One of the best new IPs of the console generation, Borderlands offered a fresh new takes on two stale genres – the role playing and first person shooter genres. Developer Gearbox decided to mix the two together to make one of the most compelling games ever, which is why we’re excited for the release of Borderlands 2 next year. But if there is one part of franchise that needed to be improved, it would be the story. Luckily, Gearbox is doing exactly that.
In an interview with IGN, lead writer Anthony Burch and lead designer Jon Hemingway promised that the sequel will have better story:
Story is going to be a much more essential component of the experience. When you’re going on an average mission you’re going to be constantly getting objectives told to you by the [non-player characters]. The vault hunters from the first game are going to be guiding you through the world of Pandora. Let’s take an average mission in the first Borderlands. Most of the story is just in the text before and after the mission. If you want to sit there and read all the sections you’ll get a cool story but there’s a fairly good chance that if you’re like me you won’t.
In an average mission in Borderlands 2 you’re going to have people constantly telling you not only what you’re going to be doing but why you want to do it. Things are going to be happening in front of you as a part of the world. You’re going to see Roland getting captured and you’re going to have to actually chase him down while the guys from Hyperion and the bandits that you’re fighting are yelling at you. The scale of everything is much bigger and your involvement in it is more a part of the actual gameplay rather than something just relegated to mission text.
The best part about it is that it’s really seamless. The story is told as you’re playing the game. Keep looting stuff, keep killing things and the story just unfolds as you’re doing it.
We never wanted to make a game where the story is getting in the way of your gameplay. Borderlands is a game first and it’s all about making sure that you can have the pacing you want in your experience while we feed story to you rather than sit and listen to this twenty minute cut-scene that I promise is totally awesome.
The developer also shared some sources of inspiration in developing the main bad guy, Handsome Jack:
When Paul Hellquist, the creative director, and myself were bubbling over the story, the games that we always really loved were the games with the really, really strong antagonist. Games like System Shock 2, Portal, BioShock. We thought that having a really strong antagonist who was constantly needling you much in the same way that General Knoxx in the Secret Army of General Knoxx DLC was helped bring the whole story together and give it this one focal point. You want to kill this guy and that’s your thread through the plot.
Last but not least, Burch and Hemingway also mentioned that the core combat of the game will improved and will require more strategy from players:
In Borderlands 2 the combat is much more focused on target prioritization and strategy and trying to figure out what is the best way to take this guy down. What’s the best order of things I should do? How should my teammates, my co-op buddies help me out?
Borderlands 2 is set to release in Summer 2012.