What The Saboteur Tells Us

Okay, I have to air some thoughts. They’ve been chewing at my insides and I’ve been trying to hold back on going on about the problems PvE has, but I really do need to talk about this. Otherwise it’ll just keep festering.

I happen to think that PvE players are treated like second-class citizens. And The Saboteur is why. A little while back, my partner, without any solicitation or input from me turned around and said “you know, I get the feeling they’ve just forgotten about us PvE players and they’re focusing entirely on PvP.” This is a conclusion that my partner came to on their own, and it mirrrors how I feel. It was really The Saboteur that got both of us talking.

The story side of The Saboteur is amazing. No doubt. The voice-acting and the writing is sublime. The level design? Ehh, not so much. It’s under-optimised, for one thing. If you look in a certain direction it slows down. This only plagues Jennerit maps, weirdly, including the Prologue itself. Moreover, as we played, there was one small room that was stocked full of turrets and traps that made us being there kind of pointless, they did all the work. Then later on, there was that room (you know the one), and it really could’ve used more traps. Especially when played with a team of two.

If Gearbox is actually playing the PvE (and not just the PvP, as we assume), then how can they drop the ball that hard with the distribution of turrets and traps? As I said, that corridor chamber earlier on was overstaffed, the latter room that everyone complains about is understaffed. It’s just bad design and balancing. It bothers me, because it’s PvE they expect to make money with, right?

And with PvP nerfs making characters less viable in PvE (please, please unlink PvE and PvP balancing), it’s actually highlighting the problem more all the time. Before the nerf, ISIC could have made up the deficit of turrets in the latter chamber. Not so much now. And htat’s how things have been going.

PvE feels completely neglected. As a PvE player I feel like an ignored, second class citizen compared to the golden PvP chidlren. And The Saboteur is a great example as to why I, along with others who’ve already quit the game (that review thread), feel this way. PvE just isn’t fun enough. It’s too punishing, it’s too poorly optimised, in places it’s just badly designed (the layout of traps/turrets in The Saboteur, Geoff’s 66 per cent explosives resistance, et cetera). It’s not fun.

The only PvE mission that really comes close to being fun any more is The Experiment. So my partner and I are losing interest.

In many ways, Battleborn is the '90s/'00s throwback game I’ve always wanted. It has the character diversity, imagination, and wonder of games I remember from that period. It’s genuinely funny and it doesn’t care if you don’t get its jokes or if they’re too dorky. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing ruined by bad design and balance choices.

And it’s frustrating to watch. It could be so, so much more if they actually cared about PvE.


…Amen to that. No matter what I bring up in these forums about those of us who play PvE only, with myself over 500 hours now, all I get is people trying to start debates about how wrong I am.


Because they are. It’s a PVP game. Even if they didn’t set out to create it this way, it certainly turned out that way. It’s like the stories in games like battlefield, they are secondary to the multiplayer pvp.




I know this isn’t what you mean, but all I’m getting from reading this is “it’s too hard”. I bought this game for PvE. While I have come to love the PvP, I still really enjoy the PvE and in no way do I feel like you do.

Yeah, the mission is hard. I was in a group that failed the last defense last night. But I was working on a new character for me and it was a bad choice. I was dead weight (not because the character is bad, but because I haven’t mastered it yet (not literally…I mean I am still learning the best way to play them) and didn’t have some gear I needed to be effective).

I hope we go back and do it again tonight. I will make a choice more appropriate to the level, make sure we have a more balanced team, and I believe this time we will win. It’s ok to fail, as far as I am concerned.

Is it a little too hard? I don’t know. Maybe. But concluding PvE is second class based on that seems silly to me. And if Isic was required (no, you didn’t say that, but it was kind of implied) then that’s a problem. Maybe the problem isn’t the changes to the characters, but that you are still trying to play them exactly as you did before the changes.

I’d like to know which characters are “less viable” in PvE, in your opinion. And I’m willing to bet there are people that do just fine with each of them.


There is none, other than the cited greater attention to PVP. I’m a 90% PVE guy. I started trying to split equally, but PVP isn’t really my environment, I suppose. I still PVP for Lore, but that’s about it.

I’m sure Gearbox’s data supports that many more people play the game for PVP, so that sort of is where their attention will be drawn by necessity.

As for the PVE missions, I don’t think there’s any that are imbalanced. Or at least not too badly. There’s a few that are REALLY, REALLY hard. Especially on advanced. They’re kind of supposed to be, though, as the Saboteur and Heliophage are the final missions.

