I don’t think I have time anymore to enjoy Borderlands 2, you?

Borderlands had a shiny slipcase; that is why I bought it. I never intended on doing so but the insignificant yet alluring cardboard had me. It also perfectly encapsulates my now far removed opinion of the game. It is fluff, attractive fluff yes, but it will always remain an insubstantial experience, one fuelled by blind and compulsive greed masquerading behind pithy humour and shiny things. An almost perfect metaphor for the video games industry in general? Most likely, but it also proved to be one of my favourite games of 2009, shortly behind Flower, which is obviously the greatest gaming experience of all time.

I don’t consider calling it shallow to be at all a criticism. In terms of shooting mechanics it strikes the almost perfect balance of being challenging and constantly enjoyable. Shooting things in Borderlands is a joy and it stands beside Doom and Quake 2 in my upper echelon purely joy-filled shooting games. That, however, sets a precedent; the core game play of Borderlands is highly reminiscent of that of a by-gone era. Doom was released sixteen years prior, yet the two fundamentally play almost identically. Priority is given to dispatching enemies with little aid from modern cover use, reflexes are rewarded and skilful aiming is a necessity. Shallow, then, is maybe the wrong word to use; pure may be more apt.

While the shooting in Borderlands had me from the outset it was the, admittedly limited, role-playing aspects which made me persevere. The well-documented lust for a slightly better weapon or shield had me playing daily in an attempt to gather a more substantial arsenal. The random nature of the loot was a source of both compulsion and frustration. One evening I would fully upgrade my equipment only to spend the next week using it ad nauseam, constantly striving for that elusive upgrade. Levelling promised progression that would make everything more productive, though each character bonus was never strong enough to make me unstoppable. Individual level progression began to stretch out across multiple evenings; the more hours I sank into the game the less productive my time was. The second almost perfect metaphor from the game, this time about the curse of addiction? Undoubtedly.

I was truly hooked by Borderlands. I played it solo and exhausted every quest before the finale, fully aware that I would inevitably begin a new game plus upon its completion. That inclination proved misguided; I barely played it again. My will was shattered and I no longer lusted after incremental weapon upgrades. I played the zombie-themed content, though was dismayed by its awkward level design and ended our unhealthy relationship there. Freed from the game’s cruel greed I retired it, along with its attractive facade, to the shelf, thankful that I had escaped its insidious grasp.

After being ‘on the wagon’ ever since I was intrigued by the prospect of a sequel. The Borderlands period of my life contained enough time to allow long games to take their hold. Fallout 3 entertained me for over a hundred hours, though New Vegas stalled at a third of that. Having less time meant I was unable to commit to such protracted games; I don’t like spending my handful of hours a week on a game if it will take me months to fully enjoy. I was a student in 2009 and so had significantly more time to devote to games. Three years later I now have a meaningful job, a long-term partner and a gym membership. All of these things inevitably eat up large swathes of my time, though I still enjoy playing games.

Borderlands 2, then, is everything I can’t appreciate in a game anymore, yet still wish I could. It seems to be very long. I have only played around ten hours so far, though it took up a Saturday and Sunday afternoon; all the game time that I am going to get on a good week. Being long cannot be considered a bad thing of course. It is fantastic for the avid player in that they get a lot of game for their money, especially in a game like this where little is padding. It is entirely centred around shooting lots of things a lot of times and the player knows that upon entry; repetition is the understood game play device after all. I recently finished Darksiders and that surely contains ample amounts of padding. The last third is spent jumping from arena battle to puzzle to repeated boss encounter, something that grinds the game to a halt for about five hours; to its detriment. Borderlands 2 definitely does not force any of that upon the player in such a rigid structure.

Sadly however, things take too long to progress for my predicament. I accomplished ten levels in roughly the same number of hours, the last couple taking over an hour each to garner. The first game held my compulsion bone because I had the time to invest in its progression; I fear I cannot commit to the sequel. While the characters are wittier and the plot that surrounds them more substantial I still do not envisage myself having the time to invest in them. Borderlands was doubtless a great experience throughout the sixty hours I spent with it. It pales in comparison to the memories I have of Flower, however. Journey furthered that experience within an even shorter timeframe; it is just a shame that I can’t work within Borderlands 2’s to enjoy it as much as I did its predecessor.

18 Comments
18 Comments
Posted by MMMman

Borderlands had a shiny slipcase; that is why I bought it. I never intended on doing so but the insignificant yet alluring cardboard had me. It also perfectly encapsulates my now far removed opinion of the game. It is fluff, attractive fluff yes, but it will always remain an insubstantial experience, one fuelled by blind and compulsive greed masquerading behind pithy humour and shiny things. An almost perfect metaphor for the video games industry in general? Most likely, but it also proved to be one of my favourite games of 2009, shortly behind Flower, which is obviously the greatest gaming experience of all time.

