While not discussed often, I must admit that I enjoy the Borderlands series from time to time. It also just so happens that the somewhat D&D spoof DLC from Borderlands 2, Assault on Dragon Keep, is among my favorite DLCs for the game. Taken together you’d think I would be a bit more excited about what appears to be a new entry to the series based around that general concept.
It was announced several months ago, but only came to my attention recently when the official gameplay trailer dropped.
I am cautiously optimistic, but some of the things we know are changing have me a bit concerned about the game’s overall design. The new “classless” system is of particular concern for a number of reasons. Having said that, the flow of information seems rather rapid-fire at the moment. Fast enough that I’ve had to revisit, rethink, and rewrite parts of this post.
We’ll start with some of the more subjective elements of this. One of the things that makes Borderlands, well, Borderlands, is its over the top cast of characters. Right off the bat this system seems like it would strip the player characters of any specific personality. There are ways to address some of this, like the ability to change how they sound. If this is a simple matter of tonal quality or specific voice packs complete with one-liners and commentary. The latter would be much more consistent with the standard Borderlands experience, and could be combined with the former to create a much more interesting system for those who want more flexibility.
Having said that, they’ve been a bit more clear in a GameSpot interview. It hasn’t added much detail to the voice selection, but it does at least mention personality. This doesn’t mean it will live up to the normal level of Borderlands-ness, but they’re at least thinking about it.
At first I wondered if the listed cast members were related to voice options, but instead they seem to be connected with major story characters. It’s been said on video that the Dragon Lord is the game’s antagonist, and I’m just going to assume the other two are protagonists of some sort.
I’m a bit curious what level of visual customization will be allowed as well. Historically the Borderlands series only has two real customization options, a head and a color/texture skin. What we’re seeing here seems to be a bit more thorough, including both functional and appearance armor pieces. “Shark fins on your head” could just be a standard Borderlands head skin or it could be something with individual parts. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.
Mechanically I have some concerns with the class system as well. Earlier I said “classless” because it felt like it was being billed that way, but what they’ve done is divorce the class system from the character’s appearance and personality. You’ll still choose a primary class, which is a permanent choice, and later on pick a secondary class that remains until you finish the playthrough. This seems pretty similar to the existing Character/Class Mod system in previous Borderlands games, but a bit more locked-in.
I’m a little concerned about the six different class trees as well. Are they small trees like a traditional Borderlands character or something larger or more fleshed out? There’s no real indication of what this means, but I’m personally hoping for somewhat larger trees if we don’t have multiple different progression options.
The GameSpot interview also mentions a separate Hero Point system with traditional tabletop stats like Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Attunement. Not a whole lot of information has really been made available about what they do, but it’s a separate progression path from the skill trees. I’m thinking something along the lines of the Badass Points and metals that existed in other titles, granting small boosts broken out into categories.
Another strange difference is this chibi-style overworld that’s used to travel between different areas. It’s very thematically appropriate I guess, but seems like an odd break from the normal action present in a Borderlands game. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or negative, but simply something I’ll need to know more about before I can develop an opinion beyond it’s strange stylized nature.
Still, most of the game seems to be a pretty standard loot shooter stuff with the normal “gun parts” system applied to all things, including spells and melee weapons. I think I like the overall idea, but will remain cautious for now. I’ll try to keep on eye on information as it develops, though.
Much like Borderlands 3, the PC version is be or begin as an Epic Games exclusive title. Not a problem for me, but I know not everyone is fond of the platform.
Y’all take care. Catch-a-Ride!