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Borderlands 2 Interview with Brian Martel

During our hands on time with Borderlands 2 recently, we also managed to catch up with GearBox Executive Vice President, Brian Martel for a quick chat about all things sequel.

This chat included learning more about the story, game world, the characters and the other new features which will keep people hooked as they play through this highly anticipated game.

Check out what Mr Martel had to say below.

STN: Where does Borderlands 2 take place from the first game?

BM: Well it takes place a number of years after Borderlands 1 and after the vault was opened Handsome Jack, who is the head of the Hyperion corporation who came in and took credit for the actions of the avengers from the first game. He’s trying to make the planet somewhere people would want to go to and live and in his mind make it better, but instead he’s really utilizing all this iridium that came to the surface of the planet after the vault and he’s using that to make money and get extremely wealthy.

He is really trying to clean up the bandits and considers the vault hunters that you play as this time around as bandits. Meanwhile Roland who was in the first game as a playable character comes back as the head of a insurgent group trying who are trying stop Jack.

Basically, Jack thinks he’s discovered a new vault and it’s up to you to stop him.

STN: In Borderlands 2 you’ve introduced 3 new character classes and kept one from the previous game in (the Siren), how does that change the whole game in perspective?

BM: So in many ways this is kind of indicative of what we did with a lot of other elements from the previous game. So what we tried to do what think of every feature, every character, every location and think of how we can make it 2.0, how we can improve it in some way and you can see that the characters are reminiscent of the past characters in some way, so obviously with the Siren, we wanted to change what she does and give her some new talents, her action abilities do certain things, her skill trees are different. The Gunzerker on the other hand, which is a natural progression from the bezerker, utilizes the weapons that you are finding all the time, that’s his action ability. Each one of the characters compliment one another through their skill trees.

STN: With the skill tree in Borderlands 2 does it have a bigger emphasis on the character class that you choose?

BM: Yes, Definitely. The skill tree is applied to whichever character you choose and we have some game changers that kind of twist and turn as you get into higher levels. But we have less of the statistical changes that we had from the first game for action abilities, we’ve kind of moved those off to the badass points, so with the badass system there’s more leveling up for the player, the character and their skill trees, you play through that and it carries over.

STN: With the type of enemies within the game i.e. huge enemies with big shields with midgets strapped onto them, where do you get your inspiration to create them?

BM: We have this guy, his name is Ruben Cabrera he is sort of the head of the creatures for our game. He has a few other guys working with him and as a team they’re really innovative and creative. What Ruben did at the beginning of Borderlands 2 is he knew what he had done on Borderlands 1 and how he wanted to adjust those things so he came out with this idea that you have a list and say okay, this is what I want to do. So he went over it with me and we pulled some of them out  that were a little bit too complicated or didn’t fit in the universe and he worked with the creative director, the level designers, the art director and pulled out a few more and we ended up with this really nice list and then it becomes a game of onemanship, you’re always wanting to make them more wacky and more interesting.

STN: How does the game world change as you progress?

BM: It’s a story driven game at its highest level, you work your way through the story of trying to defeat Jack. The world isn’t necessarily changing except for where the story is making that happen. As you go you’ll see certain things that happen but they’re pre-planned in some ways, but they’re still exciting and interesting and sometimes when you’re doing certain missions it’s up to player to choose who they want to give them back to because maybe they can get a different item from a different character or it will lead them onto a new path to make the mission even longer.

STN: Borderlands 1 had a whole arsenal of weapon choice and variety, how did you take it to another level in Borderlands 2?

BM: What we wanted to do obviously was improve on what we did before, the core of the game is about weapons and of course the RPG element which is why we put up all the different skills. But with the weapons themselves what we wanted to do was to make sure that you could really tell what manufacturer was what and the desire of the head of the weapons division, if you will, was that you love or hated a particular weapon so you would look out for that weapon from that maker. Each manufacturer has their pros and cons and so we put a lot of work there and you end up with some really cool weapons.

STN: With the RPG elements of the game is there anything you tweaked or made better to benefit the player?

BM: We learned a lot more about what to do with skills and how to integrate those and the chance to really flush these out better than we were able to in the first game. I think the introduction of the badass points is a huge thing as far as the RPG elements are concerned. You as the player having an RPG side is really neat. Then I think what we did with some of the towns and the NPC’s and having that sense of how missions are delivered and variety of creatures and locations is really feeding into the RPG side of things.

STN: With Borderlands 1 you created a whole host of DLC with Mad Moxxi being one of them, can players and fans expect similar DLC for Borderlands 2?

BM: Yeah we’re just going into certification now, so the game is fundamentally done except for some small bugs or some things that Sony or Microsoft find. At this point this is when we start thinking what we want to do and start working on those because we’ve got a big team that can’t just sit around and we don’t want to lay people off, because that’s just not very cool.

I can assure you that there will be something like that coming down the road that will be really fun for players. I don’t know what we are going to do, as far as which ones will be more about creative style or which ones will be about gameplay elements like we did with Moxxi, but we will have some along those lines because it keeps the game fresh and keeps a long tail on the game.

We want people to keep playing as long as possible.

Thanks for your time Mr Martel.

Borderlands 2 launches September 21 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. You can pre-order your copy here (PS3|Xbox 360|PC).

Edited On 14 Jul, 2012

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