog sidelined Rubi, not the function itself. Here we have lifesteal in skill trees and it’s just going out of control thanks to mayhem scaling. For a game that boasts a bazillion guns or whatever, why am I using only 1? And this isn’t even about the legendary balance in the game but it’s amazing how little gunplay there is going on. There’s something like the GR perk for dealing more damage for each element but it’s such a small gain that it’s just not worth it.
For the general stuff, the grenades are still mostly pretty damn bad and BL3 somehow has managed to make the common utility ones (singularity, transfusion) really underwhelming too.
Melee? What’s melee? You mean this broken ass shotgun that is dozens of times more effective than actually playing melee? Mayhem scaling thrown on top of it by the way… What a great idea.
There’s now some snipers that you can make work but the category as a whole still feels underwhelmingly awful. I tried sniping while leveling my latest character and it’s just not enjoyable outside of a few red text rifles or some select few purples even on normal mode.

Then there’s the environments. For 5 planets there’s surprisingly little variance going on. Most of Pandora maps are about driving around in a car with little action, Promethea is has too much car action too. There are maps in the game where the whole point is to just literally drive through them. This isn’t the gameplay I’m looking for.

Meanwhile every single Pandora map looks exactly the same (except inside Carnivora), Eden is mostly the same (although IMO has the best maps overall, all things considered) and Necrotafeyo is mostly the same between the maps inside those planets. Athenas… Well, that one map single map is honestly pretty good but you know, just one map for a whole planet. They look really good… but did we really need 5 takes of open dusty desert with some rocks? The enemy variety is kinda decent but most places looking kinda like each other and then all the same looking places having all the same enemies makes them just blend together.

Then there’s just some general disappointments. Loot midget in BL2 are fun and exciting. In BL3, I’d rather have loot tinks etc escape the field faster so I’d have to look at them less because they are worth nothing. Tubbies are in the same boat. These rare things appearing could make any old map suddenly exciting and interesting and that’s just gone. All those unique possibilities made just jumping into a random area a lot more fun in BL2 (on top of OP8 mobbing being more fun than MM10 mobbing). On the other end of it there were things like rabid skags, scavengers and other TVHM/UVHM specific regular enemy spawns which made things more hectic. Rabid stalkers can go die in a fire though (or at least get their crit hitbox problems looked at).

When we were told that there’d only be 5 rarities I expected that would mean a bit more legendaries and no pearls and seraphs but I also thought we’d get rid of quest reward uniques as they are IMO a kind of non-sensible consept to begin with and also ridiculously annoying to farm for. Here we are with quest reward uniques in the game and a bandaid fix of Earls machine for farming them because surprise, surprise it was once again a pain in the ass.
Also I expected that we’d go from 1 legendary per weapon type per manufacturer to 2, maybe 3 in some cases. Instead it’s gone into some weird imbalance. There’s 1 Vladof sniper in the game, 2 Hyperion snipers in the game (both of which royally suck). Mean while there are 9 Torgue pistols, 9 Maliwan SMGs, 10 Jakobs pistols etc. This is just from wiki list which doesn’t seem to be up to date after DLC1 so there’s even more of those. Really makes me wonder what a legendary is and why some of these things couldn’t have been pearls or seraphs to differentiate them from each other a bit more, especially since there are mayhem specific drops. Why aren’t the quest red text items a separate rarity but are instead still blues and purples with red text? Why is the whole rarity system completely pointless in BL3 when a couple of hours into the game you’ll never pick up anything below blue again?

Then there’s the problems of what’s being changed or fixed and what’s not. How is fake-grasping and all the other variants of that exploit still in the game? When are those Fl4k bugs going to get fixed? How is Fire in the Skag Den still doing 90+ % fire damage per point, not to mention the other double dipping stuff? I appreciate singular weapons being looked at but could we instead look at the root of the problem which is the hastily thrown together really badly implemented scaling, get that to a better place and look at weapon performance after that instead of trying to micromanage the after effects of the mayhem 2.0 catastrophe? Every gun that gets a huge buff makes me less hopeful as those kinds of buffs would need a serious looking at again if the scaling did get rolled back.

And there’s more but this is long enough.

…and still I’m somewhat hopeful. There’s so much potential still. There are things that we’ll never get in this game but the most important things, to me at least, are the kind that can still be fixed. Maybe that new mode will deliver. Maybe the hotfixes stopped so they can look at the whole mess in peace for a while. A lot of other maybes. All I can do is wait and see. I really want to like this game as it is a Borderlands game but just writing all that out made me kinda realize just how far this product is from what I’d hoped for it to be.


The irreverent humour.
The aesthetic.
Interesting playable characters.
Interesting guns.
Fun times with friends.


Borderlands in today’s gaming climate has a few important distinctions that make it stand out from most other Loot’n’Shoot games.