I don’t view it as bad level design, so much as I see it as “ok, ready to swim? Because here’s the deep end!”

There’s a couple of missions where they just jump on your head right away. The Sentinel’s opening Thrall fiesta is REALLY tough, because you’re still like Level 2 when you get there, and haven’t had enough Shards or time to activate your toys. The Experiment’s first defense is really tough, especially because slip-ups there can doom you to failure later on.

Note: they DID make balancing changes to many of the defend missions, mostly by expanding the life totals of the objectives that you’re defending. They made Wolf, Chronicle and the Saboteur targets tougher, IIRC. So it’s not like they’re completely deaf to PVE concerns.

Plus, the new missions! These are PVE paradise, from the description of the Operations I’ve heard: different objectives and increasing difficulty as you repeat the mission, as well as increasing loot? Sounds beautiful to me. I’m super-pumped to help Attikus with his Thrall rebellion!


Hardly, just because the game was made with PvP in mind, doesn’t mean you’re being mistreated.

EDIT: How do I know this? Because if it wasn’t, PvE wouldn’t have been a thing, it would’ve been a campaign similar to Borderlands, but GBX took a different approach.


Concur. Big time.
GBX is great. They are really great at what they do best.
BB is their first shot at a semi-MOBA.

I don’t like PVP either. I play exclusively PVE now. They do that type of thing very well.

They should go back to that. When they do story, characters, FPS, role playing, they are magnificent.

MOBAs are dying. Story never dies.

For those players about to write me a scathing rebuttal about how they love PVP.
Save it, I am looking at the numbers. Player count is WAAY down.

I love this game and want it to continue.
Perhaps, PVP is not it.

I read people saying “why isn’t this more like Overwatch”, “Matchmaking sucks”, “the maps are old”.

Maybe GBX can find that magical sweet spot between story and MOBA but it would be oh so much easier to take BB straight PVE. Focus on the story, characters, missions etc.

But that is just my opinion.


I read people saying “why isn’t this more like Overwatch”, “Matchmaking sucks”, “the maps are old”.

And there are just as many threads about the mission difficulty being too high, loot drops being lousy (before recent changes), the story sucking, the animation sucking, etc.

You can’t conclude anything from that, because people complain about EVERYTHING.


[quote=“CharacterIV, post:6, topic:1540215, full:true”]There is none, other than the cited greater attention to PVP.

Prefacing this by saying that I am a PvE player to the extreme. I only PvP for lore challenges and hate it while I’m doing it.

PvP balancing is both easier and more necessary than PvE balancing.

For PvE, such as implemented in BB (where everyone has multiple character choices for each map), characters just need to be “good enough” to complete the content. Some characters will, by chance, have kits better designed for some content than others (I often site Deande as a good example of “great in PvP; terrible in PvE”; this might be wrong, but it’s true in my experience and analysis of her toolkit). As long as the kits and values are the same in PvP and PvE (which they should be, otherwise you basically have 2 entirely separate games and very little cross capability, which simply separates the communities), you have to balance for PvP because the PvP requirements are much more strict.

In good game design, the expectation should always be that the players win. In PvE, because the players are only on one side, the expectation is that the mission will be defeated. It’s the devs’ job to make sure that you face an adequate and enjoyable level of difficulty achieving that win, but the assumption is still that you will win (this does not mean that everyone is supposed to be able to beat all content; since the devs can’t custom design everything for every player, the desired difficulty for some people will be well beyond the reach of others; this is why there is hardcore and advanced). In PvP, because players are on both sides, you can’t have both sides win; as such, you have to make it such that both sides have an equal chance to win.

This is where the “PvE needs to be good enough; PvP needs to be balanced” comes from and why character balance always seems to focus on PvP concerns. It’s a fact of life. Until you can show that X character is no longer capable of succeeding at all of the content that the developers believe you should be able to succeed at (personally, my feeling about that is “needs to be able to beat everything but Helio Advanced” but the devs might feel differently), they’re fine for PvE.

Now, as to the content itself, once again, it’s easier to do PvP. PvP maps are smaller and simpler to design (largely because they have to be mirrored to some extent to prevent accidental preferential treatment towards a given side); the amount of writing and voice acting for a PvP map is drastically reduced; you only need the vaguest notion of a story for a PvP map; PvP doesn’t even really have or require boss fights.

