Gearbox Talks DLC, Borderlands Level Cap

by Jeff Cork on Nov 12, 2009 at 07:05 AM

We talked with Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford about Borderlands and more in an interview set to appear in the January issue of Game Informer Magazine. Yesterday, we told you about what’s going on with Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines games, which the company is developing for Sega. Today, we give you the scoop on Borderlands’ upcoming DLC, straight from the man himself, where he even hints about next-generation hardware.

The guns are obviously the star of the game. But your playable characters are also cool. Do you foresee character customization in the future that would allow players to have unique avatars in the world?

Maybe. We know people want that. You know, at the beginning of our development we put some work into unique armor, custom armor, and unique pieces of armor, but as a first-person game, a lot of that value is lost. We move that value into different things like shields, and we added the concept of grenade modifications, class modifications, and artifacts. These are ways we can customize the character that also affect the gameplay. They just don’t affect the cosmetic. And even though the cosmetic affect of looking at the picture of your character doesn’t have any meaning to the gameplay, it does have meaning to our notions, and I know some people are interested.

I think that’s a good lesson for us. There are also tradeoffs in system resources. Every bit of memory we spend on a different picture for a character, whether that’s a different piece of armor, a different head, or face choices means memory and performance can’t be spent on another aspect of the game. So some other part of the game would have to be weakened then. But maybe that tradeoff is worth it given some of the customer feedback about it, and how they feel about the characters and the desire to customize them. We’re going to have to look at that for future games.

Right now, the best I can say is, yeah, that would be cool and that’s interesting. Um… If a future Borderlands game comes…Um…within the same generation, well, we’re working on these platforms and everybody knows what they can do. If we’re talking about a successor generation, well then all bets are off and you can just start adding features and not have to deal with the trade-offs because you have more memory and more performance or whatever those new systems offer.

Old Haven is an awesome place for combat, yet you only spend a few missions there. Your time in this zone is done before you know it. Any chance DLC will bring us back there, or to other previously played zones?

Yes. With DLC, we focus most of our energy on new content. However, there are some things people love, and would like to see done in different ways. So that obviously influences us. Specifically about Old Haven, I don’t think you’ve seen the last of that.

Any plans for a locker, so players could store their weapons?

We know that some people are interested in that, and we’re working on that.

Any chance of the level cap going up with future DLC?

We’re working on it. I know that’s something that people really want. You asked me earlier how difficult it was to balance everything, and as a customer I don’t care – I don’t want to hear how difficult things are – I just want what I want. I spend a lot of time making excuses, but we want that too, and we’re investing in that and I would not be surprised if we are able to offer that in the future, but at this point I can’t make any promises.

Let’s talk about The Island of Dr. Ned. Is it like Fallout 3’s Operation Anchorage where it’s sectioned from the rest of the world, or is it more of a worldwide experience where new enemies are interjected into the previous zones?

When you download The Island of Dr. Ned, you’ll unlock a fast travel pass, even if you haven’t unlocked the fast travel network. From any registration station in the game you can immediately transport yourself to the zombie island. From there, a new adventure unfolds. It’s a separate adventure, and a new adventure that has a beginning, middle, and end. In some cases, I think the story is more cohesive and stronger than the main story in Borderlands. The commentary that is there is very subtle. It’s basically a treasure hunt that has a bad guy at the end that protects the treasure. It’s a very simple premise. Now, we’re never very heavy fisted with storytelling in Borderlands. We focus on the action, and the gameplay and the pace. We’re not going to be adding any dialogue trees or cutscenes. Of course, there will be a little something to set it up. You’ll have instant access to it, and really fast you’ll be killing zombies, franken and wolf monsters, and all sorts of cool stuff.

We went nuts with the DLC. The zombie thing kicks ass. It’s a lot of fun, dude. There’s this big Frankenstein looking guy with chains on him, and a chest on his back. So, when you take him down, you can loot the chest. He carries the chest around with him. It’s freaking great. There’s were-skags and stuff and it’s just fun. The setting is really cool. It doesn’t even look like Borderlands anymore. I mean, it looks like Borderlands because of the art style, but it feels like this place I’ve never seen before. It’s gloomy, there’s trees and stuff, and it feels like I’m in a swamp.