Let me preface this by saying I’m not terribly knowledgeable on the inner workings of BL3’s systems and have never really done a mode write-up or anything similar.
You would chose a character and start same as always but since this would be more long-form content you’d be able to unlock skills as you progress through the various stages. Maybe at the end of each stage you’d be given X# skill points to spend as you please until the natural cap. There could be a respec station at the end of each. This would let you get the chance for testing how the new skill trees stack up on their own since skills aren’t available in Arms Race. Action skill unlocks could also be random unlocks after finishing a stage to give more uniqueness to the mode. Alternatively, for some Mayhem™, X# skill points could be allotted at random (anywhere in the skill tree) with skills further down having lower rates an no respec so it’d be up to you to make do. Now, you’d need to think about what class you choose before starting
I’d make general power progression a bit slower compared to Arms Race as it’s supposed to be a longer variant of sorts. It’d be harder to get the really good stuff early on but by the end you should be about set for whatever is being thrown at you. (Sometimes you can’t avoid bad RNG)
I’d say that stages should be more linear (Same style like The Anvil map for instance) than the current one we have in Arms Race and would serve as the main place for you to gather loot like the other mode. The current level design would work as well as you need to reach the end at some point and pushing you into doing so might be better overall anyway. You could also option for loot to be non-instanced as well for co-op so you’d need to work with your team to get the most out of your loot.
Enemies could be determined by the environment you’re found on with each stage picking a certain planet’s host of enemies and spawning them as that type for each stage. There could even be various named enemies from each for a chance at their dedicated drops.
Bosses are where the enemy themes could be dropped in favor of variety. Boss arenas could be scooped out of their respective maps and made into their own instances to load into at the end of each stage. There’d be various bosses of different difficulty with health adjusted to accommodate a lack of skills (Think like a revamped Mouthpiece or Killavolt battle for the earlier stages and Maybe one of the DLC final bosses towards the end.) Some of the boss designs in the game are great but there’s little reason to farm some of them.
At the end of each stage there’d be an extraction for loot (like Arms Race) though you’d need to decide if you wanted to send some to your main’s vault or continue to use it throughout the run until you see something else that’s serviceable.
Maybe something like 10 stages a run, or maybe even a length selector with 5/7/10 or something thereabouts. And change to skill points per stage as needed to 10/7/5 to go with it. (And give another point to medium length to make it even.)
Oh, and the main thing is if you die at any point in the run, you lose it all and have to start fresh. There’s the main rouge-lite aspect. It could use the same co-op respawn system that Arms Race already does. There’d still be save points at the start of each stage and before the boss so you can quit out but quitting mid-stage would lose the run if possible (but I know there are some who love ‘save-scumming’ (that’s just what I call it, I do it too) to get the most out of whatever they play.)
Came up with this since I’ve done manufacturer allegiance runs in the past and like the progression aspect but the story’s pace makes each one quite the slog especially early on. It also gives a reason to test and showoff some of the new skill trees either standalone or without max points as you make your way through the mode.
It could make use of some of the more passed over areas in terms of content like Athenas and would serve as another mix-up of the standard game formula like Arms Race does but with a longer form-factor
Arms Race is a good start as far as non-traditional content in Borderlands goes but it seems a little lack-luster in my eyes so I figured I’d just type this up as the ideas came to me.
Disclaimer: I haven’t played the mode personally as I just can’t justify spending the extra dough just yet. The idea seems interesting enough but seems a bit limited as is.
I’d love to hear what you all think about the theoretical mode. Maybe give it a theoretical name? Maybe “Arms Race: Extended Cut” since we’re doing ‘cuts’ now apparently.