Gearbox Talks About The Narrative Focus In Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 is officially out and the public is abuzz with what seems to be universal praise. The commendations aren't entirely for the gameplay segments of Borderlands: actually, there's a lot of praise for the story/narrative/writing, too. I know, that might sound surprising to some--especially those that kind of tuned out what was happening in the first Borderlands. For those, let me tell you: the writing was pretty good, up until you got to the end and the vault was revealed! Or well, I liked it. One of my favorite characters this generation, Patricia Tannis, came from the first Borderlands.
But so, for Borderlands 2, there was more of a deliberate focus on the writing. That's why Anthony Burch of Hey Ash fame was hired: to write. He tells us why they put a bigger focus on the writing in an interview over at Kill Screen:
A lot of it was due to player feedback. People said they liked the story that was there [in Borderlands] but wanted more of it. The majority of it was presented in blocks of text. Sometimes players felt like they were doing things to do them rather than for a narrative reason. We wanted to change that.
People got what they asked for, it seems. Going further to explain his ethos when it comes to writing and gameplay and writing in games, Burch states:
I am very much of the opinion that gameplay comes before story in nearly every circumstance. It's just much more significant. I don’t want to watch a 20-minute cutscene, and I don’t want it to infringe on my agency as a player. I wanted to make sure that the player can just get the quest and run off if they want. Those are the games I want to play. I wouldn’t have wanted to write a 20-minute cutscene anyway.
Ultimately, it seems as if Gearbox's bet on Burch and the refinement of their writing paid off.