Borderlands: Multiplayer Madness

By Shamus Posted Monday Nov 2, 2009

Filed under: Game Reviews 79 comments

I’m really enjoying Borderlands. It’s on my short list of top games this year. So it’s a shame I have to start off this series on such a negative note. I’ve noticed a trend of of people buying games when I say they’re great, and I wouldn’t want to send you off to the store without issuing this most important warning: The multiplayer support in the PC version of Badlands is contemptible.

There is really no need for things to have turned out this way. Usable networking code is so common and so well-developed that there is no excuse for having a multiplayer game without a seamless multiplayer system. This is not some trendy new tech. Unlike graphics, this isn’t some churning sea of conflicting systems and anarchic innovation. Unlike sound, this isn’t some gadget-driven five-bladed-razor race for more gimmicks. This is sending packets over the internet and having them get there. You can probably go over to Sourceforge and crib whatever notes and lessons you might need from the open-source treasure vault if you find yourself fuzzy on the details. At any rate, under no circumstances should any gamer ever have to set up port forwarding on their router in these enlightened times, for all the same reasons that people should not have to churn their own milk, which they squeezed from the udder of a cow that same morning. We’re past this stuff now. We’ve got this kind of low-level functionality covered. This should all be completely turnkey at this point.

Borderlands uses Gamespy, a service which astounds me each year it continues to not go out of business on account of being cumbersome, unreliable, and utterly superfluous to the needs of the day. Unlike the venerable Diablo II, there is no central server out there to mediate games between plays. If you want to game with friends, then one of you must be the host. If the host is on a LAN (if they’re in a house with multiple computers sharing a common net connection) then that host will have to set up port forwarding. Then that player can host the game. If they disconnect or crash, then you are dumped out of the game without saving, despite the fact that there is no reason no to save the game when that happens. (And I’ve gotten reports that disconnecting like this can possibly erase your entire save, thus obliterating your character. Hasn’t happened to me, but now I live in fear of it.)

The game supports voice chat, without offering any of the options needed to make that work properly. Need to calibrate your mic? Test it? Having trouble hearing other people? Is the game volume too loud compared to the other people in the game? Shrug. Nothing you can do about it. There isn’t even a push-to-talk key. Or a push-to-NOT-talk key. Once you connect, your microphone is live and open during the duration of the play session and there is nothing you can do to get any privacy short of unplugging the mic or logging off. The game doesn’t even tell you this or give any on-screen indication that you’re transmitting, so it’s possible for this to go wrong in all sorts of different ways. You can disable the mic, but only if you can track down the obscure options files and and change them by hand in a text editor.

You can’t kick someone once they enter the game. If someone triggers a level change, then everyone else is pulled through along with them, willing or no. That is, unless someone has a window open. (Visiting the vendor, viewing their character stats, sorting their inventory, etc.) In which case nobody can change levels at all. A few nights ago a friend went to make a sandwich but forgot and left a window open, and everyone else was effectively trapped until Sandwich Guy came back. We could either remain trapped until he came back, or the host could end the game and Sandwich Guy would lose his unsaved progress.

The lobby screen has no chat functionality. If the host is setting up a new game, you need to either have the always-on mic enabled, or you have no way to discuss what sort of game you want to play or what characters you want to use.

Of course, you shouldn’t ever play with random anonymous net trash, but we gave it a try on our first night with the game. A friend started a server and we played with some strangers. The first person to join was clueless. (nothing wrong with that at the start, we’re all newbies at some point) But he was also impervious to communication. He didn’t react when we spoke. He didn’t react when we sent chat text. (The chat appears off to the side and is very easy to miss.) He fumbled around the environment so ineptly we couldn’t tell if he was just confused or if he was griefing us intentionally. My friend closed down the game and restarted and we tried again. The second guy to join was ten levels above us and annihilated everything without us having the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the game. We asked him if he had any lower level characters and he didn’t answer. We asked him to leave and he didn’t answer. Once again we had to close the game and start over.

In the end, we set up a private game. With even the most basic / crude / obvious player-management tools we would have been able to deal with this sort of thing.

So the Borderlands forces you to host your own games, then denies you the requisite tools to act as a proper host. This would all be forgivable in a game where multiplayer was an afterthought. But this is a game built around the idea of team play, and having such crude and perfunctory multiplayer functionality is abominable. What’s even more mystifying is that Borderlands was built on the Unreal Engine, which has a lot of the client / server architecture built in.

We have gotten multiplayer to work, and we have managed to have some fun sessions of Borderlands, but it was more trouble than it needed to be and continues to frustrate us with its various shortcomings. I’ll review the rest of the game later, but you should keep all of this in mind when contemplating getting the game for the PC.

EDIT: Ah! You CAN kick someone, as a helpful reader details in this comment.


From The Archives:

79 thoughts on “Borderlands: Multiplayer Madness

  1. Slyboots says:

    *Sigh* QFT

    I would agree with everything above here, in this day and age its just shocking. Whats odd is I seem to have the opposing problem.. I *Cant* hear anyone, and they cant hear me..

