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Borderlands 3 Proves That Practice Makes Perfect

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With Borderlands 3 only a few months away, the anticipation surrounding the return of the franchise that modernized the looter shooter is the topic of many conversations. For over five years, the industry has been without a mainline entry to the series, leaving many to wonder how the franchise would continue after the grand success of Borderlands 2. Although Gearbox and 2K maintained relevance with the release of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, fans of the franchise are eager to see where the vault hunters will go next.

Not long ago now, Gearbox officially announced Borderlands 3 with a release date of September 13, 2019. Shortly afterwards, the industry was shown pre-release footage of the game where audiences witnessed footage of a game similar to that of its predecessors, yet better in every way imaginable. All of the positive reception surrounding the gameplay of Borderlands 3 can be attributed to the length of development time. Similarly to titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War (2018), Borderlands 3 will be another game that proves that taking whatever time is necessary will yield a better product.

Within the footage, Gearbox detailed a host of quality of life changes that gamers have always needed, yet never knew they wanted. An argument can be made that the last Borderlands released during a time when these features were an afterthought, but the same one can be made towards the belief that Gearbox was not required to implement them at all. For instance, sliding and mantling were not seen as missed opportunities during Borderlands 2, though the features are now a welcome change that will greatly alter a player’s experience. Similar to mantling in Destiny 2, players did not realize how naturally the mechanic enhanced their experience until returning to the first Destiny where it was absent.  

Borderlands 3 will alter the player’s experience from previous entries in more ways than one. Along with easier mobility, Gearbox has created numerous weapon and ammunition variants to emphasise the over-the-top appeal. In Borderlands 2, most weapons advertised the user experience upon collection and inspection, whereas players will only truly understand a weapon’s strength through experimentation in the sequel. For example, guns will now feature alternative firing modes that can vary from elemental bullets to firing homing rockets when reloading. Additionally, one weapon archetype will transform into a mobile turret when reloading/disposed of—need I say more?

Most of the enhancements presented in the reveal are accompanied by the realization of the developer’s love and admiration towards the series. Listening to the developers talk about what Borderlands means to them, along with the genuine excitement shown when describing new features reinforces that with enough time and care a project can exceed all expectations. Nevertheless, the game’s greatest features are yet to be shown, leaving some amount of speculation and excitement for the months coming.

From what Borderlands 3 has teased so far, audiences can see how expansive the world will be, including planetary space travel and deep character customization. Of the four confirmed playable characters, Zane and Amara were featured during the reveal. For fans of the previous titles, these characters’ abilities will seem a little familiar. The almost déjà vu sense of familiarity comes from the fact that their abilities are a hybrid of previous character designs. Along with ability design, Borderlands 3 will feature more methods of utilizing a character’s strength through more customizable skill trees.

Zane encompasses features that are reminiscent of numerous characters in the Borderlands series. His Barrier skill tree will feel useful to those who preferred the playstyle of Roland or Axton, as it can both heal and provide buffs for players who stand within its radius. Additionally, his Digi-Clone action skill serves as a mutation from the Doppelganger’s ability in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel with the ability to cast out a fully automatized clone and teleport to its location whenever necessary. Finally, Zane’s SNTNL skill tree shoots out a motorized drone that will mark targets, damaging them in the process. Interestingly enough, however, is that Zane has the potential to be the only character that will allow for the selection of two action skills simultaneously, creating the persona of a one-man army.

Amara, on the other hand, continues a series staple of the presence of a playable Siren. Her Phasegrasp ability is sure to remind players of Borderlands 2’s Maya and her ability to suspend enemies mid-air and deal damage. One ability that is new to the game is Amara’s Phasecast, which projects a spectral form that can damage enemies from distance. Finally, Amara’s Phaseslam ability is akin to Destiny’s Titan Smash, where the player will leap into the air and crash down, creating an area-of-effect blast that can damage enemies while knocking them back.

As previously stated, Borderlands 3 shows evidence of a quality game even months before its scheduled release. Quality, though, should come as no surprise since Gearbox has consistently shown dedication towards the series with how well it supported each title after release. The ideology surrounding the concept of slow roasting a game to perfection can be found in past titles as well. Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War both experienced extensive development periods, which proved to be for the better given their critical acclaim. The developers of these titles poured their heart and soul into their projects with the desire to create a title that they could be proud of.

For many individuals who worked on Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War, the fact that their creations are forever cemented as some of the finest experiences in all of gaming is a reward in itself. These titles are truly a testament to how effective a development cycle can be when supported by a team that is just as excited for the final product as any fan would be, and I firmly believe that Borderlands 3 will follow suit. As is evident in every showing so far, Borderlands 3 is a game made for fans by fans.

