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Borderlands 2 aims for “as few cutscenes as is humanly possible”

Thursday, 8th March 2012 23:57 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Gearbox really, really doesn’t want to turn Borderlands 2 into a cut-scene heavy drama llama.

“The key is not breaking flow. A big part of that is as few cutscenes as is humanly possible,” Borderlands 2 writer Anthony Burch told GameInformer when asked about the game’s story.

“Apart from our cool splash screens that last about five seconds, there’s maybe three cutscenes in the entire game – one at the very beginning, one at the very end, and one in the middle. I’m not certain on that number, but it’s very low.”

Burch said that Gearbox wants to put gameplay first and story second.

“The story informs the gameplay and makes you feel like the things you’re doing in the gameplay are for a bigger reason. It’s never, ‘Hey, I’m going to grab you by the neck and make you watch this nine-minute cutscene about this character I really like, so deal with it,’” he said.

“It’s more about making sure the world itself has more environmental storytelling. Characters constantly tell you why you’re doing what you’re doing, cheer you on, warn you about things that are coming up.”

That said, Borderlands 2 features a weightier narrative than the first game, even just in terms of mission structure.

“The things that you’re doing in Borderlands 2 are of such a larger scope and scale that it will feel even more interesting – like the stuff we showed at Gamescom of rescuing Roland while two opposing armies fight to get him out of your grips. In the first Borderlands you just never got that scale of narrative importance on missions,” Burch noted.

The wrtiter also apparently gave away a minor plot spoiler:

“Generally any character from the first game or previous DLC is back in some form or another. Unless they’re dead. And even some of them still make it back in some ways,” he said.

Borderlands 2 releases on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September.

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21 Comments

  1. LOLshock94

    GOOD because who can remember the first cutscene were you see TK bara? worst cutscene of all fucking time

    #1 2 years ago
  2. YoungZer0

    Sounds exactly like the first Borderlands … which is bad news. The # reason why is stopped playing the game was the story or lack thereof.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DSB

    You don’t need a story, you just need a bigger gun.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. YoungZer0

    @3: Gotta disagree there. I need a better motivation in videogames than “You’ll be rich!”

    #4 2 years ago
  5. DSB

    It’s not “You’ll be rich”, it’s “You’ll get to carry a shotgun with a 12-round drum shooting fire at everything and anything that moves with pinpoint precision”. Or acid rounds, or explosive rounds, or shock rounds.

    The whole game revolves around the guns. Everything else is just random filler.

    I see your point though, it IS very simple, and it is basically doing the same thing over and over again, but the thing that kept me playing was wanting to see the next awesome gun, and the next one after that.

    It did have some awesome gimmicks thrown on top though. MIRV grenades and bouncing betties. Fuck yeah.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. TheWulf

    Sorry DSB, I don’t think you’re right. I’m with YoungZero on this through and through – a game without compulsion, without motivation, is a pretty shit game. Remember what Pat said about GTA IV? I couldn’t agree more with that. There was no compulsion in that game really other than to do well financially, and it was so entirely dull that I felt like my brain was going to drip out of my ears thanks to the narcolepsy it inflicted.

    Compare this to another gun game, like Bulletstorm. In Bulletstorm it’s a fight for survival, but also a desire to unravel the mystery surrounding that corrupt general, and you want to save Ichi. There you have motivation and compulsion. That had me stick with Bulletstorm from beginning to end.

    A game is like a person: If you’re not at least a little bit charismatic and storied then it doesn’t matter how massive your gun is, no one’s going to be interested in you.

    Really. It’s my opinion that games need to be more intelligent than that. Games need more than manly over-compensation for whatever inadequacies a person has. Really, I’m just more than a little bit tired of mindless violence in games… the more storied something is, the better.

    That’s why my gaming gold standard in recent years is, and continues to be, New Vegas.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DSB

    Bulletstorm doesn’t have a bazillion randomly generated guns, which like I said is the driving motivational factor behind Borderlands.

    And I certainly don’t agree that there’s somehow only one standard for what a game should or could be. I quite like the fact that games can be anything they want.

    It’s Diablo with guns. Everything beyond clicking stuff, collecting stuff and making things go splat is just tacked on. But it does have a pretty neat artstyle with lots of personality, certainly more so than any Fallout or RAGE out there.

    I like stories, I like guns. I like them together, I like them individually. Needing everything to check the same boxes, or share the same emphasis is pretty discouraging. Developers can focus on what they please, and I think people appreciate having those options. I don’t think most people are looking for a narrower industry.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. freedoms_stain

    Borderlands had a story. It wasn’t always particularly obvious and perhaps wasn’t told in the best manner ever, but it was there.

