Borderlands

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Transcript:

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Back in 2009, it’s hard to overstate how big of a deal Borderlands was to the gaming public. The true mixing of first-person shooting gameplay with role playing games simply hadn’t been done. The Fallout and Elder Scrolls games had the appearance of first-person shooters but mechanically, they were all RPG. Plus, the graphical style stood out in a land filled with drab apocalyptic shooters. Today, let’s talk about that first game in the Borderlands series, developed by Gearbox Software and released in 2009 on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

In case you haven’t played one of these games, Borderlands melds RPGs and first-person shooters seamlessly. You play as one of four characters which represent a different class of character. Roland is the soldier and is the most all-around character, dropping an automated turret for his special move. Lillith is a Siren, having special powers which turns her temporarily invisible to enemies. Mordecai is a hunter, specializing in long-range weapons and using his trained bird, Bloodwing, to attack foes. Finally, Brick is a berserker who’s special allows him to put down his gun and straight up punch foes.

After picking their class, characters level up and gain points which can be placed in various skills, adding abilities to the character. Each character has three main skill trees, each allowing specialization in certain forms of combat. Along with leveling up, Borderlands also has weapon proficiencies. The more you use a certain type of gun such as pistols, shotguns, or snipers, the higher level you will reach, adding passive bonuses when using that type of gun.

The plot to Borderlands is relatively simple. Regardless of the character you choose, you land on the backwater planet of Pandora in order to seek out a mythical Vault, a supposed cache of alien weapon technology that could make the finder extremely wealthy. Pandora itself is a Mad Max-style wasteland where bandits roam free and towns are often lawless and wild. Along with the crazed bandits, the environment itself is often more than enough for Vault Hunters to contend with, as rabid Skags or Spiderants attack anything that moves. 

Borderlands started life as a realistic looking shooter but started gaining media attention when they changed the graphical style to a more cel-shaded look. This change in style also better reflected the tone which never takes itself too seriously. They also heavily toted the procedurally generated weapons which they claimed allowed the game to have over 17 million different weapons. The game actually has about 3.5 million with each weapon falling into one of eight types. The weapons differentiate themselves with different stats such as fire rate, damage, and reload speed. Some weapons also have special attributes such as firing homing rockets or using burst fire instead of continuous.

Borderlands received fairly positive reviews when it was released. The shooting was fun and the mission structure was strong but the storyline received significant criticism for being too shallow. The gun variety is exciting initially but players will most likely be quick to find their favorite weapons and sell most of the others without giving them a try. Despite the criticisms, players flocked to the game, with more than 2 million copies sold by the end of the release year. The multiplayer was well received and Gearbox quickly greenlit a sequel. To date, Borderlands has had four main-series entries and even received a spin-off game based on the series made by Telltale Games, focusing on fleshing out the story and characters in their typical style. The game has been ported to all modern consoles, including Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, and will be receiving a Switch port at the end of May 2020.

Thank you so much for listening! If you haven’t subscribed yet, I recommend going and checking out The Gaming Observer Podcast. Adrian Simple and I talk about gaming news each and every week, diving deep into the stories that will shape the industry going forward. This week, we’re discussing the first look at Xbox Series X games from Microsoft’s showcase event as well as speculating on what games Capcom may be releasing over the next year. If you want to hear what games you may be playing this holiday season, go give it a listen. The episode will likely be up by the time you hear this and you can find it on your podcast app of choice by searching for The Gaming Observer. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.