If Gearbox Wanted To, It Could Leave Borderlands' Future Up to The Players
While Gearbox could continue to release Borderlands titles, one approach for the next game would let fans stick by a single entry for several years.
Thus far, the Borderlands games have either had long life cycles or have died off far too early. The original game thrived with four expansions, while Borderlands 2 has lasted the longest out of any game in the franchise. With two season passes, Borderlands 3 stayed relevant for some time too. Unfortunately, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands came and went despite having all the tools for success. While good support from Gearbox will help ensure that Borderlands 4 lives as long as the other mainline entries, user generated content could take it to new heights.
It is not hard to find games that have thrived due to player-made content. LittleBigPlanet and Modnation Racers were built around the concept, while custom Zombies maps have kept players engaged with Black Ops 3 for years. Mods have been a tool used by gamers to tweak classics like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, and they are a big reason to get games for PC, but official tools that make player-made creations accessible to everyone on all platforms can be even more exciting. Borderlands should embrace this idea, letting console and PC users alike make certain types of content in Borderlands 4.
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Obviously, user-made content in Borderlands 4 would need to have limits if it actually became a reality. Player-made quests and campaigns are highly unlikely, as voice acting tools and custom character models for NPCs seem like a step too far. However, player-made content could fall into a few other categories, all of which would enhance the experience. In particular, Borderlands 4 could let players craft their own weapons, Circle of Slaughter arenas, and raid bosses, with those creations able to be downloaded via an in-game menu.
The first way to make Borderlands 4 an endlessly replayable experience, and the most obvious, is weapons. The defining trait of the Borderlands series is weaponry, as gamers can collect millions of guns in the looter shooters. This results in some wildly different gameplay and builds, with Gearbox using a tool to generate the game’s non-Legendary and non-Purple gear in Borderlands 3 so that even more guns could appear. In Borderlands 4, this tool could be handed over to players, with gamers able to mix and match pieces from various guns to create the hybrid Legendaries of their dreams.
Obviously, a system like this would need some limitations. Player-made guns could get ludicrously overpowered, so making them disable Vault Hunter leveling, certain loot drops, and achievements could be a good way to discourage leaning into them too much. Additionally, players could only be allowed to mix and match parts from just one Borderlands weapon manufacturer at a time, ensuring that the game's identity is kept intact.
Borderlands’ Circles of Slaughter are some of the most replayable content in the franchise, with players fighting waves of enemies for top-tier loot. However, the downside is that there are only a few arenas available, which can get old quickly. With Borderlands games being so massive, it makes sense that Gearbox only has enough time and resources to craft a few arenas for each game. Letting players make their own Circles of Slaughter could be a perfect solution to this problem, as gamers can craft maps and choose which enemies they fight on each wave. If these maps could then be downloaded by the community, Circles of Slaughter would never feel repetitive, as players could grind for guns in a new arena every day if they wish.
Lastly, player-made content for Borderlands 4 can fix Borderlands 3’s biggest gameplay issue: a lack of raid bosses. While Takedowns provided a few Invincible fights, Borderlands 3 only had one traditional raid boss. In Borderlands 4, Gearbox could give fans the option to combine and alter any boss attacks from the main game, as well as access to enemy models ranging from Skags to Psychos. Players could be given the option to customize the enemy’s health and size while also deciding whether it has multiple phases, and the loot pool could be set for the fight too. Players could get a few basic arenas to set their fight in, or maybe they could even have the option to add the fight to custom Circles of Slaughter maps. Obviously, user-generated content would be a big step for Borderlands 4 to take, but it could work wonders for replayability.
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