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The Final Fantasy VII Remake Might Turn Away Fans Instead of Creating New Ones

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final fantasy vii

In 1997, Square Enix, then Square Soft, released a title that would change the role-playing genre forever. Until then, the genre only found popularity within smaller, niche communities. In January of that year, Square Soft released Final Fantasy VII,a classic that would hold a special place in gamers’s hearts for years to come.

Until my early teens, I had only heard of the marvel known as Final Fantasy VII. Before that point, I had never experienced the game or seen much of its offerings. For years, I searched stores for a copy until finally locating a version that broke my juvenile bank. I had finally earned a chance to experience a game I had, until then, only known through word of mouth and, after my first few hours with it, found love.

Final Fantasy VII gave me characters to care about and a cause worth fighting for. With a protagonist as gloomy as Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy VII’s extended cast of misfits needed to outshine the leading man and give players a reason to care. The lovable Aerith/Aeris, adamant Tifa, and strong-headed Barret are some examples of FFVII’s supporting cast that remains iconic into modern gaming.

At E3 2015, Square Enix surprised audiences with the announcement that Final Fantasy VII would be getting a full-fledged remake. Fans would ride an emotional high for a while before the title was announced to be broken into multiple parts. A multi-part release, along with some questionable visuals and character design, was enough to shift fan excitement to worry, until both the game and conversation faded out of the limelight.

During Sony’s State of Play stream, audiences were shown new gameplay for the Remake, which featured adjusted character models and the inclusion of more beloved characters. Once again, fans were left on an emotional high after the stream until confirmation came later that the title would still be chopped up into multiple releases.

Square Enix is advertising this game as being too large for a single launch window. For reference sake, the single-player experience of Red Dead Redemption 2 launched in full in October 2018. Given how grand the narrative is for Red Dead Redemption 2, the title still needed a separate disc for installation. Nonetheless this did not encourage Rockstar to split the title into multiple launches. What Square Enix is effectively stating here, is that the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be more expansive than Red Dead Redemption 2 – a title that is already one of the largest games to date. Either the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be groundbreaking for the industry, or this is an attempt by Square Enix to capitalize on the fandom surrounding this beloved title.

As a primary curiosity, fans want to know how the game will be divided. For now, all that is known around this subject is just rumors and speculation, but that does not eliminate the need to discuss such possibilities. For example, will the game be split into two parts or will the division be more akin to the three-disc original version? This version of the split would be more faithful to the original, but then creates a new issue for fans.

The more parts Final Fantasy VII Remake finds itself in, the more expensive the overall experience will be for the players. Square Enix has not yet explained how it will charge for this remake. Given past trends within the industry, the potential for monetization comes via DLCs, expansions, or season passes. For example, Square’s previous entry into the Final Fantasy series – Final Fantasy XV – saw numerous added content post launch, including a second season pass before being cancelled. Additionally, the title received mobile spin-offs and tie-ins full of micro-transactions. In a perfect world, Square Enix would release each part at a lower price point than a full title, allowing the consumer to experience the full game at a ‘normal’ price. Fans will have to wait a little longer to get details on the pricing models, seeing as a release window for the first part is still nonexistent.

One aspect Square Enix should keep in mind, however, is player retention. As with past episodic titles, the possibility always exists for the playerbase to die off during the down time between releases. A large player-base exists that wait until the full title is released before purchasing and playing the game. Since Final Fantasy fans are not used to this kind of launch, many of them may purchase the first part out of excitement and anticipation and become turned off by the required indefinite wait afterwards.

For Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square’s decision to release the game in parts may not be as beneficial as it initially believes. Since the game is a remake, fans will have a certain expectation for the quality of its execution and development. The expectation towards the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be exceedingly high due to the fact that a Final Fantasy VII revered by many already exists. Ultimately, some fans will be disappointed by the remake depending on how faithful the content is to the original, already placing Square at a disadvantage with this beloved IP.

Despite the negativity surrounding Square’s insistence on breaking up the title, excitement for the Final Fantasy VII Remake remains high as fans are once again discussing what it may have to offer. Despite the confirmation of an episodic release, the community will not have any concrete facts until the game’s next showing later this year. Until then, all one can do is speculate based on trends within the gaming industry. I am genuinely excited to see a title loved by many re-imagined for modern technology, but the potential of it turning away die-hard fans due to business decisions leaves me worried for the worst.

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