    My advice.. Use Steamchat/Skype/Vent/Pick your poison. The game is good and with luck (and a prayer) they will patch in some badly needed features. And if you havnt bought the game.. I would hold off till they do.

  2. MuonDecay says:

    I really only have one explanation for why the Gearbox team produced a game with such resoundingly incompetent networking:

    They outsourced that job to GameSpy.

    Gamespy is essentially just reselling the same exact bad networking that barely worked in 1995. They took an old product that was considered mediocre even when it was new, a decade and a half ago, and decided to sell it to anyone stupid or time-strapped enough to be willing to pay for it in their game, so they didn’t have to build their own.

    It’s the biggest outrage I’ve felt about a game this year, because it absolutely cripples the best attribute of an excellent game.

    Gamespy douchebags, if you’re reading this: I hate you, your laziness and incompetence has become a contagion that gives good games a vile illness.

    For what it’s worth though, the practical functionality of all the important multiplayer stuff that was still Gearbox’s responsibility really is lacking, yes. I would kill a million skags to gain the ability to have a chat history window on-screen. It is so hard to chat knowing that your message may disappear without everyone reading it and it causes constant stress. Thankfully I can resolve this by chatting with the Steam overlay, but that is slow and cumbersome.

    Shamus: Thanks for giving me a chance to get that bile out of my system.

  3. vede says:

    While I don’t have a problem with port forwarding (I work with computer networks all day, so I deal with far worse than forwarding some measly ports), this sounds like a lot of stuff to drive me even further away from Borderlands. I got the single player game working, and it’s really fun, except for the random lag spikes, the UI that was obviously not changed a bit for the PC (nor is it consistent in which buttons do what, sometimes the scroll wheel works, sometimes the arrow keys, sometimes you have to use P-UP and P-DOWN, and sometimes, sometimes, left-and-right facing arrows actually have opposite functions, not identical functions).

    When Borderlands was in development, they kept going on about how the PC was their primary platform, and how the console versions would be ports of the PC version, not the other way around. I’m extremely disappointed that I bought this game.

  4. kikito says:

    Hi Samus,

    I’m very interesting in what you have to say about the procedurally-generated content on this game – is it only the guns, or is there more procgen stuff?

    1. Shamus says:

      kikito: It would be VERY generous to call this stuff “procedural”. It’s pretty much the Diablo formula: Random loot and the occasional random mini-boss. The gameworld itself is static.

  5. echelon says:

    Agree entirely with everything you’ve listed there Shamus, except for one small quibble: “You can't kick someone once they enter the game.”

    The Host can kick a player by viewing the lobby from their esc menu, highlighting the player and hitting “K” as denoted in the legend at the bottom of the screen.

    I’ve kicked many a random from our requisite public games before we were able to get the private functionality working.

  6. Benjamin Orchard says:

    So very disappointed by this. I want to buy the game, but if multiplayer is going to be a pain in the backside, I’m going to have to think about this VERY VERY carefully. It’s just not worth it to have stress in my fun-time….

  7. O.G.N says:

    What's even more mystifying is that Borderlands was built on the Unreal Engine, which has a lot of the client / server architecture built in.

    Are you sure this isn’t the problem? The last game I played that requierd both a Gamespy ID and that the host for a co-op game fiddle with port forwarding was Unreal Tournament III.

    Since then Epic has been a pure console developer presumably doing all their networking through psn and xbox-live.

  8. Fenix says:

    To fix some of your problems you can do Lan with Hamachi, as well as using teamspeak (or skype if thats your thing). Heck there could be a twenty sided hamachi server and same for teamspeak (i think for free as well). Anyway just a thought as I was reading this.

  9. MuonDecay says:

    That’s a good idea and I wish I’d thought of it. Tomorrow I’m going to try organizing a LAN game on a VPN with friends and see if it works.

  10. Thanks. With that warning I’ll skip the game.

  11. Randy Johnson says:

    @Fenix Our gaming group has been using hamachi to do just that for ages. It does not work with borderlands. There is no direct ip connect function, which means you can’t use it. We tried. Alot.

  12. Mark says:

    Well, shoot. I was considering getting this game, but you’ve totally killed my interest.

  13. Lalaland says:

    Hey at least you’re not trying to play on PSN where speech is laggy if working at all, following in the tradition of EA/DiCE Gearbox seem to be shrugging their shoulders about this too. More galling still is that the PS3 version cuts out digital sound like a bad cell phone connection if you use the optical out to drive your surround sound system. In Dahl Headlands the rushing wind noise sounds like a kid pretending to be a turn-tablist on their parents hifi.

    Love the game though it hits me with the endorphin reward stick often enough to be a ‘problem’ game for me (‘Wait this shotgun does +4 acid damage, I’ll just melt a few more faces before sleep….’)

  14. Vadimirin says:

    I can’t wait to hear more about it, especially if the only complaints you have are really about the network connections, which (I presume) will be handled entirely differently on the 360.

