Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Borderlands first impression

I bought Borderlands for my X-box 360 last night. I haven't played it online a ton because I'm waiting for them to patch out a bug that will wipe out all of your weapon proficiencies when you enter and leave a game (apparently all three versions, PC, 360, and PS3 are affected). As per my usual, a few quick first impressions.

The game is stunningly beautiful. Even on my 360 the game looks as good as anything I've run on my PC that costs three times as much and has died twice in four months. I am a PC gamer why exactly? Oh yeah, Borderlands is the only decent "MMO" worth playing on consoles right now, and it's no more of an MMO than Diablo was.

Reminds me of Diablo in a very good way. This is the most fun I've had with a roguelike since the original Diablo (never got into D II for a variety of reasons) and PSO. With rare exceptions, when I'm in the mood for mindless killing and loot pinatas I generally prefer to play a full on Rogue iteration such as Angband, with askii graphics and the whole two yards. I'm adding this game to my list of exceptions.

Very slow start. The first hour of the game was honestly boring as hell, apart from gawking at the stylish graphics. I started with a gun that bit horrifically, making every combat slow and tedious. And you don't start getting skill points until level five. Because of that, every class plays identically until level five. As soon as I found a decent gun, the game started to pick up. Once I unlocked my skill trees I was hooked.

Online is fun, but this is not really a social game. I bopped into one game to see what it was like. It was fast paced, fun, and I got three levels in twenty minutes. However, in the random game I joined there was no communication. I looked to see where folks were on the map, ran over, and started shooting. I did get rezzed a couple of times when I died, and I dropped my turrets at some enemy chokepoints, so we were cooperating. However, as far as I can tell there is no central hub where you hang out and organize parties. It has a "community" in about the same sense that Team Fortress II does. It's not an MMO even to the extent that PSO was.

So far I have only tried the Soldier. He gets a fairly insanely overpowered turret that he can lay down wherever he likes. It does a lot of damage and is next to invulnerable at low levels. You can give it the ability to do more damage, regen health in a radius, or replenish ammo in a radius. However, it only lasts about 30 seconds and you can only use it every two minutes or so (maybe less often). There is a skill that will let you use the turret more often deep in one of the skill trees, maybe that will help. However, right now it feels like I am 90% whatever weapon I'm using and 10% whatever skills I happen to choose. Of course, as I often do, I chose the character that seemed the simplest to learn the game with. Hopefully the other classes will have a bit more depth.

Some ups and downs, but overall a great game. I am very impressed.


  1. So, you are the gun you use instead of the class you picked up front? That's actually an interesting concept. Final Fantasy XIV seems to be looking into something similar. Of course with a Roguelike, that means your abilities will change pretty wildly depending on loot drops. I bet that goes a long way toward mixing up gameplay.

    Glad to hear Borderlands and your 360 are serving you well in your time of need. :)

  2. The timing was definitely good, it's great to have something fun to mess with until I can get my PC up and running again. I'm also hearing good things about Torchlight, the writeup over at KTR is some of the most enthusiastic raving I've seen there.

  3. So does the game support using the Xbox headset to communicate?

    Right now I am undecided on which platform I want to pick this up on, the PC or my Xbox. Maybe PC cause it's cheaper, but I worry about the online play so because of that so maybe on the Xbox.

  4. @Jaydub: I assume that the 360 version has mike support through X-box Live, but I can't swear to it. I've only spent about 15 minutes online total (I'm too worried about the bug that's currently erasing skill points), and had my mike unplugged both times. I'll post again sometime when I know for sure.

    I do know for a fact that the PS3 and PC versions have mike support, because there are so many threads whining about problems with it on those systems on the main boards. So either there is no mike support on the 360 or it works perfectly and no-one is complaining :-)