I don’t consider calling it shallow to be at all a criticism. In terms of shooting mechanics it strikes the almost perfect balance of being challenging and constantly enjoyable. Shooting things in Borderlands is a joy and it stands beside Doom and Quake 2 in my upper echelon purely joy-filled shooting games. That, however, sets a precedent; the core game play of Borderlands is highly reminiscent of that of a by-gone era. Doom was released sixteen years prior, yet the two fundamentally play almost identically. Priority is given to dispatching enemies with little aid from modern cover use, reflexes are rewarded and skilful aiming is a necessity. Shallow, then, is maybe the wrong word to use; pure may be more apt.

While the shooting in Borderlands had me from the outset it was the, admittedly limited, role-playing aspects which made me persevere. The well-documented lust for a slightly better weapon or shield had me playing daily in an attempt to gather a more substantial arsenal. The random nature of the loot was a source of both compulsion and frustration. One evening I would fully upgrade my equipment only to spend the next week using it ad nauseam, constantly striving for that elusive upgrade. Levelling promised progression that would make everything more productive, though each character bonus was never strong enough to make me unstoppable. Individual level progression began to stretch out across multiple evenings; the more hours I sank into the game the less productive my time was. The second almost perfect metaphor from the game, this time about the curse of addiction? Undoubtedly.

I was truly hooked by Borderlands. I played it solo and exhausted every quest before the finale, fully aware that I would inevitably begin a new game plus upon its completion. That inclination proved misguided; I barely played it again. My will was shattered and I no longer lusted after incremental weapon upgrades. I played the zombie-themed content, though was dismayed by its awkward level design and ended our unhealthy relationship there. Freed from the game’s cruel greed I retired it, along with its attractive facade, to the shelf, thankful that I had escaped its insidious grasp.

After being ‘on the wagon’ ever since I was intrigued by the prospect of a sequel. The Borderlands period of my life contained enough time to allow long games to take their hold. Fallout 3 entertained me for over a hundred hours, though New Vegas stalled at a third of that. Having less time meant I was unable to commit to such protracted games; I don’t like spending my handful of hours a week on a game if it will take me months to fully enjoy. I was a student in 2009 and so had significantly more time to devote to games. Three years later I now have a meaningful job, a long-term partner and a gym membership. All of these things inevitably eat up large swathes of my time, though I still enjoy playing games.

Borderlands 2, then, is everything I can’t appreciate in a game anymore, yet still wish I could. It seems to be very long. I have only played around ten hours so far, though it took up a Saturday and Sunday afternoon; all the game time that I am going to get on a good week. Being long cannot be considered a bad thing of course. It is fantastic for the avid player in that they get a lot of game for their money, especially in a game like this where little is padding. It is entirely centred around shooting lots of things a lot of times and the player knows that upon entry; repetition is the understood game play device after all. I recently finished Darksiders and that surely contains ample amounts of padding. The last third is spent jumping from arena battle to puzzle to repeated boss encounter, something that grinds the game to a halt for about five hours; to its detriment. Borderlands 2 definitely does not force any of that upon the player in such a rigid structure.

Sadly however, things take too long to progress for my predicament. I accomplished ten levels in roughly the same number of hours, the last couple taking over an hour each to garner. The first game held my compulsion bone because I had the time to invest in its progression; I fear I cannot commit to the sequel. While the characters are wittier and the plot that surrounds them more substantial I still do not envisage myself having the time to invest in them. Borderlands was doubtless a great experience throughout the sixty hours I spent with it. It pales in comparison to the memories I have of Flower, however. Journey furthered that experience within an even shorter timeframe; it is just a shame that I can’t work within Borderlands 2’s to enjoy it as much as I did its predecessor.

Posted by PenguinDust

Since my work hours and responsibilities have changed this summer, I have less entertainment/free time. When I first got Borderlands 2, I tried to play a couple of hours on weekday evenings but couldn't really get into it as 5 o'clock in the morning comes around pretty fast. This past Saturday, I devoted the entire day to the game and did fairly well soloing my way through (dying a lot along the way). After 20 or so hours of real-world play time, I think I am around level 17. What I've decided is that I will play fewer games and enjoy the ones I do play to their fullest. In other words, if it takes me 3 months to finish one play-through of Borderlands 2, that's fine with me. The only other new game I'm interested in this year is Dishonored. The rest come in 2013.

It's all a matter of taste, I guess and what you seek from a gaming experience. I love exploration, looting, and mindless game play. Borderlands 2 is my kind of ride while something thought-proving or artsy puts me to sleep. I am willing to spend the hours necessary to see what's over the next hilltop, so to speak, because building as "badass" a character as I can create is where the fun for me. If I don't play any other games until December or thereabouts, then that's how things just have to be. I can play more when I retire.

Now who's up for a game of bridge, bacce-ball or Borderlands?

Posted by Vinny_Says

I definitely don't have the time to read all of that.

Posted by NegativeCero

Dude, I'm with you. I just hit level 20 after having it since day one. And I'll only have less and less time as more important things take priority. Sometimes I miss being a kid, you know.

