It all began with the Steam Sale. Innocent enough: Many, many good games, for ludicrously good prices. And then, I saw it. Borderlands 2, sitting there shining like the gleaming brass casing of a bullet. Me and four friends pitched in, got the four pack, and I’ve barely come up for air since. Which is exactly why there will not be a Borderlands 3. Instead, we will, at some point in the future, get a Borderlands MMO.
What is it that makes an MMO and MMO? Is it the Elves and Dwarves? The raids and dungeons? The derisive comments about other peoples mother you make in trade chat? Nope. It’s the M. The Multiplayer. MMO’s are a genre of game that attempt to thrive on that bizarre notion that we want to do things together. Be it finding treasure, killing bad guys, or even just sitting around and talking while dancing in the middle of town, MMO’s drive people to work and play together.
This is awesome.
I’m a huge fan of the genre, having sunk hundreds (if not thousands) of hours into World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2, but I have NEVER, (NEVER!) had as much fun playing with others as I have in Borderlands 2. Borderlands 2 already has itself set up with a fantastic universe, so in my completely unqualified opinion, the next step not only should be, but is going to be a Borderlands MMO, which will be refered to as “The Borderlands” from now on.
Progressing towards Something Great
My train of thinking starts with Borderlands 1. The original Borderlands was a blast, but wasn’t much more than a testing ground for the infinite gun system. And boy, did it work. The game had a paper thin story, mostly forgettable characters (with the exception of a handful of awesome ones that return in the sequel), but more guns than you could shake a fist at.
Borderlands 2 fixed this. The story is amazingly deep and take twists and turns you’d never see coming. The characters are fleshed out, hilarious and sometimes surprisingly dark. There’s a dense backstory that you get dropped into the middle of an slowly start uncovering as you play.
Borderlands 1 was a test. It was a game designed to see if a infinite loot system could work. And it did! So, after the success of that, Gearbox started actually making the franchise into something with meat on its bones. All one has to do is look at the DLC. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Claptrap’s Revolution and The Secret Armory of General Knoxx expanded the story of Borderlands incredibly, and Mad Moxxi’s Underdome proved that repeatable content was just as fun in Borderlands as it was anywhere else.
Defining the Modern MMO:
So, what are the things that define a modern MMO? And no, I don’t mean Multiplayer, or Online. I’m talking the nitty-gritty. The little things that keep people playing MMO’s for a long time.
Loot Grind – Okay, its kind of pointless trying to say Borderlands does not have a loot grind. The point of the game IS to loot grind. Borderlands nails this no problem. The one issues they will have to deal with if they go MMO is the idea of loot ninja-ing. Half of the fun in Borderlands 2 is running like a mad man for the shiny gun that just dropped of the Badass Skag Queen you blew up. Yes, nabbing it before your group talks about it could easily create tension, but damn is it fun to run around rubbing it there face! In an MMO, I’m not sure that mentality would really work all that well. People get invested in there loot in MMO’s , and simply saying “Loot Ninjaing! It’s part of the game!” likely wouldn’t go over too well.
Achievements – There already there, and frankly, have some of the best rewards I’ve ever seen in conjunction with an achievement system. Many of the achievements you get in Borderlands 2 will unlock color palettes/outfits for your character.
WHY CHANGE A THING?!
One thing “The Borderlands” would certainly need to have is more customizable characters. But there is no reason why 2K and Gearbox couldn’t use achievements as a means to unlock dyes, patterns and other various cosmetic bits that are a staple of the modern MMO
Raids– Already got’em. Invincible Bosses in Borderlands 2 are Raid bosses with minimal trappings. They work exactly like you’d expect a classic MMO raid boss to work. There’s a big guy. You shoot him with friends. You get loot. IT’S A RAID! All 2k and Gearbox need to do is replicate it, add some spice and some interesting set pieces.
Open Worlds– Hell, Borderlands 2 already has this covered in spades! The environments of Borderlands 2 are beautiful, varied and expansive. Want to go shoot gorillas at a volcanoe? Eridium Blight. Fancy a stroll through a futuristic city instead? Head over to Opportunity instead. There’s no issue in creating dynamic, immersive and exciting environments within the universe. What’s even better is that I can totally believe these zones could support large numbers of players. Hell, there’s already butt-tons of bandits flying about the zones, so I don’t think that players would make the game any less chaotic…
Oh, and lets not forget that ending. You can catch the spoilers here, but lets just say it opens up a metric crap-load of possibilities in terms of an open world.
Markets – One thing that Borderlands has not had is any sort of player market, which is certainly a necessity in the modern MMO. There’s a whole group of people who just play MMOs for the market. And lets not even talk about EVE Online. Hell, you need a degree in Economics to make it in that beast.
But Borderlands has one major thing going for it: Guns with random stats. That is a recipe for a thriving market place, with people looking for just the right weapons with which to blow shit to high hell. I have no doubt that the Borderland could make the
Guilds/Factions/Teamwork- This is the one thing that Borderlands would need more than anything. This would also likely be one of the easiest thing to implement.
Hyperion. Jakobs. Torgue. Dahl. Maliwan.
The Corporations of the Borderlands are the perfect jumping off point for factions, or some sort allegiance program. Guilds could, of course, exist, but I fancy the Factions of The Borderlands being similar to the three faction of The Secret World: Players can still actively work together between factions, but nevertheless are provided a big open area (perhaps a new Underdome?) over which to fight for their corporation’s dominance.
So what’s the point of this article? Well, it’s two fold. First, I’ll take any opportunity to praise Borderlands 2. 2k and Gearbox have created a game that is nearly flawless in my mind. One of the biggest critical complaints I’ve heard is that the game plays like Borderlands 1.5.
This doesn’t seem like a bad thing…
Sure the game isn’t deep, nor particularly philosophical. It simply asks you to shot as many Badass things as you can in as many Badass ways as you can think of. Fun is the goal, and that noble enough for me.
The other point of this article is to predict the future of this franchise. There enough straws that can be pulled at and enough loose ends that can be tied up that it seems silly to not at least put my prediction forward. The idea of a Borderlands MMO is incredibly exciting, and I relish the possibility. Even more than that, I think that all the ingredients for a masterpiece are already assembled, and it’d be a crime not to mix them together and bake one badass cake. No lie.
Until them, I’m off to hunt some Bullymogs.