When Borderlands first came out back in October of 2009, I was smitten. I got it, played every single mission alone, and basically just devoured the game. Playing it on the PS3 was what some saw as my major handicap; most of my friends had it for the Xbox 360. However, I had a fantastic time playing the game alone. I played as Lilith the Siren, friendless and badass; I made that game my bitch, and then set it aside to move onto the next one. By the time the DLC came out, I was involved in other games.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Borderlands was on sale for $14.99 – with all of the DLC – for PlayStation Plus subscribers. I gobbled it up, lent my hard copy to a friend, and dove right back in again. Podcast Producer Ryan Littlefield and I beat the game in just two short weeks, and as we approached the vault, he told me he’d found a copy of the GOTY edition at Target for $8 in the clearance section. “Of course you did,” I laughed, “they’re probably doing all this to gear up for the announcement of Borderlands 2.” That night, the rumor broke on Eurogamer; the next morning, Borderlands 2 was officially announced by 2K Games.
What this means is that there is massive potential here for a sequel that goes off the charts. There’s so much awesome in the first game, but there’s so much that could be adjusted to make the sequel even better. If they find the right balance, Borderlands fans will have much to rejoice about – and many more players to rejoice with. What follows is a detailed list of what I think should be included, discluded, and just plain married to Borderlands 2.
Keep the Humor
One of the most important aspects of Borderlands was the humor. Scooter’s catchphrase permeated every part of mine and Ryan’s waking life, to the point that we started our mornings with “Come on and take a riiiiiiide!” I also love the quips from the characters themselves – Lilith’s “I’m really good at this!” as she kills everything in sight made me laugh every time. The pure hilarious insanity of Tannis; the fact that Nine Toes has three balls – it works, 2K. And since you’ve got brilliant and hilarious Anthony Burch writing the sequel, I don’t think you’ll have a problem keeping it in there.
More Guns, More Options
In Borderlands, there are a billion guns that can be found as loot, or given at the end of a mission. They’re everywhere. My favorite by a long shot are the submachine guns, of which I have half a dozen at all times. They can have different clip sizes, different reload speeds, be scoped or unscoped, and, best of all, they can be imbued with elemental powers – fire, corrosive, explosive, and electric. In Borderlands 2, I want to see more guns, more options, and most of all, more elemental powers. I want to be able to have a sniper rifle with a clip that holds 20 bullets, fast reload speed, that has a chance to freeze the enemy. I want a combat rifle that has regenerating ammo that can act as a transfusion grenade and transfer the enemy’s health to me. I want a rocket launcher that launches ferocious kittens that eat my enemy. And I want to name the kittens after elements of the periodic table.
Don’t Go Call of Duty On Me
One thing that I’m really worried about is that Borderlands 2 will get the Call of Duty treatment and that the gameplay will become focused on “perks” given to the players individually instead of giving them the chance to find weapons that have these different functionalities. Don’t get me wrong – I love racking up COD points and unlocking grips for my Aug, or getting an extended mag for my Famas, but Borderlands is not Call of Duty. For the loot system to continue to function, the loot has to mean something, and can’t be wholly focused around a person’s innate abilities. If the only difference in the lootable guns are cosmetic things, like emblems and grips, then we’re losing an inherently fun and exciting – and mysterious – part of the game. I feel that the COD customization is neutering shooters, especially ones that worked so well before the infestation.
Larger Roles for the Gun Companies
There are several giant, faceless conglomerations within Borderlands, responsible for guns and other items on Pandora. I would love for these companies to have a more active role in the story of Borderlands 2. Bring in some of the people who work for the companies, have more items and guns usable from them, or even give us more of a backstory. They were so interesting, so present, and yet so absent.
Fix the AI, Please!
By fix the AI, I don’t necessarily just mean “make them smarter” – I also mean adjust their numbers. There are times when I go into an area and spend ages wiping out Burning Psychos, Badass Corrosive Spiderants, and giant, rage-inducing Rakk (remember that one Rakk? MothRakk? The one that took an hour to kill????). Even playing the game with another player, some of these areas were still a giant pain. While I don’t mind the difficulty levels, or spending anywhere from $3,000 to $60,000 to use the Hyperion system and respawn, sometimes I just wanted to run through areas without fighting – and I did. Maybe making fewer enemies per area, or spreading them out a little more evenly, as well as making the enemy respawn system in any way consistent, would make the fighting sequences much more pleasant. Again, I’m not saying make them easy – I’m just saying make them fun. There’s a huge difference. Sometimes easy is boring, and sometimes hard is fun, but monotony and frustration are never good things.
Clearer Waypoint Information in Missions
What bothered me far more than the AI was the inability, at times, to figure out where I was supposed to go for a specific mission later in the game. Once New Haven and Rust Commons East and West open up, the game becomes far bigger than it was in the beginning. As a result, there are a ton more maps and locations, and the missions become much more spread out, and are assigned from many more locations. It becomes increasingly difficult to find some of these areas when the specific places aren’t listed in the mission. We found ourselves traveling from one map to the next, simply following the Waypoint markers as they took us from travel point to travel point. Instead of being able to use the handy warp system – which, by all sensible means, we should have been able to use – we either scrambled all over the map for far too long, or looked the location up on the Internet so we could quick travel. I understand that making it that easy to quick travel might take some of the difficulty out of it, but keeping it as it is makes it feel more like a frustrating scavenger hunt than anything else. Hopefully the second game will find a happy medium between too easy and too… well… stupid.
Better Control of the Cars
Please, 2K. PLEASE. Whatever you do, please make the cars easier to handle. The slightest rock will stop them, hitting another car or any of a dozen other items will flip them, and the boost hardly lets me get any airtime at all when I’m trying to jump a ramp. Also, while it is incredibly awesome that I can run over practically any enemy at any time, sometimes that feels a bit too easy. I don’t necessarily want that to be taken out of the game – the satisfying squish noise makes me so happy – but it does make the game easier than it needs to be (though squishy and fun). And while playing the game all the way through completely twice has made me far better at driving the vehicles, the controls could be a little less janky as well.
This is almost not even worth mentioning, seeing as four new character classes and character designs were already announced, but I am so excited about this idea that I’m going to write about it anyway. The only one who has been announced so far is the Salvador the Gunzerker, but he’s looking pretty fantastic. I’m wondering if they’ll end up including some kind of medic class, seeing as sometimes it can be a real pain in the ass to get healed (unless, of course, you have Transfusion mods on your grenades, and your shield regenerates your health for you – but those abilities don’t show up until later in the game). I have to admit – I’m really going to miss Lilith and her amazing Phasewalking abilities, but I’m eager and excited to see what’s in store for us. Plus, the original characters will still be around as NPCs, which hopefully means they’ll be kicking ass right next to us on some of the new missions.
More of Everything
The only other thing I have to say is that I want more. More missions, more enemies, more interaction with insanely hilarious characters, more vehicles, more guns, more boss fights, more weapons, more class mods, and most of all, more lootable objects. I want more maps, more locations, and more chances to quick travel. All I want is more, and not in a “less is more” kind of way.
Truth be told, despite my complaints here, there’s not much I don’t like about the original Borderlands. I do hope that the changes they make will be improvements and not just adjustments to make the game more of a clone of other shooters out there (*cough* Call of Duty). I can’t wait to see the new classes, characters, and locales, as well as the new NPCs and the gun companies. I am looking forward to whenever it’s getting released, which I know is sometime after April 2012, but I wish was a little more specific. Oh, and I’ll be playing it at PAX Prime next week, so be sure to come back here to read about my hands-on impression.