Greetings Traveler! A Look Back at Borderlands

With the release of Borderlands 2 only hours away, @bnjmnVONDOOM, Nick Wisniewski, and @HeyItsKamo talk about all their favorite parts of the original Borderlands.

– Role-Playing shooters are nothing new. They’ve been expertly crafted in games like the Bioshock, Mass Effect, and Fallout series. So why should anyone pay attention to a game like Borderlands? It would be my genuine fucking pleasure to tell you.

Borderlands was created by Gearbox Software and released in October, 2009- almost three years ago. This was a time that my gaming interests, not unlike your mothers vagina, were widening at a frightening rate. I remember seeing bits and pieces of press for it here and there and a video or two on gaming sites; something about it just lit a fire in my loins that I couldn’t explain.

Lilith and Claptrap – image c/o

When I got home after picking it up on Day One, I popped that sucker in and waited very impatiently as my Xbox downloaded that update it loves doing before every fucking game. The game booted up, I lost myself in that amazing intro and I finally found myself on Pandora, staring at a little yellow robot that shits its circuits at any hint of danger. My robotic Sherpa guided me to a safe house and introduced me to the world I’d be stretching out in. After a few quick visits to the resident doctor, you’ll hit level five and that’s where everything really takes off.

Chaos: this game is absolute mind shitting chaos. It’s insanity that the game unapologetically strives for. You’re given missions that generally involve mass genocide. Slaying enemy after enemy and collecting all the treasures they drop, hoping the next kill yields you more powerful weapons. Cultivating skill points to drop into skill-trees that can grant you special abilities ranging from how long your berserker face-punching-blood-lust-viking-rage lasts to adding a corrosive acidic effect every time you backhand a bitch. Driving wildly through terrain to your next target, mowing down his thugs with a hailstorm of gunfire until you finally nail the big bad with a critical hit and retrieve a piece of the vault key.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. You’re trying to find all the pieces to a key that will open a vault with unknown treasure inside. (SPOILER ALERT: the treasure sucks and tries to kill you.)

Gearbox didn’t break much new ground with this game. What really separates Borderlands from other games is its personality. The beautiful cell-shaded graphics allowed a lot of leniency for goofy and over the top action while still presenting an impressively detailed world. The humor also helped supercharge the charm that just oozes out of this game; Mr. Shanks’ (General Knoxx DLC) ambiguity is a personal favorite. You know any game with a cosmology reference as graffiti has Robert Downey Jr. levels of personality. The only real original gameplay idea was the thirty-seven FUCKILLION guns you can encounter. Advertisements really used this as a selling point and it definitely caught my attention.

When I first started the game I realized that the guns were basically just randomized loot drops with some exceptions for bosses who always drop the same gun, just with higher stats based on playthroughs. Initially, I thought it was kind of a cop-out. The game cycles
through different body shapes, stocks, barrels, scopes, etc. and randomly drops one at your feet. It really felt like someone pissed in my cereal when I kept coming across guns that looked identical to what I was using. As I got further in the game, however, it was clear how much of a dumb I was for putting so much importance on the look of the weapon rather than its statistics. There is so much diversity for these weapons to pull from. To this day I’m still finding guns with perks I have never seen. My backpack is over loaded with all different kinds of fire arms that I couldn’t bear to part with. With Gearbox’s ingenuity you’ll be prepared for any kind of situation.

Skag Down!

There’s so little I can complain about in this game. Of course it has its flaws but they’re so easy to forgive. It’s like if I woke up and Allison Brie was lowering her sopping tampon on my face. There’s no way I could be mad at her! Despite anything little, like some repetitive fetch quest-esque missions and some pretty shitty steering controls, I never felt bored or exhausted from playing. Shooting, leveling, and getting new gear was always enough to want more. The only real exception is for the “Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot” DLC. In total, 375 waves of the same enemies. All the while fighting with handicaps such as no shield, constantly draining health, and horse shit accuracy all stacked on top of each other. Making sure your shit-hole is tested to its limits and then pushed right the fuck past. Oh yeah, and you don’t get ANY FUCKING EXPERIENCE FROM KILLING THOSE THOUSANDS OF ENEMIES. For reals,  fuck that shit.