    One of my friends ordered it already, so I guess the rest of us will gather around and watch her play it for a bit before we determine if the 360 version is good.

  15. Frawg says:

    I’ve been playing the single player game since the day it was released, and I’m still loving it. It’s everything I wanted out of Hellgate London with fun and polished gameplay. This game gives me the “15 more minutes” thing.

    I keep waiting to try out multiplayer, hoping that patches will improve all of the problems mentioned above. I also haven’t started hassling my friends to buy a copy, which I normally would. This is costing them sales, so they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

  16. Inwards says:

    To fix some of your problems you can do Lan with Hamachi, as well as using teamspeak (or skype if thats your thing). Heck there could be a twenty sided hamachi server and same for teamspeak (i think for free as well). Anyway just a thought as I was reading this.

    From what I hear, Borderlands doesn’t work with Hamachi, although there are mixed reports with the beta version. We’ve had good success with Tunngle; aside from some of the program being in German, it Just Works.

  17. Nathon says:

    “there is no reason no to same the game”
    I’m guessing that should be
    “there is no reason not to save the game”

  18. droid says:

    “no reason no to same the game” Huh? What does this mean? I would guess that it really says “no reason not to save the game”.

    Anyway, such things as you describe ought not exist.

  19. Rob says:

    Wow, a group of my friends and I have been going back and forth on if we want to pony up the cash for this. After reading this I can honestly say that I won’t be picking it up and will be sharing this with those that where. The entire point is the co-op multiplayer and if that’s crap why spend money on another single player game?

  20. Gahazakul says:

    Well, I have this guy on the 360 and it is smooth as butter. No lag, easy connections, the mics for the 360 have an on/off switch. No gamespy so direct connections. Easy to use kick functionality to boot. The only issue I have is finding more time in the day to play it, thanks for going to school my children, daddy needs a new shotgun!

    Honestly from all that I have read about this one, it seems the primary platform was the 360 and Gearbox was just trying to pull one over on the PC crowd. Sorry guys.

  21. TehShrike says:

    The things that Shamus says are true (barring the corrected “can’t kick people” line).

    Still, I found them to be minor speedbumps in my enjoyment of this awesome, awesome game.

    My Gamespy ID is JoshDuffMan if any of you guys want to team up!

  22. Rosseloh says:

    (Disclaimer: Don’t have Borderlands, won’t be getting it anytime soon. L4D2, AC2, LotRO Mirkwood, Brutal Legend, and Dragon Age are taking up my future…)

    @Inwards: Interesting that it wouldn’t work with Hamachi, since all Hamachi does is set up a virtual LAN. The game shouldn’t even know the difference, as long as you’re configured correctly.

  23. Stern says:

    Here’s another fun tidbit. After going in and tweaking the config files and remapping my keybinds (the default is very inefficient for a couple keys) I find out that said changes were reverted to the default in a day or so. This means that I have to re-tweak these files on a regular basis. I really hope there’s a fix for this soon.

    Also, I hosted a game of Hamachi a couple days ago, but now it won’t let me. It’s odd since I can join private games just fine.

  24. Scourge says:

    “And I've gotten reports that disconnecting like this can possibly erase your entire save, thus obliterating your character. Hasn't happened to me, but now I live in fear of it.”

    Not to forget that if anyone joins/hosts the game with a hacked character can that possibly screw up your character too!
    Then there is the possibility that if they altered the game files as to allow themself to carry 99 items and have all 4 weapon slots from the beginning will this affect your cahracter too and it won’t go away.
    More filealtering can reduce the gravity to 0 and you can jump around as if in 0 space, and everyone will be affected.

    Oh, that also causes YOUR .ini file to change, permanently, meaning that you either delete it or back it up too before joining a game.

    Lan isn’t safe either, there have been reports that you could loose your whole skillpoints accidentally, Not so problematic at lower levels, but if that happens to your level 50 character. Well, good luck. Backups are a must.

    Also, the natural level cap is 50. But by changing some game files can you get up to 1250 or more. You can also join other games with this character then.
    Then there are duped items. Which is far far far to easy.

    @Frawg: Since you mentioned hellgate London do I feel as if I should point towards , several users started modding the game and patched the Sp campaign up to par with the now non functional multiplayer. There is even word about lan support, but I am not sure if they will put that in in the 1.0 version just yet or will need more time.

    @Rosseloh&Inwards: Borderlands does work with hamachi, its tricky and not to reliable, but it does work. A friend of a friend of mine could not join a lan game, however the brother of my friend could, but if he did then I could not join, unless my friend disconnected and waited for me to connect to the game first. *Shakes head*

    Overall is the game good, very fun and interesting, but the many problems, especially the Multiplayer part, make it sub par.
    Anti aliasing doesn’t work either, no big loss since you very very rarely will notice it since you are to busy shooting stuff, but occasionally you notice it.
    Hit detection is often a matter of luck, there have been times when I unloaded 60 bullets into an enemy and didn’t score a single hit, the next clip was all with full hits though.
    And don’t start talking about rockets, they will fly straight through the enemy.

