Borderlands Part 16: Endgame

By Shamus
on Nov 9, 2017
Filed under:
Borderlands

It’s a pretty intense moment when Angel dies, Roland dies, Jack recovers the vault key, and Lilith is captured. It feels like it’s supposed to be the crisis moment in the plot, except it’s kind of early in the story for that. We have a lot of hours of psycho-shooting between now and the conclusion, and a lot of it feels pretty unimportant compared to what just happened. If this was a movie, we’d be entering the finale right now while emotions are hot. Instead we get caught up in a couple more door-opening exercises.

You need to reach the Info Stockade to find out where the vault is. Which means you need to blow open a pipe in the Boneyard so you can crawl through it. But to get there you need to lower a Hyperion bridge. Which means you need to get some explosives. Which means you need to get you Sawtooth Cauldron and steal some from the local bandits. Which means you need to reach their storage platform. Which means you need to get the elevator working. Which means you need to kill a local bandit boss. Which means… you get the idea.

I`m sure fighting this skyscraper robot is somehow related to killing Jack, but right now I`ve lost track of why. Fun trivia: That little shelter on the left is where the original vault hunters stepped off the bus back in Borderlands 1.
I'm sure fighting this skyscraper robot is somehow related to killing Jack, but right now I've lost track of why. Fun trivia: That little shelter on the left is where the original vault hunters stepped off the bus back in Borderlands 1.

It feels like Luke just took off in an X-Wing for the Death Star mission, but the director decided to cut away so we could spend a half dozen scenes with C3P0 and Mon Mothma. It’s not that this stuff isn’t fun, it’s that it feels like this is a bad spot in the game to pad things out. This isn’t just a problem with Borderlands 2, it’s a problem a lot of games have. If we go right from the crisis point of the plot into the finale, then we end up with the player being locked into the endgame almost as soon as they enter the third act. If you do this, the final stretch of the game can feel a little too linear, restrictive, and heavy on cutscenes. If we instead drop back into normal gameplay, then the story loses momentum because you can’t sustain that emotional high note for hours at a time, and certainly not across multiple play sessions.

Mass Effect went for the “locked in” approach. The moment you arrived on Virmire, you were basically riding a railroad to the endgameYou could technically fly around freely after escaping the Citadel, but you couldn’t go back and turn quests in, so there weren’t very many USEFUL things you could do.. In an ideal world, I suppose you’d be free to make a beeline for the endgame but also free to do sidequest stuff if you were looking for more gameplay. Obviously that approach doesn’t work for all stories and genres.

The point is that sooner or later the designer has to choose between their gameplay and their story. Borderlands 2 favored gameplay. That was probably the right move, but it still sucks the life out of the story.

The Final Push

Evidently while you were off doing sidequests, Mordecai and Brick stole a barge and spent hours covering it in elaborate anti-Jack graffiti.

Evidently while you were off doing sidequests, Mordecai and Brick stole a barge and spent hours covering it in elaborate anti-Jack graffiti.

Eventually we find out where the vault is. As it turns out, that’s also where Handsome Jack, Lilith, and the vault key are. So not only does everyone have really solid motivations pushing them into the final confrontation, all of the plot elements are forcing this showdown to take place at the vault. Once we reach the last area, we have a bunch of dialog from all the main characters to re-ignite the emotional energy that fizzled out over the last couple of hours of plot-door shenanigans.

This is the final push through hyperion forces. On one hand, Mordecai and Brick need to take part in this fight so their characters don’t seem lame and inert. On the other hand, we don’t actually want a couple of NPC’s running around, blocking our shots, jumping in front of our rocket launcher, kill-stealing tough foes after we’ve done 95% of the work to bring them down, and otherwise getting in the way as so many NPC companions do.

So instead the writer has the two of them “helping” by showing up in a flying barge and clearing obstacles for us. It keeps them involved from a story sense without making a mess of the gameplay. Good companion AI is hard, and far too many developers have tried and failed to hit that “Alyx Vance” sweet spot of “helpful but not in the way”.

That said, if there’s one thing I’d love companions to do in this game it would be reviving the player.

Fight For Your Life

No, it`s fine Brick. Just go on without me. You can be the main character now.

No, it`s fine Brick. Just go on without me. You can be the main character now.

