Borderlands Still Fun



Last night I did the thing I have been doing every night and spent enough time in Anthem to unlock another key, and then ran a stronghold in which I managed to expend two of the three keys I had banked.  I actually got a purple quality emote, which is a major step up from the various dross I had gotten prior to that.  After that I was somewhat listless and ended up landing upon installing the newly released Borderlands Game of the Year Remastered edition that should be showing up on whatever service you happen to own the original Borderlands through.  I remember reinstalling the original Borderlands shortly after the launch of Borderlands 2 and thinking to myself that the game in general felt really dated.  However this version allows me to push it up to glorious 4k resolutions with graphical clarity…  which is awesome and helps to distract me from the fact that it largely has a monotone color palette.

I have to say that I am happy that games are now pushing us beyond the “everything is brown and grey” era of shooters that we were stuck in for so long.  Hot pinks and purples absolutely belong in the wasteland, so I feel like it would have been great if they could have maybe splashed a little color here and there for this re-release.  That said they did a dutiful job of up-sampling all of the textures so that they pop…  the only negative is… it makes me realize how limited the geometry of this game is at times.  All of that said does not detract from my hot take of the night:  Borderlands is Still Really Fun to Play.


I did not make it terribly far into the game, but I have already noticed a handful of quality of life improvements.  For example I did not remember the original borderlands having a mini-map, which was one of my complaints about questing through the game and feeling like I always had to keep popping up my large map.  Borderlands is a game without a lot of freedom of movement, and more or less you are travelling down fixed paths…  which means in order to get form point A to point B there is pretty much one correct path that you needed to take to get there.  Having the minimap makes me significantly less frustrated as I snake my way through a series of winding tunnels to a plateau…  that does not have an obvious visual path to help direct you there.

I am playing Roland…  because I always play Roland or Axton or whoever the third game will have that fills the roles of the basic soldier plus gadgets.  There is little wonder to why in Division 2 running around with a Turret feels so natural.  The other take away from the night is that the gunplay in Borderlands 1 is nowhere near as good as I thought I remembered it being.  In the meantime I have played Destiny… a game which takes obsessive gun feel to a whole new level.  Compared to that… and quite frankly even compared to Anthem…  Borderlands weapon design feels like an inaccurate mess.  That said I am adjusting and learning to over compensate for the fact that none of the non-scope sights seem to actually bear down on the target correctly.


The other hot take of the night is that I really don’t care about Borderlands 3 being an Epic Game store exclusive title.  Basically this is a financial decision and should not be looked at as anything else, regardless of whatever lame commentary the parties involved come up with.  The harsh truth is Borderlands 3 will make way more money for the studio on Epic Games regardless of how many sales they make.  Borderlands has always been a title developed in Unreal Engine, which means that on top of the 30% Steam cut… there is a 5% Unreal Engine cut.  So the studio takes home 65% of every dollar made on Steam.  On the Epic store they are completely waving this Unreal Engine fee and then also only taking a 12% cut, meaning the studio takes home 88%.

So in the simplest of possible math… if a game makes 100 million dollars…  on Steam they would be taking home 65 million, and on Epic Games store they would be taking home 88 million.  That is a difference that you just cannot ignore in the climate of studios trying to figure out how they are going to fund their next title.  Especially given that Gearbox has had a number of pretty high profile flops since their last massive success in Borderlands 2.  I mean do we need to summon up imagery of Battleborn, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem Forever?  The difference in money a studio can get on Epic Games is just not something that can be ignore especially given that titles like Metro Exodus have proven that in spite of all of the grousing…  the majority of fans will not care at all about the platform change.  That title sold better than any of the previous titles regardless of the PC storefront exclusivity.


Where I take issue with the jump to Epic Games is in scenarios where pre-order packages have already started being sold on a specific platform.  I feel like if you ever start taking pre-orders you are obligated to support that platform indefinitely.  I think where this will backfire strategy wise is the fact that high profile titles have jumped ship long after pre-orders had started…  will start making the customers question if putting in ANY pre-orders from now on is a good idea at least until things have stabilized a bit more.  Personally the only games that I pre-order in the first place are ones that are giving me some sort of a perk for doing so…  mostly a cosmetic outfit or a special gun…  even though I know that these items will be long forgotten within the first few hours of gameplay.

Ultimately at the end of the day Steam has to come to the table with a better proposition to keep titles from leaving.  As it stands if you are releasing a game built in Unreal Engine…  you would be dumb not to go with the Epic Games store platform for your release.  I think where I come from is maybe a different place than a lot of gamers given that I have traditionally mostly been an MMO gamer.  Almost every MMO has its own launcher and does not originally release on Steam… in spite of the fact that many eventually do come to that platform.  As a result my system is already strewn with single user launchers so an additional store front here or there does not really phase me in the least.  Steam is already not the only platform I bought games through…  if it is a UbiSoft title I tend to just buy directly on UPlay since I have to have that client regardless of where the purchase was made.  Then there is Origin my least favorite storefront that I continue to begrudgingly use…  because Bioware.  I more happily use GOG, but largely because I have a bunch of older titles there…  and my freebie copy of Witcher 3 had to be redeemed there.

Essentially while I favored Steam… I was not exactly a loyalist.  If a company can make more money on Epic Games store… then who am I to halt them.  I’ve seen a lot of “whelp I guess I won’t play the next Borderlands game” in my feeds, and that is fine if you truly feel that strongly.  Me I will be playing it and enjoying myself because as I found out last night…  Borderlands is still fun.