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

Working 40 hours a week makes it hard to do, especially when it's graveyard freight crew shifts. But I've been playing as much as I can fit in. I've had to give up Dark Souls, Alan Wake, LA Noire, etc to play it though, and fucking XCOM comes out soon... D:

Posted by MMMman

@MordeaniisChaos said:

and fucking XCOM comes out soon

That is exactly what I mean; I can't justify the time sink this time around. Borderlands was long and that was the joy of it at the time, but it is a pretty mindless exercise. Pick up a load of quests, shoot a load of things and get some guns. I can't have that as my autumn game experience this time around. I think I'll play it until something more meaningful comes around and then drop it, I just can't see the compulsion of the first taking hold at all as strongly this time.

Posted by Garris

It all becomes less when you have a child . My son who is now 21 months has my attention for much of my free time.

A 40 hour work week with about 10 to 15 hour of commuting and my son who I see for about 2 and a half hours a day during the week , also trying to maintain a healthy relation ship with my wife and my gaming time is down to about 4 to 5 hours a week if I'm lucky.

I don't regret any of these things it just means I've had to adjust to not playing everything and
Games
That require extended periods of play are not for me right now.

On the positive side I'm saving a bunch of money!

Posted by Dalai

Yep, adulthood has disadvantages. If I manage to play Borderlands 2 for a few hours every other day, I'd be happy. Or hope for a lazy weekend and slag through a 6-hour marathon which I did last weekend. Although it did take me over 2 years to finish the main campaign in the original... which reminds me that I should go back and wrap up the General Knoxx and Robot Revolution DLC once and for all.

Posted by MacGoesZoom

I played the first borderlands with a friend, every night. However we both have kids now. He has school, and I am done with school and starting my career. I just don't have the time anymore. I agree with the other statements that said they will just enjoy the games they can play more. I just can't enjoy borderlands 2 as much as the first, ( believe me i have tried )single player kinda sucks and all my co-op buddies are all grown up with me.

Posted by TheFridge

I get 4 hours a week to play games and with little games like FTL, I have been spending time on those rather than on the big titles I could get lost in. Borderlands is such a polished Borderlands experience that I want to be there, but one quest line at a time just doesn't sound fun.

Posted by ShaggE

@Vinny_Says said:

I definitely don't have the time to read all of that.

Seven short paragraphs are "TL;DR" material now?

Posted by JackOhara

@Vinny_Says said:

I definitely don't have the time to read all of that.

I laughed, I won't lie. But you should spent less time playing bad games and more time playing good ones. I'd also try to figure out what's more important to you. As in, a myriad of adult responsibilities that will only keep piling up, or enjoying the fuck out of what little time we get to spend on this rock.

Posted by MegaLombax

This post resonates with me.

Posted by Fattony12000

@MMMman: The game isn't going anywhere, it doesn't matter over how long a period you play something, so long as you play it to get something out of it. For example, I have owned MGS4 for about two years now, and only just started playing it very recently. The game was still there for me to be enjoyed, who cares when it happens? There is, of course, something to be said for the whole 'playing the hot new jazz right when everyone else is playing that same funky thing', more so with some games than others. But that's not really an issue if you don't think it's an issue.

THIS IS LIVING.

Posted by ColdPhone

@MMMman said:

I can't justify the time sink this time around. Borderlands was long and that was the joy of it at the time, but it is a pretty mindless exercise. Pick up a load of quests, shoot a load of things and get some guns. I can't have that as my autumn game experience this time around. I think I'll play it until something more meaningful comes around and then drop it, I just can't see the compulsion of the first taking hold at all as strongly this time.

This is pretty much exactly how I feel. Borderlands has been fun, but I think I'm going to be jumping on the Dishonored wagon come next week.

Posted by Colourful_Hippie

I miss high school. I used to have so much more free time to waste on video games. Now I just continue to fill up my backlog of games that I swear to myself I'll get to eventually...but I never do...

Posted by MMMman

@Fattony12000: It isn't really a matter of me wanting to play it when it is the zeitgeist; as I said I'm playing alone and so don't need others to be playing at the same time. It is more that the game rewards significant time investment. Playing it in short bursts will get me nowhere and just draw out the experience. The less time I have to play games the more I appreciate condensed yet rewarding experiences. Papo & Yo wasn't a particularly great game play experience but the emotional resonance of its story and the charm of its limited world really touched me. It was over in a couple of hours and I was happy that I could fully experience it within my limited time frame. Completely different games, yes, but I can't imagine forty hours with Borderlands 2 to be any more memorable than the two I spent with Papo. I have the game so I'll continue with it, I just don't necessarily think extensive games are for me these days.

Posted by Lugburz

It is just weird that i saw this blog title when my addiction for Borderlands 2 seemed to swap away this week. For the first 10 days i was hooked like a nail in front of that game, it was far more gripping and addicting than i thought. Having finished the main story a couple days back i feel less inclined to return to it to loot a little more or finish some lingering quests.

I probably will continue spending some precious "wasted" time on it once again when i regain my full mindset.