Developer Appreciation Week: Gearbox Software

Developer Appreciation Week (or DAV) is technically coming to a close, but I thought I’d squeeze a post about the topic in nonetheless. I haven’t really been following any of the scheduled stuff this Blaugust, but as it is I haven’t really needed any help getting topics down. Having to rush and blow through several posts in a day has left me looking for inspiration though. I’m leaving to Vegas on Thursday morning, and won’t return until Sunday night. As such I’ve been writing ahead for those days to have scheduled posts, and well, here we are. From what I can recall I have written a DAV post in the past, and I believe I included a couple of developers in it. This time around I wanted to pick someone different, and with Borderlands 3 releasing just around the corner (and my own personal time spent with the series recently) I realized that I have rather enjoyed much of the content put out by Gearbox Software.

When doing some research to make sure I had my facts straight, it turns out that my relationship with the company goes much further back than Borderlands, thought that’s the IP that I’m most connected to at this point. Nevertheless, way back in 1999 Gearbox developed Half-Life: Opposing Force, the expansion to the original Half-Life. I loved that expansion and played it while still in high school. It appears that I may have touched on some other games that the company developed as well, but my relationship wouldn’t get as serious until early 2010 when I purchased my Playstation 3 and a copy of the original Borderlands. I would go on to buy all of the expansions, level up a couple of characters to maximum level along with beating the end game raids and things. I basically 100% that game before playing it over again with my best friend once he got a copy as well. By the time Borderlands 2 had released, I had it pre-ordered and also picked up the season pass. I bought most if not all of the DLC too, and in some cases it felt less than worth the money, but I didn’t care due to being obsessed with the gameplay and wanting every new experience I could get.

Games like Destiny or The Division couldn’t exist without Borderlands before it. By that note, I don’t think Borderlands would exist without RPGs like Diablo either. Nonetheless, Borderlands solidified the FPS-RPG hybrid as a viable model, something that can be monetized and of which a whole universe can expand. Unfortunately developers typically need publishers, and 2K being the evil corporation here might have something to do with some of the negative press around said monetization, though at this time it has become the norm of the games industry.

The company isn’t without blemish though. Besides the games that I’ve mentioned, they had a fiasco over Aliens: Colonial Marines, but that has been better documented elsewhere. It could also be said that they lost the battle of the hero shooter, as their game Battleborn released near games like Blizzard’s Overwatch or Hi-Rez Studios’ Paladins, both of which seem to have seen the most success (Quake Champions is the last game of this nature that I can recall coming out, and even it seems to be more successful than Gearbox’s entry).

It’s likely that we’ll see a return to greatness with Borderlands 3 though, and I fully hope for that outcome. Borderlands does the looter shooter thing right, is easy to jump in and out of with friends, has a humourous and well put together storyline and I just hope for the best for the company’s return to the series. We’ll know soon enough, Borderlands 3 releases on September 13th, which is just a couple of weeks away. You know I’ll be there from the start to dive in head first.

Reconnecting with Borderlands

When Borderlands 3 was revealed at this year’s E3, I knew it was a game I’d have to play. The best looter shooter out there, in my humble opinion at least, it’s been a lot of fun over the years and I look forward to co-oping my way through it with my best friend come September. At the same time though, a brand new DLC for Borderlands 2 was announced, called Commander Lilith & The Fight For Sanctuary. Coincidentally, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection was one of the Playstation Plus free games for that month, so it turned out anyone with a PS4 would be able to grab this DLC and play right away. It was free for a time as well, so that was an added bonus. Also, for those not familiar, The Handsome Collection collates both Borderlands 2 along with it’s plethora of DLC and Borderlands The PreSequel as well. I’ve talked about the latter, as it was a game I played a little bit but never completed — nonetheless my best friend has expressed interest in playing that one as well. I suppose that could be done before the release of the proper sequel, but we’ll see.

Another nice touch, for those of us who played the original game on Playstation 3 and can’t seem to find our save files on the cloud, you are able to create level 30 characters right off the bat in order to jump right into the new DLC. This is where me and my best friend started out. During my first playthrough of Borderlands 2 (back in 2012 I think it was?), I played Zero, while during our co-op jaunts I would play Lilith. This time around I decided to play Axton, the Commando. My friend went with the Gunzerker, and away we went. As the notice above states, this DLC bridges the story between Borderlands 2 and the new game, so you probably should have already played the other games before this. I guess that means if you are worried about spoilers, you should probably avoid reading the rest of this post as well.

