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ZPR: Borderlands Thoughts

ZPR means Zero Proof Reading. So this article is going to read LIKE CRAP.

I finished up Borderlands today after a spree of intense non-stop six hour sessions for the past three days. That game is alright. I wanted to beat it so I could get up to speed with what everyone thought was so great about that game. I guess I can see the appeal but I already have some ideas for what they need to do in the sequel try to bear with me:

Less Loot

You know out of two thousand or so guns I picked up, I believe I used around fourteen in the entire game. There is no reason this game should have so many throw away drops at every corner. On Irrational Games‘ podcast Irrational Interviews they had Todd Howard from Bethesda on to talk about random crap in games today. He mentions at one point in the podcast that Oblivion and Fallout 3 learned from other games like World of Warcraft on how to properly siphon drops at a steady pace. He explained that in games like Morrowind the really good drops would have a 5% chance of appearing for players of the game. To them that meant that if one hundred people played the game, only five of them would see this bad ass sword.

After World of Warcraft though, they learned that for each time the player does not successfully get a bad ass loot, the percentage will increase. So if you start playing the game its still 5%, but if you go through two thousand loot boxes and lockers, it would eventually increase to 10%, 20%, 40%, 80%, and eventually 100% if you somehow dodged it for that long (afterwards it would reset to 5%).

To me it seems like Borderlands doesn’t have this increasingly likeliness of getting great loot. I found one gun in the entire game that was instantly way more powerful than everything else I had. It was an SMG that did x2 damage with a base damage of 72 (so in reality it was 144). Every other SMG I experienced from that point (level 27) to my new game+ (level 38) was no where near as good. If there was an increase of percentage for getting similar type loots for my character, then I wouldn’t be hoarding the same gun for 1/3 of the game. Or…

Detachable Parts

Instead of introducing a steady increased rate of better loot, why not just downplay the importance of constant-looting. Imagine if each part of the gun could be detached and added to different guns. The barrel dictates fire rate, the clip decides the amount per magazine and reload speed, grips = accuracy, and scopes are just scopes.

They could get more creative by having slots for elementals and allow those slots to be combined or merged in some way. I think this would allow for even crazier combinations than what the current Borderlands formula allows. They’d have to balance it somehow by having your level decide how much material can be used on a particular gun, but I think its better than just searching every pot for pies.

This system would also still allow a bit of looting to be done, after all you’ll still have to find a barrel that has 50 fire rate with a low level requirement. Sounds like the best of both worlds to me.

Varied Environments

Borderlands’ art style certainly helped the barren desert-esqe environments look pretty cool… but they were all the same. Some places were a little varied; I enjoyed going through most of the bases and complexes in the game. However, the latter half of the game is plagued with practically the same location over and over again (aside from the second to last area which has snow). It sounds cliche, but add a lava level! A snow level. Get some forest temple going. It doesn’t have to be incredible original but just a little variance to what’s going on.

An Actual Story

I played the entirety of Borderlands on mute with headphones that were plugged to my iPod playing the GiantBombcast. From what I hear, I didn’t miss anything by doing this. The first ten hours didn’t interest me terribly, and the really dumb twists and double crosses that were explained through text didn’t make me rip those headphones off in anticipation of what was happening next.

Anthony Burch is now working at Gearbox, and I’m hoping his insights on the industry will help. At the same time, Gearbox now has a history of games with bad stories. Brothers in Arms games were plagued with this problem, and Borderlands has the same deal. But at the very least, they have the gameplay down, so improvement in other aspects is totally possible.

Other than that, it was pretty enjoyable. I don’t have a huge laundry list of complaints like other people do. This is probably in part because I played the game in single player and didn’t run into problems like loot dice rolls and a proper trading system. I’ll admit all of that stuff sounds terrible when you have jerk friends or playing with pubbies online, but yeah… didn’t really affect me.

GOTY version is coming out sometime this year for those who missed the boat, and it’ll include all of that rad DLC that people have been talking about. I want to round up all the achievements for my 360 version, but other than that. I’m about done with Borderlands, and this entry.

P.S. I posted this on a wordpress blog site somewhere else, so if you happen to come across it. Don't worry I'm not a hack...

Well maybe I am but not for this reason


P.S.S.S. Never mind
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About DinosaurPizzaone of us since 10:04 PM on 11.15.2009

My name is Artie Augustyn... and I'm an alcoholic. No I'm not, but I feel inclined to say that joke when given the opportunity no matter how predictable it has become. I started playing video games in 1997 when my parents bought me a Nintendo 64 and pleading for one for years. I was given Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye 64 on Christmas, and a year later on my Birthday I got Ocarina of the Time. I eventually moved up to a GameCube based on the brand recognition. I was soon persuaded into the world of Sony after playing Dynasty Warriors and Vice City at a friends house, and now I stand before you with an Xbox360, Playstation 3, Wii and PC.

For the most part many people have considered me a "late gamer." I never owned a NES, SNES, Sega Console, or Atari and I get a lot of flak for that. I've begun an initiative recently to go back and play older games that people hold to high praise and you can follow that on my podcast which I'm sure I'll mention a thousand times in this blog.

In terms of my views on gaming, I'd like to think that gaming will one day achieve a level of professionalism and seriousness such as movies or books. I think there are a few reasons that this goal has been kept back. Many gamers don't take the notion seriously, in addition to many leading voices not knowing what they're talking about, and in general everyone's disbelief that it's possible for games to be something more than what they already are. Although, I found Destructoid's views to make the most sense out of what I've seen so far, so I made an account on that sole reason.

I think that covers everything.
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