Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Quick Thoughts: Borderlands

Posted by deckard47 on September 15, 2009

Owen and I are looking forward to Borderlands, here at the Cross compound. It’s going to be pretty sweet, we think, and the thing that kills us is that we probably won’t be able to play it together. Even though we have 3 (yes, a fancy PC, a 360, and a PS3) systems that can run it, none of them will play with each other. Maybe we can get Owen’s (pre black keys/sharp edges) Macbook to run it? If so, there will be some quite epic co-op matches going on.

But I’m forgetting my reasons for posting. Kotaku (yes, them!) have a brief preview up about Borderlands. It’s the kind of short, pointed preview I like, generally. If you aren’t going to go all fancy and critical on a game, it’s sometimes nice to hear about someone’s strong/ gut reaction to some integral part of the game. The funny thing is, the way he writes about the game just makes me want to play the game more, even though he’s kind of/sort of panning it. Check it out:

The damage modeling, too, is a big plus, allowing you pinpoint precision in how you take an enemy down. I was able to snipe off a bandits foot from across a map. Yes, that means there is plenty of gibs and gore. And for a while I was satisfied running around shooting things, playing Borderlands essentially like a first-person shooter map packed with bots.

But overtime that grew a little dull. The enemies aren’t altogether that intelligent, and the spawn points can be, no matter how random the results, very predictable.

So I jumped into a few missions and the game really started to trudge. Why would I want to run out and hunt Borderlands version of feral dogs? Do I really need to clear out the gangs in this dust bowl? Why do I care about the garden of an amiable loner?

Without much of a plot to anchor the missions too, I was losing interest quickly. Fortunately, I eventually started to hunt down some missing logs and journals for a couple of missions and the audio recordings began to fill me in a bit on the backstory.

Huh. Well, it is basically an FPS-postapocalyptic Diablo, right? Which is exactly what he described? Actually, it’s funny, but that little summation I just did makes me think of Fallout 3 (oh snap!). It too was a post-apocalyptic RPG with annoying, numberless AI (horrible AI) goons who “aren’t altogether intelligent” who had random spawn points that just weren’t enough.

Now I’m being mean. But really, if we’re talking Fallout 3 here: “Without much of a plot to anchor the missions too, I was losing interest quickly. Fortunately, I eventually started to hunt down some missing logs and journals for a couple of missions and the audio recordings began to fill me in a bit on the backstory.” Which is exactly how I felt about Fallout 3. The main story is boring and forgettable, and only the side missions make the main game any fun.

But, I must admit, i’m making an unfair comparison, and I’m reaching. His (Crecente, sadly) article just makes me think that I will absolutely love Borderlands. It’s going to be like a version of Fallout 3 without the wretched voice acting and horrible shooting controls you mean? Yeah, I hate the sound of that. What’s that you say? It will have a palette that paints in colors other than puke green and brown-grey. Say it isn’t so.

Really, I’m sure that the “story” won’t be amazing, but when I think of a lot of games I’ve played lately (like Darkest of Days, Call of Juarez: BiB, Dead Space, Fallout 3, Fable 2 and many others), not a single one of them had a terribly compelling main story. And let’s be honest, diaries and logs can only make up for an absent story so much. Eventually, we reach a situation I like to call “we don’t actually have a story.” Which is, again, a surprise for Crecente? He’s used to better treatment from his ARPGs? Wacky.

Of course (again), it’s a pointless argument. Some people want to argue that Diablo has a convincing story and world, and isn’t repetitive and boring. I think they’re completely wrong, and I think that Borderlands’ world looks more exciting and fun, and the gameplay looks much better. So I guess it’s time to end this little “pointless exercise in making fun of someone else’s opinion” post. Because I never engage in that, right?

Oh, and this reminds me, forthcoming post on a little post from Kotaku (from yesterday?) about race, games, and design (I know, you think I’m fucking kidding).

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4 Responses to “Quick Thoughts: Borderlands”

  1. Brendan said

    I don’t like to say this publicly very often as it tends to be a very unpopular opinion, but I loved Fallout 3 for its story and style *ducks*.

    But then again, I think what I consider its ‘story’ is what others consider its ‘sidequests’. My understandings of various making-ofs and interviews with Besthesda makes me think that they didn’t consider “find your dad and make some kick-arse water” as any more main than the sidequests. Or, rather, they didn’t think of the sidequests as any less important than the main quest. For me, this made the entire world feel more complete and the central story of the vault dweller hunting his dad more grounded as everything else that was happening was just as important. But for most people, it seems to have had the opposite affect of just diluting the main story. Ah well.

    I’m really excited about Borderlands, but admittedly only because I want more Fallout3-ish stuff. I want more post-apocalyptic, grungy-cyber-steam-punk-mashup rpg shooting stuff (as I think the genre should be called). The art direction looks awesome and the gameplay is sounding classic and nostalgic. But really, I think I was sold when I read a weapon description for a randomly generated rocket launcher that was “Holy shit! It shoots rockets!” or something of the sort.

    Rage should be awesome too. But after that, I think I will have had just enough of my post-apocalypse and will want to toss it into the overdone pile along with WWII and zombies.

    • deckard47 said

      I understand what you’re saying, but my problem with it is that it makes the world as a whole less compelling. Regardless of how fleshed out the world is, and regardless of whether or not it “makes sense” for the main quest line to be compelling, this is a narrative about me that I am constructing. It may flesh out my character to know what she would do in all of these random situations (and be more realistic, since normal people are defined by the things they do along the way to other things), but for me, the real drive comes in leading my character to a satisfying narrative conclusion.

      I’m fine with that conclusion not being the most important one in a game, and I think it would be interesting if more games tried to do this (no idea how they would, of course), but I even when I’m doing a brilliant side quest, I never forget that I’m doing it because what I was originally doing was incredibly boring and uninspired.

      And Borderlands does look absolutely amazing. The second half of that Kotaku piece was all about a long-ranged scoped electro-bullet shooting revolver, which I think sounds like the sweetest thing ever made. The sad thing is, I want it for PC but I bet all of you out there will have it for 360. It’ll be way better for multiplayer on 360, but for what I want (excellent graphics and perfect shooting controls), the PC will be king. Sigh.

    • Eric said

      I’m there with you, Brendan. I loved everything about Fallout 3, including all the things Tom hated. I was looking forward to Borderlands as a Fallout 3 substitute, though apparently it’s going to be lighter on the story (unless that was specific to the Borderlands demo). Looking forward to Rage too. Cars instead of fast travel? Could be fun.

      • deckard47 said

        Borderlands is going to be a lot more like Diablo, I guess, so much more clicking and killing, way less listening to guys talking. Which is alright, if the get the shooting *very* right. Rage will be good, but I’ve lost a bit of faith in the id guys… I wonder how good it will be. And it won’t look as good as Borderlands.

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