In the Borderlands series, when you run out of hitpoints you go into “Fight for Your Life” mode, where your character goes down on one knee. You can’t use your special ability. You can’t use grenades. Your view slowly lists to one side, messing up your aim. Your movement speed is reduced to a frustrating crawl. But if you can get a kill in these conditions then you’ll get a “Second Wind” and recover with partial health and shields.

It’s a really good system for making sure that running out of HP has consequences while avoiding the abrupt killjoy of respawning and running back to the battle. When you’re in a multiplayer game, your companions will come over and revive you while you’re in Fight for Your Life. Or maybe they’ll leave you to fend for yourself while they vacuum up all the loot. I guess it depends on the kinds of people you play with.

Like lousy multiplayer buddies, the NPC companions won’t revive you. Even worse, they tend to inadvertently make things harder for you. You’ll be on the ground, desperately trying to get a kill to revive yourself. The timer is ticking down and you only have a few short seconds left before you die and get sent back to the respawn station. You’ve managed to focus-fire this one foe down and you just need to land one or two more shots to get a Second Wind. Suddenly your NPC “buddy” will come and stand right in front of the guy you’re trying to kill. Or maybe they’ll kill the target themselves.

I understand that making good companion AI is hardAt least, I assume it is, based simply on how often otherwise good games screw it up., but this is still a real killjoy. It feels like your allies are griefing you. It seems like having them come over and revive you shouldn’t be too difficult, and it would turn them into an asset rather than a liability. I realize it might be a little overpowered to have an immortal NPC as your resurrection buddy, but these sections are usually really short and I think “slightly OP” is better than building unintentional resentment between the player and their supposed friend.

Barring that, it would really help if the AI would deliberately switch targets to avoid killing foes while the player is in Fight For Your Life.

The Warrior

COME OUT TO PLAY-AY!

COME OUT TO PLAY-AY!

The story has built up “The Warrior” as this horrible doomsday weapon that will let Jack control all of Pandora and wipe all of his foes off the map. Since meeting Roland it’s been clear that our ultimate goal is to prevent Jack from controlling the Warrior.

So it’s a little odd that our quest ultimately fails, but we win anyway. It turns out that the Warrior isn’t a world-shattering weapon, but a reasonably tough foe for a lone level 30 character.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: To kill the final boss you have to shoot the weak spot on its chest. I’d complain, but the Warrior is basically a dragon and fighting non-Skyrim dragons is cool.

The fight does keep you moving around. The fight takes place in a lava ruin and sometimes the lava rises and forces you to high ground. The Warrior dives into the lava, climbs the structures, breathes fire, and attacks from different angles.

Hit The Road, Jack

This looks a lot more brutal than just shooting him myself.

This looks a lot more brutal than just shooting him myself.

Once the Warrior is dead, you can settle up with Jack. He’s “dying” in the sense that he’s too weak to fight you, and the game is just waiting for you to come over and deliver the killing blow. I’m always glad when games realize that when it comes to offing the bad guy, I’d rather make it happen in gameplay than watch it happen in a cutscene. Yes, I know gameplay doesn’t have the same cinematic pacing, dramatic camera angles, and perfectly timed musical cues, but it feels good to deliver that final blow, and it feels frustrating to have the game designer grab the controller out of your hands so they can show you a movie they made about how the bad guy should die.

However, if you decide you don’t want to kill Jack, you can choose to let Lilith kill him for you. This sounds like the horrendous kill-stealing bullshit Reaver pulls at the end of Fable 2, but there’s an important distinction here:

  1. Lilith is your friend, not an invulnerable infuriating GMPC that’s been antagonizing you since they showed up. (Seriously, screw Reaver.)
  2. Jack killed Lilith’s boyfriend and then tortured her. Compared to the player, Lilith has lost more, and suffered more. If they’ve connected with Lilith then they might actually feel like they want her to have the satisfaction of revenge.
  3. It’s a choice you get to make on your own. You can shoot Jack, or press the activate button on Lilith to let her do it. She’s not going to jump in and and steal the kill from the player because they were listening to the dialog.
  4. Even if you let Lilith kill him, you’re the one to press the activate key to make it happen, and the game doesn’t take control away from you.

I like giving Lilith the last hit. It feels like an appropriate way to end the game.

Holy Crap, It’s full of Stars!

We found another piece of Darth Revan`s starmap!

We found another piece of Darth Revan`s starmap!