  25. Louis says:

    Shamus, your “this comment” link doesn’t actually link to a comment, it’s just a link to the article, I found the comment but I thought I’d point that out for you.

  26. Nelson says:

    Seconding Gahazakul’s comment that the multiplayer works great on Xbox 360. Very easy to set up a game with friends, joining and dropping out of a game-in-progress works fine, the only rough spot I found was the weird mechanics about travelling requiring everyone to go together with no windows open. Even Xbox voice chat is great; there’s no push-to-talk, true, but it seems to work. I haven’t tried playing with random strangers because seriously, I’m a KWEER BONER FAGZ.

    I think this is a case where Microsoft’s restrictions on Xbox game implementations really benefits the player.

  27. Hal says:

    Remember when it was consoles that had second-rate versions of what you could play on PC?

    *Sigh* Good times . . . good times.

    Incidentally, yesterday I was at a Gamestop . . . hey, stop flinging holy water at me! Anyways, I was at a Gamestop picking up a copy of Wrath of the Lich King for a friend (one of the few PC products they stock these days) and the cashier asked me if there was anything I was looking forward to on PC that I wanted to pre-order.

    It was a very sad and resigned, “No thank you,” that I gave him.

  28. Neil Polenske says:

    This disparity between the PC and console version seems so blatant that as conspiracy theory as it sounds, I can’t help but think maybe it was intentional.

    It just seems that you really couldn’t screw this up unless you really WERE trying and it’s specifically in network/online play where PC’s have the last real advantage over consoles. Not sure what the benefits for such a play would be, but…I dunno, I really don’t. It just seems so bizarre! Having a CONSOLE version outdo the PC for online play?!

    Truly, we are witnessing the end of days…

  29. Inwards says:

    “Borderlands does work with hamachi, its tricky and not to reliable, but it does work. A friend of a friend of mine could not join a lan game, however the brother of my friend could, but if he did then I could not join, unless my friend disconnected and waited for me to connect to the game first. ”

    You have more patience than I do. I don’t want to sound like a shill, but when it comes to a free games-oriented VPN, Tunngle is so much better than Hamachi that it isn’t even funny. I’ve tried on a bunch of titles and it just works. None of the wierd-ass Hamachi voodoo that you’ve described (and I’ve experienced myself).

    As an aside, I’ve heard people speculating that some games intentionally block Hamachi from working in an effort to prevent piracy. Dunno if there’s any truth to this or not; it could merely be a perception that’s risen around the fact that Hamachi seems to have gotten progressively worse over the last few years.

  30. MuonDecay says:

    The thing that makes me sad is:

    As inept-to-the-bone as their publisher’s management is, if this hurts PC sales especially, they’ll just blame piracy and continue fucking up unabated.

    “Huh? Naw, nothing was wrong with the game, look at the 360 sales! Must be pirates.”

    2k’s reputation for listening to customers is on par with Fred Flintstone’s reputation for inventing the atomic bomb.

  31. ima420r says:

    I have no issues with the 360 version. Well, other than having immature idiots playing, but that’s to be expected.

  32. neolith says:

    Aw, dammit. Borderlands was a game I was hoping to really enjoy together with a friend. Doesn’t look like it’s the type of game I even tolerate. :(

    Well, I just bought Evil Genius from GOG – gonna play that for a while.

  33. rofltehcat says:

    It is gamespy. Gamespy outright sucks and every game using gamespy for their multiplayer should instanly lose 3-5 (sometimes 10) rating points for using the worst system on the market. That way game developers would maybe finally use something different.
    Why do they use it? Because gamespy seems to be the cheapest option by far. Doesn’t surprise if it is the worst.

    So… don’t buy games with gamespy in them. Punish publishers for kicking multiplayer experience with their feet.

  34. LintMan says:

    I was totally screwed by Amazon – I’m STILL waiting for my damn copy of Borderlands to arrive. I preordered from Amazon because they were showing 10/23 for the ship date, so with Prime I’d have the disks in hand by the 26th.

    Then on the 23rd, Amazon says they’re delayed to the 26th, and on the 26th, Amazon tells me they’re delayed to Nov 1. Grrr.

    Off-topic: In the meantime, I’ve bought Torchlight, which is a very well-made Diablo clone at a bargain price. It looks and plays great but unfortunately doesn’t seem to aspire to be more than a well-made Diablo clone.

    Torchlight is a single-player-only game, but the SP elements are basically at the same level you’d find in a MP-focused game (like Diablo) where if you complained about their lacking, people would say “yeah, but it’s a multiplayer game, don’t expect much from SP”. Apparently the developers are planning to evolve the Torchlight engine into an MMO and sadly, it’s pretty clear that the dev’s hearts aren’t in the single player content.

  35. The Husband Unit(TM) and I have been playing Borderlands on our PCs with moderate success.

    If you hate those damn unskippable intro movies as much as we do, here’s the fix.

    There’s also information on how to enable V-Sync, disable voice chat, etc.


