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E3 2009: Borderlands Impressions

Posted by: Chuck at 6/13/2009 6:26 AM
If there was an award for most improved game since last E3 it would have to go to Borderlands. Last year we sat though a fairly painful demo from Gearbox that really didn’t go into a lot of detail about the game and for the most part felt like just another generic FPS game with some RPG elements and an interesting weapons system.

This year though, the game shined. The new art style is the main reason for this but because it was the time I got a feeling for the personality of the game. Under all the cell shaded graphics and RPG elements is a game that’s bursting with personality. During the demo last year we saw a lot of banter between the devs on the team who were trying to be funny and engaging (tough to do on the third day of a show) but the game didn't really match their presentation style. What I saw this year finally matched what the folks at Gearbox were trying to do.

An example of this is the monsters in the game. You can have a ton of variants of one particular critter. You could run across one that shoots electricity, one that shoots fire, and one that just sits there but high end monsters of a type are all labeled "Bad ass". I know it's a little silly but it really sets the game apart. The monsters in the game are a bit like the weapons in that they are randomly generated (ensuring a wide variety of them) and you never know what you'll get when you enter an area.

Of course with all of these weapons you'll need someplace to store them. Borderlands has three types of storage, your personal body, a backpack, and a safe. You can carry up to four weapons on your person, three items in your backpack, and a ton of weapons (their term) in the safe. The backpack capacity is still being worked out but as you progress through the game you can expand that. If you run out of room (which is entirely possible given the volume of weapons in the game) the game will automatically drop whichever weapon it deems the weakest).

The game is still a shooter first and features four player co-op where you and three of your friends can explore the huge world of Pandora together. There are a ton of main and sidemission in the game so it's not like you'll be hurting for things to do. We saw a short walk through of the game and I have to saw that I was fairly impressed with what I saw. I'm a huge fan of big co-op games and I can see John and I having a lot of fun playing the game.

The Gearbox folk did confirm that Borderlands will be getting DLC at some point after it's October 9th release date so I get the feeling we'll be talking about Borderlands a lot after it's released on October 9th.