The lights are on
Are you attempting PvP again? The arenas in the first game weren’t the most active part of the game….
SK: PvP is cooler in Borderlands 2 in the sense that you can now duel for loot. When you melee somebody, you can put a particular weapon or shield or whatever up as a wager. Whoever wins gets that. That ties into the whole trade system we have now.
AB: PvP is an interesting topic. We’ve received a lot of suggestions for it, but we’ve also found that a lot of people really enjoy sticking to the core roots of what the first Borderlands was – that strong PvE co-op game. That’s what we’re still focusing on. You never know. We may turn back and look more at PvP and see what we can do, but for right now we’re mostly focusing on the PvE.
Obviously that great PvE co-op experience was one of the big draws of the first game. I saw that you’re adding online split-screen to Borderlands 2, which is something I’m a big fan of, so I was happy about that. Are there any other big or noticeable changes being added to the multiplayer?
SK: Quest eligibility issues have all been fixed. You're eligible for any quest that your friend has. If you join my game, and I’m on the last mission of the game, you can still do it with me.
AB: There’s also some changes to our vehicle system. We have a new vehicle which supports four players. It’s not just two players. You’re not choosing between which friends can join you in one car and then having the other guy follow you around. Everyone can actually jump in one car, and everyone has a role now. One person is driving, one person is on the turret, and two people can be in the bed of the truck shooting off whatever rounds they have from their own guns. There’s a lot of things we’ve been honing to help the co-op aspect even more.
SK: From a higher level, the skill trees now have 30 percent more skills than any tree from the first game per character. A lot of the skills are based around co-op now. The siren can crowd control, and the gunzerker can draw agro. He has a skill where he basically flips off enemies, takes all their agro, and gets a huge damage reduction bonus. You can have people taking agro while the assassin goes into deception mode and flanks enemies. The soldier provides cover with his turret. It’s pretty deep.
One thing that struck me as interesting from our cover story last year – and obviously this is coming across now too as you guys talk about the world and everything – it definitely seems like story is more of a focus this time around. How do you improve the story without distracting from the action or messing up the pace? Part of what was great about Borderlands was being able to just jump in and go. Building narrative has the risk of slowing that down.
AB: The key, like you were saying, is not breaking flow. A big part of that is as few cutscenes as is humanly possible. Apart from our cool splash screens that last about five seconds, there’s maybe three cutscenes in the entire game – one at the very beginning, one at the very end, and one in the middle. I’m not certain on that number, but it’s very low.
It’s always really important to us that gameplay comes first, story comes second. The story informs the gameplay and makes you feel like the things you’re doing in the gameplay are for a bigger reason. It’s never, "Hey, I’m going to grab you by the neck and make you watch this nine-minute cutscene about this character I really like, so deal with it." It’s more about making sure the world itself has more environmental storytelling. Characters constantly tell you why you’re doing what you’re doing, cheer you on, warn you about things that are coming up.
In the first Borderlands, most of the story happened in the text summaries you got at the beginning and ending of any mission. You had some missions where people talked to you a lot, especially in the DLC, but in Borderlands 2 we’re doing even more of that. There are a bunch of new NPCs and a bunch of old NPCs that you haven’t seen in this context. The things that you’re doing in Borderlands 2 are of such a larger scope and scale that it will feel even more interesting – like the stuff we showed at Gamescom of rescuing Roland while two opposing armies fight to get him out of your grips. In the first Borderlands you just never got that scale of narrative importance on missions.
The four playable characters from the first Borderlands are playing a big part in the sequel. Is there still any chance of eventually unlocking them for play in the sequel also, or is that something that you’re specifically avoiding?
AB: That’s something that we’ll always ponder. Right now no one’s thought of what we should do for the original characters. It would be kind of weird to run through with Roland, and you run into Roland again. It’s always been on the top of everyone’s minds, but no one’s exactly sure if that’s something we’ll end up doing or not. It confuses some aspects of the story. We have these new characters as well, and some of those are natural evolutions of the old characters.
SK: Like I was saying before, every character in this game has 30 percent more skills. If we just brought in the characters from the first game, you’d be like, “Where the f*** are all my skills?! Man, Roland sucks now.”
AB: You never know though. It could be something we end up going back to and figuring out some cool way of doing it. Right now, we’re just focusing on the main four.
Finishing with the most important question, the one that everyone wants to know: Is there actually going to be dubstep in the game, or is it just relegated to the trailers? This is pretty important.
AB: We already did all the animations of Claptrap dancing, so I’d be super surprised if we weren’t like “F--- it!” We made the joke in the trailer about how there’s 96.5 percent more wub wub, but there was technically 0 percent in the first game.
SK: We could put one wub in the game, and it would actually be accurate. [laughs]
AB: It would actually probably be more than 96.5 at that point. [laughs]
There’s a lot of readers out there whose purchasing decision probably depends on, "Is there actually dubstep? Because if there is, I’m getting it."
SK: I can tell you that we have the exact same audio guys working on Borderlands 2 as worked on the original Borderlands. We got a lot of compliments on the first game’s soundtrack. We actually released the soundtrack separately. We can assure fans that the music is just as awesome as the last game. It’s an even greater step. Everything with this game is taking steps further with what we can do. Dubstep? Maybe. Right now not that I’m aware of, but never say never.
Want more Borderlands 2 coverage? Check out the full month of exclusives we ran alongside our cover story at our Borderlands 2 hub page.
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
I am impressed by the level of thought put into the character design
I think dubstep would ruin the vibe, I'm hoping for the music in the style of the first.
96.5 percent more wub than zero is 96.5 percent too much wub.
I have no idea why people would buy a game based off of it including dubstep, especially if they are playing on a PC or 360... Do custom soundtracks ring any bells? I can see how people who are buying it for the PS3 can be affected though... I just hope it doesn't have numerous disks -_-
Still not a fan of that. I only have one game with more than one disk, Mass Effect 3.
great read phil thanks makes me want it all the more
Dubstep was cool for a while, but the evolution of music, it is not. Sorry Scrillex.
looks like that zero guy is gonna be the next multiplayer standard class
Looks like all were gonna see is Zero in multiplayer
Let's do this...