Once Jack is gone, Mordecai and Brick show up to reveal they made it through their bullshit just fine. Once everyone has celebrated a bit, they gather around the vault key for the big reveal: A huge star map appears, showing countless vaults across the border worlds. Rather than limit the entire setting to Pandora, it seems the developers want to take us to other planets.

I love that the writer is thinking ahead like this. Even though this is a “silly comedy” game where the story supposedly “doesn’t matter”, the writer is thinking ahead, making plans, and doing a little worldbuilding. They’re setting up the next game without ending this one on an annoying cliffhanger. This story wraps up nicely, but gives us a hint of new adventures to think about.

Without this worldbuilding, the next game would have to clumsily explain, “Yep, we somehow know there’s another vault out there but we don’t know where it is, so let’s do the same plot all over again.”

This final reveal is brilliant because it gives the next writerThat is, the writer who makes the chronological sequel to this game. Obviously the next game in terms of release schedule was a prequel that wasn’t going to use this stuff yet. lots of room. All we know is that “there are vaults on other planets”. If the next team wants to make a game about one new planet with one new vault against one new rival, they can do that. If they want to scale the next game up and have a world-hopping adventure where we open four vaults on four planets, they can do that. If they want to add more of a meta-story with the aliens, they’re free to do that. If the next story needs us to already know the exact location of a vault, we can say this starmap gave us that. If the next story is going to be another hunt for secrets, then we can say the starmap identified vault planets but not exact locations. This ending liberates the next writer instead of constraining them.

As a bonus, this reveal feels cool and makes for a great visual payoff.

After the finale, it`s clear that Lilith has replaced Roland as the leader of the original vault hunters. I wonder if that group will grow to include Athena and the Borderlands 2 characters once Borderlands 3 rolls around.

After the finale, it`s clear that Lilith has replaced Roland as the leader of the original vault hunters. I wonder if that group will grow to include Athena and the Borderlands 2 characters once Borderlands 3 rolls around.

I know I keep coming back to this, but just compare this ending to the end of Mass Effect 2, when the writer ran the plot into a wall with no setup for the next game, and then burned their bridges in the DLC. The story-focused Mass Effect 2 really needed to get this right, and they whiffed. Meanwhile, hardly anyone would have complained if Borderlands 2 had half-assed this, but the writer nailed it anyway.

I hope this contrast is useful to the development teams currently planning to make sequels until the sun burns out. You don’t have to make a sequel if you don’t want to. You can make all your games self-contained stories like the old Final Fantasy titles. You can make brand-new IP if you want. You can reboot your world if you want. But if you’re going to make sequels forever and you insist on connecting them with an ongoing story, then you need to plan ahead with your writing.

And to the writers of the Assassins Creed series: We’re mostly talking about you. See me after class.

Conclusion

I think Borderlands 2 is the best in the series so far. Aside from a little Flanderization around the edges it manages to respect the returning characters while making room for the new. It nails the tone, dumps the awkward mechanics, polishes the gameplay, delivers on the humor, and moves the story of the Borderlands universe forward instead of trapping the next writer into giving us yet another vault on Pandora.

Next time we’re going to talk about some of the Borderlands 2 DLC. After that, we’re moving on to the Pre-Sequel.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] You could technically fly around freely after escaping the Citadel, but you couldn’t go back and turn quests in, so there weren’t very many USEFUL things you could do.

[2] At least, I assume it is, based simply on how often otherwise good games screw it up.

[3] That is, the writer who makes the chronological sequel to this game. Obviously the next game in terms of release schedule was a prequel that wasn’t going to use this stuff yet.


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From the Archives:

  1. Arakus says:

    When you say BL2 is the best in the series are you counting Tales from the Borderlands in that? Guessing not since it’s really different from the other games so it’s hard to compare. Just wondering.

    • Redrock says:

      I think Shamus mentioned in one of the first posts that Tales aren’t taken into account in this series. You can’t really classify Tales as “a Borderlands game”, I think. It’s just in the same universe.

      • Abnaxis says:

        I don’t think that’s super fair, though. Some significant story things happen in Tales (which I’m pretty sure are canon), and Tales is the first in-universe story after BL2, where the new writers could reap those same setup benefits that Shamus described here. Leaving the series out is a shame in the context of this post in particular, especially since the Pre-Sequel is next–a lot of what’s neat about Tales is how it slots in-between BL2 and the opening of the pre-sequel.

