Borderlands 3: What A Fan Wants From the Highly Anticipated Series Return
Guest article by Jaydan Prior
People are beginning to get excited about Borderlands 3. The most prominent members of the Borderlands community are beginning to emerge from the dark, nightmare fuelled abyss that was Destiny and see the beautiful explosions emanating from the brand-new setting of Borderlands 3, Promethea. Speculation videos are abundant. Articles are leaking information. Everything from the story to the loot and even the post launch support is being debated. So when co-founder of the Explosion Network and world renowned E3 prediction expert Dylan Blight offered me the opportunity to voice my opinions on the matter, I knew I had to take it.
Below are my personal thoughts on what I think Gearbox should do with Borderlands 3. I would like to think that most of these ideas would be embraced by the Borderlands community, but I am not going to pretend that I’m speaking on their behalf. After all, I have only put a few hundred hours into the franchise.
Handsome Jack is Dead
He Can Stay That Way
There is no denying just how good a character Handsome Jack was in Borderlands 2. He was a villain responsible for so much cruelty and yet also the catalyst of much of the game's humour. Crafting such a villain is difficult, but Gearbox managed to do it and he instantly became a fan favourite. There was only one problem: Anthony Burch (Lead Writer on Borderlands 2) had decided to kill him off. So 2K was forced to follow in the footsteps of Warner Bros. Interactive and pull an Arkham Origins. Now every entry into the franchise since has featured Handsome Jack prominently. With Borderlands 3 already confirmed to be leaving Pandora behind, it is time for Gearbox to do the same with Jack. We’ve seen his origin, his death and the world thereafter (which somehow still required hours of Dameon Clarke voice). It is time for his story to end. So, they better not pull an Arkham Knight as well.
Out with the Old. In with the New
“War is coming. And you will need all the Vault Hunters you can get.”
This is the last message we have been left with regarding the potential events of Borderlands 3. It’s incredibly vague but has led some to speculate that we will be playing as past Vault Hunters in the new game. This would be an unfortunate mistake on Gearbox’s part. If I wanted to punch skags in the face as Brick, I’d go back to the original game. If I wanted to run around screaming about meat bicycles as Krieg, I’d play Borderlands 2. Instead, it would be best for Gearbox to focus on creating at least 4 new playable characters. It really comes down to what you think it would be better for Gearbox to be spending their time on. Balancing the skill trees of brand new characters OR deciding which cliché story idea they’ll use to drain the original Vault Hunters of their powers so that we can level them up again.
"The thought of having other random players in the world with me, in a game that has shared loot, gives me anxiety."
Don’t Be Destiny
If Borderlands 3 requires an internet connection to play, that will be an immediate turn off for many and most importantly, me. This has never happened in the previous games before and I highly doubt that they will change it up. But that quote I used earlier about how “war is coming” has me worried. At the very least that quote is an indication of an increase in the narratives scale. Could that be Gearbox setting up for an always online, shared world shooter in an attempt to mimic Bungie’s success? I really hope not, and not just because I have an awful internet connection. I don’t traditionally play Borderlands in co-op, opting instead for the single-player experience. The thought of having other random players in the world with me, in a game that has shared loot, gives me anxiety.
Keep the Level Cap at 50
How the Borderlands franchise traditionally works is that after your first playthrough you begin your second, which is known as True Vault Hunter Mode (TVHM). Upon completion of TVHM, your character will have reached level 50. Each game* adds the third playthrough after release and increases the level cap. This is known as Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (UVHM). While I have no issue with UVHM and players getting another chance to play through the story again without having to start a new character, I do have a problem with them increasing the players level. I love farming weapons in the end game, but why would I waste my time finding weapons at level 50 if Gearbox is going to raise the maximum level and make them all redundant? The solution is to not tie UVHM to an increased level cap, and for it to simply be a playthrough scaled entirely for a level 50 character, that can be replayed an infinite number of times.
*The original Borderlands did not add UVHM, it only increased the level cap to 69 (giggity).
Steal Some of Diablo’s Ideas. They Won’t Mind
After reaching the level cap in the previous titles, the end game begins. For the most part, this consists of three things – farming bosses, farming raid bosses and farming chests. These activities are all done in the continual effort to get a gun that’s slightly better than the one you are holding in your hands. I am the type of person that loves this grind but I can admit that after a hundred or so hours, it gets a bit repetitive. Something that could easily be added to create a bit more variety is a bounty system, similar to the one seen in Blizzard's Diablo 3. After the game finishes, each area can offer a handful of bounties. These could range from clearing an area, defeating a buffed boss within a time limit or even give players an opportunity to complete their favourite side missions again with differing parameters. Such bounties will give Gearbox an easy way to support the game with community events. It also has the potential to be incredibly rewarding for the player. For example, completing all of the bounties in one game session cold unlock a farmable location, perhaps similar to that seen in the Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC from the original game.
I Love Me a Legendary
The only thing the Borderlands community can agree on when it comes to Legendary weapons is that The Pre-Sequel, for lack of a better term, fucked it up. Other than that, we are pretty split on whether the system in Borderlands or Borderlands 2 is superior. I myself, fall somewhere in the middle. If the 500 plus word drafts of this paragraph I’ve written are any indication, I can get incredibly in-depth on this particular topic. So, I’m going to just make my suggestion and assume you know what I am talking about. I propose a combination of the two systems from the Gearbox-developed titles. I believe that actually playing the game should be rewarding, so I want to see an improved world drop rate like that in the original. I also love the assigned legendary drops that bosses have in Borderlands 2. That system should still be in the game for those who want to go after a specific legendary weapon, but an additional layer should be added for the more hardcore fans. Hybrid weapons. Not the hybrid weapons that were an accidental by-product of the original games’ coding. I instead mean incredibly rare versions of existing legendaries that are put into the game on purpose. This is a system that I believe will reward the more casual fan-base while also not compromising on what the hardcore fans love.
Don’t Let Us Down
For a series that is known for the quality of its story DLC, this may seem like an odd point to add. However, after what Gearbox let 2K Australia do with The Pre-Sequel, quality post-launch content is no longer a safe bet. When the season pass is inevitably sold, consumers will expect at least 4 substantial story content packs and at least 2 new characters. That probably seems a bit entitled but expectations have been set by history. The fans adore what Gearbox has done with its support of the Borderlands titles. The series is, without question, what it is today because of the Knoxx DLC from Borderlands 1. And despite how crazy the world they have created already is, the DLC has given the studio free reign and delivered us Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep (arguably the best piece of story DLC in video game history). To be quite frank, if no effort is made on Gearbox’s part to replicate the post-launch support the franchise has seen in the past, it will be nothing short of disappointing.
At the end of the day, despite their sketchy track record, Gearbox created my 2 favourite games of all time. I am choosing to trust them with Borderlands 3 and I am eagerly awaiting some announcements at E3. But before then, I am hoping Randy Pitchford gives this list a read and makes a video game I’ll enjoy putting a couple hundred more hours into.
Jaydan Prior is currently writing a book that will come out after the FF VII remake. A Kinda Funny best friend, fan of QN5 Music and Quintic Sound
You can follow him on Twitter at @jaydanprior