As I mentioned previously, I’m perfectly okay that Borderlands 3 didn’t push the genre or franchise forward. Yes, the game looks better and has a number of cool quality of life features, but for the most part, this plays nearly the same as what you’d expect. For good and bad.
However, one element that has seemingly come out of no where are the consistent updates that the game receives. While constant patching and fixes are typically a good thing, the ones for Borderlands 3 have started to really wear down the community and interfere with one of the franchise’s core tenants: Fun.
Let’s explore this topic, shall we?
For a game that has zero competitive elements (dedicated PvP modes), it’s shocking to me how often Gearbox is changing and reducing the effectiveness of weapons, skills, and loadouts. Do they want us to have fun or do they want to prioritize balance over all? If it’s the later, then why promote the game in the way they did? It feels very anti-Borderlands if you ask me.
This is a game that has been constantly marketed as a love letter to the fans that prioritizes fun above all else. So when people finally go hands on with the game and develop fun, interesting, or unique builds, the typical response from Gearbox has been to nerf that weapon, skill, or item to reduce its effectiveness.
I honestly don’t understand this because at its core, the Borderlands franchise is meant to be a cooperative shooter. If people are having fun playing a certain way that maybe the developers didn’t expect, what’s the harm? Players don’t have to spec into certain builds or use particular skills. Hell, they don’t even need to go online to play with others if it bothers them that much.
Since it launched, Borderlands 3 has received hot fixes nearly every week (I know that’s bit of a stretch, but still) and many of them contained nerfs for popular weapons, legendaries and other items. Character skills were even nerfed because they were too good. Ironically enough, a hot fix may contain a change to an item that was previously nerfed, with the developer realizing that perhaps they went too far the first time. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for someone to grind or spec their characters a certain way only to have it change in an instant.
Part of the frustration and confusion is the fact that Gearbox appears to be focusing on the wrong things. As of right now, Borderlands 3 has a number of core issues and technical problems that fans are waiting on a fix for. It’s strange to me that the studio has rather prioritized balancing over correcting these issues and quality of life updates the game really needs.
For me, all of this back and forth is tiring. It makes me not want to play for a while until Gearbox is done changing certain builds, gear, and weapons. It has to be frustrating to spend hours and hours building your perfect character only for Gearbox to swoop in and drastically change it in an instant. That element of ‘fun’ they promoted prior to launch just keeps getting knocked over time and again.
The community seems to be feeling the strain of these constant updates as well. While getting much needed buffs to support skills like Digi-clone, pets, and Iron bear are nice, they just don’t go far enough. Increased health may help survivability but it won’t do any good when they’re still not powerful enough to damage enemies on higher difficulties. These half measure updates only serve to frustrate the community further as it makes it seem like Gearbox isn’t listening.
Borderlands 2 was (and continues to be) a game that was generally left alone with multiple badass loadouts still readily available to use. I don’t understand the shift in mentality, why Borderlands 3 is suddenly a game that needs constant supervision.
At the very least, maybe Gearbox should invest in a testing server to try out these “fixes” before pushing things live, only to revert them a week or two later. It feels like a lot like the studio is developing in reaction to the player base and utilizing a lot of trial and error. In my opinion, the game has enough other issues that should be worked on before balancing is considered.
Listen, I’m glad to see that Gearbox is so invested in the game, it’s a great sign for its longevity. However, I feel like they’re focusing on the wrong things right now. It’s only been a month and if Gearbox isn’t careful, they may further alienate and push their core audience away to other games. The developer has recently said that they’re going to tone if down on the nerfs and drastic character changes, which I really hope it’s true. Only time will tell at this point.