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Borderlands The Pre-Sequel interview with producers Joel Eschler and James Lopez

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2K announced early this year that there would be a new Borderlands title. This title will hit the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 rather than going with the new generation of consoles. This author had some time to sit down with Joel Exchler, producer for 2K Australia, and James Lopez, producer for Gearbox Software.

1. What differences can we expect from the previous Borderlands titles?

James

A lot of differences. There's 4 new playable characters, we have a new elemental damage which is Cryos Freezing, and we have a new weapon type which is lasers that has their own unique behaviors which also supports all the new elements. We've add hundreds of thousands of new gear possibilities just through that. I mean there's new maps, an entirely new story, new enemies, new locations, the first time we've also went on the space station. We also have new combat features like the slam, we have an o2 system, and we've made modifications to the gravity systems so it's not just a way of movement, it's a combat system now. We've added a lot of new stuff to this game.

2. The story for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel will focus on the origin of Handsome Jack. Will the story involve the development of his character and why he is the way he is, or rather focus on what he did to get to where he was at in Borderlands 2?

James

More or less, specifically kind of showcasing his rise to become the CEO of Hyperion.

Joel

I think it goes into his way of becoming a psychopath. At the beginning of this game, he's not the man he was in Hyperion where he would just kill anyone for just the fun of it. He's just a man who works for a company. We had the opportunity with this title line to tell the massive events in his life, and to make him the way he was in Borderlands 2. The Borderlands games, they walk a good line of telling serious stories, which can really affect you but also having the humor mixed in there, you can really use the humor sometimes to make these big events easier to take. There are also some wilder bits that happen to Jack that turn him into this evil character. But the really good thing about being set between Borderlands 1 and 2, we get to tell the story of why in Borderlands 2, there are all these cracks on the moon and this lava and why that space station is there. We get to tell the origin story of Wilhelm, who went from a normal guy to working for Jack. We get to expand on Athena, Nisha, and of course Claptrap.

3. Explain the differences in the new characters and what their classes will be like.

James

The two playable characters we've showcased are Wilhelm and Athena. Athena has this energy shield called a Kinect Aspes. This lets her absorb attacks from enemies and throw it back. This aspect is like a “tink” character, but she's much more aggressive. One of her spell trees focuses entirely on that. We also have another tree called the Syphos tree that focuses more on her melee, which means they take bleeding damage, therefore means they can take more damage from guns. So for the person who enjoys melee characters, this is more for them. We also have what’s called the Chronic Storm Tree, and what this allows, synthesized through her, it allows elemental attacks. Primarily fire and shock, and as long as she's using those weapons, this will allow for more damage and faster damage. This allows for interesting combos. So we are trying to expand on different concepts.

Joel

Wilhelm, his action skill spawns these drones Wolf and Saint, each have their own personality, so they have this humorous battle back and forth. Wolf is more aggressive and actively seeks out enemies, does missile attacks that are upgradeable, he also does Kamikazes. Saint is more of a regen character and tries to keep you alive, but he can amp up your damage. The middle skill tree is focused on Wilhelm, himself, so you're actually making him more powerful turning into a cyborg. He's basically a normal guy and has a cybernetic eye, but as you go down the skill tree, you can replace his arm for a robotic arm with a power fist which allow him to punch further and do more damage especially when frozen, which allow enemies to shatter easier. Others include robotic legs which make his stomp more powerful. He has one allowing him to reload and shoot while sprinting. He is also able to spawn these two turrets which come out of his shoulder.

4. Can we expect the same degree of DLC that was offered for Borderlands 2?

James

Right now we are just focusing on the main game, but we are known for supporting our games. We make DLC because we like to expand on the Borderlands universe. We'd be crazy not to consider it for the Pre-Sequel

5. Can we expect shift codes to continue?

James

Shift is a very important feature for us to create for our fans. This allows really cool community opportunities so this will be supported.

6. Any thoughts given to releasing a potential vita version?

James

I think a lot of very interesting lessons were learned from the Vita project. The guys at Iron Galaxy did a fantastic job. They took a PS3 game and put it on a tiny portable screen. I think it would be cool if we did it for the Vita for the Pre-Sequel and I think there are plenty of Sony fans that would love to do that.

7 Are we going to see the same type of enemies from the previous games, or since this is the moon will there be a slew of new enemies?

Joel

It's a completely new game so we start from the ground up. It didn't really make sense and it feels a little bit cheap with the same enemies. So we have a completely new variety of enemies because of the low gravity which they can take advantage of. If you're behind cover, enemies can use the low gravity to smash you. Also there are jetpack enemies and new beasts. So there is a huge amount of new enemies and gameplay elements.

James

It's really important the creatures match the environment and it feels like we're bringing something to game. The fans would reject the concept immediately because it wouldn't make any sense. It was really important to us to make the enemies match the setting and tell the story of what the place is like. It's always really fun to create new creatures.

8. Have any thoughts ever been given to offering different multiplayer modes such as deathmatch and non-cooperative?

James

You know, Borderlands has never really been about that. We've obviously toyed around with the idea through duels and we had the arenas in Borderlands 1. We didn't have the arenas in 2 because it didn't seem like there was much interest in those areas. But we continued with the duels because one it's fun, and two it's interesting for a social justice for ninja looting and all that kind of stuff. The dueling will still be around. Will we never do that kind of multiplayer, I don't know. I certainly couldn't say. I can definitely say that isn't where our heads are right now.

Joel

One of the big top selling points has always been about playing with your friends. We like that idea of you working together and having fun. So much so the skill trees that are represented, 2K Australia has done really cool things with them and Matt Armstrong and character designers to put skills into each playable character skill tree that emphasize co-op play, that boost abilities and attributes some how so you'll want to do cool combos together and support each other. It would be a very different philosophy for us if we changed that.

Split screen?

James

Yes.

9. What made you stick to current gen?

James

When we started down this path, it was before new generation consoles had come out. This is still where our majority fans are from what we can see. Just the fact that there are a lot of people out there this is a better path for. I wouldn't say we would never do next-gen, but it's a cool idea and obviously we like the idea of reaching as many different fans as possible.

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