  • Single player is the default and co-op is recommended, there is no real PvP
  • The story is one of the core aspects of the user experience
  • The comedy is dark, but it fits the bleak prospects of the setting
  • Loot comes in large quantities and due to Borderlands being non-competitive, it can come in absurdly crazy and gimmicky variants
  • Even green guns can already have some funny traits that are quite “out there”, not just the legendaries feel special, it feels crazy very early on
  • Due to Borderlands being non-competitive balancing doesn’t need to be as tight as it has to be in PvP games. OP combos can be left alive if they don’t kill the fun for your teammates
  • It has probably the highest build diversity of all the AAA shlooters

Now the story is what makes the first impression of any Borderlands game, which has varied heavily in the past, from the abysmally “absent” story of BL1 to the “Magnum Opus” BL2 there is pretty much everything in between. It’s not consistent, not even inherently. BL2 might have the best story overall, but a lot of it was very convenient and illogical if you look at it more closely. But the scale of the games definitely keeps on growing. The setting however theoretically has endless potential for stories to be told and not every vault hunter needs to even start out as such. There is just basically no limit and from the way BL3 is going I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a Pre-Sequel 2 between BL2 and 3. So, yes, I think a good Borderlands game needs to have a story that at the very least either progresses the overarching “Pandora Saga” or starts a side adventure. BL3 didn’t meet my qualitative expectations whatsoever, so I hope for massive improvements on that front. But the story definitely needs to stay one of the major points of any Borderlands game.

The loot is the obvious point and I don’t think I have to tell anybody that the loot system as it is currently is probably the best it has ever been. Sure, there’s a lot left to be desired, but that’s less so due to the system behind the loot than the numbers on said loot. For example: People complain over anointments and think that those should be removed. They should not, but their impact should be lowered to a point where we can keep the numbercreep that plagues BL3 in check. Otherwise BL3 might very well have the best systemic solution to loot generation in the industry right now, so that’s something to further build upon.

Borderlands for me needs to invite core and casual players alike by providing the duality between the “just a single playthrough” and “1200 hours and counting” types of players. You need a story that can stand on it’s own, can engage the player and satisfy those that just want to play through the game once but on the exactly opposing side a Borderlands game has to have enough side content, variety and depth, enough options and ways to perfect our build that we can play for hundreds of hours and still find stuff to enjoy and lab over. And it has to be rewarding.

Purely subjective, but a Borderlands game has to be free of in-game purchases with real money or any exchange currency. I can live with some costumes being sold on the storefronts of the platform (like steam, PSN etc.), but the game itself cannot hold any way to spend money, except maybe for a “DLC” tab in the starting menu. If I want to find Microtransactions for a Borderlands game I need to have to search for them outside of the game!

Now the sidestep to the poll: You can hear thousands of generally well-written responses on this topic and Gearbox can even apply all that stuff to a game. It’s just that a game isn’t just the sum of it’s parts and even if all singular parts of the perfect Borderlands are in place, they also have to fall into place naturally and they have to fit. We had that feeling once with BL2 and even that is greatly exaggerated if you truly remember BL2’s state at launch. Sure, it had less critical bugs than BL3, but some very consistent bugs, like collision detection being wonky or the game just not working on many AMD systems. And the console performance of BL2 wasn’t much better back on the PS3/360 than BL3’s performance is on the current gen of consoles.
We just look back at BL2 in a way that makes it seem as if it had always been this gem of a game. But it needed years of support, years of additional content to come that far. That’s also why I generally don’t really like to break down such immense questions like “What makes a good Borderlands game?”. It’s not just subjective and impossible to fully define, it also kind of disregards that games and franchises evolve.

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Humor; likeable characters; quality fps combat; varied guns that can be collected through aRPG-like means; varied enemies; player characters have bold, powerful abilities that play a large role in combat; player characters have skilltrees that allow for deep playstyle customization.
Other stuff is detail/fluff, in my opinion.

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what makes a good borderlands experience? when core game guns and gear are actually functional and you can play the game as intended to beat the hardest content instead of abusing interactions that gearbox added when they were not ready for it and now they can not seem to fix it.

tl;dr BL3 community patch

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A lot of things make borderlands borderlands but if I had to pick one thing, the thing that kept me playing BL2, TPS and somewhat BL1 for years and years it’s the build variety possible and the way it impacts gameplay. A new playthrough of BL2 with an off the wall build can feel completely fresh and new even though you’ve experienced the (albeit much better) story many times before.

BL3 just lacks variety for me. That’s partly down to unimaginative and derivative skill trees where much is still bugged, the impact of anointments overshadowing guns and gear and item balance and power creep.


