Borderlands 3 hasn’t been announced and may not even be in development for all we know, but Gearbox has dropped some hypotheticals about potentially increasing the series co-op player count and why bands of four vault hunters seems to make perfect sense for now.
Speaking with AusGamers at PAX Australia, Borderlands 2 creative director and lead designer Paul Hellquist said of the studio’s approach to co-op, “I think that we were a little bit ahead of the curve, in terms of understanding what a fun and social experience co-op gaming can be, and I think we were one of the earlier ones that people really latched onto — in this console-cycle anyway.”
When asked if the team had any aspirations for expanding the co-op format beyond four players in Borderlands 2 or moving forward, Hellquist replied, “We’re always thinking about all kinds of different things, but we don’t really have anything to talk about today.
Hellquist was then asked about next-gen tech making this a reality, and he replied, “Oh yeah, of course. The new hardware is going to provide a lot of opportunities for new and interesting experiences, so yeah, we’re excited about that.”
He explained why Borderlands 2’s co-op was capped at four players, “It’s mostly for performance, to keep the network bandwidth down low enough that everyone can have a rich and fast-paced experience. Because Borderlands is a very fast-paced game. So if we went further than that, frame rates and all that kind of stuff would suffer.”
Later on in the chat he elaborated on how next-gen tech might make higher co-op counts possible, but why they may not work from a gameplay perspective, “There’s obviously more power, so some of those performance things will diminish, but… [laughs] we are always filling up all of the performance we are given by the hardware manufacturers, so I’m sure we’ll have different challenges.
“But there is also a thing we’ve talked a lot about internally with going more than four, where we think that if we go too much more than four, the experience will actually start to break down; that four is kind of a nice sweet spot, in terms of enough craziness, and of all of these different personalities and character classes and everything, but you can still kind of keep track of what’s happening.
“We do have a little bit of a worry that if we go to eight or sixteen or something crazy, that everyone will spread out, and you’ll kind of actually lose that more intimate “We’re working together” kind of experience. So there’s an interesting balance there that we’ll need to investigate.”
Would you like to see the co-op count ramped up in the next Borderlands, or is four ideal? Let us know below.