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Michael Bitton: Borderlands 3 Needs to be a Shared World Shooter

Columns By Michael Bitton on September 07, 2017

Borderlands 3 Needs to be a Shared World Shooter

MMO-lite, loot shooter, shared-world shooter, I don’t really care what you want to label it, but Borderlands 3 needs to follow in the footsteps of games like Destiny and The Division.  I spent most of my time in both imagining how much better the whole thing would be if the game I was playing was actually a Borderlands title. With Destiny 2 recently launched and Anthem on the horizon, I’m really hoping Gearbox will take the series to the next level.

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Despite its many shortcomings, I enjoyed Tom Clancy’s The Division. Destiny 2 seems all right so far, but I’m not really feeling the hype.  While both of these games are online class-based shooters with loot to chase, neither has given me the same feeling I got while playing any of the Borderlands titles.  Classes feel fairly shallow in both The Division and Destiny; there’s just not enough flavor there. Both games seem centered heavily on what guns you’re carrying more than anything else. Borderlands has always had distinct classes with interesting builds and I can see a third game where players can create their own characters and pull from most of the various classes found throughout the series (and maybe even some new ones) as something far more compelling than what’s available right now in the genre.

Speaking of creating characters, can you imagine the customization options? There are so many different character designs and customizations in the games already, that this aspect alone could massively one up the competition. I’m loath to give monetization ideas to game developers, but they certainly don’t need me to see the obvious business potential here. Sure, Borderlands sold cosmetic DLC, but people tend to care a lot more about these sorts of customizations when they can really show them off in an online, persistent world.

Loot is also far more interesting in Borderlands than any other “loot shooters” I’ve played. The RNG just makes Borderlands loot insane. Sure, it’s not necessarily balanced, and it may need to be reined in a teensy bit if Gearbox wants to take things online with the next game in the series, but it’s the almost endless possibility (and constant drops) that keeps the loot hunt interesting in those games and I don’t feel other games in this space have really tapped into that, particularly in the moment-to-moment gameplay.

I’m also just a huge fan of the universe. The original Destiny didn’t have much of a story to speak of (I hear things are much better in this regard with the sequel) and I was a huge fan of the way The Division told its story through the game world and use of audio logs, but the humorous approach is a lot easier to digest with friends (or PUGs). The series’ storytelling has always been sort of hit-or-miss, but it was easy to keep me engaged with the pure zaniness of at all. Of course, Anthony Burch had a huge hand in how funny the games were and I don’t know if that humor can be replicated at Gearbox without him, but even if it can’t, games like Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands show that it’s possible to tell a substantive story set in this universe and I’m eager to see if Gearbox can take things to the next level in this area with the third game. The story aspects of the series have always been compatible with online play, so there isn’t too much structurally that would need to change here, but it’s worth nothing that there’s room for growth.

What say you? Would you want to see the next Borderlands game go fully online a’la Destiny and The Division? Or do you prefer a more strictly co-op experience? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site''s Community Manager.