Borderlands 3’s creative director, Paul Sage, and narrative director, Randy Varnell sit down with Gamespot during E3 2019 to talk about the next installment in the Borderlands franchise.
- Mike Mahardy (Gamespot)
- Lucy James (Gamespot)
- Paul Sage (Gearbox Software)
- Randy Varnell (Gearbox Software)
- What has the fan reaction been like for you guys?
- This is why we do it. We are here to entertain. Being able to watch people play the game is amazing.
- How do you come back to the looter-shooter genre after 7 years when you guys started that genre?
- We evaluate what key points we need to hit. How do you move, how is the gunplay. We did look at other games and what modern conveniences they added. We added sliding and mantling. Our guns have bigger differences than ever before. That’s just the start when you release a new game 7 years later.
- What are some of the core pillars of a Borderlands game?
- Of course, the guns, the art style hand-inking everything sets it apart, and the tone of the game. Having the right amount of humor. Being relevant, hitting all those memes, and being funny is a challenges for the writing team. We treat our characters with a lot of care.
- How do you follow up on the story in Borderlands 3?
- It’s challenging. Being able to do the Commander Lilith DLC for Borderlands 2 helped to connect all the previous games and get players ready for Borderlands 3.
- How do you stay true to the franchise?
- It’s keeping true to the heart of the game. One of those things is the actions skills of the characters. We really doubled down on getting the characters in the game to feel right. They now have 3 action skills they can use. Action is really an important aspect of the game so we applied that to everything in the game. You can interact with the environment now. Electrifying water and setting oil on fire. So it’s keeping that action true to the franchise.
- Did you guys draw any inspiration from any of the hero-shooter genre that has been trending for the last 5 years or did you guys already do that with Borderlands 2?
- If you look at the story, we already brought the personalities of the characters to the foreground in Borderlands the Pre-Sequel. In Battleborn (Hero-Shooter) we even did that a lot more where gave the characters a lot of dialogue. They got to respond and interact with each other. With Borderlands 3 we are going even further with that and really bringing our characters to life.
- Storytelling has changed over the course of time, with more immersive storytelling. How are you approaching that?
- There is a lot more story in Borderlands 3 this time around. We used the word Vaults instead of Vault. So we are going to multiple vaults that have massive boss battles. There is always a story of why you are going to these vaults. Borderlands is a co-op game and we are not taking away the freedom of the players as they both can scatter around. Yes, we have innovated on storytelling but that freedom is like a second pillar of the franchise and we want players to independently explore from each other. The story should enhance your experience and never pull away from it. We have a whole animation team and they have been more active than ever before. There are a lot of big moments.
- For a game with a lot of over-the-top and bombastic moments, is there a limit?
- Is there a limit? I just talked about a gun called buttplug. We really worked hard to fit this game in between the tone of BL1 and the tone of BL2. But “limit” is a weird word, I rather use range. Yes, we have the absurd stuff but we also have a Tiny Tina DLC that revolves around coping with the loss of a friend.
- Borderlands 2 seemed really ahead of its time with raids and now we have Borderlands 3.
- There was some pressure of integrating social hubs into Borderlands 3 but how are you going to do that? We want you to get right into the action and a menu system works really well for that. So a lot of those conveniences from Borderlands 2 are going to be in Borderlands 3. And now we added level syncing so you can just jump into your friend’s game and don’t have to think about the level difference.
- What is the biggest challenge in making Borderlands 3?
- It’s the mix of the new and the old. We want to make the game feel fresh with new guns and all of that. But those pillars that are the heart of the franchise are really important to us and our fans. We have done the best job that we can to honor the heart of Borderlands and keep that spirit that the fans have fallen in love with. People are still buying and playing the game 7 years after its release. More than we ever thought so we really want to respect that and delight them. And I think we got that. Player expectation is the hardest job there is.