  36. BaCoN says:

    @ #14, Lalaland

    I was having the same problems with the headset cutting in and out, but I apparently managed to fix it. Don’t ask me how. D:

    Anyway, I was going to offer myself up as a goon for those with Borderlands for the PS3. Feel free to add me, at Obee1

  37. MintSkittle says:

    While the multiplayer issues are bad, they generally don’t concern me as I rarely ever play multiplayer. What does bother me is the info box in the item menu that shows the bonuses for the weapon you have highlighted, beause it only shows four lines of text, whereas the more rare drops can have as many as a dozen lines of bonuses, most of which you cant see:

    I’ve only read the first twenty pages or so, so the only band-aids I’ve seen for this problem is changing the in game font to one that fits five lines, and activating the debug menu to see what your currently equipped weapon has.

    EDIT: For a loot based game, this is unacceptable. What’s the point of collecting loot if you don’t know what it does?

  38. Lex Icon says:

    Not experiencing problems over here on the PS3 side of things either, but I’ve been playing splitscreen co-op with my brother. I have noticed some framerate drops during multiple explosions even when offline, though.

    Anyway, if anyone else here has the PS3 version, feel free to hit me up for some high-level looting and question, I’m in the mid 40s right now. PSN = nixarlegion

  39. radio_babylon says:

    *everything* about borderlands screams “1999”… its like gearbox made borderlands 10 years ago, then pulled it off the shelves and released it.

    in addition to all the technical issues youve mentioned, there are also all the many throwback elements in the multiplayer gameplay design: free for all looting. no trade system. inability to trade/drop cash or ammo. ammo pickups are not shared between players (but money is. which is great, except you cant kill anything with money. wtf?)

    there are also significant issues with the game in general, most of them specific to pacing. the early game is absolutely *terrible*… it takes FAR too long to get out of the “hand holding” phase of the game. encounters are spaced too far apart and vary wildly in difficulty… the first 5-10 (or more) hours of the game is long stretches of boring nothing punctuated rarely by sudden and often overwhelming hoards of enemies, and this inconsistent pace doesnt really begin to change until reaching new haven.

    character upgrades are also paced extremely poorly. you dont get a skill point for the first 5 levels? what the hell? thats a good chunk of time with NO sense of character progression, at the most critical period of the game for drawing the players in. likewise, you dont begin to get weapons/items that trigger the variable-reward “hell yeah i must keep killing in hopes of finding better!” motivation until FAR too late in the early game. which is good, i guess, considering your inventory is ONLY EIGHT SLOTS for a long time, far too long. and of course, you dont have a stash either, so forget about saving that weapon for later, you dont have room. then theres the fast travel… or rather, lack of it for far too long. not that it matters, because the points you can fast travel to are far too few and spaced too far apart.

    i very nearly gave up on the game in the first few hours because of this horrible pacing. i kept thinking “if the whole game is like this, it isnt worth playing”…

    all that said, i still think borderlands IS worth playing. once you get past the hump, the game picks up, the loot picks up, the pacing becomes more consistent, and the quality of loot and impact of character progression becomes more pronounced, which propels the player forwards through the game.

    its a whole lot of fun… but youve got to take it on faith that it WILL get better.

  40. Colonel Slate says:

    Hey! Hey! Hey Listen!

    Yeah… now that I got that out, the VOIP issue can be fixed it was just a pain, took some knowledge of the UT3 engine…

    You can go into Borderlands -> Engine -> Config -> BaseEngine.ini -> scroll down to bottom with heading VOIP, set bHasVoiceEnabled to false, and that should help ya out.

  41. acronix says:

    Truly, to be a multiplayer focused game, it lacks all the socializing aspects of that kind of games. It´s quite interesting, and alarming too.

    But besides that, the real killer for me was the pathetic difficulty scale on some battles: it all started super duper easy and then, suddenly, I need to die a couple of times and waste 3/4 of my total ammo on them…not to mention those places in which, after killing an enemy, immediately another spawns. And ussually one much stronger (I´m looking at you, Skag Gully!)

    The buggy (or whatever that vehicle is called) was quite neat, though.

    And, by the way, the initial town looked WAY too desserted for my taste. Are there any other towns/locales with some npcs lurking around? Because, you know, a psycophatic doctor and a bunch of buy/sell machines doesn´t fit my idea of “town”.

  42. MuonDecay says:


    Thank you!!!

    That has really been troubling me and I’m honestly glad for even a clumsy partial fix if I can get one.

    This game has got me by the ears and won’t let go. For all its silly and annoying flaws I can’t stop playing it and I’m having lots of fun.

    If I have to fix the problems myself I totally will. It’s worth it to enjoy myself this much in a shooter. It’s been a long time.

  43. Scourge says:

    @Acronix: Yes, there is another town. Roughly 7 – 12 or so NPC’s standing around, a few you can get quests from, the rest is just there for show.

