Borderlands: What I’d like in a sequel

August 16, 2010, Author: Simon Weatherall

One of the best games to come out of 2009 was Gearbox Software’s Borderlands. This game has everything. It has class, it has replay value and it has so many different varieties of weapons that you can easily see why millions of people have been playing it all over the world. It’s been nearly a year since I bought two copies of the game for me and my girlfriend and set out on the epic mission of killing everything that dared to attack us as we traversed the world of Pandora. After several conversations with Andy C, we started to pull apart this masterpiece, not only praising Gearbox for successfully mashing together various different elements into the game, but finding ways that if we were the developers, we would improve it for the next game.

At this point I figured what the hell; maybe I should write this stuff down and see what the rest of the world thinks.

The first thing on the list is the guns. One thing both Andy and I noticed was that both of us tended to keep the same sets of guns for a long period of time. There may be millions of guns but that didn’t stop us from constantly using the same ones. The hardest part for both of us was swapping a gun that you had been using for the last fifty missions for one that was a little bit better. It was was like replacing your child with another child that looks the same but is slightly stronger and has the ability to fart fire. The new child has a few perks, but its not the same child that you’re used to and have come to love as your own.

One thing we agreed on was that it would have been a better idea to have had millions of gun parts which you could swap and change, like Tuko does in the Good the Bad and the Ugly. He sees a standard stock that he likes then changes the parts to suit him. This idea would mean that you could still have loads of guns, but you could also upgrade them as you saw fit. So you get yourself one of the standard stock weapons and decide that you want to pull off the barrel from one of the other weapons. The magazine is extended and maybe you decide that you want to add an elemental mod into the mix for a bit. Before you know it, you have created your own custom masterpiece that you have stuck together with super glue and cable ties and hair grease. This would mean that people would still run around and collect stuff but would also always be adding stuff to their guns. You could also have some sort of trading system where people could barter for the parts. Find something cool and powerful but not quite what you’re looking for? Borderlands style eBay isn’t far away. If you really think about it, not only would you have the five million plus standard guns, you would be extending that ten-fold by allowing players to swap the parts about or harvest the gun parts. You would get the best of both worlds; all the guns and the ability to upgrade them.

Another thing that could be added is some additional storage. Many times throughout the game, I have found weapons that I couldn’t use, or didn’t need at the time and wanted somewhere to store them without having to sell them every time I ran out of space. Having a place to put some of your surplus would have been great as you could store guns for when you need them without having to just get rid for the sake of it. Having your own personal weapons room would be cool. Imagine the decor something like a futuristic version of  Hit Girls room in Kick-Ass, with every wall nicely decorated with everything you would need to start an army. This could also double as a base of operations, maybe a big house with four rooms in it. You have one room and your co-op partners stuff would be loaded up in another room (in single player you would only be able to enter your own room). You could go around and look at what they have and then add stuff to your wish list. If your co-op partner agrees, then you can take the gun from their room to loan or you can bid on certain guns to keep. Also housed in the room could be trophies from all your boss kills. Now before you start giving me grief because you can purchase a storage bank in the Mad Moxxi DLC, it wasn’t quite what I hoped for. Having an extra 39 slots is good if it’s added to your character, but having to jump to the arena every time you want to empty your load isn’t the way to go. One simple additional option of “send to storage/home” would be good, saving the hassle of running around or back to your base unless you really have to.

While we’re still on the subject of storage, another thing that could be added is a way to get rid of all those guns you don’t want, really fast. For example a check box style system that locks the guns in your storage, then an option to sell all, with one press of a button. Rather than having to sort through the ones you don’t want then accidently losing a gun that you wanted to keep for later because you got a bit confused (we have all done it, there is no shame).

Bring back the team but allow me to customise them!