        • Echo Tango says:

          The best solution is to not adhere to a strict canon, and take the stories as they come. I like the attitude of the Red Letter Media guys, where they state that all Mad Max films are equally canon, and contradictions or timelines are fuzzy at best. They hypothesise that the director doesn’t care about strict canon, and neither should the viewer. This type of attitude is very useful, especially for older media or properties – I’m sure every person had their own view on what counts as “real” Superman, and what they don’t care about. Trying to force everyone to use the same standard for artistic media is a waste of effort. Which is why for me, Borderlands 1 and Tales are canon, and BL2 and the meta-jokes are to be ignored. :)

          • Abnaxis says:

            ???

            Did you mean to reply here?

            • Echo Tango says:

              Yes. The thread was arguing about which games in the BL series were canon, and I was sharing my opinion that such an argument was not a good use of time. Sorry if I didn’t make my statement clear enough.

              • Abnaxis says:

                I wasn’t arguing what should and shouldn’t be canon, I was saying that Tales very much seems like it’s INTENDED to be canon, and it has cashed in on a lot of the groundwork Shamus brought up here, and so I think it’s a shame he won’t be covering it in his series. Especially, because it could make a good contrast of what kind of storytelling and gameplay is possible for Tales versus the other games.

        • guy says:

          As it’s in a wildly different genre, I don’t think it’s appropriate to consider it part of the primary line of canon; Borderlands 3 can reasonably expect that a significant portion of the players will have played one, two and the pre-sequel but not Tales. So developments in it can’t be presented in a way that will confuse people who haven’t played Tales.

          • Abnaxis says:

            I’m…pretty sure that’s not up to you. If the creators fold the Tales events into the canon for BL3, it’s part of the canon for BL3. And from what actually happened in Tales, and from the ways Tales actually ties into the other titles (e.g. it shows how Athena was captured before the intro to the Pre-Sequel) it seems as though they intend to make it canon.

            I could have sworn it’s actually the Word of the Creators that Tales is canon, but for the life of me I can’t find where I read that.

            • galacticplumber says:

              They can say it until they’re blue in the face. Doesn’t mean they’ve any reasonable expectation to expect most of the fanbase to follow the franchise into its polar opposite genre wise.

              • Abnaxis says:

                It’s not like it’s any different than franchises that split their story across games in multiple platforms, except you can probably get Tales for like $10 on a steam sale, instead of having to buy a new console. The fan-base that doesn’t want to do that will just have to wonder why Scooter is the way he is now.

                • galacticplumber says:

                  It’s not about money. At least games on different platforms that maintain the original gameplay are still doing pretty much the same thing the base actually cared about to begin with. People who care about the plot aren’t likely to spend time watching someone play tales much less doing it themselves. They’ll look up a plot synopsis and be done much faster. This is not to say that tales is necessarily poorly done. It’s just that throwing pretty much literally the opposite genre into a series is unlikely to see much audience retention.

          • Zekiel says:

            My guess is that they’ll attempt a classic “do nothing that contradicts Tales but also nothing that requires you to have played it” thingie. The biggest world-changing thingie from Tales is something that could be explained pretty quickly in one of Borderlands’ classic intro storyteller sequences.

  2. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    Which means you need to got you Sawtooth Cauldron

    Gonna call typo on this one. I imagine it’s meant to be “get to”.

    the final stretch of the game can feel a little too liner

    And that one probably is linear.

    Personally, that’s why I have a rocket launcher: to get my second winds.

  3. TheAngryMongoose says:

    You can make all your games self-contained stories like the old Final Fantasy titles.

    Suddenly I’m wondering why more companies don’t take this route. The normal explanation for the heavy focus on sequels in the industry is to do with marketing and IP recognition. I’m not sure anyone really believes in telling rich multi-part narratives over two decades. Yet very few companies seem to have stumbled upon this formula. Take the fan favourites with you, keep the name, but otherwise completely abandon any elements that might be holding you back.

    Do any other series do this? While generally considered a strange multi-timeline single universe, I guess the Zelda franchise does this.

    • Fizban says:

      Pretty sure Mario should count , and spin offs from related characters. Kirby too, half the kirby games are gimmicks that use Kirby ’cause he’s recognizable but adaptable to any sort of gameplay, while the legacy Kirby games have even looser continuity than the retroactive “eh why not” Zelda timeline.

      • TheAngryMongoose says:

        I guess Nintendo do a fair bit of this across the board, especially with the loose/barebones stories, though they’re a bit more connected than the Final Fantasy universes.

