Responding to Borderlands Ravings

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Linking off of a rather insightful article about how the Borderlands team interpreted feedback from playtesters, I just read a long 10,000 word essay praising Borderlands.

I was hoping this essay would be insightful. It maintained my interest for the most part, but I’m not sure it really qualified as insightful.

The gist of it is that Borderlands is an amazing game because it has addictive qualities. Yes, people enjoy finding good loot. Is that surprising? No not really, Diablo and Diablo 2 proved that pretty well. Does Gearbox have any magic formula, or even any deep understanding? I find that a dubious assertion at best.

The author tries to assert there are certain key components to why Borderlands’ looting is so addictive. Notably, glitches in the General Knoxx Vault and the Crawmerax boss. That might be the case, with the caveat that these might be key components only for him. I don’t see any particular merit in the Knoxx glitch or the Crawmerax glitch. I used the Knoxx glitch once, when shown in Coop play, then lost interest in it. Sure, finding a rare item might be nice, but if the entire game is so uninteresting that the only thing I want to do is run around and pick up guns? Sorry, I’ll pass.

In any case, the author seems to really lavish the praise on Borderlands but personally I found myself falling asleep playing it. The game itself was a snoozefest, with slow movement, relatively uninteresting enemies, poor vehicle handling, same-y guns, and a bad story. The only saving grace of Borderlands, in my experience, was the cooperative play. But even with that, I found myself and the friends I was playing with dozing off during the game.

The author asserts that only a certain elite cadre were playing the real game and privy to its addictive glory. Well, we bought all the DLC and played the game up to the level cap. I suppose it’s true, once we finished the main storyline and all of the DLC content, we stopped. There’s really no point in spending hundreds of hours opening up chests or glitching bosses in a videogame that is otherwise uninteresting. Lets hope Borderlands 2 moves away from the raw grinding treadmill.

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