    Anyone who didn’t love the story of Patricia Tannis’ gradually unravelling mind has no sense of humour.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. YoungZer0

    @7:

    I understand why so many people played and enjoyed Borderlands. I like dem guns too. The guns shoot different but to me it never really felt satisfying enough. It felt alot like grinding. I don’t enjoy that. I wasn’t motivated to finish it, at all. I don’t think every game needs a story well-told, but it would be nice to have a proper motivation.

    Diablo had me interested. I wanted to listen to what the narrator had to say. From start to finish.

    While i liked the look of the game, i wasn’t too fond of the character-design. Brick was the only one i liked.

    And Fallout’s Art-Direction is still unique. Yes it took some inspiration from Mad Max, but i think it’s just insanely amazing when you think about the concept. As if the style of the 50′s never ended, but the technology evolved anyway. That’s awesome and pretty unique. Not its fault that it spawned so many copy cats.

    @8: Dunno what story you mean? Was it delivered through text messages or dialogs you just wanted to skip because they destroyed the pacing of the gameplay?

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Christopher Jack

    @9, Borderlands begins some time after the Dahl Corporation’s abandonment of Pandora; several fortune seekers, including the player, are drawn to the planet by its legends of an unopened Eridian Vault. After arriving at the town of Fyrestone, the player sees an image of a mysterious woman, the “Guardian Angel”, who is aware they are here to seek the Vault and directs them to follow her instructions. The player meets a man named Dr. Zed and the doctor helps the player through the beginning of the game. The Angel eventually leads them to collecting one of the several artifacts needed to open the vault. This causes Patricia Tannis, an archaeologist/scientist, to contact the player and urge them to collect the other three pieces of the Vault key. Tannis reveals that the Vault opens every 200 years and the time of the next opening is approaching. At the same time, Commandant Steele of the Crimson Lance, a well-outfitted mercenary force in the employ of one of the game’s several mega-corporations, Atlas, threatens to declare martial law over the planet and demands the vault key pieces.
    While the player is able to secure the second and third Vault key pieces without incident, they find that the final piece is not where it is expected. Steele contacts the player, revealing that Tannis had betrayed them and that there are in fact only three pieces, then proceeds to cut off the planet’s ECHO network disabling further communication with the Guardian Angel. The player infiltrates the Crimson Lance’s headquarters and finds Tannis locked up; she claims she had no choice but to betray the player under force, but urges the player(s) to restart the ECHO network and to prevent Steele and the Crimson Lance from using the key. After restoring the network, the Guardian Angel urges the player to hurry and stop Steele. The player finds, as they approach the Vault, that the Crimson Lance are in combat with alien Guardians; after bypassing both forces, the player finally arrives at the Vault, too late to stop Steele from using the key. However, when the Vault opens, Steele and her guard are wiped out by a giant monster that is attempting to escape the vault. The Guardian Angel explains that the monster is called the Destroyer, imprisoned in the Vault by the alien Eridians long ago to prevent it from destroying the universe, with the Guardians present to prevent anyone from opening it. The player is able to defeat the monster, sealing the Vault for another 200 years. The player is shown that the Guardian Angel is a Hyperion satellite orbiting around Pandora communicating with the player through the ECHOnet. The game ends with the Hyperion satellite sending a signal to a claptrap robot on the planet, changing it into a “Interplanetary Ninja Assassin” (leading into the plot of the DLC “Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution”).

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Gadzooks!

    The story was there in full detail if you cared to listen to it, not shoved in your face.

    Oldskool story telling, the way it should be. Very much like Dark Souls.

    Borderlands was one of the best games this gen IMO.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. silkvg247

    People who want an engrossing story in BL are kind of forgetting it’s a hybrid, which favours the FPS side more than the RPG. It will NEVER be the game you want, it isn’t supposed to be filled with story and drama. You might as well take your peeve elsewhere and hope someone makes a hybrid more focused on the RPG side – though fallout 3 is probably that game.

    I’m with DSB, BL is about the thrill of treasure hunting for powerups and the next big gun. The fact it has RPG elements controlling damage output, skill upgrades etc just makes the game more addictive, more fun, and give you a feeling of progress everytime you kill things – As opposed to any other FPS where a dead guy is just another dead guy which means nothing, it just lets you progress to the next area.

