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'Mad Max-ian'


Working on a new game is a perilous undertaking. As developer, you may be very excited about your concept, but it remains uncertain for a long time whether the rest of the world will be just as excited. Game expo’s such as the Game Convention in Leipzig are a great place to get some feedback and comments from the gaming press on what you are doing. If they like what you are showing them, they will become “missionaries to your cause” and spread the word in their publications. Gearbox gained a new missionary for Borderlands this year… me.

Borderlands is set on Pandora, a planet on the far edge of the galaxy that has only recently been colonized by human settlers drawn by the promise of rich mineral deposits. Unfortunately the planet turned out to have little to no resources at all and much of the population sets out to greener pastures. Everything changes when a research team sends out a radio transmission, claiming to have discovered a vault filled with alien artifacts and technology. Unfortunately that transmission is the last anyone ever heard of the team. The transmission did not reveal the vault’s location so a frantic search ensues. Many of those searching feel that eliminating their competition is the best way to make certain that they will find it first. No one is safe in this Mad Max inspired country.

Gearbox Software classifies the game as an RPS, or Role Playing Shooter. It is being created with a heavy focus on co-op play with up to four players participating. That is not to say that you can’t play through the game on your own. The game will dynamically alter its difficulty based on the number of people that are playing. The developers have avoided the classic pitfall of increasing the difficulty level by throwing more enemies at the players. Instead, the game offers a more challenging experience to bigger groups by replacing weaker foes with stronger ones and arming them with more powerful weapons.

Joining the fun

Soon after we jumped into the game it was clear that the gameplay is just begging for one or more of your friends to fight along side of you. At this time, the game has three classes. Players can chose to play as soldier Roland who functions as an assault trooper skilled in short-range arms such as shotguns and SMGs. Hunter Mordecai specializes in long ranged attacks, favoring sniper rifles. Siren Lilith is not quite human and brings magical powers to the table. Apart from the obvious skills related to their class, each character will also have a unique ability. While Lilith and Mordecai’s special abilities have yet to be revealed, Gearbox was willing to share that Roland will be able to generate new ammo for both himself and those in his party. While there is no official confirmation, additional characters are being considered. It seems to me that Gearbox will have to add at least one more before we can play four player co-op.

Playing the game it was clear that the balance leans heavily towards the Shooter part. NPC’s can give you new quests but after talking to them to find out if they have work for you, you will spend most of your time running and gunning through the game.