Weapons, controls, multi
Tons of weapons variety
Something about Borderlands that has been really hyped up is the huge number of randomly generated weapons you can find. When they appear, they’re chosen from millions of possible combinations, with stats, bonuses, and even visual properties changing from gun to gun. It will be extremely rare to find two of the same exact weapon, and virtually impossible for you to ever see them all. While it is a fantastic concept, and certainly works well for replayability, there are a few downsides that I have noticed:
- Out of those millions unique weapons, there are probably thousands of very slight variations on the same gun. As you progress farther into the game, the thrill of finding a truly new weapon becomes harder to come by. I’ve seen at least 10 yellow semi-automatic sniper rifles, for crying out loud!
- The sheer volume of new equipment you come across means you’re constantly re-evaluating your current gear. Something like this may run through your head every few minutes: “Is this better? Hmm, slightly lower damage, little bit better accuracy… Woah! 250% critical bonus?! *switch*”
- There’s no place to store extra gear, making for a crowded backpack if you want to hold on to very rare or unique items. Plus, it encourages the continuous purging of inventory and exacerbates the previous list item. Sorting through everything can be exhausting, though you will end up very rich.
- More often than not, the reward is not fitting of the effort you put forth to acquire it. It’s not a big deal when it’s just some random chest that you killed a few bad guys to get to, but one quest in particular was much more involved. I spent a good 10-15 minutes running around trying to find 3 keys to open a secret bandit stash, only to find absolute garbage weapons inside.
The standard FPS controls are very responsive, the mouselook pleasantly snappy. (You might find disabling mouse smoothing in the config file useful.) You have the ability to perform an exaggerated jump, not quite a Master Chief moon-leap, but it’s definitely better than the pathetic hop or lack of vertical movement in some games. You can sprint for an unlimited length of time, so it’s good that it is toggled, like crouching is. Vehicles are steered with the mouse, exactly how it is in Halo. Also, the turret can be locked on to an enemy, but it is almost always better to manually aim so that you may lead your target.
Borderlands multiplayer can be enjoyed online or through LAN, and is unique in that the host starts out playing just like he would in single player mode. From there, up to 4 people can join in or leave on the fly. As your group grows and shrinks, the quantity and difficulty of enemies will dynamically scale accordingly, as well as the amount and quality of loot. Quests are automatically shared and any money found is duplicated and given to everyone. In other words, when Player A picks up $25, Player B and Player C will also each receive $25, instead of fighting for loose bills or splitting what is found.
If PVP competition is what you’re looking for, you can initiate a duel by exchanging melee attacks with another player. Be careful, though, because baddies can participate, too. There are also arenas in a few locations around Pandora, which accommodate organized competitive play in free-for-all or 2v2 modes.
Luckily, what can be blamed on parallel platform development doesn’t really affect the overall experience, but here’s a breakdown of what there is:
- Claustrophobia-inducing field of view. It may go unnoticed by most people, but some will want to tweak it in the config file. Unfortunately, the only method right now is to assign a hotkey that you have to press each time you play, and may have to keep pressing due to certain actions like sprinting or using a vehicle resetting it to the default value.
- Ginormous HUD and UI in general. It’s obviously meant to be able to be seen from across your living room. Higher resolutions on computer monitors just result in larger text and everything else. The interface certainly could’ve used some fine-tuning for closer viewing.
- No drag and drop for inventory management. As a matter of fact, pause menus on the whole are meant to be scrolled through one-by-one, not navigated with the mouse. A config tweak is needed to use the scroll wheel on text boxes. This should have been tweaked.
- Simplified control scheme. It really does work just fine, but sometimes I wish there were more than 4 weapon slots/hotkeys. Also, the ‘use’ key will reload your weapon when there is nothing to be used… this is certainly a function made for the controller that doesn’t have a dedicated ‘R’ key, and can result in a sticky situation if you’re grabbing for loot in the heat of battle and miss.