    Also whilst subtle, the story was there. It doesn’t have to be in yuor face, but you do have to pay attention! I liked the little recording missions, they gave some interesting insight if you looked for it. I actually wanted to see what was in the vault, my curiosity was piqued. If I had any dissapointment it’s that I didn’t find out who the satellite chick was, nor hook up with her.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. YoungZer0

    @10: Thanks mate. Not that i don’t appreciate your effort but that isn’t what you’d call an interesting story or even one that might motivate you to play further.

    @11: Sorry, but i like my stories to be engaging, not boring, not told through text or dialogs with can be completely ignored and usually don’t work for the pacing the gameplay sets. Oldskool storytelling? I don’t see it.

    Where is the telling of the story?

    Same goes for Dark Souls, while the story was actually interesting, the telling of that story was horrendous.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. DSB

    @9 Yeah, it’s definitely a “hate it or love it” game. You’re either sucked in by the loot and the style or left on the sideline, wishing the game was something else.

    The original Fallout RPGs had a great artstyle, but the Zenimax Fallouts were really quite boring to look at, and sometimes downright awkward. That was a major hurdle for me. RAGE was very Mad Max with all the armored goons, but I felt like Borderlands went in a direction that was a lot more Tarantino, which in my opinion is how I always viewed the original Fallouts. Crazy and rude.

    I think a Gearbox-produced Fallout would’ve been better like that, because they dare to be silly and rude, like the original Fallouts.

    I just disagreed with TheWulf on the notion that games “need” to include specific things to be good. I can play Mario and enjoy hopping on top of goombas without having to worry about why I’m trying to save a princess or why I want to beat Bowser. Story doesn’t have to be the main thing, and games allow for that because they’re interactive, which is great in my opinion.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. YoungZer0

    @14: Agreed. Never really had been a Fan of Bethesda’s Fallout 3. Really liked Fallout NV though, especially since it dared to be crazy and rude.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. silkvg247

    Meh, I tried Fallout NV and was bored to tears in the first 5 mintues. I mean I literally didn’t make it out of town. I have no idea why either.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. DSB

    It was closer to the original, but I enabled the crazy mode, and in 30 hours, I never managed to trigger it. It was a lot better than Bethesdas Fallout, but it didn’t really hit the sweet spot for me. It was always more charming than truly demented. I did love launching the ghouls into space though.

    Supposedly the crazy mode was implemented by the original Fallout developers. I’ve heard stories that there was a bit of an argument within Obsidian, where the Obsidian guys wanted to do everything very realistically, and the more traditional Fallout people wanted to make it a lot crazier, and so crazy mode became a compromise.

    I didn’t really feel like it was that rude. The original Fallouts had a lot of really offensive stuff. I accidentally became a fluffer on a porno movie in Fallout 2. I can honestly say that’s never happened to me before or after in any game.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. YoungZer0

    @16: Missed a good game there.

    @17: “The original Fallouts had a lot of really offensive stuff. I accidentally became a fluffer on a porno movie in Fallout 2.”

    Good times. I guess you’re right. While NV was more Fallout, it wasn’t it enough.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. polygem

    videogame stories are mostly not that good. there are exceptions but very few, even the better games are, compared to movies, not that great storywise. it´s b-movielike most of the time. i can totally enjoy games without a bigger story if the gameply is great and the universe it plays in attracts me. i mean look at mario kart or other racing games. borderlands isn´t much about story so i think it makes sense to focus on the gameplay rather then trying to force a story upon the franchise. i just don´t have a good feeling about borderlands 2 anyway though. while i really enjoyed the first game i think they really must improve a lot this time around, i´m not sure if they will deliver. i´m not super excited about the artdesign. i am a fan of the cel shaded look – wind waker is one of my all time fave games – but it leaves me kind of unimpressed, i´m not feeling it-can´t say why really.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Krono

    I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing because if you played and enjoyed BL1 it wasn’t for an in-depth plot. On the other hand, and as it is roughly stated, I do hope for more character interaction and NPC’s voicing their opinions and such throughout the story. When thinking of this I almost feel like I’m talking about Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls with someone and how they managed to create a game with relatively little dialogue yet so much lore and facets.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Phoenixblight

    Gearbox has been emphasizing story and said that BL2 will be rich with it. I remember when I was at GDC Online and Gearbox had said that their writing team had gone from 1-2 designers for the original to an actual team of writers. I enjoyed the original game when I was playing with friends but playing the game by yourself it was extremely dull like playing a MMO in single player. I plan on buying BL2 for just the MP but if they want to improve some of the single player aspects all the better for me.

    #21 2 years ago

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