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Borderlands

Lots of games are morally bankrupt, we get it

Mar 19 // Anthony Burch
Most games are horrifying celebrations of violence and empowerment that prioritize aggression over compassion, and competition over empathy. And that's completely fine. (So long as the game, and the audience, know that that's what is going on.) We all -- to some extent or another -- are aware that the art and media we engage with can often be full of shit. We often love our art for being full of shit! I love Doctor Who, and it's one of the most full-of-shit television shows of all time! It champions optimism and mercy without ever approaching anything even remotely similar to a real-life dilemma, and -- so long as you know that's what it's doing -- it's a perfectly fine bit of escapism. And so it is with violent videogames. Yes, it's really, really weird that you run around massacring orcs because They're The Bad Guys, and it's even weirder that we were more excited to massacre them in Shadow of Mordor specifically because they felt more human. They felt like people with lives and backstories and that made it way more satisfying to slice their heads off what the fuck. But! It's escapism. It's full of shit, but it's full of shit in a way that is decidedly fun and effective. Should we ask greater questions about why Shadow of Mordor is fun, and consider how its fun-ness might be inexorably linked to racism and classism? Absolutely. Should we stop playing Shadow of Mordor and paint everyone who enjoys it as an enormous pile of human waste? Of course not. Or, to quote Anita Sarkeesian: "It is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects." (A quote that, if more people actually listened to, might have resulted in a way goddamn calmer gamer culture over the past few years.) So, it's okay to enjoy sadistic, weird, violent bullshit, so long as all parties involved know that that's exactly what they're doing. The only real problem, to me, is when that bullshit starts pretending to be about something else. Going back to Shadow of Mordor -- which was unquestionably my favorite game of last year -- I loved the over-the-top violence and the multitude of horrific things that you could do to your enemies. I distinctly did not love the story that tried to morally justify those things. The story of Talion's vengeance, and how justified he was in killing all those orcs because they are inherently "vile, savage beasts" (again, you should really read Austin Walker's article), is kind of nonsensical. It gets the player from A to B, sure, but it never stopped feeling weird for the game to paint Talion as a hero with one brush, and then allow you to decapitate an orc who is defined by a very human, relatable fear of fire moments later. But we've heard this argument before, right? Ludonarrative dissonance, blah blah blah. We've heard this argument so much, in fact, that it spawned an entirely new genre of games: the Violent Games That Criticize Violence And People Who Enjoy Violence genre. Anyone who has played Hotline Miami will remember the constant, enigmatic questions posed to the player by its cast of animal-faced murderers. "Knowing oneself means acknowledging one's actions." "You like hurting people, don't you?" "You're not a nice person, are you?" "Do you like hurting other people?" On its surface, these questions -- questions that many games pose to their players -- are deep, interesting queries. Functionally, though, they do nothing but jab an accusatory finger at the player. You fucking caveman, they shout. What's wrong with you? Why do you like this horrible, violent pornography? The answer to these condescending questions is simple: because these games are fun, and you know they're fun, and you spent hours and hours and hours of development time making sure I'd find them fun. These games never broach the actual social or biological reasons we find violence entertaining. Evolutionarily, it's to our advantage to find violence more stimulating and interesting than other aspects of the human experience, because a failure to find violence noteworthy can result in our deaths. Culturally, there are reams and reams of academic papers on violence as a (chiefly male) expression of worth and power that can often poison the aggressor almost as much as their victim. These games don't address that. Far Cry 3 says you like violence because you're a racist, simple-minded tourist (or at least, you have no problem taking on the role of one because, as a player, you're so eager to get to the murdering that your avatar is meaningless). Hotline Miami says you like it because you're kind-of-sort-of-bad-person-I-guess-but-maybe-not-really-I-don't-know. Spec Ops: The Line suggests you've just never given any thought to what the hell you've done as a player of games. These games chastise the player for enjoying consequence-free violence, right before offering them a smorgasbord of beautifully rendered, lovingly visceral consequence-free violence (Spec Ops less so, as it actually gives a shit about the choices you made in the story. Additionally, it forbids the player from being as graphically sadistic toward his or her enemies as FC3 and Hotline Miami). This is kind of weird, right? This is a hypocritical way of having your cake and eating it too -- of pretending you're making a grand statement about violence, without actually saying anything of note beyond -- bizarrely -- blaming the player for buying your game. If a game truly cared about exploring violence and its consequences, wouldn't