  44. radio_babylon says:

    for more borderlands config tweaks, see:

    there are fixes for FOV on widescreen monitors, vsync, mouse smoothing, third-person view, aim-mode and crouch behavior, getting rid of the annoying intro movies, etc… with most of the tweaks collected in the first post for ease of use…

    after making the changes, i suggest marking the ini files read-only as the game has an annoying tendency to reset the values at random for no obvious reason…

  45. thanks for the great review for the PC! all i’ve heard is console people talking about it and it made me really want to buy the game. I imagined a left 4 dead like multiplayer experince. Seamless and easy.
    Now that i know otherwise i’ll wait until the game is cheaper or they patch these issues.

    1. Shako says:

      Exactly…why is it that Valve (aka Left 4 Dead, L4D2 etc.) can make multiplayer completly seemless & Borderlands is stuck in the GameSpy darkage?! Its ridiculoius & frankly just sad that such a good game will never become what it should become… We are so beyond having to fiddle with ports in this day & age. Its like creating a mind-blowing game with todays advanced graphics & pyhsics & then force people to play it on a 56k modem? wtf!

      P.S. Great review Shamus, I enjoyed your review & agree 100% Its refreshing to see gamers of the like be passionate about the games we love!

  46. MintSkittle says:

    I was reading some more of the gearbox forum thread I posted earlier while on my lunch break, and it looks the community cracked the item bonus info nut last night/this morning:

    Massive props to The_ShadoW over there.

  47. Jabor says:

    After reading this, I’m even more convinced that Dragon Age was the way to go for a PC game at this point. Even if it meant waiting a little longer.

  48. vede says:

    Yeah, it really is sad that they’ll most likely blame any sales drop related to their awful support for the PC on pirates instead. It’s like pirates are new or something.

  49. Greg says:

    You’re making me happier and happier that I chose to buy Torchlight instead.

  50. Hobo says:

    Just another shout for the 360 version, you can just hop into a friend’s single player game at any time and you’ll start in a lobby where you choose which character you want, and can see what character and level they are. While your in this lobby the hosts game continues as normal so you don’t have to wait on your friends choosing a character. Voice chat is the same as most games and if you want to talk without broadcasting there’s a mute switch on all 360 headsets. Of course no port forwarding issues (thank you console gaming) and as with all 360 games everyone gets a headset with the 360 and thus most people chat in lobby’s and during the game. Also it’s got splitscreen, I love splitscreen me.

  51. Nelson says:

    I was thinking about this port forwarding on PC thing. Is it really necessary in Borderlands, or is it just one of the mumbo-jumbo things described somewhere in the middle of README.txt? Because all the Xbox 360 is doing is sending a UPnP request to the router to forward a port automatically. That’s just as easy to do in the PC version of a game and has been for several years now. Surely it just works?

  52. I ended up with the 360 version, and I’m happy I did.

    Let me add something:

    Borderlands is an AMAZINGLY FUN GAME.

    Reading this thread (mostly the comments) would make me think it was a piece of shovelware hardly worth talking about.

    Let me repeat: Borderlands is an AMAZINGLY FUN GAME.

    For the PC side, it sounds like there’s a lot of annoyances.

    It’s worth it.

    I have a sniper rifle that sets people on fire, then they explode when I shoot them again. I have a shotgun that fires rockets. I have a rocket launcher that fires 3 rockets covered in acid.

    THE GAME IS AWESOME. Whackingly good. Bloody great. Pick your phrasing, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

    I’ve logged something like 120 hours since I got it.

  53. FFJosh says:

    As the host for most of the games that Shamus, Randy, and I play (also I happen to be “Sandwich Guy,” um, whoops), I can confirm that, if you are hosting from under a router, it is absolutely necessary to forward ports, or you simply will not be able to host. We tried all manner of workarounds that didn’t involve port forwarding, including hamachi, and none of them worked. Outside of port forwarding, you can simply wire your PC directly to your modem, but it will be at the cost of your entire wireless network.

    And that’s not even the full extent of Borderland’s needlessly archaic features. The in-game configuration menu is spartan at best, with no options whatsoever to turn on things like VSync, or turn off all of the various irritating features like the constantly-open mic, mouse smoothing, unskippable arduously long intro sequences, and so on. All of those settings can be altered, but you have to dig around in the configuration files to do it.

    Yes, you read that right: you have to alter configuration files to make the game function like a PC game should. There is simply no reason for that. None at all.

    All that said, the game is still really, really fun. It’s just that you’ll probably have to spend an hour or two messing around with a number of configuration files and altering your network settings to get it to run the way you actually want it to run.

  54. MintSkittle says:

    Well, it seems I need to amend my previous statement about the weapon info card being fixed by the community.

    The font tweak does reduce the size of the info card text, allowing for more text to be displayed in the card, but there seems to be some sort of hard limit to how much text can be displayed in the card(five lines), so even though the card is capable of showing all the weapon mods, it still isn’t, not even the debug menu shows the extra mods, which is strange.

    Still reading through the Gearbox forum thread. It’s not so much a forum thread, but a forum based instant messenger. It’s more than doubled in length since last night.