    • DanMan says:

      I think one of the reasons for direct sequels is that they see it as short-cut story telling. It’s REALLY HARD to do Act I well. You need to establish the universe, the stakes, the characters. It’s a lot of explaining. It’s why you see the Amnesia story line so often. This way they can drop you into the “fun” Act II, then establish Act I in drips and drabs.

      A Final Fantasy style everything is different every game forces you to explain the world each time. I like the Legend of Zelda method as a nice in between. You know the Master Sword is the big weapon you’ll get towards the end of the game. You know Link is good and Zelda is the princess and if there is a Gannon, he’s the big bad. But it doesn’t force continuity, so they have the wiggle room to tell completely independent stories.

      • Francis-Olivier says:

        I actually hate that way of doing thing because everything ultimatly ends up feeling stale. If you always know what things like the master sword, Zelda or Ganondorf are then you stop caring to learn their motivations and without motivations you kind of killed a story.

    • Redrock says:

      The Divinity franchise kinda does that. I mean, it’s always the same universe and there are even hints of continuity, but the devs play so fast and loose with continuity that there might as well be none. Whole races can come and go, plotlines erased and created anew. But because they don’t make continuity some sort of a big deal, it doesn’t really get all that annoying. I think that Assassin’s Creed developers could have saved themselves a lot of grief by just being a bit less po-faced about their continuity and mythology.

    • Lame Duck says:

      It seems to be more common in Japan in general. The Tales and Fire Emblem series are the only examples that jump immediately to mind but I’m sure there are a bunch more.

      • guy says:

        Kinda the Persona series; they’re all set in the same continuity, but significant aspects of the supernatural mechanics are different each time, and aside from Igor characters only reappear as cameos.

        • Boobah says:

          Better example: the Shin Megami Tensei games, of which the Persona series is a subset.

          Besides, talking about ‘continuity’ in a game series that justifiably has two games numbered two is tricky.

    • Hal says:

      I think that “normal explanation” doens’t need bolstering. Proven IP vs. New (Untested) Property? Risk averse companies see no contest there. Existing IPs will, at the very least, have a built in audience, whether that’s from the people who will buy anything with that name attached to it or the people with nostalgia ready to exploit.

      Then a few years down the road you get to sell “ultimate collectors’ editions” which bundle all 12 game together.

      • TheAngryMongoose says:

        My point is that you get the benefits of IP recognition either way. Final Fantasy is Final Fantasy, and people come for more of it, even knowing it’ll actually be completely different.

    • Francis-Olivier says:

      I think it’s just because of a love of the characters and putting them in a continuity allows for some growth. If you keep characters through various instalments but don’t have a solid canon you run the risk of that growth feeling arbitrary as you could lose elements that leas to it. You at least need to give it proper thought so people possibly think “fuck it” and just figure out a timeline to save themselves some headache.

    • Lars says:

      There is even an Electronic Arts Series who does that: Need For Speed. Ever since Underground, there is a story. Ok, it’s always the same story – Underdog/Undercover-Cop needs to rise the ranks of a racing ring to … eh .. do something. But every time the “characters”, scene, vehicles and race modi change.
      Things that doesn’t change: Frustrating rubber-band-AI, unskipable busywork and really stupid characters.

  4. Nixorbo says:

    THE LAVA’S RISING!

  5. Thomas says:

    Any story about the bad guy gaining an unstoppable weapon has a tension where of course you want to see the unstoppable weapon that’s been built up through the story. But then if you’ve seen it, the good guys need to stop it.

    • Anitogame says:

      Chekhov’s SUPER Gun.

    • BlueHorus says:

      It’s somewhat lame to have the superweapon appear and then just become a boss, which your player then kills. If some random guy with a camera for a face could beat this terrible superweapon, what was the big fuss about?

      Much better to have the boss fight centred around stopping the thing being activated in the first place – you get the added bonus of actually feeling like you’re achieving something you set out to do.

      I had this problem a lot with Diablo II. Almost every act had a similar situation: ‘Quick, we need to find Diablo and stop him before he does X!’ But every single time, you arrived too late (regardless of whether you rushed or not) and Diablo had already done X and moved on. So you just cleaned up the mess after the fact and moved on anyway.
      Stop telling me to rush if there’s not point in me rushing, game! Whatever it is, I’ll just handle it when I get there anyway.

