Borderlands 2 is a sequel that's already looking nail-on to top its predecessor.
Acknowledging that the first game - though brilliant - was chopped and repurposed in many departments, developer Gearbox has moved to rebuild for the sequel, introducing a deeper plot, more iconic and varied weapons, plus enemies and environments that feel more alive than before.
To discuss the studio's thoughts on the follow-up, we sat down with concept designer Scott Kester at GamesCom.
You said in the game presentation today that you feel GamesCom was fundamental to the success of the first Borderlands...
Yeah. It was the first time the game was ever announced and when we came back after we changed the art style it was sort of our second life. This was where we revealed that for the first time and yeah, this was the first time info ever went out on the game and it was received well. We really appreciated that. It was important for us to show this here as well.
Brothers in Arms aside, Gearbox has mostly made its name working on other company's IP (Aliens, Half-Life, Halo...). Does it feel good to finally have another successful franchise to call your own?
We're very fortunate with Borderlands and we're very happy that people accepted it. Maybe on paper it's a bit of a challenging pitch but people took to us and we're very happy that they did. It's very important to us as a company and it is ours. We're trying to care for our baby as much as possible, for sure. All of our games are important to us and all of the publishers we work for but yeah, we just feel really good about the position we're in with Borderlands 2.
Does Borderlands get any extra love then being "your baby"?
There's equal passion for all of our projects. Everywhere in the company I see people working 110% - we're definitely working the same on every project. We put our all in everything we do and this is no exception. It's special in being a sequel to one of our biggest successes and we're doing everything we can to make the sequel that many times better.
Do you think you have an advantage with the sequel going in fresh, where as the first game started off as something very different and was perhaps chopped and changed?
Definitely. So far in to the development of the last game we chose to change the art style. That was when I came in as one of the guys who went, 'this doesn't feel right'. It was a very dangerous decision on our part and we thank 2K for seeing the promise in it. It's made it so much easier leading into this next game because we're not going, 'oh my gosh, are we changing the art style?!'
It's been a big help, even in creating environments where we know better ways to create things. We know the road map for the game we want to make - it's way better than we had it last time.
Is that why the environments in Borderlands 2 look a bit more varied than the original's dusty deserts?
Yeah. There are still desert environments in this game - we're not completely jumping ship. In game development, particularly when you take a risk like we did at that time, it meant something was going to take a hit and one of those things was perhaps the variety in the environments and even gear... all those design decisions were done relatively fast and having a little more time to digest what we did right and what we did wrong -plus listen to feedback from fans and critics - has been very beneficial.
We've learned a lot. We're very happy that people have accepted it and we're going to do that much more to keep giving them something that they're going to enjoy.