Borderlands: Beyond Underdome

John Funk | 18 Dec 2009 16:15
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(The following is a full transcript of The Escapist's interview with Borderlands designer Jonathan Hemingway. For the juiciest bits, head on over to our sister site!)

The Escapist: Who are you, and what do you do on Borderlands?

Jonathan: I'm Jonathan Hemingway, a game designer.

Does the DLC have a level requirement?

Jon: You can go there at level 10, but it will scale with your level whether you're level 10 or level 20 or level 50.

So you already had Mad Mel in the game, did you decide "Hey, we just haven't done enough with Mel Gibson yet"?

Jon: Our whole approach to DLC is trying to respond to what our community wanted. With "Zombie Island," after the game came out, the big cry on forums was, "It was a great game, but we want more narrative and more story - we want to know more!" So the zombie DLC was our big push to tell a story, give a stronger narrative and give the characters some more personality, I think we succeded.

What our communtiy was asking for now was... well, they've hit level 50, they've got all these great guns, and they wanted to know "Now what do we do? I want something to push me, something to reach for - a real challenge." So that's where Mad Moxxi came from: We will give you a challenge, a place to use all this gear and the skills you've learned.

So is this why it has a bank?

Jon: It's exactly why it has a bank. You have to warp back to Mad Moxxi where the bank is, but it's really close to the entrance. We know people wanted to keep TK's Wave because it was cool, even if it wasn't that useful after you got some better stuff.

Will it reflect the increased difficulty of the second playthrough mode?

Jon: It will! You can set it to either, actually.

We started talking about the challenge: We wanted to give players who wanted to be challenged an option. In Mad Moxxi, you've got the small tournament quest and the big tournament quest - we imagined that the average player will be able to complete the quest with small tournament. If you complete it, you earn a skill point, and we imagine most players will be able to do that. In the big tournament, you get to show how off much of a badass you actually are. It's got all the crazy challenges.

So what, you'll throw ten BadMutha Bruisers at us at once?

Jon: *laughs* Something like that - it's pretty rough! The big tournament is 20 rounds, with five waves per round. Each wave has its own specific gameplay associated with it. The closest thing you can compare it to is Horde Mode in Gears of War 2 or Firefight mode in Halo ODST, but we Borderlandsed it up. The name of it is Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot, and it's all about this character named Mad Moxxi - she's crazy and running a secret underground coliseum. When you're actually fighting, she's up on this big pole, dancing around, and she responds to the game, she sees if you're fighting and doing okay, and she'll throw out a rule, like the Vampire Rule.

There are two different styles of rules. Some rules are desired to alter the gameplay, and alter the way that the players approach the game - you'll need to use different tactics, strategy, or just different guns. Other rules are just because she thinks you're doing too well, and she'll throw it out to make it harder. With the Vampire Rule, you're slowly losing health every second, but every time you get a kill, you get a huge chunk of health back. So it puts you in this mindset of "I've got to get a lot of kills, and be really aggressive, or I'm going to die."

For snipers, there's a rule called Headshot: Body shots do reduced damage - so everything that isn't a crit is less damage - but critical hits do even more damage. If you're playing as Mordecai, specced for sniping, you just go "Yes, this is the best thing ever!"

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