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Taking co-op play to new levels


Borderlands was first revealed in August of 2007 at the Games Convention in Leipzig. It is being developed by Gearbox Software and will be published by 2k Games. The game is a single player and cooperative First-Person Shooter but is often described as a RPS (Role-Playing Shooter) for its more-than-average use of RPG elements.

The game is set on a planet known as Pandora, an unsightly wasteland where the wildlife is nothing short of brutal and fauna unforgiving. On this apocalyptic planet, humans are hunted by immense creatures as well as unsavoury types of their own race. The later come in the form of heavily armed scavengers that racing around the planet and chasing you in an assortment of “Mad-Maxian” vehicles.

The developers strive to deliver an action packed game set on the borderlines of humanity in which the player takes the role of one of three character classes. While many of the skills and advantages for each of the three classes are still being kept secret, their names can lift some of the mystery: Soldier, Hunter and Siren. We do know that the soldier’s advantage lies in the area of weapons mastery and ammo use and that the Siren class will have some magical abilities.

The game in general is designed to be a co-op game, allowing up to four people to play together. Gearbox has speculated that a team’s chances of survival increase dramatically when they consist of at least one of each character class and from what we’ve seen so far, that is no idle boast.

Know your surroundings

Seasons and time on Pandora are different from what we are used to here on Earth. The planet itself is on a slow rotation around its sun, making a mess of the weather changes and with it the landscape and wildlife that you will encounter. A previously visited area may have a completely fauna when you visit again after the weather has changed. Animals that may have been hibernating for the winter may be out for a snack when spring comes along. Guess who is about to be snacked upon?

As you progress through the game and your character levels up, you will have the chance to learn new skills and become stronger. On top of this, you will become more proficient with weapon types that you frequently use. Your increased skills may shorten the time to reload a weapon or do more damage but may also improve how fast you recover from taking a hit.

One of Borderlands often discussed features is its ability to self-generate large numbers of unique weapons. Gearbox estimates that each time the game starts, it has the potential to generate over half a million unique weapons and a similar amount of different items and armor. Fortunately it will be fairly straightforward to figure out if a weapon is worth keeping or not. The various different attributes of each weapon are shown as stats as soon as you approach a weapon so you can quickly determine to pick it up, or leave it where it is.

Borderlands maps will also be randomly generated. While towns and the general paths connecting them will remain the same, rural areas and wildlife are created on the fly each time you start a new game. Bunkers, towers, caves, enemies, and exploding cacti will all be placed randomly on the newly created map as well. This is a great way to keep the game un-predictable and interesting.

Keep your friends close

As mentioned earlier, the game is best played in co-op. Once you have started a game you can simply create a ‘instance’ and start playing. Should you want to, you can invite a friend to join your instance or join your friend’s without affecting your own.

Borderlands is a very promising title that will appeal to any sci-fi fan. The environment looks and feels outstanding with next to perfect graphics. With Gearbox still working hard on refining the game, we should be in for a pretty amazing co-op experience while the single player should be nothing to sneeze at either. I am already looking forward to exploring Pandora with my friends, trying to survive its harsh climate and numerous hazards together.