My next little idea is attached to the missions; let’s face it, every mission was pretty much the same. Now, I’m not complaining in the slightest, I loved the missions (seriously, I’m not going to lie) but I did feel that a bit of variety wouldn’t have gone a miss. Everything was “kill this enemy”, or “collect fifty of these”, and I don’t mean to be a kill joy, but would it have hurt to add a bit more depth to it?! Mixing it up with a few “capture the flag” and team orientated missions would have been worthy additions. It’s okay being on the offensive all the time but there’s nothing wrong with being on the defensive either with some “defend said area” missions too. Adding some racing missions would be great too, you could mix it up by expressly allowing the use of big guns to help with the competition (although some could be without too). You would still have your standard “shoot the shit out of anything that bleeds” missions too, just adding some things that allow you to have a break from that would be fantastic additions. You could also incorporate something similar to what Left 4 Dead has, where by each time you replay a mission it plays a slightly different way. If anything it would add to the replay value.

Something that a few people have mentioned is the lack of people in towns and places that you visit. I think the whole of Pandora is inhabited by claptraps and around ten people that you can associate with. Another thing that I noticed was once you had done all the missions you couldn’t really have a chat with them or hear any quick witted comments or piss takes. I think for the next game there should be a bit more life; people walking around, a few random people that don’t want to blow your head off, a couple of traders and campsites here and there. Sound good?

That gun is crying out for customisation

Having one car is all well and good, then adding three more with the DLC but not allowing you to use any of them anywhere else and restricting them to areas isn’t fun. I had this notion that you could upgrade your cars similar to the way I want to upgrade the guns. Destroy enemy vehicles and steal some of the unwanted parts, swap them about in scooters new and improved garage. It could be like a Mad Max version of Banjo Kazooie’s car maker. Select the parts you want and build a real monster. You could even have an aesthetics engine in there to help decorate and paint awesome designs to your cars. People could trade parts and schematics like you can on Forza.

One thing I would have liked to see is some team VS team play for the multiplayer. Having four player co-op is one thing but mixing it up with a team orientated battle against three or four other teams could be awesome. Having the matches like your general free for all, team battle and capture the flag. You could then do vehicle versions of the same game modes on a larger arena. At the end of the battle, the winning team or the winner of the free for all could win some special weapons that they could use in game. You could also have some scavenge style modes too where you go looking for a set amount of weapon parts. Once a team has a set amount of parts a special weapon is launched killing off the rest of the opposition and crowning your team as the winner.

I want a futuristic version of this room.. OK?!

My final thought of an addition to the game is with the characters and the way you upgrade, this is possibly the longest thought that I have for the game, so I thought I would leave the best till last.

When you start the game you could choose your character or have a character builder, then you could choose what class you want them. Rather than have a series of perks that are specific to that character class, why not have it so you have mix and match perks? Before you think I have totally lost the plot, there is more. So say that you start off as Mordecai and rather than being restricted to his class, the first few missions help you decide the class that you want to be. You level up and you get a skill point and now you can pick what class you want to be. You go into the menu and you see that you have all the skill trees for all classes. Now you pick what class you want. So for example, you decide that you want to be a Soldier Class character (rather than the standard Hunter) because you get the turret and not a bloodwing. So you level up some more and you get to pick a few perks that are relevant to the soldier class. You then decide that you want a perk that the Siren has because you like using elemental based weaponry. Rather than starting again and changing the class to Siren, you could be able to purchase a perk for one of the other classes.

Why should you be restricted on the weaponry that you use? You shouldn’t. The main character perks like the upgrading of the special at the bottom of the skill tree would stay intact but you would be allowed to pick what additional perks you would want. This would mean that each character would be unique to the player and their play style and weapons choices. If you extend the level cap to 101 (purely because the level cap on most RPG’s is 99 and not out of a Fallout reference) the possibilities would be endless especially if you increase the amount of perks one could attain. You could keep the “reset the skill point” option in the fast travel, allowing people to try a bit of everything within the same play or allow them to reset when starting playthrough two so they can be someone else. Another addition could be to alter the look of your character a bit. Why not allow the players to purchase clothing like in Fable where you can mix and match up an outfit?

Well, it’s been a long ride and although I have plenty more ideas for directions I’d like to see Borderlands take, I don’t want to complicate matters, as I felt that these ideas were my best or outlandish ones. With all classics there is always room for further improvement, so long as you don’t change too much so that it spoils what made the original game great. I look forward to seeing what Gearbox has to offer when they show us more of what’s to come from the Borderlands franchise.

I hope you all add your thoughts in the comments.