it bake that into its game systems? XCOM, to me, is a greater treatise on violence and death than any of the other games I've mentioned because its systems force the player to make real, consequential, dynamic choices about the value of life. Should I put my elite assault trooper into the path of a crysalid if it means that he'll be able to save two or three civilians? Is it worthwhile to use my rookie to draw a sectoid's fire, just so my sniper can get a shot off? How much do I care about "winning" versus being a good person? What is the actual, financial cost of a human being? XCOM, while seemingly just a silly game about marines fighting aliens, directly engages with these questions in a way that the Hotline Miamis and Far Crys of the world never do. (And what's more, they do it without relying on gore for spectacle's sake). The answer for that is, perhaps, obvious: because it's hard. Because to do so is expensive, and means you're making a mechanically complex game in a time where it's easier and cheaper and often more profitable to make simple games. But if you're going to make a simple game that casts the player in a simple, hyperviolent role, why pretend to be an exploration of violence when your game mechanics obviously aren't? Why not go the other direction? Why not celebrate the fact that you're, to be brutally cynical, kinda full of shit? That's what Borderlands 2 was about -- from my perspective, at least. (It should probably go without saying, but a TON of people worked on Borderlands 2, and though I wrote about 90% of the dialogue, that dialogue makes up a comparatively small percentage of the overall Borderlands 2 experience. I can only speak for myself, and my own frame of mind when I worked on the game.) Early on, after the player kills a few psycho bandits, I had Claptrap comment on the battle: "Minion! What did you DO?! Those people had LIVES, and FAMILIES, and -- nah, I'm totally kidding. SCREW those guys!" As a joke, this line of dialogue isn't great. It's too long, its punchline is obvious, and it's just plain not all that funny. But nonetheless, this was a line I found myself coming back to as a thematic touchstone for the series as a whole. Yes, you are a murderer. Yes, you only exist to kill people and rob their corpses so you can kill more powerful things and rob more shiny stuff from their corpses. But it's all bullshit, so don't sweat it. Don't forget that you're being kind of a murderous antihero, but have fun with it! It's entertaining to be a murderous antihero. Don't pretend you're something that you're not (a hero), but don't beat yourself up over your antiheroism -- revel in it. There was a bit of internal worry about casting the player as such an amoral mercenary, but by making the bad guy an even bigger asshole, and by surrounding the people with (hopefully) charming, equally amoral good guys, everything basically turned out okay. We didn't, to my recollection, get any letters about how horrific it was to play as an antihero -- if anything, people seemed to enjoy that Borderlands was so jovially honest with its players about what it was and what it asked them to do. Saints Row works for exactly the same reason. The first two Saints Row games can often veer toward the horrifying, as the player upholds "values" like loyalty (which manifests itself in the player brutally murdering Julius, the founder of the Saints who rats on them in an attempt to bring peace back to Stillwater) and justice (which sees the player kidnap an unarmed woman, lock her in the trunk of a destruction derby car, and trick her boyfriend into ramming her to death as a means of avenging one of their fallen comrades). But Saints Row 3 and 4? The games where the franchise fully accepted just how batshit insane its players, characters, and world are? God damn, those are some good fucking videogames. Yes, your only method of interaction with civilians sees you punching or bludgeoning or shooting them. "Fuck it," the game says -- "let's incentivize that kind of behavior by making civilians drop health when you kill them." The moment Saints Row stopped trying to make serious statements about anything was the moment it reached its full potential. It accepted its own ludicrousness, and in so doing became the most honest videogame ever made: you play like a psychopath in these games, so we'll cast you as a mass-murderer and have everyone talk about how hilariously fun it is to be a mass-murderer. Fuck it, we'll make you president because you were so good at being a mass-murderer. Sure, the Saints Row games aren't "deep" (except for the fact that they totally are, thanks to their treatment of sexuality), but they're honest. Their messages, such as they are, match up perfectly with their mechanics. In my dumb, ex-game-dev opinion, XCOM and Saints Row represent the two best ways of actually tackling violence in games. Either build your systems around violence and its consequences -- actually force your players to answer questions of morality and power for themselves --  or just throw up your hands and create a world where the player can have fun being a total piece of shit. Above all, just be honest in what you're doing -- don't pretend your game is about How Bad Violence Is when it's really about How Awesome Pixelated Blood Looks.
Immoral games photo
Now move on, already
With Hotline Miami 2 recently released, I realized I am really, really tired of games that belong in its genre. When I say "genre," I refer not to "action games" or "indie games" or even "violent games," but a subtler, more h...

