Destiny and the Borderlands series are similar in several ways, including their open worlds and looting of different guns. However, while those gameplay phrases can, technically, be used to describe pieces of both franchises, anyone that plays, say, Borderlands 2 and then Destiny will notice several rifts of difference. The latter, although a mixture of several genres at once, has built its own path to tread, but some of the changes seem to have left several key pieces of a “fun” open-world shooter behind.
All three Borderlands entries thus far have been open-world, cooperative shooting worlds with a record-breaking amount of weapons and a sense of humor about video games as a whole. The prodigal trip to Pandora broke the Guinness World Record for the most guns in a video game, with the help of their procedural system, and left the bar at 17.75 million possible gun variations. According to Gearbox Studios President, Randy Pitchford, the first entry had “more guns…than every other first-person shooter every launched on the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 all added together.” In his estimation, Borderlands 2 has more gun combinations than if you even added the original to that total.
Destiny, in Bungie’s advertising for the title, was said to have more weapons than “all the Halo games put together – squared and then squared again,” according to a 2013 interview with 3D artist Rajeem Nattam. Whether this was meant as an actual figure or exaggeration is unclear, but what seems to be happening is that players are finding that the lower level guns are the exact same models as Legendary weapons. What this does to players is take away some of the gratification of picking up a Legendary gun that looks the same as an Uncommon or Rare one as there is still the same model staring through the screen at you. YouTube game reviewer AngryJoeShow pointed out an example of this in his Destiny review, his Legendary machine gun sharing the exact same in-game model as his Rare weapon with inflated stats.
Destiny will not sink because of a lack of weapon variety as there are still plenty of models and types to choose from, but this comparison illustrates what makes Borderlands seem so fun and why that has not translated to Bungie’s latest title for a lot of players. When out leveling in what is basically a massively-multiplayer experience, it can be detrimental for a game to leave out certain checkpoints such as a mini-boss or loot containers. These instances make the mission’s journey feel just as active and alive as the destination for players. Borderlands does this with enemy encounters, their randomized loot system and other missions to pick up, not to mention the humor of the game itself, along the way. Destiny, on the other hand, leaves the journey narrowly focused on speeding through enemies and going for the end of mission loot instead of hoping for a calculator to drop something useful in the wild.
Therein lies one of the core concerns a lot of players have with Destiny in its current state: there are no promises of any tangible, in-game rewards even after hours and hours of playing. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel still uses the random loot generator, but there are still certain points where higher level weapons will be yours and the presence of new post-story content instead of the same missions repeatedly. Games like Borderlands do not have to rely on their randomness for short bursts of “Oh Boy!” excitement because there is so much else going on inside the world that the random loot just feels like a destructive bonus. Destiny seems to have the complete opposite focus, relying on short bursts of excitement between monotonous lulls to keep players coming back for a decade plus, but some have already sworn off the title for good in under two months time because of this, and many other, misdirected focuses.
Opinion by Myles Gann