Five Things Borderlands Can Still Learn from Diablo

Words can’t exactly explain how excited I am for Borderlands 2, out next week. The original is one of my favorite of all times, a game that allowed split screen co-op in an age where that was increasingly frowned upon.

I played through it a half dozen times with different characters on different difficulties, enough to recognize some of its flaws. Yes, the sequel looks to improve on the original game in many ways, but there are a few points I want to make sure they don’t miss.

It’s cool to hate on Diablo 3 these days, but there are some things that game does that Borderlands would be wise to remember. Though B2 wants to be better than both its predecessor and D3, they should keep these items in mind.

Scale Difficulty Better with Party Size

F*** this guy.

For the most part, difficulty scaling wasn’t terrible in Borderlands, with the exception of the super late game DLC addition in General Knox’s armory. Crawmerax the Invincible was a really cool boss concept. It was one-uber creature that was super hard to kill, and as such, would drop the best loot. Unfortunately, the only plausible way to kill him was to get a team of four high level players together. Trying to solo or duo him was downright impossible unless you had the most godly gear, and if you did, you didn’t even need to get the sort of loot he dropped. Even after spending hundreds of hours in the game, I never did end up beating him, and that’s a frustrating experience for a big fan of the game like myself. You can solo Diablo by yourself, and the same should be true of even the toughest bosses of Borderlands. It should still be hard, but it at least still should be possible for many players.

Weapons Aren’t the Only Cool Pieces of Equipment

New pants! +10 to ass.

Borderlands 2 promises guns, guns and more guns. That’s all well and good as the focus of the game, but I think they could learn a thing or two from Diablo’s gear system. Yes, weapons are important, but why can’t we have cool pieces of chest armor, boots or shoulder pads we could find that help boost our character’s stats? Class artifacts and mods are an okay start, but they wouldn’t really need to exist if different types of gear was available. Finding new weapons is cool, but gearing your character in other equipment is fun too. I understand Borderlands has some appearance customization tools this time around, but it’s still not what I’m talking about in terms of actual loot.

Enemies Themselves Should Drop Good Loot

Someone is very good at neatly organizing chests on Pandora.

This was one of the biggest problems for me with the original Borderlands. After level 30 or so, enemies simply never, ever dropped any good loot. At all. Rather, the best items were to ONLY be found in one particular type of chests, and even boss battles left you hanging, giving you usually one “unique” weapon that was half as good as what you were using. Diablo 3 may have the opposite problem where chests are worthless, but their idea of getting increased magic find as you do a run of a level killing powerful enemies is a good one, and getting good loot from tough monsters is the most fun aspect of that game. Borderlands should give us good loot from both chests and enemies, not just one or the other.

Make Money Worth Something

Yayyy, bullets to last me the next two missions.

What did you use money for Borderlands? Not a whole hell of a lot. It allowed you to restock on ammo annnnd…I honestly can’t think of anything else. All the guns sold in the vending machine stores were generally pretty terrible. There was little reason to actually collect cash, and as such, money drops seemed worthless. Diablo’s solution to this is the Auction House. No, no, no, I don’t want them to do that. But the point is that gold in Diablo is indeed worth something. Rather, I think the solution is increasingly the quality of items in the shops so they’re actually worth buying. Or you could purchase upgrades for your vehicles or something of that nature. Just so long as there’s something you can use money for other than just refilling your bullets, which seems unproductive.

Let the Characters Speak

But why do you like to punch so much Brick?

Diablo 3 has an incredibly lackluster story to be sure, but in it the central characters are at least allowed to speak. Contrast this to Borderlands where practically the only time you heard your character say anything was yelling “WOO HOO!” as they blew some bandit’s head off. It goes without saying that Borderlands 2 needs to improve in the story department, but giving the main characters actual lines will tie players to them more, and help foster an engaging story when it seems like your hero actually has a brain.


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  1. Sounds like you could just retool this article to be “5 things Diablo 3 can still learn from Diablo”
    (Yeah, yeah, I’m hating on Diablo 3, but it was supposed to be a long lasting game but ugh so disappointed)

    “Scale Difficulty Better with Party Size”
    Took Blizzard 3 months to fix this, as no one wanted to play in group games because of how ridiculously the monsters scaled.