Gearbox photo
Gearbox

Gearbox details process for importing saves into the Borderlands Handsome Collection


From old to current-gen
Mar 18
// Chris Carter
When you pick up Borderlands: The Handsome Collection later this month, you'll have the opportunity to transfer your old save file for both included titles. It's actually pretty easy this time around, as all you'll need ...
Borderlands screenshots photo
Borderlands screenshots

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2 screenshots, we got 'em


Over 100 Atlas Mugged screenshots
Mar 17
// Darren Nakamura
Another Telltale episode, another excessively large set of screenshots taken as I played through with an Xbox 360 controller while keeping my pinky finger on the F12 key. Tales from the Borderlands still looks great despite t...

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Atlas Mugged

Mar 17 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Atlas Mugged (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: March 17, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit [Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.] To its credit, Telltale owns up to the long wait between episodes. The opening line is Marcus commenting on how long it has been since the last part of the story. Then he goes into a recap of the main events from Zer0 Sum, leading into the beginning of Atlas Mugged. Hyperion executive Rhys and Pandoran con artist Fiona have stumbled onto some unknown but hopefully valuable Atlas technology, just in time for a digital reconstruction of Borderlands 2 antagonist Handsome Jack to load into Rhys's mind. Jack comes and goes over the course of the episode, typically when Rhys suffers head trauma, and he often offers his brand of morally bankrupt help. Though he only appears during certain scenes, Handsome Jack sort of steals the show. Rhys, Fiona, and the rest of the gang have some good lines, but Telltale's treatment of Jack is on point. He is simultaneously deplorable and hilarious, which serves the concept of Telltale adventure games well. In Borderlands 2 he was a likable villain; in The Pre-Sequel he was a detestable hero. Here, he can be either, allowing the player to choose whether to heed his more outlandish suggestions or to risk progressing without his aid. [embed]288757:57654:0[/embed] Episode 2 has the two protagonists separating and reuniting again and it still works great as a narrative device. Seeing the what from one perspective and then the why from the other gives extra insight to events, though Atlas Mugged lacks some of the punchier revelatory moments that Zer0 Sum had. There are still some secrets set up for later, like the function of the Gortys Project or the identity of the paddy hat-clad character. Fiona gets an upgrade to her single-shot pistol in this episode, allowing it to deal an elemental damage of her choice among incendiary, shock, and corrosive. Knowledge of the shooters in the series seems to help with knowing which element to use in which situation. Another kink thrown in is in addition to having limited ammunition, each element appears to be usable only once, so players may be locked out of one they want for the future. It's the kind of inter-episode mechanic that may or may not pay off intellectually until later. Neither of the established characters who made cameos in the first episode show up again here, but a few new ones do. Scooter and Athena are among those who make an appearance, and I hope for the narrative's sake that this isn't the last we see of them. Given her background with the Atlas corporation (see: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx) Athena plays a particularly interesting role that brings up questions I hope to see answered. From a gameplay perspective, this runs by the standard of modern Telltale titles. It includes the unique Borderlands hooks like Rhys's bionic eye and Fiona's management of money, but they are less emphasized than in the previous episode. Tales still feels like a Borderlands game, but slightly less so now than before. Though puzzles have basically been expunged from Telltale's modus operandi -- and I have come to terms with it -- there is one section where it still stings a little to think about. In it, Rhys has to restore power to an electronic system and it skirts the edge of requiring just a touch of critical thinking, but it ends up being a simple exploration exercise. The setup almost begged for some sort of puzzle; it was disappointing that the solution was so mundane. Past that, the main gameplay is exactly what we all expect from Telltale. Dialogue trees, quick-time events, and the occasional big choice to make. Keeping consistent with the first episode, the writing is sharp, the jokes are plentiful, the plot is intriguing, and the action is over-the-top. What it lacks is easily forgiven because what it contains is really good. Visually, Tales from the Borderlands is as great as ever. The bright colors and hard edges still work well with Telltale's engine, and they juxtapose against the dark comedic themes in a way that never seems to get old. I did experience a couple of minor graphical glitches, but 99% of it ran like a dream. In the end, Atlas Mugged is not quite as good as Zer0 Sum. It had me chuckling five minutes in, but there were fewer laugh-out-loud moments. It maintained high intensity in its action sequences, though none quite compared to the earlier death race. It used the unique Borderlands mechanics just a bit less. Its narrative lacked any jaw-dropping twists or powerful moments of clarity, but it still remained engaging throughout. Though it is slightly less than excellent, it is still great, and I can hardly wait to see where it goes next. Telltale, please don't make me wait so long before Episode 3. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Borderlands review photo
It's here Atlas
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] Tales ...

Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's Claptastic Voyage trailer shows glitch guns, confetti


And 'irreparable psychological trauma'
Mar 11
// Darren Nakamura
Gearbox showed off the trailer for the upcoming Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel downloadable content to a select group of fans during its panel at PAX East, but it is now available for anybody to watch. Maybe even you? Yes, if y...
Game News Haikus photo
Game News Haikus

Game News Haikus: Gigantic, Borderlands, sex, and more


Zen distilled stories
Mar 11
// Darren Nakamura
This week's episode a little late, courtesy of PAX East. I'll make it up to you, I promise. Last week D. Takeshi Nakamura had a little accident, inserting a line with a deplorable six syllables in it, which some keeping trac...
Telltale Borderlands photo
Telltale Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2 trailer brings more bangs and booms


Atlas Mugged
Mar 09
// Darren Nakamura
Yesterday, PAX East attendees were treated to a sneak peak of the trailer for Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2: Atlas Mugged. Today, it is available for mass consumption. Things are heating up on Pandora for Rhys, Fiona,...
Gearbox x Harmonix photo
Gearbox x Harmonix

Borderlands characters are now in Dance Central Spotlight


From Inside Gearbox panel
Mar 08
// Darren Nakamura
Gearbox and Harmonix have worked together in the past with a dance section in one of last year's trailers for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. At the PAX East Inside Gearbox panel, Gearbox and Harmonix announced a new p...
Telltale Borderlands Ep 2 photo
Telltale Borderlands Ep 2

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2 set to release week of March 17


Atlas Mugged
Mar 08
// Darren Nakamura
Telltale's panel came and went with some fun stories of the studio's journey but nary an announcement of what the developer is doing now. Judging from the comments in just about every Telltale article that goes up, the second...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel: Claptastic Voyage comes out March 24


Inside the mind of Claptrap
Mar 08
// Darren Nakamura
During today's Inside Gearbox panel at PAX East, Gearbox unveiled the trailer for the fourth piece of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel downloadable content. The story content picks up after the end of The Pre-Sequel and leads into...