Friday Smorgasbord


Anthem Loot Issues


First up in the Friday Smorgasbord is some more Anthem discussion.  I have been playing pretty much every night since the patch drops and at a bare minimum completing the steps required to get a key to unlock a “cosmetic” chest.  That is in quotes largely because I am still getting way more useless tier 1 materials than I am actually getting decals or materials.  At least they came out and stated that there are no armor pieces in the Elysian Chest, which is I think in part what we were all hoping to get.  The vinyls have all been super lackluster at least compared to some of the other vinyls available in the game.  On the loot front there is an article from Paul Tassi at Forbes that pretty much sums up what is wrong with the game right now…   it is literally all about the loot.  He suggests increasing the drop rates by 300 to 400% and then still questions if that would be enough for the sort of game Anthem actually is…  but the Devs apparently don’t understand that it is.  RNG can be amazing or it can be a harsh mistress.  For example Wednesday night I had a grand ole time where I managed to rack up three new legendaries during the course of the evening…  a component actually for the right class from a GM2 Legendary Mission, and then two new weapons… one each from GM2 Strongholds.  This still felt stingy to me, but at least was something.  Last night however I walked away with nothing really of use from doing two legendary contracts and a stronghold all at Grandmaster 2 level.


There are so many things in this game that just feel bad as the player once you reach what currently passes for an end game.  The truth is there is nothing that would normally be classified as end game.  The game has no PVP so no super serious equivalent of the Trials of the Nine would ever exist in Anthem.  Similarly there is nothing along the lines of a Nightfall and there is most definitely not a raid that can be completed weekly with a group of other players for a shot at amazing rewards.  There are no weekly bounties that you can complete that guarantees you an item that will be an upgrade, and we are completely missing something similar to exotics that have a guaranteed curated roll.  So what is left is a lot of grinding and perfecting your builds, which is maddening when it is entirely dependent on the slow trickle of Masterworks and Legendaries.  I have friends that are doing GM2 nightly… that have yet to see ANY Legendaries and consider me extremely lucky that I have had multiple.  While the game desperately needs a true end game…  the more pressing problem will always be the loot and until they open the floodgates no one is really ever going to be completely happy.

Divine Beast Vah Ruta


I eventually took a break last night and returned to my Cemu Breath of the Wild play session.  When I was last playing I had been working my way into the general area of the Zora kingdom to tackle the first of many Divine Beasts.  I am not sure if there is a chosen order, but the furthest I managed to get with this game before setting it back down again…  was to head in this direction.  So last night I made it through the sequence of annoying lightning attackers to get to Zora land and made my way about collecting Lightning Arrows.  I set about collecting the arrows while avoiding the Lynel…  which went fairly quickly given that pretty much every tree in the vicinity had at least three stuck in it.  There were a few times I had to duck out of view and wait but managed to get it taken care of then glided my way down to where I was meeting Sidon to make the run on the Divine Beast.  I made it through the sequence surrounding disabling the “defenses” and started on the first level of the dungeon before I finally called it for the night.  I do like that Breath of the Wild pretty much just lets you do a save state wherever you happen to be in the world.  I greatly appreciate its mobile roots allowing me to pretty much abandon ship whenever I need to.  So tonight I am likely to return and actually finish the first of the Divine Beasts because I am finding the gameplay way more compelling when playing it on the PC…  I am weird like that.

Borderlands 3


I had to work yesterday and was in meetings…  so I completely missed what apparently was a mess of a reveal at Pax East.  However I did manage to watch the nice and pristine YouTube videos later that afternoon.  I have to admit at first I was not super impressed with what I saw, but largely this was due to my own false expectations.  In my mind when I think of Borderlands 1 and 2 Trailers…  I am actually thinking of the Game Intro sequences which are absolute masterpieces.  I forgot what a Gearbox Borderlands reveal trailer actually looked like… and judging it by those standards this one is a better trailer than the ones that came with either 1 or 2.  For example the original Borderlands Trailer… feels absolutely nothing like what we think of as the Borderlands Style.  Then with Borderlands 2 we pretty much got a very similar type of reveal trailer as we just saw with Borderlands 3…  like shockingly similar.  So by those comparisons…  Borderlands 3 comes out just fine.


I feel like there were probably story beats that I completely missed because I never played the Telltale Games spinoff game.  What I was hoping for was some semblance of the story beats that we would be seeing in the new game.  For me what makes Borderlands as a series special is a mix of the interesting characters, quirky humor, almost MMO style questing, intersting gunplay, the faucet of loot, and a bunch of interesting character class choices.  The trailer doesn’t really give me much to go on other than there are a bunch of guns…  one lady can become shiva, another pilots a mech and then you have two gunner classes that while visually different didn’t do much to actually distinguish themselves from what we saw.  There were characters shown that I recognized as being part of the Tales from the Borderlands series but that I don’t know much about.  I would be lying if I said I would not be playing it, but I am also not nearly as hyped as I thought I would have been at this point.  I am sure as more tangible information comes out about the game I will get more so.


I am guessing based on what are the villains that we are going to see a way more raider-centric storyline than we did with Borderlands 2.  The biggest problem with my general sense of disappointment after watching the trailer for the first time…  is that I was ultimately expecting this instead.