      Anything that resembled actually stopping Diablo’s plans before he did them was done by Tyrael the NPC, in cutscenes. The closest you get to it is when he’s done everything he wants to and just hangs around in Hell, waiting for you to find him so you can fight.

      • Thomas says:

        It depends on what the superweapon is. If it’s a bomb or a virus, than everyone knows what that does and it’s not particularly interesting so you can have a fight to stop it being activated.

        But if it’s a demon or a supersoldier or a mecha or gives someone super fighting ability, then the audience _are_ going to want to see it in action. If you have a whole story about this super bad demon and then the story ends and you’ve never seen it? Only a certain kind of story can pull that off.

        I agree it’s lame to beat the unbeatable monster at the climax too. I’m just saying both options are lame and (unless bomb/virus/partial appearance of monster) in conflict with each other.

        • Viktor says:

          Maybe you fight it while it’s being activated. There’s a timer ticking down, with more systems coming online every minute or so to ratchet up the difficulty if you dawdle, plus a couple healthbar-based systems. If you take more than, say, 5 minutes it just one-shots you with the mega-laser.

          • BlueHorus says:

            Yeah, there’s loads of things like this you could do.

            The ‘Star Wars’: Blow up a city or a planet with the superweapon as a demonstration earlier in the story. Then at the end, you’re fighting a timer as well as a boss who wants you to not interfere.

            Have it visibly gathering power as you fight. Maybe the attacks get more powerful, maybe more lava bursts in, that kind of thing. Shadowrun: Dragonfall had a (great) final boss where you had to deactivate consoles and pumps alongside the actual fighting part, delaying the enemy’s plan.

            Etc.

        • Tektotherriggen says:

          The classic movie solution is to show you a vision (dream, video from the future, whatever) that shows what could happen if the superweapon is activated or the disaster isn’t stopped. Thus the audience gets to see Stuff Blowing Up, without having to feel sad that “real” people were dying.

          E.g. Armageddon, Terminator 2, Star Trek Enterprise, …

        • Echo Tango says:

          If you have a whole story about this super bad demon and then the story ends and you’ve never seen it? Only a certain kind of story can pull that off.

          It’s very easy to show a monster that is underwhelming, but difficult to live up to the high standards of the audience’s imaginations. On the other hand, it’s fairly common to leave the Big Thing unrevealed in a story. Many [1] Lovecraft stories only hint at the evil before it’s ran away from or temporarily banished. Horror games lose their steam after the monster has been revealed (e.g. Spoiler Warning jumping on the monster’s head).

          It also depends on the audience’s expectations. Do they care more about the protagonist’s journey and growth, or about setting some cool monster or lasers? It’s the videogame equivalent of watching something like The Mist (2007), or watching a Michael Bay Transformers film.

          [1] and I would argue, the better Lovecraft stories, that have remained enjoyable while the others now seem quaint or silly.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Why can’t the good guys just commandeer the super-weapon instead of stopping it? I know the reasons this doesn’t work in LotR, but those reasons were explicitly constructed and foreshadowed in order to avoid the obvious solution of turning the weapon on all who oppose you.

      • Christopher says:

        Because then your final boss is a tower defense where you tell the Songbird which enemies it should attack but it’s kind of on a long cooldown, instead of just having a cool fight against the Songbird.

      • Echo Tango says:

        You could absolutely commandeer the weapon. That would however, raise questions about what the hero would do next with the weapon. Do they use it to destroy the enemy, and in so doing become themselves evil? Do they set up a guard to stop it falling into evil hands? Maybe they themselves guard it, keeping it out of the hands of evil. There’s things you can do as a story-teller, with that setup.

      • Bubble181 says:

        Alwyas a matter of the type of weapon it is. So, you’ve got a deadly supervirus that’ll only target….redheads. Congratulations. I don’t really see how you could use that to do “good”.
        Or you have possession of a demon’s soul. My felicitations. How long before you succumb to its corrupting influence? Huzzah! A planet-killing super-laser. So…What planet are you *really* sure about is only filled with Evil Monsters, without a single puppy or little girl crying for her daddy?

        A lot of “ultimate superweapon” type dealies don’t really work in a setting where you’re trying to do good. Of course, some do, mind.

        • Echo Tango says:

          So…What planet are you *really* sure about is only filled with Evil Monsters, without a single puppy or little girl crying for her daddy?