PvE is the exact opposite of all of those things. If the story isn’t interesting, we’re (PvE players) going to be pissed. If the boss fights are boring, too easy, or too hard, we’re going to be pissed. If there isn’t voice acting when there’s voice acting everywhere else, we’re going to be pissed. If the content is too short, we’re going to be pissed. If the content doesn’t have new gear rewards, we’re going to be pissed.

The minimum requirements for PvP content are way lower than the minimum requirements for PvE by virtue of the fact that PvE players have a much higher level of expectation for the content we’re given.

Combine these two facts and it’s readily apparent why it seems like PvE players are second class citizens: we require more to keep happy and require less to be functional.

The very fact that Gearbox has committed to providing at least as much content for PvE as for PvP is amazing to me. I am very happy with everything they’ve done thus far. They haven’t been perfect, but they’re definitely above what I expect out of a company.

Also, it’s Gearbox. They did an amazing enough job with BL and BL2 and (as someone who frequents forums for games I play) have an incredibly responsive and communicative community and development team, that I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. It helps that they’ve actually provided a list of everything they expect to put out over the next 6 months (?), which means they’re willing to hold themselves accountable to something, which is more than most devs are willing to do.


That last room you’re talking about has 4 traps and 2 turrets. That’s quite a number already. No earlier room has as much.
I’m not sure if you feeling that it needs more should be translated as “if they don’t do what I’m feeling they should do, it means that they are abandoning us”.
Not saying they shouldn’t do it, but really… Also, right now, pvp has less maps than pve. It’s logical to increase the number of pvp maps first, for example.

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The traps tend to be pretty useless in my experience, especially if they’re not acting as support for a turret or placed inside a bottleneck (not outside of a bottleneck or in the middle of a massive spawn area). In Saboteur, I tend to ignore the traps completely because they’re a waste of shards, as I see it.

The final area of Sabo could definitely be improved by converting at least one of the traps into a turret. Renegade’s final area is about as much of a cluster-■■■■ as Saboteur, but Renegade actually has well defined lanes and an excellent turret/trap layout. Can you imagine how much of a bitch Renegade would be if the turrets/traps were as useful as they are in Saboteur? You’d probably see a similar failure rate (and commensurate increase in disapproval).

Errr… Now I get why you’re having a hard time in that last room. Seriously, flash trap. Especially in advanced, flash trap rules that encounter at least as much as the 2 thumper turrets.
Traps in previous room are not necessary, but in the last room they should always be up.

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I’ve never really had any problems in that room. It’s definitely harder than it could be if the turret/trap layout were better, but it’s workable for me.

As to the traps, I use Flash Traps with abandon (temporal traps just slow and aren’t really useful; inferno traps are laughable in advanced because stuff has too much hp; flash traps are gold because they stun). The problem is that, because they’re traps, they die when they’re sneezed at, especially if you don’t baby-sit them (or have a turret that baby-sits them, like in Renegade). And, because it’s Saboteur, you can’t really afford to baby-sit the traps because the spawns are so spread out that baby-sitting the traps is going to let hordes in to maul the defense point.

Better to use the shards on an assault or temporal turret. At least then you can guarantee that it’ll go where it’s needed.

Ah right, I took you for the op, hence why I said that. However, traps in that room ARE extremely useful. This doesn’t change that point.
Yes they’re easily destroyed, butyou don’t need to babysit. By the end of saboteur, you should have tons of shards not used. Built it back as soon as they’re down.

…I gave a Like to your post, it has a fresh air of common sense to it. :sunny:

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…On Sabo I like them at the top because when the Scaven spawn they can jump about 100 feet FAST.
As Galilea I need my shield up to continue doing damage and they take that out instantly.
I really don’t understand the development thought in this game to have shields that go down completely so fast.

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I’m going to have to disagree with you a smidge on this one. I much rather play PVE and really only doing PVE to get my challenges done. I would say it feels like you are being neglected. You aren’t. The boards are cripplingly brutal. Pretty much supposed to be by design. I think the largest part of the problems are that these boards should be thought more of as raids. Like coordinating is essential for progress, especially on advanced. There have been faaaarrrr too many times where I’m on my mic talking and pinging the screen trying to coordinate and people just scatter and go all over the place. I even had one dumbass who was doing some streaming thing to his “followers” and he never played and we landed on Sabatour. Needless to say this dipshit was just talking to his people and not listening to directions with his ■■■■■■ lvl 2 guy. i’ll agree those boards are super hard and I have yet to beat the heliophage and I’m a day 1 player.

Heliophage is easy if you bring a character with long range, especially if you aren’t in a full group.

or play alone and build tumper turret.