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection shines in some spots, has problems in others

Mar 05 // Brett Makedonski
Having demoed both games in The Handsome Collection, The Pre-Sequel came off as simply unimpressive. Moving it to current consoles and harnessing the increased power of the PS4 isn't enough to make the four-player local co-op consistently work. Requiring the game to render everything four times over took a noticeable toll on game performance. Despite playing a level that was relatively unpopulated, the frame-rate dropped an annoying amount. It's likely that this won't be the case with fewer users, and there's always the possibility it'll be patched out through optimization in the coming weeks. Another niggling spot in The Pre-Sequel was the menu interface. It's oddly zoomed in by default, and the player needs to zoom out to see the full picture. Although it didn't present much of a problem in our brief demo with a throwaway character, players who actually care about their character builds and weapons will be in and out of those menus with great frequency. [embed]286397:56948:0[/embed] For as much as The Pre-Sequel didn't impress, Borderlands 2 absolutely did. Playing the Tiny Tina add-on, our group of four made our way through extremely busy sections with no dip in performance. That's where Handsome Collection players who look forward to local co-op are going to be most pleased with this package. Apart from those impressions, these are basically identical to the two games as they were on legacy consoles. Gearbox confirmed that nothing's been changed with regard to any overarching systems such as drop rate. It's the Borderlands you already know and (maybe) love. Actually, as far as The Handsome Collection goes, you might be better off not knowing Borderlands yet. It seems like it's a nice introductory package for those that held off on exposure to the series. Anyone that has an extensive history with it will welcome the ability to import characters from legacy consoles (including level, Badass Rank, and campaign progress), but nothing shown marks much of an improvement from what's already been played. Aside from four-player local co-op, it probably doesn't offer enough incentive to most people to convince them to re-invest.
Borderlands preview photo
Borderlands 2 impressed, The Pre-Sequel did not
Traditionally, Game Developers Conference is a very busy show. After what seems like a three-month hibernation, the game industry slowly creaks back awake and GDC is the first time everything's in full gear again. As always, ...

Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Borderlands leaving old gen behind


New gen gets all the newness
Feb 03
// Robert Summa
Coming out of an always-exciting earnings call that publishers love to have, it was revealed that the next Borderlands game will be for next-gen only (or new gen or current gen or whatever gen you want to fight about on the I...
Burch leaves Gearbox photo
Burch leaves Gearbox

Borderlands 2 lead writer Anthony Burch is leaving Gearbox


Going to Los Angeles to work on a new RocketJump project
Jan 30
// Darren Nakamura
Almost five years ago, Anthony Burch went from being a Destructoid staff member to a Destructoid alumnus, moving on to work as a writer at Gearbox Software. On his personal Twitter account this morning, he announced that he w...
Borderlands bug photo
Borderlands bug

Borderlands players: Don't go grinding purple hauls


Please stick to the commons and the blues that you're used to
Jan 27
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: A patch released in November added the option to grind three purples. Therefore, this is not as useless of a bug as originally thought.] Anyone that plans to hop around the moons of Pandora today might want to t...
Lady Hammerlock video photo
Lady Hammerlock video

Borderlands' Sir Hammerlock thinks his sister is an 'exceedingly bad person'


'She's wealthy, she's merciless, she's not a hero'
Jan 27
// Darren Nakamura
The Lady Hammerlock Pack of downloadable content is out for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel today so 2K and Gearbox have released an introduction video for the Baroness. While she is not really a villain, she is not exactly a he...
Borderlands 3 photo
Borderlands 3

Gearbox 'ready to start' Borderlands 3, begins hiring process


This could be you, apparently!
Jan 25
// Mike Cosimano
During the official Borderlands panel at PAX South, Gearbox chief Randy Pitchford confirmed the company was "ready to start" production on a new game in the franchise, later taking to Twitter with an open call to developers l...
Deals photo
Deals

Dying Light 20% off, Borderlands and Dark Souls series on sale


Weekend deals, yo
Jan 25
// Dealzon
Next week Tuesday Dying Light will make it debut on the PC, Xbox One, and PS4. Originally pre-orders came with the "Play as Night Hunter" mode as a bonus, but it's now free to everyone. Kudos to angry mob effect. Current PC d...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's new downloadable character is out this Tuesday