  55. radio_babylon says:

    for what its worth, gameranger now supports borderlands, which allows for private game hosting without all the port forwarding nonsense…

  56. Randy Johnson says:

    I think its funny that when Shamus talks about Champions Online, the game a bunch of us have grown to hate, I see nothing but “I can’t to buy this game” comments. but when he talks about the one problem with Borderlands, I see a ton of “Now I won’t buy this game” comments. I promise you guys, Borderlands is 100X more fun that champions. It just uses gamespy, which is terrible. Champions is a game with a million bad features and one awesome one (The combat) where as Borderlands is a game with a million good features and one terrible one.

  57. Martin Annadale says:

    I’m really enjoying the hell out of Borderlands single player. I can see myself playing this over and over for years to come, like Diablo2. My Siren will be the most powerful Siren to ever Siren.

  58. toasty says:

    The single player is amazing? Awesome… I should get this…

    Multiplayer… meh… unless I was LAN I wouldn’t be interested in it. And I’m not gonna LAN (its a shame that my bros computer isn’t as good as mine, cuz otherwise we’d LAN a LOT).

  59. radio_babylon says:

    in response to @57, i want to be clear that even though borderlands has some serious problems, and some of the most baffling design decisions ive ever seen in a modern game (or ANY game, in some respects), it is STILL a lot of fun…

    seriously. the game is fun enough to be worth buying even with the problems. that should tell anyone reading just how ridiculously fun the game is.

    in fact, ill go one better, and say that the multiplayer is fun enough to be worth all the hoops you have to jump through to play. or just use gameranger… i tried it out last night, worked like a champ to play with my brother, who couldnt host before because of the network issues. the multiplayer, with a group of friends, is CRAZY fun.

    so to anyone reading this, dont let the issues stop you from buying the game. just be aware that there ARE some issues. if you can bull your way past them, theres a great game in there. you might want to wait for it to fall in price a little bit though, to compensate…

  60. gaspar says:

    Really? Have we all forgotten how to do port forwarding? Is it that hard people? Boy, how spoiled we are. Not long ago we took this process for granted, now we are perplexed and outraged by it.
    Just go play split screen on your 360 since the minimal amount of effort required to do port forwarding is apparently not worth having a much better gameplay experience.

    Borderlands is an awesome game and well worth the 15 minutes it takes to type “borderlands port forwarding” into google and follow the directions.

    The other complaints, about the menus and mic volume are totally valid.

    1. Shamus says:

      gaspar: So… you’re arguing that the step that nobody should have to do takes “only” 15 minutes? I can fire up 1999’s Unreal Tournament, click in the server browser, and be in the game in seconds flat without needing to touch a firewall, router, or config file. This problem was solved 100% a decade ago. There is no excuse for this mess, and saying “this game is really good” is meaningless.

      Look, you can be an apologist for the game if you want, but I will absolutely call developers out when they cut corners like this.

  61. gaspar says:

    Shamus replied to my first post ever! haha, thats awesome.

    Wow, re-reading that post, I really do sound like a fan-boy. That’s not exactly what i was going for.

    On topic: I remember doing PF with warcraft 3 TFT (2003) (hosting on Bnet), and you still have to do it to run a ventrilo server. I don’t know about UT. The last FPS I hosted was CounterStrike.

    But I do understand, its a major design flaw, these guys screwed up. And you are right, we should call them out. They need to patch this right away. There is no excuse for releasing a product with flaws like this. Especially when the game itself is so good.

    I’m just not outraged and perplexed. I guess maybe the core reason I’m not upset is that, like all of my other windows applications, I am expecting this thing to be broken and that I will have to do a workaround to fix it. It turned out this was one of the easier workarounds. (I think that is what i was trying to get at with my original post that didn’t come off so well)

    Clearly not a ringing endorsement for the platform, but hey, I just installed windows 7, and trust me, I made use of that mindset.

    Thanks for the reply Shamus, BTW since that was my first post I need to add: I love the blog, and the comics are great. Keep it up.

  62. JKjoker says:

    Borderlands is not a bad game but imho its completely overrated, it does nothing new, many features have been done much better (and dont get me started about the lack of minimap, damn waypoints always take me to a dead ends, red faction G did waypoints right, they should take the hint)

    i think im most disappointed by the “consolizing” of the game, no attributes, no customization, barely a few inventory slots, and stupid “achievements” driven arbitrary limits (so i need a chip to carry more than 2 weapons, yeah i can imagine where my character “installs” it)

    the even screwed up the replay value by forcing to redo the first hour of the game that feels frankly painful (i tried to replay with a soldier after my siren playthough and i just couldnt stand doing the precar part again)

    after i play for a bit with my first character in newgame+ i pretty much doubt ill ever replay it again, there is just not enough variation between the characters or the game

    im actually looking forward to Torchlight as a replayable game, i tried it and it does almost everything Borderlands do soooo much better, too bad its fantasy-medieval again

    ive been hoping for a scifi diablo for a looooong time and so far i had Borderlands (meh) and Hellgate (ugh!)

