Tobold's Blog
Friday, August 23, 2013
 
WIP: Borderlands 2, The Tribez, The Bureau

In the ongoing series of What I'm Playing, these are the games I am currently busy with. This week I finished the first playthrough of Borderlands 2, using the assassin character Zer0. Having done most of the side-missions that got me to level 32, which is pretty much where I wanted to be to play the DLC Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep. So now I'm looking forward to this parody of Dungeons & Dragons re-imagined by Tiny Tina as Bunkers & Badasses. But I also made a new character, a gunzerker, currently at level 8.

A comment on DLCs: I am not a huge fan of DLCs and only buy them sparingly. If it wasn't for the D&D connection, I wouldn't have bought any DLC for Borderlands 2. I consider DLCs to be one of the bad consequences of piracy and used games sales: As the game companies lost control and revenue over the original games, they now only deliver you half a game, and then sell you the other half in a system which makes piracy and used game sales more difficult if not impossible. So they do make some money from the people who got their original game without paying the developers a single cent. The downside for people actually buying original games is that we end up paying twice for our games. Fortunately I got Borderlands 2 at half price from a Steam sale, so the extra $10 is still not pushing the overall price over the top.

Borderlands 2 shares a deep flaw with Diablo 3 in that the best way to get a weapon in the game is not by playing the game. In Diablo 3 you have the real money auction house, in Borderlands 2 you have golden keys available via social media giving you guaranteed epics of your level. As I had 44 of those golden keys it was just too tempting to get a few epics every time I faced a really hard fight. On the one side that is preferable to grinding or endlessly repeating content to advance. On the other side any out-of-game way to get best-in-slot loot seriously takes away from the item gathering motivation of games like these. It is easy to say "if you don't like these ways, don't use them", but even just knowing that the better alternative exists already removes some of the fun of collecting items in game.

The other game I am currently playing is The Tribez on the iPad, a cutesy city-building and economic management game. It is Free2Play, but apart from the occasional nag screen with "special offers" to upgrade your warehouse or get gems at a reduced price the monetization scheme can well be ignored. What is harder to ignore is that the latest patch broke the game on some machines, so curiously it is still running on my iPad, but not any more on the iPad of my wife, annoying her to no end. Patching via the App Store is notoriously slow, so for her the game is already down for over a week. The Facebook page has over 2,000 comments complaining about that, so that is maybe not the best advertisement for that game. But when it runs The Tribez is fun enough.

Currently downloading on my computer is The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, otherwise known as "the XCOM shooter". The game was already released 3 days ago in the USA, but Europe only got it today, so I'll start playing this weekend. I'm well aware that the reviews are at best mixed, but as a fan of XCOM and the 60's setting, I still have to try this.

Comments:
I'd agree on DLC being a consequence of used games, most DLC can't be resold.

I'd strongly disagree on DLC being a consequence of piracy, as DLC is cracked like any other piece of software.
 
The Tribez breaks regularly on updates. For future updates, it's best to always check the app store/facebook comments to see if anything is broken before updating. It's a fun game, though!
 
Tobold doesn't differentiate between used games and piracy.


 
I do, but they have things in common, namely that somebody gets to play a game without the makers of the game receiving a single cent of money. Thus both are likely to affect game design, because game companies will try to work around this. Online account binding of games and DLC is just one of the effects.
 
I never felt BL2 was incomplete in any way, like the DLC'S were the missing piece of the full game. On the golden keys subject: free purples work fine in the first playthrough and possibly in part of the second. But if/when you unlock the hardest one, s%it gets real and purples wont be enough to save your back. You will die a LOT. I have spent all my keys, around 50 or so, and most of the drops were crap. I kept very few of them and they did not last long anyway.

About the dlc's: I found them a bit too short and repetitive, nothing really different or better than regular game. And Hammerlock is just bad. TinyTina is pretty good but can be a PAIN without decent weapons.
 
Your analysis of DLCs may be not entirely correct. DLCs can be pirated as easily as core games themselves.

You can check any major torrent tracker to see "Game X + all DLCs" threads all over the place.

In my opinion, DLCs come from the same origin as sequel movies: they are attempts to make more money from successful product with significantly less production cost then the original.
 
It was less of an analysis and more of a quote from a German EA executive speaking at Gamescom. But you are right that he mainly targeted the DLCs at buyers of used games, and less so towards pirates. You'd assume a buyer of a used game to be honest enough to pay for the DLC, as he didn't pirate the original game.

I do however remember some games in which the DLC had a stronger online DRM than the game itself, so there is at least a chance that the DLC is a bit less frequently pirated.
 
To me, DLC is an outgrowth of the old expansion pack, but made viable for the console and ported to PC.

In other words, I love em. I get more of a game I like, without having to pay full expansion price and to date, haven't gotten less value than I'd expect from the price I'm paying.
 
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