Is Borderlands 3 Gearbox’s Answer to Destiny, The Division and Anthem?
Obviously, the answer is yes.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Borderlands 3 is going to be a shared world, always online looter shooter. There’s not really any evidence to support my theory, but let me argue my case and see if you agree with me.
If we go all the way back to 2009 when the first Borderlands was released, looter shooters didn’t really exist. Role-playing games with a loot mechanic had been around forever and the undeniable king was Diablo. But players had never experienced a game like Borderlands.
It featured a post-apocalyptic setting, cel-shaded visuals, an in your face style and an incredibly addictive loot loop. It was also set in the first-person, which, in 2009 was reserved exclusively for action shooters.
Borderlands changed all of that and gave birth to an all-new genre. And while the narrative was almost non-existent, the location, characters and missions were interesting enough to keep players invested.
It wasn’t until Borderlands 2 was released in 2012 that it took this new genre to a brand-new level. A whole two years before Destiny would burst onto the scene, Borderlands 2 refined the gameplay of the first game and included an actual storyline that players both invested in and enjoyed. It again featured online co-op for the campaign, an incredibly addictive loot loop and two seasons worth of additional content.
The Pre-Sequel was later released and was met with a warm reception, but it wasn’t Borderlands 3, nor was it quite as good as Borderlands 2. However, it did introduce some new gameplay mechanics and new playable characters.
The Looter Shooter
Since Borderlands was released players have seen Destiny, Destiny 2, The Division 1 and 2, Anthem, and Warframe. Each of these games has seen varying degrees of success, however, there’s no denying that when done well and done right, online, shared world looter shooters are a gold mine.
Moreover, they’re a lot of fun and a great way to ‘spend time’ with your friends. However, these games aren’t easy to curate or keep alive for multiple years. Even those who’ve found great success can stumble.
Take Destiny 2 for example. The first game was in an exceptional position when it wrapped up yet Bungie managed to bungle Destiny 2 so badly that it bled players for months. Only now has Bungie managed to patch the wound, though many long term players have still yet to return.
Anthem, on the other hand, has struggled from day one. BioWare is certainly a skilled developer, but it has clearly struggled to understand the appeal of looter shooters and the cadence at which they’re played.
The foundations of an amazing online, shared world loot shooter already exist within Borderlands. And I’m not just referencing the looting and the shooting. There are already heroes with unique abilities, deep and interesting lore and a huge, open-world to explore.
The Future is Now
In the 10-years since Borderlands was released, the looter shooter genre has changed and evolved. It’s now a live service that makes tremendous amounts of money and every developer and their dog is working feverishly to get in on the action.
It would be foolish not to assume that Borderlands 3 won’t incorporate live-services in one way or another. It would be equally foolish to assume that Gearbox will simply copy what others have done before them. Gearbox created the looter shooter genre and will want to stake its claim on it by releasing something that appeals to fans of the franchise and the genre.
Additionally, publisher 2K doesn’t have a looter shooter on its books. Grand Theft Auto Online is the most profitable piece of entertainment in history, but it attracts a very different audience. If it can parley Borderlands’ success into a live service, it’s going to be raking it in.
For now, this is just a theory, but we won’t have to wait long. The Gearbox panel livestream will be taking place at 5 am AEDT, March 29, 2019 (March 28, 2 pm EDT). To tune in, head to the official Borderlands website.