  63. radio_babylon says:

    yeah, torchlight is awesome, and im hoping with the release of TorchED (the development tools) we’ll see some people trying their hand at some sci-fi setting stuff… even though, when you get right down to it, laser guns are just “bows, now with more pew pew”…

  64. halka says:

    Yesterday, me and my friend were trying to setup Borderlands over Hamachi, since i was reluctant to try out online play via Gamespy (mostly thanks to comments on this page and the BorderLAN comic; and having no previous experience using it).

    After two fruitless hours spent setting up our virtual LAN came the “oh, what the hell, it can’t be worse than this” moment, we both created Gamespy accounts without having to leave the game, exchanged account names via IM, and i was joining his private game under five minutes, thankyouverymuch.

    Lack of chat could be called an issue on consoles, but on PCs it is not a dealbreaker for me, a nuisance at most. That’s what the IM networks are for. Fortunately, alt-tabbing out of the game and back in doesn’t cause any issues.

  65. HeroOfHyla says:

    I haven’t played Borderlands, but I assumed that most games still needed port forwarding nowadays. I figured that was why no one ever seems to be able to join the games I create on stuff.

    I have been messing around with making multiplayer games using Game Maker 7 and 39dll, and I just figured that everyon knows that you generally have to port forward when using a router.

    What games don’t require port forwarding for the host?

    Also, in “port forward,” which is the verb? Are you porting forward or forwarding your port?

  66. Davie says:

    For the most part, I wouldn’t mind that much. I wouldn’t mind using Gamespy, or not having a push-to-talk key, or even not having a proper lobby. It’s the goddamn port forwarding that gets to me.
    I have never encountered a multiplayer game before that required anything more from the player than to allow it over Windows Firewall. This whole port forwarding nonsense–setting up a static IP address, connecting to your router’s webpage or whatever–it’s all ridiculous and should really be handled by the game. Also, the site Gearbox suggests to go to for help is barely useful–It gives some very vague instructions with a lot of “gee I don’t know sorry.” Then it tries to charge you $30 for a program that will do it for you.
    Basically, it’s very unprofessional and obnoxious of the developers to make PC users go through all of this. I do very much hope that Gearbox at least automates the port forwarding in a patch. Way to alienate a third of your playerbase, guys!

  67. Aeka says:

    This game, along with many other games suffer Consolitous and it feels like s step into the 90’s every time.

  68. Lupis42 says:

    I still have yet to successfully play a private game…
    I can connect to public games, and so can my friends. We’ve forwarded the ports. But not one of us can host a game that anyone else can connect to for some reason. Anyone else seen this?

  69. TyReLL820 says:

    Lupis42: Yes, same problem. NEVER had success hosting an online game or joining a friend’s online game. I’ve tried with 2 different friends and each of us logging in from 2 different places. I have a FreeBSD firewall that I have full control over. Port Forwarding does nothing. I even did a TCPdump to view the traffic while a friend was trying to connect. Nothing was even coming in (related to those ports). I don’t know where the blame is….it seems SOME people are able to use this with no problems. Maybe some ISPs block the ports Gamespy uses? I don’t know, but I really hope it gets fixed soon because multiplayer is a BLAST in this game!.I have only been able to play 2 player using a VPN connection and doing LAN game.

  70. Bill101 says:

    I still can not get the multiplayer to work even after going through all the port forwarding. I really wish I would have just got this for xbox at this point.

  71. JoshR says:

    I bought this and have had quite a lot of fun with the single player.
    Had a mate who I saw play it a lot before I even picked it up, but as soon as I saw gamespy I didn’t even bother trying to set it up. Couldn’t work it ten years ago, won’t try now.
    It may be a fun game in multiplayer, likely I’ll never know.
    Still, for me, the single player was varied enough to make up for the lack of story, not that I finished it, may do so when I’ve fixed my pc.

  72. Dagon says:

    ps: im on ps3 pc nubs
    u got the WORST bargain
    GT:DrosHyrozan Always looking for a sale

    ps shamus: if u could get you bigot head out of your ass youd use this opportunity to have a forum to contribute to the fanbase rather than bash a perfectly good rps(even though i play it like an MMO)

  73. Manuel says:

    Was super excited when I got this on sale from steam, but it is impossible to play a game online :( Bought it for xbox and have loved it, much better experience.

  74. Ben says:

    To all those who say Hamachi doesn’t work, it’s because you haven’t used ForcefindIP to force your hamachi IP address on Borderlands. Works great for me.

    More info here:


  75. Raw says:

    Pc version is garbage, I’m pissed that they gave us the short end of the stick, I don’t want to own a game console.

  76. Kyo says:

    If anyone still wants to know how to fix chat history / messages log in Borderlands, so here is solution:
    Find the file “C:\Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAME\My Documents\My Games\Borderlands\WillowGame\Config\WillowGame.ini ”
    Open the file with a text editor (Something like notepad works great) and find the line “DefaultMessageDuration=7.0”. Change the “7” to the number in seconds you want messages to be displayed. (Use Control+F to open the Find Box and search for “defaultmessageduration” to find the line you want easily.)

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