Steve: When Borderlands came out, it was a bit of a surprise. Have the expectations from the first game changed anything this time around?
Paul: It’s definitely added pressure!
Matt: Oh, definitely!
Paul: With Borderlands, we knew we had something special, but didn’t know if the world would appreciate it. With Borderlands 2, we knew we needed to make something that went beyond expectations.
S: One of the big complaints with the first game — particularly with the DLC — was the story. Have you done anything to address these complaints with the new game?
P: We’ve heard the feedback loud and clear. We’ve been thinking about integrating the story more through the course of the game from day one. Spoken dialog is seven-times the amount the first game, so you’ll really feel the story. Not just the main plot-line, which is more epic and ever-present, but also through the side-missions.
M: If I could just add this, we were so serious about story, we locked the creative director and lead writer together in an office for a year.
S: And you managed not to kill each other?
P: Believe it or not, we’re still good friends.
S: It seems like a bit of a risky move to take control of the original cast away and instead add four completely new characters for the player. Was that a difficult decision to make?
P: It’s funny, because we do a lot of interviews and you always hear about how risky that was! I never really thought it was risky. For us, it was risky to not bring new gameplay. We felt that if we just had the old characters back, we’d have two expectations . If we changed the skills, everyone would be upset that they couldn’t do what they did before. If we kept them the same, then they’d say that this is just an expansion pack.
S: You’ve talked a lot about the weapons and loot in Borderlands 2, but is there anything you’d like to add at this point?
P: Shields and grenades got the same customization treatment as the weapons. We had a couple thousands shields in the last game; we’re up to about a half a million in this game. Grenades went from a couple hundred to like 600 thousand. Grenades are crazy; before you’d have a longbow grenade or MIRV grenade or sticky grenade, where now you can have a longbow-homing-sticky grenade. So you can do all sorts of crazy things as well.
S: That should result in all sorts of wild YouTube videos.
M: We hope so!
Our interview concluded as a new stampede of eager players swarmed in for their turn at the controller, but Gearbox had more in store for everyone at their panel on Sunday. A fifth class was announced as a DLC addition which will be free for those who pre-order the game. The half-female half-robot character will also have the ability to control a “deathtrap” minion.
Character customization was finally explained. Players will be able to customize their appearance through the acquisition of gear, heads, and skins. Those who played the first game will unlock special skins and heads for use as well. Finally, a special edition will be available that includes a replica loot-locker and a Marcus bobble-head.
For a Borderlands fan like myself, the game played like a dream. Though noticeably updated, the game retains its classic look and feel. A deeper focus on story with a stronger over-all arc should help the game feel more cohesive and I’m certainly eager to meet the new cast of characters.
Look for the game to arrive on shelves September 19 for Xbox, PS3, and PC. And don’t forget to check back here for more information as it becomes available.Posted in Previews by Steve R Gibson on April 10, 2012