The game is still running on the same engine that it always has, but it does seem to run a bit smoother on PS4 as opposed to the PS3. It probably looks a little sharper too, but my memory of the details is hazy, and that’s fairly unimportant. The storyline picks up a while after the end of Borderlands 2, where the vault hunters had found a vault key that functioned as something of a map, and you now know that they are vaults all over the universe. This could potentially make the series infinite as long as the company continues to want to make new areas and new stories. Most of the story is revealed in the game, with characters speaking to you and events happening as you play. There are cutscenes sprinkled throughout, and they tend to be a similar flavor that you’ll know and love (if you’re a fan). So far we have been introduced to a new bad guy who has created a sort of gas that transforms humans and creatures alike into these mutant plant beasts. He attacks Sanctuary and takes it over, and we have had to go and clear out another location called “The Backburner” in order to have a functional base again. Familiar characters pop up along the way, and some can be recruited to your base of operations. After a few missions, it’s clear that there is a lot to do in this DLC.

Otherwise it really is more of the same, but that’s not really a bad thing. I always enjoyed playing the Borderlands series, though I haven’t really reached the end game since the first iteration and I definitely haven’t put the time into the other games outside of completing main campaigns. I think this little foray will whet my whistle for a bit, but once Borderlands 3 arrives I can’t wait to dive in full force. My recommendation is to play this first if you’ve already completed the other games, but if you’re not a fan of the series, then carry on and have fun with your thing!

The State of the Game #10

I decided that rather than trying to come up with titles for the individual posts for this column it made more sense to simply number them. This is the tenth post of my weekly column, and I will probably keep this format for simplicity’s sake. The other part of my reasoning behind this was the fact that I didn’t play many titles this week, and there wasn’t any sort of theme. The Christmas holiday just passed, and it’s New Year’s Eve today, so gaming time was a bit limited. The playlist this week was League of Legends, Borderlands 2 and the Minecraft PS3 edition demo.

League of Legends:
I played League more than anything. I am really enjoying the Snowdown Showdown, and I did end up picking up one of the Snowdown skins. I was unimpressed with the new Sivir, Singed and Lulu skins because I really don’t play any of those champions. However, we were presented with the ability to buy any of the retired Snowdown skins, and of the ones on offer, Ziggs is my favorite champion. I have been playing him a lot in Showdown, and have wanted to pick up one of his skins for a long time. Here’s the splash art for Snowday Ziggs:


He’s so awesome 🙂 Because of “wearing a snowdown skin” I earned another of the event’s summoner icons. I have now earned a total of eight icons from various events. I would have to send a mystery gift to a friend and play in a premade to earn the final three, but I’m not in the gifting mood anymore, and I haven’t been playing other modes outside of Howling Abyss. Apparently the premade doesn’t count with Snowdown matches, as I did play with my Brother-in-law quite a bit the other night. Still, I think it’s a nice little feature for those of us who like earning new stuff, even if it is just fluff. Playing the game is still where the real fun is at, and for a free to play game it has held my attention for far longer than I would have expected. Here’s a shot of my icon collection:


Borderlands 2:
I mentioned it at some point or another that I had decided it was time to play some multiplayer in Borderlands. I finally followed through with that, in an attempt to level up my Gunzerker without having to grind through the same missions by myself. I still ended up having to play through some of the same content, but the added difficulty that comes from playing with other people makes it a little more “fresh.” Basically, adding another player to the game ups the difficulty, and when you get four players in the same game, enemies become ridiculously tough. So much that when I matched up with some players that were only a level or so above me, I was getting dropped left and right, but so were they. We never fully wiped but there were times when 1 or 2 of us would have to respawn because a revive wasn’t going to happen. This ended up being a lot more fun, but the looting system kind of sucks, in that everyone fights to grab the better colored stuff. I wasn’t too concerned though, as I never intended to play my zerker again after completing the trophy. Leveling from 15 or so to 21 occurred over the span of a couple of nights. I then retired to my own little world to try and earn the trophy. I found a few places where enough enemies spawn of lower level that I felt I’d be able to Gunzerk for 90 seconds, but as of right now I haven’t completed the task. That’s on the to-do list and after it’s been completed I will go back to my Siren, and attempt to clear the DLC content I have yet to touch, and in the process try to get her to level 50. I also have to finish up some of her challenges, and beat the final boss of the game (the raid boss from after finishing the storyline). At that point, I’d have a platinum trophy for the game. I’m unsure if I will buy the newer headhunter packs, the psycho, or the digistruct peak dlc. There aren’t additional trophies, and I may be burnt out on the game by then. We will see.

