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Hobo Johns's blog

6:18 AM on 11.03.2009

Dumbass Design of the Week: The Borderlands training area

Borderlands is a great game. I've put about 25 hours in between solo and coop play, and I can safely say that this will be one of those games that I will continue to come back to when I need a quick shooter fix. The PC version is very obviously a console port, with gimped menus, messy inventory, and an irritating save system, and although many of these little annoyances I choose to overlook, the game's starting area can not be ignored. And that's the problem. Every time you start a new game, you have to play through a five minute training area that shows you how to move, jump, crouch, shoot, and pick stuff up. Every time. Even in multiplayer.
In a game that is hailed for it's diverse character classes and re-playability, this type of forced training scenario actually discourages starting over with new characters. It's that awful.This could have easily been remedied several ways. Gearbox could have made the training level a separate option from the main menu, with a pop-up encouraging you to run through it the first time you start the game. Or, perhaps after the game loads into the training area, you could pause the game and select "Skip Training" from the in-game menu. Even better still, since the training area is directly connected to the first town, why not just have a door at the beginning of the area allowing you to immediately exit into that town, bypassing the rat maze that they currently force you through.
Maybe I wouldn't be as irritated by this area if the most annoying character in the game, Claptrap the robot, wasn't your guide through the whole thing. What was supposed to be a kind of mascot for Borderlands, turned out to be an unfunny, irritating, one-liner machine that you quickly want to feed a rocket. You don't have to put up with him much after you get out of the training area, but for me, if those first five long minutes taught me anything, it was how to quickly press the mute button on my keyboard.


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