BL3 isn’t bad… it’s just plagued with bad decisions…

scaling for example… why? why do you need to drop better weapons in higher difficulty? isn’t that counter productive??? they make the game harder but they give you weapons that make it as easy as normal?
if they would drop the modifier ■■■■■■■■ and weapon scaling then the mayhem levels would actualy have meaning… (just increase drop rates on higher difficulty)

story… main game sucks donkeyballs… DLC 1 and 2 are awsome! 3 was ok (didn’t like the story in that one and had nothing to do with the main story appart from a bit of what “the company” did waaaaay back) and 4 feels lacking (good but not great)

items… many great ideas but with difficulty, scaling, etc.
99% of the bilions of guns are just vendor trash!

event items drop and the week after the event they increase player level? because they suck at balancing weapons (or balancing… period)

mayhem modifiers do NOT make the game more difficult… no, they make the game a clusterfuck of flashy crap and anoy the ■■■■ out of you…

maliwan takedown was great (at first difficulty was a bit through the roof but they fixed that) then guardian takedown again was made to anoy the living snot out of you -_-

so much crap in this game is just ■■■■■■■ anoying…

so, what makes a good BL game? no anoying ■■■■■■■■!

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Forest for the trees fallacy in full effect here.

What makes the game good:

Good pacing of action and story telling.

Difficulty level that feels challenging at times, but not too stressful for a normal difficulty play through.

Imaginative/ clever uses of game mechanics (including loot properties & probabilities) and level design.

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Well for starters the console not crashing when playing is a pretty good feature. I would also add splitscreen multiplayer that works, you know like the first three had.

I guess basically playing a game and not feeling like an unpaid beta tester.


Totally agree.

I completely forgot vehicles, lol. They are better in B3, but with mayhem and the levels we have, they feel less useful, I think.

Yeah, felt exactly the same way.

Yeah, I liked slag at first, but after UVHM, I disliked it a lot more. I think the over reliance on it annoyed a lot of players. There should have been more thought into how to balance it better, like having it boost direct damage but not DoT and crit bonuses or splash/explosions, so that elemental damage and jacobs/torgue weapons can still feel useful even without it.
I get why they they made it so crucial, but it just messed things up at high damage levels.

Yeah, I miss loot midgets and chubbies. BL2 had a lot of things that made itfun just to rerun through the same maps over and over.

Yeah, they REALLY need to look at the loot rarity tier in the future. I don’t think just adding more and more tiers is the answer, but they need to do something to make each tier feel valuable. Honestly, I’d remove white and green, and let blues be the standard.

All good points. I think these are some of the core aspects of a borderlands game (other than tales, which wasn’t really).

Yeah, minimal microtransactions, and only making them cosmetic, has been a big part of the series.

Yeah, this never made sense to me. If there was an option to turn it off, I’d prefer it. So, I could play on M6 and the loot dropped would be M0, even if that meant I had to stay at a lower mayhem level.

I’ll tell you how they made it bad, by nerfing the loot drops when you’re farming bosses on M10 LVL65.

I used to really like this game, even though the latest DLC is average at best, and the latest Malian event is terrible.

However, nerfing the loot when you’ve reached the highest level in the game incredible lame and negates the long-term value of the game IMO.

Thanks for wasting my time GB.

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It’s not that I’d think more and more rarities is a solution but it would just be a possibility in how to give different kinds of… hmm… personalities to different kinds of red text guns, I guess.

As for the white to purple my dream solution would be to scale the rarity spawning on character level. You start off you get only whites and rare greens. At some point whites go away, blues come in etc. Actually gave it quite a bit of thought the other day on how it could function while keeping gear progression going and guaranteeing players would keep picking up loot even if there’d only be 4 regular tiers but it’s a bit too lengthy to go in to now and this is not the thread for it anyway.
But at the end of it the goal would be that you’d indeed not see any white, greens or perhaps even blues once you’ve hit max level.

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No, not you. Bl2 did feel like that was how they were trying to fix it, and then in Bl3 they’ve said they won’t add more tiers, even though some stuff is WAY more powerful than others in the same tier.

Yeah, I like that there are blue/purple weapons with red text, that feel like normal gear with a cool effect, and then there’s legendary loot, that feels more powerful and has a cool effect. It just sucks that most of the blue/purple loot with red text feels rubbish in BL3, especially since for some reason I don’t understand, much of it can’t be anointed.

Yeah, this makes sense. Like how launchers started appearing at level 10 in BL1 and 2 (if I remember correctly), and how class mods and relics don’t appear until around the level you normally unlock them.

The thing is, I like the idea that each loot tier is equal to 2 levels - so, a level 10 purple is the same as a level 12 blue or level 14 green or level 16 white - and red text makes the item even better, but it’s always worked best when the higher tiers actually felt RARE. When purples drop like crazy, why would you care about the lower tiers? It’s like being level 60 and finding a level 56 gun dropped by an enemy - sure it might still be ok, but you’d rather have one your own level.

If they want to keep the rare tiers this common, they need to do away with the lower tiers entirely, or make them starter gear, for the early game, like you say.

Its funny that bl3 has more action skills, soon to be more skill trees, and more weapon variety then its predecessors and yet you say this and I feel the same. Seems like a classic case of that less is more thing.

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