The plot of this game has much to be desired. You play as a treasure hunter who has come to Pandora in search of a fabled Vault that’s rumored to hold ancient alien technology. The planet itself is overrun with outlaws that once worked as free labor in mines. The mines were abandoned and the slaves were let free after it was discovered that there were aliens coming out of hibernation. I actually had to look some of that up- I’ve played the main
campaign of this game about six times now and that is how little the plot resonated with me. Luckily, Gearbox was more than honest about their lack of plot and promised it would be a higher priority in the upcoming sequel. Speaking of sequel

Borderlands 2 is just around the corner! I have had my thumb right on its butthole since its announcement; I’ve read all the articles and seen all the gameplay footage and interviews. The amount of detail and improvements it seems they’ve made is astounding. Naturally they had to up the amount of guns this time around; the trailer states that their “87 bazillion guns just got bazilliondier.” Everything looks improved- it seems like a totally different game. In the first Borderlands you were so limited with everything- weapon
appearance, enemies, and the terrain itself were all so similar. The sequel seems to kick that door open right in his little door nuts. Just from the previews you see exponentially more than in the first installment.

Listening to Randy Pitchford (President, CEO, and co-founder of Gearbox Software) talk
about him and his staff finally completing the game and getting caught up playing it now seems really genuine. I totally believe that they have forged such an amazing game that instead of just being sick of it and moving on, all of Gearbox is at their desk playing through this thing they just spent years of their lives creating.

– Every once in awhile a piece of media will come out that I get really excited
for. And in even rarer cases, there are times where I’m so excited for the release
date that I start making deals with God. “Ok LORD, just let me live long enough to
read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. That’s all I want, just let me know
how it ends and I’ll be a good person from here on out. Scout’s honor.” “Alright,
alright, alright, J-Man- thanks for letting me read the Harry Potter finale and I’m SO
sorry I’ve still been a shitty person. But please just don’t kill me off before The Dark
Knight Rises comes out. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS”.

I’ve been pleading with God for the last two months to just let me live long
enough to play Borderlands 2. I ain’t got time for the apocalypse, I gotta play BL2!
Fortunately, the wait is almost over as BL2 is set to release tonight at
midnight to a horde of gamers who have been waiting for this game since they took
down The Destroyer in the series’ first installment.

The first game ruled so hard that I’m still trying to recover from it. Intuitive game
play, addictive missions, creative dialogue, and really impressive and original
artwork earned Borderlands a Game of the Year Edition and sold a total of 4.5
million copies worldwide. Here’s what I’m hoping we see in the new game:

GUNS – There were so many gun options available in Borderlands and there will surely be another huge variety of weapons available from our favorite manufacturers. One of the things that frustrated me about the first game is that there were guns all over the place, but they were rarely worth picking up or using. I really want some amazing guns that are worth fighting for.

BETTER MAPS – While playing BL, I would constantly get lost and have no idea where I was going. I’m hoping BL2 has a more interactive map system that makes it easier to determine location relative to where you need to be going. I don’t want to drive around for an hour looking for a Bounty Board.

MORE ENEMIES – I’m sick of killing Psycho’s and midgets. Less skags please.

BL1 INTEGRATION – I would love it if they players were given some kind of reward for playing the first installment in the series. Some kind of special gun or icon that shows that we were here for the first game (kind of like what was done in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3) and put time and effort into it. This is actually something I’d like to see throughout the industry, but that’s a different story.

WRITING – A huge part of what made BL so great was the writing. It was funny and
cohesive, bringing a level of sophistication you rarely see in video games. I expect
BL2 to carry the torch with some really great dialogue.

MULITPLAYERBL was so much fun to play with friends, I’m hoping they expand
the multiplayer action. Introduce some missions that can only be completed on Co-Op, perhaps a couple of achievements to accompany these missions. That would rule.


– Ben and Nick covered pretty much everything with their sections, so I’ll make mine short and sweet- I fucking loved Borderlands. Besides NHL 13, there’s no other game this fall I’ve looked forward to more than the sequel that’s sure to prove better than the first.

When I first bought BL, I didn’t have a very good tv. In fact, I had this game for almost two years before I bought an HD television and could actually enjoy the game. I could finally read the stat boxs that came up when I hovered over select-able content! This game has cell-shading?? Yeah, I really needed that upgrade…

blue rocks, motherfucker

So anyways, once I started playing this one, it was tough to put down. I love games where you level up/earn experience, and BL really took that game style and ran with it. I liked the idea of starting at a lower level and having enemies get progressively harder as you play on. On more than one occasion I’ve had to play certain sections of this title more than once (Sledge’s Safehouse is a perfect example) before I could even compete with the enemies, let alone defeat them and progress in the game.

In most games, I’m not to partial to side missions, but I absolutely loved them in BL (I think Red Dead Redemption was the first game to really perfect this form). The Moe and Marely mission was one of my favorites, you versus a pair of badass skags while a bunch of other badass skags have their backs. I think the Shock Crystal Harvest side mission was the best in the game; it really showed what can be done with the cell-shading technique and was outright fun (not to mention beneficial to your experience points). I’m hoping to see more of that great side mission action in BL2.

Like this post? Fucking hate it? Let Ben, Nick, and Mike know in the comments section!

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