Tobold's Blog
Monday, April 22, 2013
 
Thoughts from the Borderlands

Some games I stop playing because I arrived at the end. Others I stop playing somewhere in the middle for no apparent reason. Thus the first Borderlands stands out in my memory as a game where I had a specific reason for stopping in the middle: I had experimented with the multi-player part of the game, and not only not liked it much (too chaotic, plus bad loot system), but also found it had messed up my character (especially the quest log) for the single-player part of the game. Currently I am playing Borderlands 2, and I am enjoying it so much, I'm starting to consider to start the first game of the series over from scratch after finishing the second part.

What I enjoy about Borderlands 2 is how the solo game enables a less restrictive game design. MMORPGs usually have game mechanics which prevent "clever" gameplay, like creating situations in which you can hurt the mob while the mob can't hurt you, or logging off and on again to make treasure chests respawn. Borderlands 2 simply allows that sort of stuff. Who cares whether some abuse of game mechanics is "cheating" in a single-player game? And for those who just consider that sort of play style as clever, it is a lot more fun if there aren't too many artificial barriers everywhere to prevent it.

I am rather average in my abilities regarding first-person-shooters. The Borderlands games accommodate that well: These are old school shooters without complex cover and sneaking mechanics, thus not much of a learning curve, and easy to get into the game even if you just play it casually from time to time. The penalty on dying isn't all that harsh, and I have never gotten "stuck" on an boss fight. You could always get more levels and better gear if that would happen to you. And there isn't too much of a story to worry about either. Overall excellent casual shooters.

Comments:
Related News: Gearbox (the Borderlands folk) have just bought the Homeworld franchise. I wonder how they will fare with a non FPS game. The original Homeworld is one of my favourite ever games.

On Borderlands 2: Is it less repetitive than 1? I really enjoyed the first half of 1 but I ran out of enthusiasm it all began to feel the same over and over again.
 
Bl2 is the same as bl1 with some better/nicer stuff. But the core game is exactly the same, it coud be called Borderlands 1 big dlc. I am currently in playthrough 3, just added with the latest patch, and enemies are a huge pain in the back. They REALLY put you in constant danger, compared to previous difficulties.

Is it less repetitive? No... It is extremely repetitive, once again.

I like it, as it is fast and furious and it perfectly fits my relatively low amount of free time. Just skip online games with randoms... because almost everyone runs around with cheated gear.
 
@Rugus

I'm curious what you think is better about Borderlands 2 over 1. Aside from improved vehicle combat (a serious annoyance in BL1), every change I can think of was for the worse. The clunky menu system might be the worst of any game I've played in years, dialogue clips often start in the middle of loud fights where you can't hear and CANNOT be repeated, you can no longer track more than one quest at a time (why Gearbox, why?), and the occasional enemy will have a surprise "all your shields and 90% of your health gone instantly" attack.

Another issue from the first Borderlands was a lack of balance between guns. For 2, they decided to make that way, way worse. How about a rifle that does 400 damage or one of the same quality and same level that does 1300 damage? The difficulty of the game rests almost entirely on your luck in having recently acquired a ridiculously more powerful weapon. At a few points, I actually had ammo problems because the best weapon I had at the time sucked, and it took so many more shots to kill enemies.

Don't get me wrong, I do like the game. But then, I really liked the first one, and the games are incredibly similar. So without any major fundamental changes, I was bound to like this one too. But I feel like most of what they changed was a mistake.
 
What I really like in BL2 is that you don't have weapon specializations anymore, meaning you can switch between them without penalties. That really adds a lot of options, in a game where everything is about guns. Badass points are nice too.

There are some annoyances, I agree. The menu is barely decent and quite hard to manage. But let me say that after Skyrim... I am already used to bad menus. Also, 99.9% of your time will be spent selling useless stuff, so you don't really need to micro-manage your inventory.

BL2 is -in general- harder than BL1. Playthrough 1 is still easy as hell. Playthrough 2 is much harder and often challenging. Finally, playthrough 3 adds a lot of adrenaline when you have to fight even the easiest enemy in the game. It does not forgive you.

I never cared about story and dialogues in BL1 and so it didn't in BL2. I play for the fun of blasting stuff and being overcame by packs of angry enemies. I see it like a modern Pac-Man, where I use 5-10% of my brain and just relax and enjoy the videogame madness.

Ammo problems: yes, it's true. Wait for playthrough 3. You will often unload entire clips to kill just ONE enemy. It can be annoying and adrenalinic at the same time. I find it good, to be honest, because what's the point of easily killing stuff? I would get bored very fast.

The real selling point of BL2? Handsome Jack.
 
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