So, rather suddenly, I’m done with the main quest in Borderlands.  There are still some side quests to finish, but a first playthrough works out to about 60 hours.

It’s best not to think of it as an RPG.  There are no actual roleplaying options, no morality, not even alternative means of doing a quest.  It’s a shoot n’ loot.  One advantage is that quests are highly replayable– which is good because due to the confusing way quests are handled in c0-op, you’ll probably be doing the same quest multiple times.

bl krom

Krom is up there, unaware of the invention of sniper rifles

Above is one of my favorites, taking out Krom.  It’s not hard, but it’s just a really fun approach, up a set of walkways attached to the sides of a canyon, sniping at bandits the whole way.  One of our party kept falling to his death in the canyon, which was hilarious for the rest of us.

Quest sharing is good and bad.  If a quest is ahead of you in the storyline, you can accompany your friends but won’t get credit for it.  That’s not bad since you can just do it again once you’re eligible.  If you are eligible, you get credit– but you generally don’t see the quest dialogs, have little idea what you’re doing, and possibly miss out on quest rewards. 

Well, it’s of a piece with Borderlands’ overall design philosophy, which seems to be to lavish attention on the core gameplay and art, be just adequate in UI and story, and quite annoying in setting up co-op and in voice support.  I didn’t think anything could make me miss the Left 4 Dead lobby system, but Borderlands does. 

Fights range from easy to awesome-difficult.  They’re most fun in co-op, especially once you figure out the shield system.  (I had a fast health regen shield for most of the game, which was nice becaue I rarely needed to heal– but in a battle I’d die way too often.  It works better to have high shield capacity and retreat when it’s exhausted.)

I’m somewhat frustrated with the looting mechanic.  You don’t get enough inventory slots till near the end; this means you’re constantly evaluating new guns, and I find this hard to do in co-op when everyone’s rushing to the next checkbox.  You can compare guns, but you can’t directly see damage per second, and it’s hard to evaluate how this is affected by other features, such as elemental damage.  It’s cumbersome to change what weapons are equipped, and you can’t even change weapons if your inventory is full.

bl vault

Picturesque Eridian ruins

The planet of Pandora is mostly a trashed, polluted nightmare… but it can be quite beautiful at times.  It’s about as close as you can get to walking around in a Moebius comic.

People seem to either love or hate the Claptraps, the little robots.  I think they’re cute.  There’s an amusing cutscene that plays off the movie convention that to show that a character is really evil, he kills a small animal: one of the villains blows away a Claptrap.

The UI is full of annoyances.  E.g. the key to turbocharge your vehicle is different from your sprint key; you should be able to fill up on ammo with a single action; you can get class mods that increase skills but there’s no feedback as to what the effective skill level is; completed quests seem to be unsorted.  One imagines Randy Pitchford in bug triage sessions asking “Is this related to shoot n’ loot?  If not, forget it.”   But don’t pass on the game because of it; these things are liveable.