So, Borderlands. I'm sure many of you have played it. Late to the party as always, I've just recently finished it with a friend; I went for the Siren, while his class of choice was the soldier. Overall, we definitely had a great time with the game - yet one that left us with a distinctly bitter aftertaste.
The thing is, the moment we had the most fun playing was at a relatively early point into the game. We had decided to take on a quest that, because of the high levels of the enemies in that dungeon, was marked as downright "impossible" on our interface. "Well screw you, interface!" we said, "We'll show you just how not fucking impossible this is for us! Yeah, that's right!" Well it was, almost. For the next hour or two we constantly were either dying or on the brink of death, running back to shops for ammunition, while carefully taking one step after the other just so the overpowered badass motherfucker around the next corner wouldn't be able to screw us over the split-second we let our guard down. We slowly had to wear every enemy down, sometimes over minutes and sometimes eventually only with the Siren's phasewalk, the Soldier's turret and both of our melee-attacks. And it was awesome.
Little did we know that those moments of desperate struggle should be the last of its kind we were to experience in Borderlands. Because, as the game goes on, even if you do just a few of the side-quests, there will no longer be any missions that are marked "impossible". There won't even be "tough" ones - in fact the highest of feelings will be the occasional "normal" mission among a whole bunch of "trivial" ones. We still had fun leveling up, finding loot and kicking ass but still - that ass-kicking just didn't feel as good as that one time. More often than not we just killed bosses along with their henchman without even noticing they were supposed to be bosses. Huge monsters the fight against was built up to by fearsome growls from miles away went down after a couple of salves without even so much as scratching us. Every fight I could just phasewalk into any group of enemies from behind while my friend would deploy his turret in front of them and then go on to shotgun them in the back one or two shots per opponent. The game basically got piss-easy very quickly. When we finally got to the vault and defeated the last boss we didn't think it was the last boss. We thought it was a road-bump on the way to the surely very hard dungeon that the vault would be. It wasn't, obviously.
Basically, there's three things Gearbox fucked up: most obviously, the scaling doesn't give the player enough of a challenge. But what ultimately made me decide to write this blog are the other two. They don't give their audience enough options. Borderlands still is a good game - but it could have been a great game had they only deemed it necessary to add the tiny little option that is scalable difficulty. And then, there's their dick-move to disallow any modding. Had we been able to up all enemies a few levels via a console command - it would've taken us much longer to beat the game and we also would have enjoyed it a great deal more. But they took that away from the users, presumably because they wanted to make more money by selling DLC; which ironically they now won't be getting from us because they took customizability away. It's a shame, really.
I hope this trend doesn't continue and developers realize that denying their players options does ultimately not add value to post-release additions they might offer. Please, let us modify our games.