Gearbox hints about the upcoming story DLC too
Jan 25
// Darren Nakamura
The inaugural PAX South is wrapping up today, and Gearbox's panel just ended. We heard about the plans with Homeworld earlier, but the studio's cash cow for the past several years has been the Borderlands series, so of course...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Good lord, this $400 Borderlands edition has a Claptrap that's controlled with a mobile app


That's damn expensive and damn cool
Jan 20
// Brett Makedonski
Most high-end special editions of games come with the same sort of tchotchkes -- maybe a figurine, an art book -- that sort of stuff. 2K is raising the bar when it comes to limited editions, both in terms of content and pric...
Borderlands bundle photo
Borderlands 2 and Pre-Sequel with cross-saves
Rumors have circulated for months that Gearbox Software's Borderlands would be the recipient of some sort of upgraded port to current consoles. In fact, speculation was so strong that it was more a matter of what titles...

Borderlands photo
Borderlands

These are the most popular Borderlands characters


As decided by the fans
Jan 08
// Mike Cosimano
Per the official Borderlands Twitter account, Krieg, Claptrap, and Tiny Tina are the series' most popular characters amongst Borderlands fans. There's no clear indication which character received the most votes, but I wager C...
Borderlands Remaster photo
Borderlands Remaster

Australian Classification Board listing points to Borderlands collection on current generation consoles


You all saw it coming
Dec 11
// Darren Nakamura
It seems like every post about Borderlands has the same comments in it: a scathing remark about Aliens: Colonial Marines, a proclamation to wait for the Game of the Year Edition, and a prediction that 2K and Gearbox will...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Bonus mission for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel ties into Tales


Help Dr. Nakayama with a secret project
Dec 09
// Darren Nakamura
[Update]: In an email to Destructoid, 2K has confirmed that the Handsome AI bonus mission will be included for free as part of the update adding Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, not part of the Holodome Onslaught DLC pack that ret...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's second piece of DLC is out December 16


Welcome to the Holodome
Dec 04
// Darren Nakamura
2K Games announced today the second DLC pack for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and as with the first pack, it is commendable in some ways but disappointing in others. In The Holodome Onslaught, Axton and Gaige join the crew in...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Catch a jaunty tune (and an elbow to the grill) in this Tales from the Borderlands trailer


Episode One: Zer0 Sum
Nov 25
// Brett Makedonski
Telltale titles and Borderlands are almost polar opposites. One has you constantly making tough, game-altering decisions. The other only asks that you decide between shooting everything and dying. (Hint: you defini...
Borderlands screens photo
Borderlands screens

Here are more than 100 Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum screenshots


Telltale art
Nov 25
// Darren Nakamura
I take lots of screenshots. It's just something I do. The signature cel-shaded art style of the Borderlands series lends itself to grabbing sharp, colorful screens of crazy weapons, breathtaking vistas, and intense cutsc...
Hand me some Jack photo
Hand me some Jack

First video lands from Telltale's Tales from the Borderlands


Hand me some Jack
Nov 13
// Steven Hansen
Maybe Activision's new Tony Hawk game should be called Boarder Lands. A little bit of piggybacking, like when they named the newest Call of Duty after the Nintendo handheld classic Advanced Wars.  Taking a break fr...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's Jack the Doppelganger is too sexy for his shirt


But he leaves it on anyway
Nov 11
// Darren Nakamura
I frown on the idea that additional Vault Hunters are being offered for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's season pass in place of story DLC (rather than in addition to it, as Gaige the Mechromancer and Krieg the Psycho were in B...