The Playstation 3 edition of Minecraft released last week, and having played Terraria and seeing their obvious similarities along with hearing that my Sister has become addicted to the game, prompted me to download the demo and see what the fuss was about. The demo is fairly limited in that you only really get to play the tutorial. Aside from the graphical differences of 2-D and 3-D games, Minecraft and Terraria start off pretty much the same. I didn’t see day turn to night, nor did I fight anything. I just learned how to harvest and craft, and it felt like more of the same. The major thing that irks me is that I can see the appeal of “retro” graphics, but I have a strong dislike for crappy 3-D graphics. When I started playing video games there wasn’t 3-D. I can see the appeal of 2-D graphics because I grew up with them. I also grew up with 3-D graphics, but it took quite a few years for it to advance far enough for things to look decent. Minecraft’s graphic style reminds me of games on the Sega Genesis that attempted to be 3-D or early 32-bit games like Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA that had “3-D graphics” that looked like utter dogshit even at the time. So Minecraft’s “charm” isn’t so charming after all, and deters me from really wanting to play it. Pixellation in 2-D is still charming to me though. I guess I’m picky. Either way, I’m not dropping $15 for Minecraft, though I might pick it up if I can get it for $5 or less. I’m sure it will be on sale soon enough.

Looking ahead I am planning on playing these games more (minus MC), and possibly delving into some of the other more recently purchased games. There is only a PSVita game on offer this week from plus, as it is the last Tuesday of December. The plus offerings next month will definitely keep me busy when they finally come out, and I am supposed to be borrowing Bioshock from a friend so I can get started playing through that series in preparation for Infinite’s Plus release. However I did just get my car back up and running, so buying anything game related is going to be on hold for a while, as I have real-life expenses to take care of. The next month should be great for gaming nonetheless.

The State of the Game: Revisiting The Past

This week I delved into the past a bit, playing games I hadn’t touched in a while, and in one case playing a game that released when I was still in high school, for the first time. I did play one new game, and I did end up lying about not wanting to make any new purchases, as I did grab a couple of sale items last Tuesday. The playlist this week: Borderlands 2, Dragon’s Crown, Dyad, The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 1, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Planescape: Torment, and League of Legends.

The new game I picked up for my PS3 on Tuesday was the first episode of Season 2 of The Walking Dead game. I have already made a post about my impressions of that game, and you can view it here. I won’t go into it again. Dyad was the free game last week for Plus members, and having played it a bit, it is interesting, but not a game that really sucked me in. It reminds me of an old Atari game called Tempest (and probably other games that have a similar premise). It has its charm, but the psychedelic nature of the graphics made my eyes hurt after a while. Best played in short bursts!

I also had mentioned wanting to get back into Borderlands 2, as there were parts of the game I hadn’t explored yet, but after looking at my trophy list I decided it would be better to just jump on my Gunzerker and level him to the point where I can get his class specific trophy, and then retire him for good. I started off doing that solo, and it got boring really quick. This week, I did something I hadn’t done before in the game, I played multi-player. Well, actually I did do that with my roommate when he got a copy of the game sometime after I had beaten it the first time. But we just played together privately over the LAN, not over the internet. Because I was so bored playing by myself and doing the same damn story missions over and over, I decided that I would just join some random person’s game. The matchmaking works fairly well, and it tries to match you with people who are on a similar quest or of similar level. I ended up in a group with three other people, and being in a four person group makes the game quite a bit more difficult. I was impressed with how the mechanics changed so drastically, and I now kick myself for never having played online before — in this game or its predecessor. I’m still a few levels off from where I need to be to complete the Gunzerker, and then I can go back to my main (Siren) and level her up some more and finally get through the remaining DLC. This is still on the to-do list.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times about having played Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, and I finally sat down and finished it. Overall the storyline was the strongest part of the game, I really enjoyed feeling like I made major things happen in the old west. The revenge was sweet when finally finishing off the major “villain” that you had been chasing down the whole time. I will say that there are some stupid parts of the story that didn’t make any sense though, especially towards the end. The duel system got worse as time went on as well, as at one point you have to take out two guys and not get shot, which seems a bit unrealistic. All in all it was a cool game for the cheap price I got it for, but it would have been disappointing for full price. There are other game modes and things to do with it, but I am done. It’s already been removed from my hard drive. Moving on.

