Gearbox – “We don’t ever try to take political stances when we’re designing”

The second Borderlands 3 second DLC — Guns, Love & Tentacles: The Marriage of Wainwright & Hammerlock — has just been announced at PAX East. In an Australian exclusive, in the week before the announcement, we spoke to Anthony Nicholson, Gearbox’s Head of DLC Production about the DLC. With the introduction of the non-binary FL4K, the engagement of two male characters and now their engagement party, I asked Nicholson if Gearbox was expecting a backlash from the usual suspects.

When we broke the news that FL4K was non-binary, we saw first-hand the anger and hate that some players had for, what they called political correctness or social justice issues.

Now that the second Borderlands 3 DLC is based on the idea of an engagement party for Hammerlock and Wainright, would players find an issue with the themes, content and Gearbox for pushing a so-called agenda?

Nicholson told me that that’s not Gearbox’s focus.

Gearbox Politics and Borderlands 3 DLC

Instead, Nicholson said that, first and foremost, Gearbox “wants to make really cool stuff.”

With anything we put out, there are going to be people who are for it and people who are against it. Regardless of the themes and content. At Gearbox, we don’t want to overthink things and we just want to give players the best experience possible.

The idea of Hammerlock and Wainright’s wedding simply came from the team tossing ideas around and thinking about how much fun it would be to see the couple on a big game hunt. Then, because they were engaged in Borderlands 3, the team felt that it was natural for this hunt to be their engagement party or honeymoon.

In researching ahead of our interview with Nicholson, I discovered that the name of the second Borderlands 3 DLC’s planet — Xylourgos — is the Greek word for carpenter. Given that this DLC focuses on the marriage of two male characters, features a dead being worshipped by cultists and sees those cultists actively trying to prevent the wedding, I wondered if there were any Christian themes being explored by Gearbox.

Nicholson laughed my suggestion off and said that Guns, Love & Tentacles was instead focused on Greek and Slavic mythology and terminology. As for the name of the planet, he told me that the writing team comes up with “all kinds of crazy things and things that just sound cool sometimes.”

So, even though the cultists on Xylourgos worship a dead being and want to put a stop to gay marriage, Gearbox isn’t riffing on fundamentalist Christians. As Nicholson says;

We don’t ever try to take political stances when we’re designing.

Gearbox just “wants to make really cool stuff.” From what we’ve seen of the second Borderlands 3 DLC, they’ve succeeded.

Guns, Love & Tentacles: The Marriage of Wainright and Hammerlock is coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One on March 26, 2020.

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Leo Stevenson
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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