Six things I wish Borderlands 2 did differently
Borderlands 2 is an amazingly fun game. I even wrote a whole review about it. While the core gameplay was left unchanged from the first, there were a lot of things Borderlands 2 did better. From the now always visible minimap, a wider gun variety, significantly better dialogue and a much more coherent story.
However, even with all the improvements, I feel that after all this time Gearbox had to make this sequel, there were some things left untouched that absolutely deserved to be fixed. Likewise some of the new additions weren't properly utilized.
It should come to no surprise to anyone that this is the first thing that's on my list. When we were first introduced to Salvador the Gunzerker, I was getting excited, because he seemed like a much different character than any from the previous game. He looked different and had an interesting dual wielding skill that made him look like a complete bad ass. Needless to say I couldn't wait to hear what three new classes Gearbox had up their sleeve.
My excitement started to decrease when Gearbox slowly started unveiling the rest of the classes, and when put side by side next to his new cohorts, Salvador started to really resemble Brick, albeit a Brick with two guns instead of two fists. That's right, the turret using Commando was back, even the Siren was back this time around. The only "new" class was the Assassin Zer0, which looked new on the surface, but when put to the test, behaved almost too simiarly to Lilith from the first game.
It's not that these classes aren't fun to play, it's just that I feel lied to. When the game box touts four "all new" classes, I'm obviously going to go into the game thinking that, only to find that they're all a little too familiar.
The Assassin Zer0
Quite possibly the worst offender of the new classes was Zer0. In every single cutscene, Zer0 was portrayed as this sword wielding bad ass. Use him in game however, and you'll find that his sword is extremely underutilized. The only way you can swing it at enemies is using your standard melee button, which never looks nearly as bad ass as it does on the cutscenes.
Now I understand that there are two things that people might argue with me about. Firstly, the game is a shooter, why focus on his sword, and secondly, you can spec Zer0 to be extremely powerful using his melee attack. I can actually answer both of these with a single response: Brick.
That's right, Brick from the first game relied on a skill that completely forgoes guns, and instead relies on his fists, meaning that even though Borderlands is primarily a shooter, there is definitely room for melee skills. As for specing high melee damage, at least make the melee fun. Like Brick, Zer0 could have unsheathed his sword for his class skill, have increased speed to close gaps and be able to absorb a percent of damage. That would make his class skill seem a lot more comparable to his sweet ninja moves we see in almost every Borderlands 2 trailer.
Multiple quest tracking
One thing I hated about the first game, is that it had me running from one side of the map, to the other, only to run back again in order to complete a single quest, when it turns out that once I was on the other side of the map, I could have easily completed another quest. This is unfortunately not fixed in the second game.
Upon booting up the Fast Travel map, you can easily see what quests are available to do in each area. Why then does my minimap not highlight all of these things. They could even be color coded to easily distinguish which quest they belong to.
A great example of this was in the Wildlife Exploitation Preserve. There are a few quests that make you run through the entire laboratory to collect some samples, free some creatures, etc. However having only one active goal on at a time, led me to believe I just need to collect these samples and get out of there, killing dozens of enemies along the way. After I was finished and on my way to turn it in, I noticed I had another quest there, which had me free various creatures throughout the lab, which meant I had to run through the entire thing one more time, not to mention with every single enemy respawned.
Needless to say, having multiple waypoints show up on your map when you have more than one quest in that area would have been a lifesaver.
Just tell me my DPS!
Obviously the biggest draw of Borderlands are the guns. It's almost pointless to ever buy guns from the vendor since you'll constantly be finding better guns from fallen enemies. However the system which compares the guns is terribly flawed. A green arrow pointing up and red arrow pointing down to signal whether a gun has some better and some worse stats doesn't give enough information quickly enough to swap and move on. Not to mention that the game isn't very good at math either. If I find a grenade mod that does 1000 x7 damage and it's giving me a green arrow when compared to my 900 x10, you know the system is flawed.
Both games are extremely fast paced. If I find a blue SMG on the ground in the middle of a firefight, I don't really have the time to look over every single stat on the gun, and see how it compares to my four other ones. Just because it shows higher damage doesn't mean it's better than your previous gun, since you also have to take rate of fire into account. Really the only way gun comparing works in its given state is when comparing it to a gun of the same type, like revolver to revolver, SMG to SMG.
The quickest fix to this would have been to add one extra stat point which would just simply state the gun's DPS (damage per second). Having this would allow players to quickly skim over any gun on the ground, cycle their four guns to see if it does more damage, and then decide whether to equip it right away or just tuck away in your inventory.
Fast travel from anywhere
Fast travel in games is wonderful, as it cuts down on needless wandering around, and allows the player to stay focused on the task at hand. The Elder Scrolls games figured this out, when they allowed players to quickly travel to any previously visited location.
Would be nice to teleport on out of here after I collect all that loot...
In Borderlands however, the only way to travel across long distances is to find Fast Travel stations. This wouldn't be the worst thing if these stations we're actually distanced fairly close to each other. Instead, save for one or two bigger maps, each other map only has a single Fast Travel station.
What makes this worse is that since the game is very Diablo-esque, you'll be selling your loot left and right. Why then can't we have at least a function to teleport to Sanctuary at any time, sell our items and then be on our way.
More emphasis on cars, oh and also more cars
This is honestly a minor gripe, and maybe just call me spoiled from other open world games, but if you're going to offer me a car, give me some variety. I dug the design of the Runner from the first game. It only took a few DLC packs to introduce a four player car, that wasn't really all that great. Before I actually had a chance to play Borderlands 2, I was sure that Gearbox would up the count of cars for sure.
Sadly, not at all. The Bandit Runner, although a pretty sweet ride, doesn't really offer up anything different, aside from two new weapons. This is a shame since Pandora is quite expansive, and as mentioned before, doesn't really offer up a lot of Fast Travel locations, meaning you'll be spending a lot of time either running from place to place, or getting there on a set of wheels.
Vehicles just seem shoehorned in as they never really step into focus at all, save for a few quests that require you to shoot down a few bandit cars. Couple that with the terrible controls and you'll most likely be avoiding them like the plague. Why not put more emphasis on car combat, even combat racing, especially since that's something in the lore regardless. Give us different cars with different handling mechanics. Tiny cars with more speed but less health, maybe some tanks, hell let us fly those Buzzards!
The game is an absolute blast and Gearbox should be commended for once again making a game that's incredibly hard to stop playing. Given the success of both Borderlands games, there is no doubt that Gearbox will continue this amazing series with a Borderlands 3, however some of these design choices need to be ironed out for a much smoother gameplay experience the next time around.