Top 10 Things I Want Improved in Borderlands 2
As a few of you might have noticed yesterday (when I posted it to GamePlayer’s Facebook page), Borderlands 2 has been announced by 2k Games and is well under production aiming for a late 2012 or early 2013 release.
For a lot of people (myself included) this is awesome news. Borderlands was an awesome FPS/RPG for many reasons; the scope of its story, the variety of its weapons, the easy-to-use item navigation, not to mention the simplicity of its approach to Co-Op (with both offline and local games possible, drop-in drop-out like Diablo). All these things and more won Borderlands a place in my heart, but I also managed to put my finger on a few things which held it back from being truly exceptional.
But before we dive into that, let’s see what 2k Games has to say about the release. Their official statement went something like this:
“Combining invention and evolution, Borderlands 2 features all-new characters, skills, environments, enemies, weapons and equipment, which come together in an ambitiously crafted story. Players will reveal secrets, and escalate mysteries of the Borderlands universe as they adventure across the unexplored new areas of Pandora.”
Pretty ambiguous. You could have got as much information from just hearing the name Borderlands 2 (well, except the “all-new characters” part). As such, I penned a few of my own ideas on how they can improve on the first one – see if you agree (Some spoilers, especially the ending):
"Please be a shotgun, please be a shotgun, please be a shotgu... shit."
10. The Rewards
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the ‘treasure chest’ style delivery system for finding loot across the world, and I also enjoyed the random weapons that occasionally drop from humanoids that you are fighting (not to mention that it’s the actual weapon they were using, there’s nothing like killing an annoying guy with a lightning SMG and then picking it up to zap his friends). But what I felt was missing from the majority of the original game was being appropriately rewarded for killing a boss. I mean, the humanoid ones inevitably drop a good gun and there are often chests nearby. But when you take down something like the Rakk Hive, you want a neat pile of awesome weapons to appear in some form – not play “let’s find the chest and pray it’s something good this time”. The end boss is especially guilty of this, but wow there are bigger problems there.
The ending to The Secret Armory of General Knoxx (DLC) is basically what I’m talking about.
"Only you can
prevent ensure forest fires"
9. The Elemental Weapons
This was a suggestion from my brother (the incorrigible Pearse Moran), but I heard him out and it has a lot of merit. Now the elemental weapons currently have levels of strength, ranging from 1x up to 4x. This basically increases the chance of the effect by a base amount per level (from what I’ve noticed). What he suggested, was that each level has a different or more pronounced effect.
Fire x1: Chance to light enemies on fire, doing little damage to shields and moderate damage to health
Fire x2: Chance to light enemies on fire and spread fire to other enemies nearby, does little damage to shields and light damage to health
Fire x3: Chance to light enemies on fire, doing moderate damage to shields and heavy damage to health. (Note: No spread)
Firex4: Chance to light enemies on fire and spread fire to other enemies nearby, does moderate damage to shields and heavy damage to health
By switching to this model, you create more dynamic choices for trading off between the ranks. I know it’s a bit simplistic in my example but you get the idea. If you are trading 4 fire rate for the ability to spread fire you will probably do it. As it is now, all you get is a little higher proc (chance) rate and that’s harder to compare.
"I can kill her in 3 shots, but all I get is this lousy T-Shirt?"
8. More Gear
Maybe it’s the WoW player in me, but when I play a game which has customizeable visuals and an engine which seems intent on drowning me in randomized weaponry – I start wondering if additional gear choices would be a viable possibility. Now I’m not saying I want to go full Diablo on their ass, with stats and skills and other crap to balance. Basically what I’m thinking is similar stats to those on the weapons – but maybe a bit more basic.
Bandit’s Shirt: Equip this shirt to increase melee damage 1%
Crimson Lance Helmet: Equip this helmet to increase accuracy 1%
You know, simple things. But enough to break the monotony of having to literally wade through the discarded and (mostly) inferior weapons of your foes.
"Dear Diary... Jackpot."
7. The Eridian Weaponry
For the whole game I was promised a cache of Eridian technology. And I knew what that meant “FREE BADASS GUNS FOR EVERYBODY” little did I know, the vault of weaponry (much like the cake) was a lie. However I did find a couple Eridian guns over my travels, and they are awesome! I really don’t understand why Gearbox (developer, 2k is the publisher) didn’t throw some more of these bad boys in the game – considering they are the most imaginative and most iconic weapons Borderlands has to offer.