    “Weapons Aren’t the Only Cool Pieces of Equipment”
    Diablo may have the expanded paper doll, but items have to have a set of specific stats to be any good, and all those stats are flat increases, aka BORING. All resist, primary stat, vitality, crit chance, crit damage, attack speed. There, I just summarized your itemization goals for the entire game.

    “Enemies Themselves Should Drop Good Loot”
    Played almost 200 hours in Diablo 3. I saw 3 legendaries, none of them noteworthy, and I’ve never found a rare worth more than 1 million gold. The loot just isn’t there, for a loot based game.

    “Make Money Worth Something”
    No. Please don’t. That’s what the Real-Money AH did, and it f***ing ruined the entire aspect of “playing a game”. No, you do this, and it becomes “working”.

    “Let the Characters Speak”
    All the character dialog became troll memes for the blizzard forums.
    ‘Look, more hidden footprints’ -when Blizzard nerfs something, it’s only to fuel RMAH sales, and they still claim it under the semblence of “balance”
    ‘Tried the adventuring life, didn’t care for it, too much pain, not enough profit’ -the entire RMAH corruption of a great franchise
    ‘You were a templar, Jondar!’ -Blizzard, once a great game maker, has fallen so far from grace to greed and corruption.
    ‘What treasure!’ -What treasure?

  2. I agree with most points in the article, but the last one could prove to be a double edged sword. If the characters speak, they should say things that make sense. In the crazy world of Borderlands hearing the Soldier say “Critical BIATCH” makes total sense.

    Hearing my demon hunter say “Your spirits are now free from Diablo’s corruption, angels” for the five-hundred-millionth time is like rubbing my face onto a cheese grater. MAKE IT STOP! SHUT UP!

    Lines of dialogue that you hear over and over again better hold up well, or your players will become very irritated.

  3. I dont think any of this needs to be learned from Diablo, this is more of a list of things they failed with when it came to diablo 3 (though I can’t speak to difficulty scaling)

  4. I am actually playing Borderlands right now (it took me about 5 minutes of gameplay to sell me on the franchise and convince me to preorder the sequel). I know that loot is the bigbigbigbigbigBIIIIGGGGG selling point in the game, but I am actually not a big fan of having to switch out my gear every time I kill an enemy or spend minutes on end weighing the pros and cons of two similar weapons against each other to decide which one I equip only to have them both become obsolete minutes later. Not to mention filling up my inventory In 5 minutes and spending the rest of a dungeon dropping the weakest/cheapest gear to make room for more. This is a gaming cliche I’m getting downright sick of although other gamers seem to disagree. Gamers should play a game because it’s fun, not because it is designed like a damn Skinner box. I’d prefer a wide variety of weapons of comparable power and a wider variety of mods to improve the existing weapons that you are already comfortable with as you play rather than just throwing in a 7 figure number of guns to sort through. That’s my only real complaint about singleplayer, though. Bring on this game.

  5. The devs have talked about how they had considered adding armour, but it would have just added whole heaps of needless complexity to the numbers aspect of game balance, so instead they focused on a wider variety of shields.

    As for money, I haven’t heard too much but they have apparently balanced out the pricing structure a little better and added stuff like slot machines and such so you’ll always have something to blow your hard-earned cash on.

  6. A great way to handle dialog would be like the way Left 4 Dead did. Nothing too over the top, just a few quips here and there that could humanize the characters and provide a bit of interaction between party members.

  7. @jasonb,

    Loved the cosplay!

    I think what Paul was saying about the dialog was to have the characters interact with the plot storyline. As Borderlands, was a quick intro scene with each of major characters and then walls of text quests instead of the characters interacting with NPCs.

    I entirely agree about being careful though with repetitive dialog.

  8. I agree with you except on one point for Borderlands. Guns are what make the game. Gear is a interesting idea but just not for Borderlands. To me it would not fit the lore of the game and make it too bogged down in stats. With just weapons to worry about it makes the game simpler with out taking away the customization of play styles.

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