So, Borderlands…

… is pretty awesome.  Gearbox basically takes all their know-how about making a satisfying FPS and marries it to a surprisingly good understanding of what makes satisfying in-game loot and quest grinding.

My only critique against Borderlands would be one that applies to nearly any game: if you play it long enough, it’ll bore you.  The thing is, the game has a lot of retread, bringing you back through the same areas to overcome the same procession of things that want to kill you.  If you love shooting stuff – and the FPS/RPG fusion in Borderlands assures it’s a pretty entertaining activity – then all this repetition won’t bother you, but once the gameplay wears thin what you have is something thoroughly predictable: a grind.

That said, I’m not regretting spending $50 on Borderlands.  Gearbox has done the right thing to stave off the grind by spacing out the game elements in good intervals.  It’s plays a bit like an MMORPG with better-than-usual-pacing, the satisfaction of a good first-person-shooter, and an addictive loot balance.   I’m completely willing to overlook the 4 player cap on the grounds that I don’t particularly need other groups competing for my content anyway.  Besides, you don’t have to shell out $15 a month for the privilege of being able to fight your way through Borderlands’ expansive world.

Sagging Tights

What I do regret spending $50 on (plus $99 for a discounted 6 month subscription) is Champions Online.   Burnout reached true fruition two weekends ago and now I can barely bring myself to look at the game.

Blood Moon was a potentially saving grace, but it turned out to be fairly underwhelming.  Zombie Apocolypse was a batch identical public quests with timers so long it just caused the players to bunch up and completely steamroll them from the population involved.  The Werewolf versus Hunter event was just a shoddy meaningless PvP kill tally quest – more of a chore than anything else.  I don’t get it, they seemed to understand population flow in City of Heroes?

Ultimately, they should have spent less time working on making Champions Online look spooky and more time fixing their broken game.  The number of genuinely useful (not replaced with better alternative) powers in the game is somewhere around 25% of what they’re offering.   I’ve been dealing with Rituals dispelling Circles for almost a month.  Little problems like these are tearing the players away from the game bit by bit.

Blood Moon’s real legacy is that they’ve hemorrhaged a lot of players by setting the wrong priorities, and I really hope the game is able to stay afloat.   Judging by the free weekend they’re conducting, they seem blissfully unaware of the shaky ground they’re operating on right now.  The game’s about two months of hard game balance tweaking from what I’d want to show anyone.

What’s worse, it seems the spirit to do the innovative over the easy seems to have left them.  They have a Public Quest and Queued Instance architecture, what the hell are they doing wasting their time adding inferior “kill 100 x” quests or mere door missions, respectively?

Of course, this isn’t the first time a game I followed for months turned out not to pan out.  Here’s hoping they catch a second wind before my 6 months are up, or there’s probably not going to be a Champions Online there to renew my subscription to.

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