“We’ve always had a pretty strong focus on story and character, which we’re bringing in spades,” says lead enemy designer, Josh Jeffcoat. “But also, we still have more guns than anybody else by an absurd margin. And the things the guns can do is insane; you’re never gonna see that kind of stuff coming from our competitors.”
“I think we reclaim our throne just by being us,” offers art director, Scott Kester. “We make you laugh, we take you to [places] that you wouldn’t expect, and we break things to be fun. We’re very comfortable in our own skin. Maybe sometimes too much [laughs].”
Elsewhere on IGN you can read our first hands-on details, see the best guns we’ve found in the game so far, or watch the full gameplay reveal, but read on for an insight into some of the areas of Borderlands 3 that Gearbox Software is concentrating its efforts as it seeks to push the loot shooter genre to new heights.
1. More Enemy Variety
“One of the things we had to tackle really early on was, if we’re going to be going to different planets then the natural wildlife of each planet has to be local to that planet only,” says Jeffcoat. “You’re not going to find skags on Promethea because they’re from Pandora, and there’s going to be wildlife on Promethea that you won’t see anywhere else,”
Not only are there more enemy types in Borderlands 3, but more diversity within individual enemy types at least in a cosmetic sense, so that you’re not mowing down waves of the same cookie cutter clones in your everlasting efforts to harvest more and more precious loot.
“If you look carefully at the way some of the cosmetic items appear on enemies, we use the same randomization engine [for those] that drives our guns,” explains Jeffcoat. “So, just the clothing that appears on them, like the little gadgets and doodads that hang off their bodies, the materials, the hair, all that kind of stuff. We have a lot more variation [within enemy types] than you would see in previous games.”
2. Enemies Are More Mobile
Psycho bandits are going to be able to chase you and just get right up in your face no matter where you go trying to hide.
“Enemies are a lot more mobile [in Borderlands 3] than they were in previous games,” says Jeffcoat. “Most of the places that the player can mantle up and get up to a higher level, an enemy can just follow you right up there too, so psycho bandits are going to be able to chase you and just get right up in your face no matter where you go trying to hide.”
Thanks to the additional power offered by Unreal Engine 4, not to mention the generational leap in console and PC hardware in between Borderlands games, there’ll also be many more enemies on screen at any one time.
“It’s fun to keep the pressure on [the player],” laughs Jeffcoat.
3. There Are More Vehicles, and They’re More Fun to Use
“A number of people who work at that studio have a background in actual racing games,” explains Jeffcoat. “They were way better at [working on the vehicles in Borderlands 3] than we were. They’ve done an amazing job rebuilding all of the vehicle stuff from scratch; there’s a lot of customization that you can put into vehicles, and they handle so much better than they did in any previous game.”
In my first hands-on with the game, I particularly enjoyed saddling up in the single-wheeled cyclone bike and tear up the streets of Promethea in sections reminiscent of the original Halo.
“Driving isn’t the main [aspect] of the game, but we wanted to make it better than before,” says Kester. “There is an aspect of the original Halo with the warthog and the weird things you can do with it. That was just so fun,”
4. It’s Promising to Be More Fun for Solo Players
“[Borderlands 3] is the most compelling single-player experience that we’ve ever put together as a studio,” says Kester. “The story and the delivery and the drama of it is a lot more heightened. I think people will be very surprised with some of the twists and turns and where the story takes this game.”
In fact it’s the importance of story to the Borderlands experience that’s one of the main reasons that the team at Gearbox Software neglected to join the massively multiplayer shared world shooter ranks of Destiny and The Division with Borderlands 3.
“Borderlands’ strength has really been its story and characters, and that falls apart pretty quickly in a shared open-world, where people are coming and going constantly and you’re not really gonna have the time to develop that really strong narrative focus with all these really interesting character moments,” explains Jeffcoat.
Gearbox is clearly confident in Borderlands 3 as a single-player experience, since it chose to give the media and streamers their first hands-on impressions of the game in single-player only.
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