Gearbox’s art director, Jeramy Cooke, is of the opinion that in Borderlands, players were stuck in the desert a lot. Because this was a bit “monotonous,” his team decided to focus on a “richer, larger world,” for the sequel: Borderlands 2.
Get out and explore
Speaking in an interview with Gamasutra, Cooke said the developer wanted to widen the world and provide a huge space in the game, along with a larger variety of enemies populating it.
“It felt like you were seeing the same enemies too often [in Borderlands],” he offered, “I mean, that’s my personal experience. And we really wanted to just widen that and give you this sense of a huge space, which is why you can see the other maps from the maps you’re in.
“You look over there, and you see this dam off in the distance, and you know ‘Oh, that’s where I was,’ and vice-versa when you’re on top of the dam and you look down into Zone 1 and see all of the ice spread out. It’s about that sort of large-scale, large-scope experience.”
Cooke said the studio wants the player to get out and explore the world more, which adds to the fun of the core gameplay experience.
“Borderlands is not a rail shooter, it’s not a corridor shooter,” he said. “The world’s job is to be enticing, to convince you to go out there and find cool stuff, to dig around in the corner and find cool loot or a miniboss you didn’t know who was there or whatever.
“We felt like in a lot of maps [in Borderlands], even inside of a map, it wasn’t necessarily clear where you were a lot of the time because you’d see the same brown rocks. We’re working really hard to have these really great landmarks as you go through the space. Changing the color values, if you’re heading into a miniboss lair let’s bring the saturation down and increase the contrast and pull out the reds or something like that. Really try to have a distinct emotional flavor inside every area.
“As you go through the ice world, it’s not just ice everywhere. There’s hot springs, there’s open rolling hills and stuff. And that was part of our mission for every map.”
Ditching the old UI
Cooke also discussed other changes besides the larger, more detailed world: the new UI.
According to him, Gearbox has “scrapped the old UI,” while carrying over the concepts from it which worked, while focusing on making splitscreen work.
“PC and splitscreen were like a huge focus for us,” he said, “so we wanted to make sure that those users got the same awesome experience.
“We’re building an entire custom UI for PC, and the whole UI supports splitscreen. So we redesigned all the screens to be vertical and narrow so you don’t have to do that weird pan-around thing from the first game.
“Nobody liked that, including us, and we knew we wanted to do better. We knew we could. We kind of ran out of time last time, but this time we’re going to hit it hard.”
Borderlands 2 hits during 2012, on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, and will feature a gazillion guns and improved AI.