          Collateral damage is the reason the good guys don’t use large-scale weapons – a Death Star could be wielded by the rebels to target large installations of military force, and to ensure peace is kept, but the bad guys would absolutely hide behind villagers and towns, to keep the good guys from using the large weapon. At best any large weapon will be used as a threat, but that requires an ongoing effort to ensure it doesn’t fall into the hands of evil.

  6. IanTheM1 says:

    Honestly I thought even the gameplay of the third act was pretty crappy. The Eridium Blight is where playthroughs go to die, due to it being a loud screeching of the brakes right after the big Angel encounter. Sawtooth Cauldron is terribly designed to the point where people often get stuck in it. The Hyperion areas feel incredibly cramped even solo.

    There are also only two notable new enemy types, the sickly bandits of the Eridium Blight (why they’re there is never explained AFAIK) and the rocket loaders, which are fundamentally broken on account of being able to one-shot you.

    The quests fare no better, with a number of recycled ideas from earlier in the game (delivery race, point defense), blatant padding (Sawtooth bandits randomly drop treasure map pieces), or dull design (yet more arbitrary fetch quests).

    • Falterfire says:

      I definitely agree with this. The two big pits of dead playthroughs for me are the slog to Sanctuary and the stuff between Roland’s death and the Warrior. Not only for the reasons you described, but also because I think it’s a point where the reward system kinda gets stuck.

      The time between levels at this point is pretty long, which means your loadout is likely pretty stable (especially after all the loot you got from completing the last story section) and you’re not getting the ding of a new skill point very often. The net result is that in addition to facing same-y enemies and not progressing the main story, you aren’t really progressing your gear much either.

      Plus it feels like the XP curve is a bit wonky – I pretty consistently hit Saturn while underleveled, and he is already an unholy meatshield of a boss, combining a mountain of hitpoints with a dearth of summons you can snag Second Winds off of. Maybe this is my memory playing tricks on me, but I specifically remember Saturn being a real pain in the ass to beat when playing solo, more than any other single fight in the main campaign aside from Bunker.

      So yeah, I really agree with this – This whole section feels just completely awful.

  7. evilmrhenry says:

    After multiple playthroughs, I finally noticed that EXP Loaders are supposed to be pronounced exploders.

    • Francis-Olivier says:

      It takes everyone a while. Still it doesn’t get better than when you first see them and you think they have something to do with experience points.

  8. Nimrandir says:

    The moment you arrived on Virmire, you were basically riding a railroad to the endgame.

    That’s only true if you’ve already finished the plotlines on Feros, Therum, and Noveria, right? I recall putting off Liara acquisition as long as possible on my renegade ‘human elitist’ playthrough, so I think I went to Therum after Virmire.

  9. BlueHorus says:

    if you’re going to make sequels forever and you insist on connecting them with an ongoing story, then you need to plan ahead with your writing.

    And to the writers of the Assassins Creed series: We’re mostly talking about you. See me after class.

    Yes, for Remedial classes.

    Just let that Desmond story die if you don’t know what to do with it, dumbasses! And that Assassins v Templars nonsense. Just drop that and focus on assassin-style shenanigans in interesting times and places.

    • Thomas says:

      They basically have now. I think Syndicate had a total of three cutscenes in the modern day storyline. And they were all pretty superfluous.

      It would have been better with two.

  10. Exasperation says:

    Evidently while you were off doing sidequests, Mordecai and Brick stole a barge and spent hours covering it in elaborate anti-Jack graffiti.

    In fairness to Mordecai and Brick, I spent a LOT of time off doing sidequests.

  11. Philadelphus says:

    Yes, I know gameplay doesn’t have the same cinematic pacing, dramatic camera angles, and perfectly timed musical cues, but it feels good to deliver that final blow[…]

    Especially if the game if the game gives you some freedom of choice in how to take care of the guy yourself, and lets you work some humiliation in there too.

    For instance, in Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun (set in feudal Japan) the final level has you confronting the Big Bad who’s pulled a seriously nasty betrayal on you (and the emperor) and got one of your group killed in an utterly gut-wrenching scene (pun not intended, for those who know what I’m talking about). You (and all your characters) have a burning desire to see him get his just desserts. And at the end, after you’ve spent hours getting to him and beaten his grueling fortress of danger and have him alone, if you take too long after reaching him he’ll commit seppuku and die with honor. Or you can just run him through yourself. Or, you can knock him unconscious, drag him down several flights of his castle, and throw him into the sea behind it.