Dragon’s Crown is another game I already gave my impressions of, and I still stand behind the things that I said. It’s still a great game, a few months removed from release. Recently, a new patch was put into place (yes, a patch with new content, not DLC!) adding 156 new levels (cap raised from 99 to 255) and a new dungeon. The original progression of the game was beat the levels on normal, then go back and do the alternate routes to get all of the gems to get access to the final boss. Then you open hard mode, where you start from the talisman gathering quest, and do it again. Then the “Labyrinth of Chaos” opens, and you progress through its floors, and at the end you fight another new boss. By then you should have been level 99 or close to it, and had “completed” the game. Now, another new dungeon is added, that is randomly generated and supposedly contains “tens of thousands of levels.” As such, I can’t access the new stuff just yet, because I have only beaten the game on normal. I decided it had been long enough I could go back and play the game and enjoy it again, so I fired it up after the patch dropped. I also decided to play in online mode, so when I jumped into the Labyrinth of Chaos, I was able to play with people through the first 3 floors I had access to. Those floors actually took almost three hours to complete, so that was the only session I’ve had so far, but I made some progress with my character as a result:



The other sale I took part in was on, and it netted me a copy of Icewind Dale, Icewind Dale II, and Planescape: Torment. These are all games that released when I was in high school or shortly thereafter, but ones that I never got around to playing. I loved the old Infinity Engine games, and these will be no exception I’m sure. I also picked up Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout: Tactics when GOG announced that they were free before they removed them from the site. I never played those either, so put them on the the to-do list. Rather than starting up a game in all of these games, I decided to pick one and stick with it until it was finished. It was a hard choice as I haven’t played any of them before, but I went with Torment. I completed the first area and have been exploring The Hive, picking up sidequests and talking to everyone I can. The ever faithful ! or ? above quest givers head is missing, and that’s something that I have grown accustomed to. Now I have to actually pay attention as there really isn’t a quest tracker or way to know who gives out quests or who you need to turn something in to. I do find this more immersive, it’s just not something gamers are accustomed to anymore. I will have more on this game as I get further into it.

Finally, I have been playing League a bit more than I had in the past month. The Snowdown event brought me back, and the Showdown featured game mode has kept me interested. It’s funny how changing the ruleset ever so slightly can make for intriguing gameplay. It’s still the same old Howling Abyss, but the mechanics have changed enough to make things fresh. I am still dominating with Ziggs, but have had a few good games as other characters.

Loading screen for Showdown
Loading screen for Showdown

I did have one of the shortest games ever the other day. I was going to play as someone AP oriented (they seem to have a poke advantage in this game mode) but my partner picked Morgana, so I wanted to have some AD balance. It really doesn’t matter, pretty much anyone can pick anyone and still have success in this mode, but old habits of searching for balance die hard. Anyway, I picked Ezreal, and we were matched against a Graves and Zilean team. Under normal circumstances, this probably would have been a fairly even fight, although post level 6 (if it went that far) we might have been screwed because of Zil’s resurrection ultimate. So the match starts and me and Morgana are standing by our turret when Graves comes charging up to us. I shot him a time or two, and he stayed in turret range until he died. I thought maybe he lagged out, but then the Zilean came charging at us as well, and Morgana scored that kill. The match ended, and we were told that “Graves had to go” so they effectively suicided to end the round. Still, check the time of completion:

Call Guinness
Call Guinness

Yeah, 56 seconds. Fastest game ever. I don’t see that ever happening again. Even the 1v1 I played at some point was over quickly, but not that quickly, it clocked about 2 1/2 minutes or so. In other news I managed to open the Poro summoner icon, its requirements were only to win three times in Showdown. I don’t think I’ll be earning any of the other icons this time around, but that’s ok.

There you have it. Another week down. This week we see Christmas come and go, so I might have a little less to write about. The plus title is for the vita, so nothing new there for me. I am off of school until after the new year starts, so I will have a bit of extra free time though, so it could go either way. Time will tell.

