Written by Glenn Lichfield.
A fantasy forest extending directly from the forgotten country stretches in front of you. This picturesque scenery can only be broken by… a huge soda can that is turned up? This is Tiny Tina’s wonderland, in which Gearbox is trying to sell in-game games—the idea of players playing role-playing games in Borderlands. They sit around a table and live in Tiny Tina’s secondary imaginary world game. It’s almost like being in the Animus in Assassin’s Creed (though hopefully it’s not that burdensome.)
To this end, Gearbox uses some of the “real world” fragments of the characters in the novel Borderlands as obstacles in your fantasy world, including the aforementioned waterfall of soda cans, as well as dice and impressive cheese puffs obstacle. I was fascinated by the idea: a small world that shrinks the light, reminiscent of Counter-Strike or The Legend of Zelda: de_rats in the mini hat.
Gearbox’s forthcoming Borderlands 3 (Borderlands 3) is a derivative independent game based on the best Borderlands DLC, with its RPG and desktop inspiration at heart. I had the opportunity to sit down with the project’s creative director Matt Cox, art director Adam May, and senior designer Gabriel Robitaille to discuss these inspirations and their impact on the game.
All three clearly expressed their desire to transform the predator shooting game loop of Borderlands into a nostalgic, RPG-like structure. The shooting games are partly distributed on a map of the world that can be explored, reminiscent of Dragon Quest Or Final Fantasy. They want to establish a real contrast between the more familiar gun battle levels and the main world. Getting the right atmosphere is very important for Gearbox: According to Cox, the studio tried a variety of artistic styles, including watercolor methods and radiation perspectives, but unfortunately caused some usability issues.
“I even tried to use tilt-shift photography very early to make the 3D world look like a miniature,” he said, “but since we want the player to still be able to turn the camera, I learned that “if you try to rotate the camera around the tilt-shift photography , It will make you very uncomfortable! I was sick for four to five hours the day I tried. “
Gearbox finally determined the version we can see in the finished game, reminiscent of a high-end war chess game board, and its style is more exaggerated than the pseudo-cel shadow shooter level (including shaking heads, toy-like character models).
In addition to having a lovely aesthetic, the travel part of the map will also change the established open-world, vehicle-based rhythm of Borderlands. Cox is shy about details, but it seems to indicate that the behavior in the level will change the main world, adding a reactive element to it.
Robitaille and May also described JRPG-style random encounters on the world map in the form of a one-off battle arena, but they seem to be aware of the reputation of random encounters. They quickly determined that these encounters would bring enticing rewards, and whether players would participate or avoid them would have a high degree of agency.
At least from my perspective, May also provided one of the most interesting tidbits about gameplay. “There are huge first-person maps that are directly huge, and unless you perform tasks in the main world, you can’t even unlock them,” he said. “They are some of the best we have, so I really want people to do side missions!”
This undoubtedly aroused my interest. As a fan of RPG and Soulsbornes, I am a fool when a lot of work goes into things that players may never see. This, and the other additions described by Gearbox, showed me that the perfect predator shooting mode in Borderlands may be about to usher in a refreshing change.
“Little Tina’s Wonderland” will be released on March 25, 2022.