I Can’t Quit You, Borderlands

I thought I could separate myself from Borderlands the moment I beat it. Sure, I only beat it on playthrough 1, and my character had only reached level 35, but I had basically seen everything there was to do in the game. All that was left was playthrough 2, which is the exact same quest, with tougher enemies and more awesome guns. I figured now was the time to move onto the next game in my backlog.

And yet, here I am, still playing this game.I took a few days off to chip away at my backlog, but one lazy Sunday playing co-op on playthrough 2 with my brother was enough to reel me back in. My usual nightly routine of late has been to play a few missions in Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes From Liberty City followed by Borderlands.

Unlike my first time playing through Borderlands, I’ve taken a much more clinical approach to the game. With no surprises left for me to experience, I’ve just been tearing through quests in a very methodical and exacting order to maximize my XP building and gun collecting. In a way, I feel ridiculous essentially playing the same game over again when I have so many other “new” games to play. Trumping all of that though, is my continued desire to play the what is mostly the same game again because the core experience really is awesome.

Games like Tetris and Super Mario are great examples of games with great core design and technical mechanics. If you boil down both games to their simplest elements (dropping pieces into a well for the former and jumping for the latter), you’ll see that those core elements are rock solid and make everything else come together. Without a solid core, a game that has the best frills will still suck and be no fun to play.

Borderlands is built around the core idea of improving your character through XP, weapon proficiency and better guns. As I’ve already pointed out, a lot of the other elements of this game are janky, if not broken. At the heart of the game though are well-executed core design and technical mechanics that make the game fun. It is still a pleasure to play through quests, improve my character and find bigger and more awesome weaponry, even though it’s my second time through and my game clock says I’ve played Borderlands for over 50 hours.

Until I hit level 50 and beat playthrough 2, I don’t see myself putting down Borderlands. If you’re the type of gamer that is looking to maximize your gaming dollar, there is a lot of game in Borderlands to play. I’m projecting it to take me about 60 hours to max out my soldier, and I could start the process all over again with one of the other three available characters. Maybe I could get super crazy and max out all four characters. Or I could invest in the downloadable content to extend my Borderlands experience even further. I don’t see myself falling that deep into the rabbit hole, but man, I’m enjoying Borderlands a lot more than I thought I ever would.

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