"Fuck yeah! That was awesome! And I only have to wait 10 minutes before I can do it again!"
6. Better Skills
This is a no brainer. For a game with a talent tree of skills, Borderlands sure plays like… well a game without a talent tree of skills. And it’s because all the skills they give you (bar maybe 3 per class) are passive abilities. Things we click (e.g. 5% shotgun damage) and then never really see translated into the gameplay. Where are the ultimate abilities at the bottom of the tree? Where is the sirens phoenix form? Where is the hunters tame skag ability? Where is the soldiers, uhh, lay mines? And bricks… third fist? I dunno. But you get the idea, we need some more game-changing dynamic skills to interest people in making their characters both diverse and iconic.
"Ok you sweep in from the right and I'll... get ready to run away"
5. More Bosses
At best Borderlands was a fascinating slaughter across a series of locations filled with new and interesting characters to befriend or destroy. At worst Borderlands was a meaningless grind fest, broken up every couple of hours with a single boss to break the monotony. My favourite moments in the game were when I was fighting larger-than-life mini-bosses like Skagzilla, the Rakk Hive and Mothrakk. And really, are these that hard to introduce more of? I mean I know we have to kill a few thousand bandit camps – but surely you can give us a break every 50 or so to go kill something huge and endangered? It’s all I ask.
"Before I break your face... let's have little "us time". What's your favourite colour?"
4. The Characters
Straight from the starting cinematic I got a feel for the characters. The tempestuous Siren, the enigmatic Soldier, the furious Berserker (no duh) and the resilient hunter. Unfortunately, that was the only moment in the entire game where I learned anything about the characters. I mean, since they don’t (you know) talk at all, it can be kinda hard figuring out what they are like and what the f*ck they are thinking. And this would be kind of cool to find out, even if it’s only a brief exchange while you pick up quests.
Cinematics maybe? Hm…
"Wow what a cool environment!" "Well, get used to it. The rest of the game looks exactly the same."
3. The Terrain
I know Pandora is a wasteland, but seriously I haven’t seen so many re-used shades of gray since I played Fallout 3. I mean, there were what? 2 areas which had a patch of grass? And it was literally a patch in most of them. And when it wasn’t deserts, it was caves. Like a lot of caves. Even when you got into the more civilized Crimson Lance areas, it was repeated buildings and environments and when things weren’t gray they were red. Like a lot of red. I’m not asking for a bountiful forest or Hyrule Field, but a few scraggly dying trees that you make your way through at one point? Maybe a river? It’s not much, but it lets me know there are more than 3 colours on your palate.
"I totally get what's going on. Except for everything in this picture."
2. The Story
What story? Oh wait, there was something in that weird beginning movie with the map-style animations. Something about an angel and a vault? I can’t remember properly, since from the start til the last 5 minutes of the game you are mainly doing other things. Like finding T.K. Baha some food or killing King Wee Wee. Before I get hate flamed, yes I do actually remember finding the vault pieces etc. But it was just so badly set up that I completely ignored the main story. I mean, are engaging quests that hard to write? Or does everything have to be “Oh yeah, my uncle is in town – can you go find us a pair of mugs so we can party tonight? That bandit camp filled with deranged mutants should have some. Also, can you clean them first? K thanx.”
"Ok... But seriously... What the fuck bro?"
1. The Ending
And finally, the (most obvious) one you have been waiting for. The ending of Borderlands is so damn anti-climatic people have actually thought it was a joke by the developers. I mean, first the boss is a kraken (I knew I should have grouped up with Johnny Depp), then the vault stays closed for another 200 years anyway. But most of all WE GET NO LOOT?! WTF?! I mean, I don’t know about you guys. But I felt like I had just been tea-bagged by the developers. And I didn’t like it. Luckily the endings of the various DLC’s were much more rewarding, particularly in the case of General Knoxx, but that still wasn’t quite enough to soak up my bitterness at the epic fail that was the original ending. I mean, I haven’t seen that many redundant tentacles since I last watched hentai.
Anyway, those are my picks for “ways to make Borderlands 2 a winner” – now we can just play the “count how many GamePlayer got right” game for the next year or so of development.
If it’s five or more than someone definitely owes me a beer.