Gaming, Writing

The Not-So “Bored”-erlands Anymore

To recap, I think BL3 is a very good game. Fundamentally, it’s an iteration of BL2, much the same way BL2 was an iteration of the original Borderlands. This is a good thing; those were good games, and I think BL3 is the best version.

I finished the campaign, and I’m very happy with how that went. The next time I play through, and I’m happy enough with it that I think there will be a next time, I’ll only do side missions to keep my level near the recommended level for the main missions. Once you finish the main campaign, all of the side missions level up to meet you.

When I finished the campaign, I was a little lost. You gain the ability to scale the game’s difficulty with a special mode called Mayhem, and you can also replay the game in True Vault Hunter Mode, or TVHM. What the game doesn’t make clear is how to switch between these two modes, or what the real difference is. It felt like to me that the enemies were more challenging in Mayhem, while the loot was better in TVHM. Either way, the game is challenging again, much more so than it was at the end of the campaign, and the loot is much better.

Which leads me to my major critique of the game so far; the way missions are fixed at a specific level during one’s initial play-through. Given the game’s ability to scale and consistently provide both useable loot and a challenge, it seems strange that I found myself being way overpowered at the end. If the missions had scaled, I wouldn’t have found myself bored at the end. I’m definitely not bored now.

My only theory is that gating the main missions was meant to slow me down. I’m not sure how long it took me, but most reviews I’ve read clock the campaign at about 30 hours; not bad, but a little on the light side, in my opinion for a $60 AAA title. I think the main missions were gated so that I’d either struggle with them and they’d take more time, or I’d mess around with side missions to catch up; either way, that would take longer than barreling through levels that would scale with you.

Since I’d completed the campaign, I decided to give multiplayer a try. My first time through, I wanted to take my time. My experience with playing with others is that they’re likely to push ahead faster than I’d like, but now that I had worked through the story, I was ready to move at the pace others would set. Unfortunately, my first experience with matchmaking was kind of a mess. I kept getting paired up with the same player who was working on a TVHM play through, back at the very beginning. He was in his menu a lot, and I was waiting on him to activate the next mission, and eventually I gave up and left the game. But that seemed to be the only game matchmaking could find for me.

I’ve had better success since, and I think I’ve figured things out. I went back to “Normal” mode, which was set to Mayhem 1, and started working on clearing all the crew challenges on the Pandora maps. I’m trying to grind out enough experience to get to level 50, at which point I can try out two pieces of endgame content that I can’t play just yet. Plus, I’ll have caught up to my buddies who are still playing, and hopefully we could do these together.

The crew challenges involve finding different spots around the maps. Ellie is looking for rare vehicles, Claptrap is looking for parts for his girlfriend, Tannis is looking for the logs of Typhoon De Leon, and Hammerlock is looking for trophies for his mantle. A map could have any combination of these scattered across it, so I started working through the maps of Pandora to try and find them all.

I’ve had some random people join me. I forgot that I had left my game open to the public, and was caught off guard when the first person joined. It’s happened a couple of times now, and it’s neat. What’s struck me, though, is the lack of communication. No one talks. I’ve tried using pointers to let people in on what I was trying to do, to no avail. And while it’s neat to be blasting alongside other players for a change, I think I’m going to turn it off until I’m just farming for farming’s sake.

Which I think will happen pretty soon. I’be made it to level 49, and should be at 50 soon. The game has really opened up in the endgame, and I’m excited to see all that it has to offer. I’m eager to play with my buddies, and randos. My worry is that eventually, the loot won’t be exciting anymore, but that looks like it’s a bit down the line. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my stay in the Borderlands.

Since I wrote this, I reached level 50 and slipped past. I made some friends with randos, and completed more of the crew challenges. I advanced all the way into Mayhem 4, though I’m still on “Normal Vault Hunter Mode,” and I think once you complete the story in TVHM, you can unlock Mayhem there as well.

I think you can. The game gets very opaque the further you get into the endgame. I’ve reset my build a couple of times, tweaking things a little, but I’m not sure I did any good, as Mayhem 4 became much harder. But I’m still having fun, and I’m still not bored, and I see myself playing for a long while yet.

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