    (Seriously, it’s a really well-done game with a well-written story and great characters, and I can’t promote it enough.)

  12. Zekiel says:

    This isn’t just a problem with Borderlands 2, it’s a problem a lot of games have. If we go right from the crisis point of the plot into the finale, then we end up with the player being locked into the endgame almost as soon as they enter the third act.

    I see this as a MASSIVE problem in story-first games. An awful lot of games seem to go with the alternative mentioned, which means they are 10% Act 1, 80% Act 2 and 10% Act 3. (And sometimes Act 2 is an even bigger percentage than that.)

    The only solution I can see to this is by making games shorter. You can’t really stretch out Act 1 or Act 3 too much without creating different storytelling problems.

  13. 4th Dimension says:

    And somewhere in this confused mess of quests and plot doors between Angel fight and Finale is the “Jack Town” population murder bots and engineers, and is where I quit my play through since the enemies for me were becoming really bullet spongy.

    After the finale, it`s clear that Lilith has replaced Roland as the leader of the original vault hunters. I wonder if that group will grow to include Athena and the Borderlands 2 characters once Borderlands 3 rolls around.

    Here is the interesting thing about The Tales of The Borderlands. It made me care about it’s characters, so when Brick and Mordecai show up to snatch Athena and succeed I really really hated them. And the line above makes me instinctively say. “NO. She is the part of Tales group. She is one of US. FUCK those three.” and this is an opinion that remained with me when I later tried playing Borderlands 2. So when the Bloodwing part came, the pissed off me basically went “serves him right for taking Athena“.
    I wonder if the same would have happened if I have played BL2 first?
    I’m afraid maybe not.

  14. Francis-Olivier says:

    I agree that doing in the final bad guy in yourself is more satisfying to me than a cutscene but only if it’s done with the gameplay I’ve been focussing on throughout the game. If it’s done the way it is here in BL2 where I get to finish off the antagonist with a single button press or an other restrictive way and the game can’t even proceed until I do then let’s not bother and let’s just have a cutscene. But whatever happen the player should be involved in a proper resulution and not have it end like Samus mentioned in Fable 2 where someone else the player hates gets to do everything for them.

  15. Dragmire says:

    Ah, that, “Get the explosives to lower the bridge” is my favorite!

    So we need explosives to lower the bridge…. ok fine, it’s Borderlands-y, could have looked for a way to hack it or find the control station but whatever.

    We need to go to a very specific place to get them… Man explosives are hard to get on Pandora.

    The explosives are strong enough to knock the bridge down but doesn’t destroy it…. Ooooh, so we needed weak explosives!

    The explosives that were used were flown in… We needed to cross the bridge to get to a place that has info, right? It wasn’t something that we needed to drive home? WHY DIDN’T WE JUST FLY!?

  16. Grampy_bone says:

    I’ve always hated the Fight For Your Life mechanic. It’s fine for multiplayer but it’s horrible for single player. There’s never an enemy around when you need it, or you’re using a gun that is really bad for it (sniper rifles). In which case you are screwed. It feels like a cheap cop-out to avoid properly balancing enemy damage or healthpack usage. I wish they would do something else. Even just letting the player buy some kind of ‘helper bot’ that revives you once and takes up an inventory slot.

    • Abnaxis says:

      There does need to be some way to pick yourself up if you and your target kill each other at the same time (happens to me all the time with elemental damage)

      As far as”not the right gun”…I mean just dedicate one slot to a good pick-me-up gun, you have four of them…

  17. Falterfire says:

    I still can’t shake the feeling that the ending was meant to hint towards a Destiny/Warframe-esque sequel with a MMO-ish structure. I could have sworn the ending included a line about needing lots more vault hunters, but either they patched it out or I imagined that since the transcripts I’ve found online (and the video clips) are missing it.

    I also think the Pre-Sequel works nicely with this theory and explains why they didn’t move the plot forward: They weren’t yet ready for the big project, and didn’t want to disrupt the setup they had, so they moved backwards instead as a temporary stopgap.

    It’s probably been long enough now that I should just admit I was either wrong about their intentions or they simply ended up abandoning those plans though – If they were going to announce such a thing, it probably would have happened by now, especially since it would make sense to have it ready to go against everybody else’s multiplayer co-op shooter.

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