State of the Game: 12/10 – 12/16

This week I fell back on some of the old standbys. I played more League of Legends, but also played some other games I haven’t written about all that much recently.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger: I jumped back into the game, and played through about half of the campaign. I really like the atmosphere of the game, portions look and feel like a comic book, and the story-line feels like some pulp western mag from before my days as a child. But the history behind the story-line is what is intriguing, playing an unknown or unmentioned character that lived through many of the old western stories, and killing some of the most memorable characters. Earning experience has been easy; being the Ranger, I’ve gone down the tree and earned the Inlaid Six Shooter (upgraded sidearm) and am almost to the end of the tree, where I’ll earn the Golden Rifle. Boss fights are challenging but winnable. I really don’t care for the duel system in the game. Having to coordinate your “focus” with the right stick is tricky enough, but then you also affect the speed of your draw with the left stick. Knowing exactly when to draw and fire to get an honorable kill is also nearly impossible, as I’ve made it through a few duels, and always seem dishonorable. But that’s ok, they needed to die, and I needed to live.

League of Legends: I have fallen back on old habits. I have been playing ARAM mostly still, and am having fun with that despite currently being on a three game skid. I still have more wins than losses in the mode over all though.


I noticed that my LP was going to start decaying in ranked, and despite the fact that it’s preseason, it has already been said that preseason performance will affect your early placement in the beginning of the 4th season. That said, I haven’t really been playing ranked (obviously), but didn’t want to drop back down into bronze (I had 0 LP), so I played a game of ranked, my first since some of the preseason changes dropped. I played support, and ran Sona as usual, though I had a slightly different build by the end of the game. The differences were mainly starting with the Spellthief’s Edge and later upgrades, and the use of a trinket for the first time. I decided to go with the scrying stone to help with the vision battle, as vision totems are no longer stealth and you can only place one at a time. The scrying stone allowed me to effectively clear out enemy wards time and again. However, not having the extra trinket ward meant I needed to rush a sight stone quickly. The game I played actually seemed like it would be a loss and came down to a final teamfight and push into their base. I was laning with a Quinn who was far too aggressive and thought I was an MMO healer, so she fed. Jax on the top lane was having trouble with Renekton, but our mid lane Xerath was getting fed, and I was simply not dying. I ended up taking out the bottom tower on my own, and had the most assists (25) of the game by the end. Good fun, and I enjoy the more active role I get as a support now, along with being able to build some AP without sacrificing my utility. For shits, here’s my Sona stats:



Defiance: I decided that since I didn’t know much about the lore of the game that I needed to watch the first season of the TV show version of Defiance. Having done so, I can say that I have felt more of an attachment to the characters, and have gained a better understanding of the lore of the game, and the overall world. The TV show was well done for the most part, my only issues coming from some cheesy dialogue (schtako = shit, and is way over used, in it’s many forms) and some poor CGI here and there. Overall though, the special effects were well done, as was the makeup and costume design. Some women (if there are even women who watch the show) might be offended by the fact that there is a lot female subservience, sexism, and of course, more skin shown by the women. There is also some brief girl on girl action between two of the hottest women on the show, but I’m definitely not complaining. Still, if you can look past any of these flaws, the show is enthralling, and I love the new universe that’s been created. This has motivated me to play the game some more, though I didn’t get any time in this week (I did patch up last night, but by the time it was ready, I was ready for bed).

Borderlands 2: I mentioned that BL2 was going to be on offer for free through Playstation Plus, and that was making me want to play the game again. It has been on my to-do list for quite some time, as I own all of the DLC but have played very little of it. I think had I loaded up my “main” (Siren) and played through some DLC I would have had a better time. But instead, I looked at the trophies I needed to earn, and decided that I should level up my Gunzerker first, as after he reached a certain level, I could get his class-specific trophy out of the way and never have to play him again (really don’t enjoy the class). But this was probably a bad idea, as I started to play and maybe thirty minutes in I was over it. This is partially due to the fact that I’ve played through the game more than once already, and I was never the type to play through with every class available, especially when the story is exactly the same. But being so close to the platinum for that game (and it’s over a year old, so I could have done this forever ago) has made me want to do things a certain way, but it would definitely be more appealing with more people. I will be going back to this, and this time I’ll try to bring someone along. Or maybe I’ll just join someone else’s game and get leveled that way. Without paying attention to quests. Either way, I want to finish what the game has to offer soon.

Normally I’d say something about what’s on the horizon at this point, but I don’t think I’m going to try and call what I’m going to be playing. Dyad is the new free game through Plus, but I’m not even really sure what it’s about. Due to expenses with my vehicle popping up and it being the Christmas season I’m not going to have money for sales or any other new stuff, so I’ll probably try and make some progress in the games above, but my finicky nature as of late keeps me from knowing what will happen. Until next time.