What’s good About Borderlands? Featuring an Initial Look at the Idea of “Talking Games”

(Writer’s Note: This was written close to two weeks ago, but I didn’t get a chance to finish and publish until now because I’ve been busy with other things)

So, Borderlands 3 is going to be a thing and that has me super fucking excited because I love this series of games (Tales From The Borderlands is the Best thing Telltale ever did that wasn’t The Wolf Among Us), so much so that I decided to pick up the PC version of the Handsome Collection because all of the content was super cheap ($15 for over $300 of content should be goddamn illegal). I also got into the habit of replaying Borderlands 1 because it’s been close to a decade since I last played it…Oh my god, it’s been almost 10 years since Borderlands 1 came out. I think I need to lay down.

Now that we’ve had enough time to process the realization that time is fleeting and we’re all slowly turning to dust every second, playing Borderlands gets me thinking about how, while it’s a good game that’s aged surprisingly well, it’s also proof that sometimes you need a game that you can just turn your brain off and play mindlessly so you can talk to your friends, get caught up on whatever podcast you were slacking on and even thinking of ideas for things that you could do in the future. In general, this also got me thinking about the games that we just throw on in the background so to speak. But I’ll get into that later, now we talk about looting and shooting.

The first Borderlands is a game that holds a special place in my heart. This is because I got into it when I graduated from high school and played through the whole thing in the span of a week with one of my closest friends that I had made back in the day and still talk to now and then to this day (internet friendships, aren’t they the best?). It was also just a really good game that just threw a whole bunch of guns at you and said “You want more Guns? Then go kill some bandits, wildlife, and fascistic assholes and take their shit.” It wasn’t the most elaborate of setups, but it worked in its simplicity.

Playing it now after playing games like Destiny, Destiny 2, and snippets of other loot games like The Division and to an extent, Warframe shows me that the Borderlands games are my favorite permutation of the shooting and/or looting sub-genre of action RPG. This is because the gear treadmill is meant to feel more like Diablo than an MMO. This means that the game just showers you with loot and gives you good, or at the very least, interesting loot to mess around with.

The more important angle with this is that you’re constantly switching out weapons and equipment, which feels nice because it means that I’m not locked into any particular piece of gear for too long. This leads to the feeling that you’re throwing away a lot of trash equipment but at least you get a bunch of spending cash, so it balances out.

The other thing I’ve noticed replaying Borderlands is that I’m at that age where “talking games” have become something of a precedent nowadays in comparison to when I was younger. What I mean is that these are games that have low investment from the player in terms of mechanical execution (the actual playing of the video game). This leads to me playing games that are more about relatively lax challenges or aren’t so demanding as to make you think about the game while also having a conversation. These can be more fast and loose, or something you can jump in or out of, preferably built on the premise of just fighting stuff; like Dead Cells or the aforementioned Borderlands that I spent the last page or so (being written in Google Docs FYI, yay insider baseball) talking about. But this can be whatever the person playing the game seems to be low commitment, and that changes from person to person (I don’t know your preferences, do you boo).

In thinking more about this, I now know that games like these are perfect for social interactions amongst friends that can spawn silly memes and inside jokes that others will look at and go “what?” because of lacking context for the joke. For a lot of people I know, MMO’s are/were usually this; but I tend to play those by myself and in a way that prioritizes endgame content because I’m that kind of nerd. The number of laughs I’ve had over the Destiny games, Monster Hunter World, and others is something I wouldn’t change for the world. The talking game doesn’t even need to be one that I can so much as use as a chat room but serve as background noise so I can keep my hands busy and just okay while chatting with friends. It’s not a unique phenomenon, but it’s one I will always appreciate.

There’s something to be said for a game that you can just have on in the background while you shoot the breeze with friends. It feels like it can be the perfect capstone to a long day when you want to unwind but don’t focus. Does this make sense? Probably, but I think I might spin this topic off to talk about it more because it’s a thing that I feel is an interesting topic to think about. And if you managed to stick around to this point, thanks for reading, and have a good morning/afternoon/evening and/or weekend.

SOURCES AND WHATNOT:

Art Found on the Borderlands 2 Subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Borderlands2/comments/6fy82e/welcome_to_pandora_reach_for_a_weapon/

Matt Damon Aging GIF found on Giphy under aging GIFs

RoboCop Clip From YouTube under “Guns, Guns, Guns!”

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