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel illustrates the danger of nebulous season passes

Nov 03 // Darren Nakamura
To be clear, I was never one to complain about how Gearbox handled Borderlands 2's season pass. Where many would rail against the developer for producing content that was not included in the season pass (or even the Game of the Year Edition), I always saw it from a more measured viewpoint. Borderlands 2's season pass promised four pieces of story-based downloadable content, and it delivered four pieces of story-based downloadable content along with a bonus level cap increase that those without a season pass had to purchase separately. I bought it in good will before the game came out, and I felt like I got my money's worth. The fact that Gearbox continued to produce content for Borderlands 2 after the season pass had run its course never phased me. People wanted more stuff to do on Pandora, and were willing to pay for those experiences. The extra characters and Headhunter packs were far from essential to the experience, and they were never stated to be included in the season pass to begin with. As an informed consumer, I did not feel cheated. However, there were those who did feel cheated, and that might have contributed to this current mishandling. Many in the Borderlands community complained that BL2's season pass/Game of the Year Edition did not include all of the post-release content, and according to Gearbox Product Manager Chris Faylor, this move is an "[attempt] to address that." So now, instead of four story-based DLC packs that are included in The Pre-Sequel's season pass, along with other pieces of downloadable content that are available for additional fees, it sounds like the total amount of content is being reduced in order for it all to be included in the season pass. Worse yet, if we take the official Borderlands blog post's words literally, we can expect "another character, a level cap upgrade, a new campaign, and more," which lays down a particularly dismal tentative DLC schedule. Where previous games in the series featured four additional story packs, are we really meant to expect only one this time? Looking back at the Pre-Sequel season pass announcement, it is not that 2K lied or even blatantly misrepresented what players should expect in the season pass. So little information is there that the developers have quite a bit of leeway with it. Even on the official blog post, there is never any mention of what type of DLC is planned. The only information given are the phrases "new characters," "new challenges," "new missions," and "new experiences," which in hindsight are incredibly vague. All that is concretely stated is that there would be a season pass, that it would include four undefined pieces of content, and that buying the season pass would cost less than buying all four pieces individually. The problem here is one of expectation. Borderlands featured four pieces of downloadable content, and all four were story-based additions that included new areas to explore, new enemies to fight, and new missions to take on. Borderlands 2 continued that tradition with its four main DLC packs, along with a bevy of other content. I am certain that I am not alone in having made the assumption that the four add-on packs promised in The Pre-Sequel's season pass would follow that same pattern. I do not mean to belittle the amount of work that must be necessary in the design, balance, and playtesting of an entirely new character or even something like Borderlands 2's Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (Playthrough 3). I do not doubt that the teams behind those additions feel that they put a lot of effort into producing something worth selling for ten bucks, and I do not begrudge them for it. However, while those add-ons may require comparable amounts of work, the value of those additions for the consumer is much lower than that of the traditional story packs. So even though no promises are technically being broken, and 2K plans to deliver four digital additions to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for the price of three through the season pass, I cannot blame any who bought it for feeling cheated. The content fits the requirements laid out, but the value is not there. Even if the plans were to change from here onward and the season pass ends up including one new Vault Hunter and three story DLCs, the value of the pass over purchasing content piecemeal hinges on the quality of all three packs, and the series does not have a perfect track record on that front. Even for somebody who did not purchase the season pass, this news is disheartening. With a shorter base campaign and the possibility of only one story-based DLC pack, the lifespan of this game looks to be much smaller than those of its predecessors. It's like walking into a shipping container expecting a pizza party, only to find that the pizza is a hologram and the shipping container is about to be shot out of a cannon at the moon. In the months after Borderlands 2's release, there have been many in the community expressing extreme disappointment when it comes to the handling of post-release content. However, for those who complain that there exists content not included in the season pass, the intended solution was never to reduce the total amount of content in order for it to fit. Though it might have been an attempt to appease disgruntled fans, Jack's Doppelganger as DLC #1 for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has only bred more contempt in the community.
Borderlands DLC opinion photo
Glad I skipped this one
Over the weekend, details came out of PAX Australia regarding the first downloadable Vault Hunter for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. At first, it looked to me like a commendable gesture for a series that receives a lot of criti...







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