With Borderlands 3 edging to the front of Gearbox’s mind, and a new game very much on the cards, it didn’t take long for me to start fantasising about what I’d love to see in the next instalment of the colourful, anarchic, deliciously gun-laden series. Gearbox is relentlessly inventive, but what could the studio possibly come up with to expand and evolve Borderlands?
It’s obviously all about the guns - ALL the guns, ALL the time. Whatever the question, the answer is probably GUNS. We want more of that - more, you hear! (and bring back S&S Munitions while you’re at it). There’s so much more that a new Borderlands game could offer, though. Even a quick glance at the game’s RPG underpinnings inspires a host of new ideas that could make the Borderlands universe more mindblowing than one of Tiny Tina’s Badonkadonks. The following ideas probably barely scratch the surface. To the lootmobile!
In case you missed the subtle point I made in the intro, guns are where it’s at. Borderlands is at its most fun when it comes to the shooty stuff and crafting is a logical evolution. How awesome would it be to be able to break down a backpack of weapons and build your own? Patching together your own scope, muzzle, decals, stock and then naming the inspired mess would kick serious ass. Whether you build freeform, or utilise specific blueprints that can be bought/found/rewarded/stolen is another matter. It raises questions though: can you use a Jakobs barrel with a Hyperion stock? Is sticking with all one brand a better idea, or is mixing and matching the way to go? Importantly, when it comes to elemental effects, are these solely decided by the majority of component parts, or would it be cooler to utilise minerals to imbue a gun with an elemental effect (for a cost)? Incidentally, that sounds like the sort of shady thing Tannis or Crazy Earl would be involved with.
With customisation and crafting come unique ideas and creations, and a desire to share and show them off. The ability to upload your own crafted weapons to an online space where other people can rate, share, or download them would be awesome. Logistically it would take a lot of doing, and there would be many variables and issues to consider, but it would build a great hub for players. It would also help foster an enthusiastic, creative community. Think of it like EA’s Sims 4 hub, but with more combat rifles and fewer reupholstered tuffets. Proudly sharing your Bandit/Jakobs Shotgun with Moxxi decals would never get easier.
For some, Mordecai’s Bloodwing was a star, and others, such as myself (sick though I may be), love Claptrap almost as much as we want to shove him into Ellie’s car crusher. The Fallout games illustrate how popular companions can be, and Pandora is full of wonderful possibilities. They may get left behind in a four player game, but playing solo with a companion could be an enriching experience. A Claptrap could store weapons, send out an EMP pulse to fuck with enemy shields, or deliver a boost during bleed outs. A Skag could take down enemies, fetch ammo and health drops, or spit corrosive venom. A Rakk could alert you to distant enemies and take down aerial foes. A midget could shoot everyone’s legs off at the knees, melee badasses, and generally ruin everyone’s day. They could also glitch, get stuck in some rocks and ruin your game, so, y’know, swings and roundabouts there.
The ability to bank weapons you’ve loved, grown out of or can’t use is great, but we want more. As became apparent in Fallout 4, sometimes base building can take over, but I’m not asking for a whole damn town (not yet – Fyrestone is a hell of a fixer upper). Just a room (or rooms) to call my own. Having somewhere to line up panties, pizza, and other weird collectibles, stash loot, or throw down a Yeti-skin rug would be great - sometimes you just want a place to potter about in and keep mementoes. A base may be at odds with the idea of the wandering Vault Hunter, but it seems a natural step and a chance to make the place feel a little more like home. Well, a slightly scruffy, dusty home, in an isolated wasteland. But still: home.
Vehicles have always been a nifty, necessary part of Borderlands, but an often neglected one. More vehicle types and the ability to up the customisation beyond skins and colour would really give them a boost. Imagine using Ellie’s place to scavenge for scrap parts, or shooting the shit out of Bandit vehicles to steal their stuff. Adding weapons, collecting alloys from The Dust, buying, looting, or finding vehicle parts to pimp your ride - these would all be an awesome diversion. Bigger vehicles do exist on Pandora, such as the hodunk’s Rakk-Ale truck, so using one as a base and adding multiple seats or turrets would be decent – as would adding some Torgue decals, a Spiderant corpse, and an Ellie hood ornament. But we need more to do with them than just tearing round Pandora’s dustbowls. We need races (singleplayer or online), a dedicated stunt arena, and even more vehicle-based missions - all with nasty twist of course - to make their inclusion more worthwhile.
Few shooty games can boast such a brilliantly realised and diverse cast, and it’s one of the areas in which Borderlands has always excelled. Setting aside the playable characters, who are always fantastic fun, it’s the NPCs that elevate these games to greatness – Moxxi, Ellie, Hammerlock, Tiny Tina… And Borderlands 2’s villain was no exception either. Handsome Jack was something special, twisted yet funny. Topping that would be a hard task but it’s a necessary one to provide a strong antagonistic thread running through the main action – something the original Borderlands lacked. And if the warped minds at Gearbox gave us Handsome Jack, just think what they could do next.