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Friday, June 18, 2010

On Borderlands

Borderlands has been out for a while, but with my semi-limited gaming schedule, I'm just now really getting into it the way it deserves. I've noticed a few peculiarities with the game that I thought I'd mention.

First, let me say I've played it on the XBOX 360 only without playing the expansions yet. The base game on console is my only experience with the game.

Borderlands seems to be a game desperately trying to be a cut-rate MMORPG. That said, it is a very solid and fun game, combining some of the best elements of the troubled MMOFPS genre, and indeed if it was an expanded game with a few tweaks and was an actual MMO, it would sell very well. The things that are the most MMO-ey about the whole thing are the loot system and the difficulty of the game.

The loot system will seem very familiar to many MMOers. It has the WoW loot coloring system, and also the abundance of loot that comes with many MMO's (most of which is junk you will vendor and never want to see again). The problem that arises is that while Borderlands seems to generate guns with random attributes and modifiers, which is a good thing, this randomness makes the color-coding loot system superfluous. If anything, the color coding is misleading. I have yet to run accross a legendary (orange) gun that is worth having over my favorites (usually blue or green, but I do have a couple purples that are delicious). I've also noticed that guns are either really good, average, or really bad. This comes from a mix of stats, for instance, a ridiculous damage with a decent crit multiplier and slow speed is still a good gun, but average in all categories will probably just get you killed. It seems that crit multiplier is one of the more important categories. At any rate, the loot system is wonky and its best to experiment with guns before vendoring them. You may find a hidden treasure that you would have thrown away.

The next part that is MMO-ey is the difficulty. I tried playing this game solo, and its definately do-able, but the repetitiveness of the game comes through in solo mode, and having twice the loot is pointless if you can't carry it all. Playing with even one friend makes the game more fun, with complimentary class abilities and twice the carry capacity (and reviving, covering, and various other tactics) you can definately enjoy the game more. Would this remain true if this was multiplied by millions of others? Well, the game would have to be expanded, but I believe it would be.

This is a rarity in that I am supporting the transformation of a decent base game and think it could be improved by becoming an MMORPG. Hopefully it will become one, but I am doubtful it will ever get off the ground. Here's hoping
-VG

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