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.

E3 2019: Most Anticipated

The 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo has wound down to a close and just like years prior, I thought I should give some commentary based on what we saw. This is the first year in a while that I didn’t actually watch the live streams, so I don’t have any commentary on the show itself, the presenters, any of that. Instead, I have a list of games that interest me the most, and some commentary along with a video for those curious to learn more. This has become an annual affair, and as such I thought I should probably collate all of the past years’ posts in one place so we can see how things line up.

E3 2014

E3 2015 (Podcast Episode)

E3 2015 (Written Post)

E3 2016 (Podcast Episode)

E3 2016 (Written Post)

E3 2017

E3 2018

Looking back through these lists, there are a couple of things I can glean. First, this is the only year from this selection that doesn’t have Sony present at the conference. They have started doing their own thing for the last few years at a later juncture in the year, but this is the first time I can remember them not being at the show. It also appears that I have played/own all of the games on these lists outside of the ones that haven’t released yet. Some of those games are coming down the pipeline sooner than later, finally. I suspect Sony is saving their big PS5 announcements for their own conference, as rumor already has it that we’ll see the console’s release in 2020. Now I just have to decide if I should grab a PS4 Pro this holiday season when the deals come around, or just say fuck it and wait for the new machine. Whatever the case, despite Sony’s absence there were still quite a few games and bigger updates that were worth taking a look at, so let’s dive into the list!

CD Projekt Red has a pretty decent reputation due to the success of their The Witcher series. I hadn’t played it, but grabbed the GOTY edition of the third entry in the series — I couldn’t get over the wonky combat mechanics and uninstalled it. Initially hearing about Cyberpunk 2077, I assumed it would be a similar type of game in a different setting, and so I didn’t have any excitement for the title. However, after seeing some gameplay footage and seeing that it’s an FPS in a cool setting, I became more interested. Seeing Keanu Reeves’ involvement doesn’t really sway me one way or the other, but I like most of his movies so that’s a plus I guess? Whatever the case it looks like it’s going to be a fun game so it makes the list.

I mentioned this title in prior E3 posts, as we were teased with information about it in years past. It’s finally coming out next month, and it looks to hold true to the standard the recent Wolfenstein games have set. I loved both The New Order and The New Colossus and to a lesser extent The Old Blood. Adding co-op is cool but I’ll likely play through it solo. Still, I’m ready and will be picking this one up day one if I can help it.

My girlfriend actually bought me a copy of Fallout 76 for my birthday last year. I played it for just a couple of short sessions before putting it down. One of my chief complaints would be the lack of a cohesive story and NPCs. It felt like a typical sandbox game with very little direction and I was disappointed after being hyped for the game since it was announced at last year’s E3. Apparently there have been a succession of good and bad patches/changes in the time since, and like No Man’s Sky before it, this is a game that is likely better after a year or more of development compared to the release product. Apparently they are changing up the story and adding NPCs, along with adding a Battle Royale mode (yawn). I’m hopeful that it can eventually be called a “good” game, but whatever the case we always have The Elder Scrolls VI (which was missing from this year’s show) to look forward to.

This is probably the game I’m looking forward to the most. The DOOM reboot was fantastic and made me fall in love with the series all over again. This being the sequel to that reboot, I think we’re in for a treat. I can already tell that it’s more of the same but the graphics and animations look kicked up a notch and I already know I’ll be paying $60 for this on day one.

Star Wars games tend to be pretty awful. Apparently Knights of the Old Republic was good but I never played it. Battlefront was fun for a minute, but it’s not story driven and thereby you don’t really care. I didn’t care for the MMO despite being a Bioware fan. This game looks pretty good, all things considered. I’m cautiously optimistic. We’ll see when it releases what the kids are saying about it.

I’ve talked about this one before, and holy hell does it meet and/or exceed my expectations! Finally being able to see combat and more of what this game will look like, I’m sold. Final Fantasy VII was my first game in the series, and as such has a special place in my heart. The only confusing part is that apparently it’s being released episodically, so I’m hoping that they split up the game into thirds, and just use the original break points between discs (the Playstation version had 3 discs). Anything more than that might ruin the experience, but it looks pretty sweet at this point.

The only game I probably won’t ever play unless they port it to PC, but still a game I remember with a mixture of fondness and hate. The original Battletoads on NES was a painfully difficult game that was a childhood rite of passage. This game doesn’t look like it will be remotely as difficult, but still hits me in the nostalgia feels. As of now I believe it’s only slated to release on Xbox, hence why I’ll probably not end up playing it.

Another title I talked about before, I enjoyed playing the original and think this one looks familiar but intriguing nonetheless.

Panzer Dragoon was one of my favorite games on my Sega Saturn, which was the system I backed during those console wars in the 90’s. Sony was the new kid on the block but they ended up causing the demise of the Saturn, and as a result a bunch of unique and cool games never saw the widespread fame they deserved. This one being remade is interesting because it was such an unusual title. I might get a Switch someday, but I’d hope this gets ported elsewhere.

Borderlands 3 is another hotly anticipated game for me. It’s been a long time since Borderlands 2, and The Pre-Sequel didn’t hold my attention in the same way the original two did. There isn’t much to say here, as it’s not really anything new but it’s a great looter shooter and something I co-op through with friends, so I’m in!

Strangely enough, a new DLC for Borderlands 2 was announced as well, and this time we’ll be getting a story bridge between 2 and 3. Coincidentally (or maybe not?) the PS4 version of the game, The Handsome Collection was just given away for free via Playstation Plus, so we should all be able to try out this new DLC before the new game drops.

A new game by From Software? Typically that’s an automatic win. Demons’ Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne were all excellent games, and though I’ve heard mixed reviews with Sekiro, I can’t imagine it’s bad, just misunderstood. The only difference here is apparently George R R Martin has something to do with the story telling, so perhaps it will be something completely different. I imagine Souls gameplay will still be present, and I look forward to hearing more.

So there you have it. These are the games that I’m looking forward to most from this year’s conference. What are you looking forward to most?

RE: Looter Shooters

So a few days ago I ran a poll to see what game in the so-called “Looter Shooter” genre people might think I’d enjoy. It turns out that following my logic, some people recommended Warframe even, a game I’ve already spent some time in but still look at all of the content available as a little daunting. I was surprised to see more people vote for Anthem than anything else, but we are talking about a very small sample size. In the end, my decision was made with my wallet’s welfare in mind: I picked up Forsaken for $20. I should be able to blow through what’s between where I am and the new content fairly quick.

I appreciate the feedback though. Haven’t seen that many comments on a post in a long time!

Ironically enough, we were treated to the announcement of Borderlands 3, a game that I had included in the poll (only got a single vote though) as more of a joke than anything. It does look pretty good though… here’s the trailer in case you missed it:

In a way it does look like more of the same, but it did look it had some pretty slick stuff going on at the same time. I hope there is enough variance to the world, classes/mechanics and storyline that it feels like a proper sequel and not just another pre-sequel. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one for sure, and make a decision about its purchase depending on the details. In the meantime, I’m in for more Destiny 2.