Continuing my series on Borderlands 3 and the ways they can improve the franchise without losing their identity, I want to talk about relics. In Borderlands 2 you can find relics that add a variety of buffs to your character. Generally it’s an item where what you find is too random or narrow to help your current build so you just end up getting rid of almost all of them. For example, relics that improve shield performance or action skill cool down are helpful in a broad sense, while a relic that offers DAHL recoil reduction is too narrow or specific to even be used. I understand that in a game like Borderlands you are going to have a lot of “cannon fodder” loot, which is acceptable as it gives the world a vibrant and exciting feel and makes finding awesome items all the more thrilling. I think they can get more mileage and usage out of relics without completely changing how they work.
Less is more? More is more!
I actually think the current relic system is fine with respect to having randomized and even narrow stats. What is missing is a place to use them. My suggestion would be to create specific slots that have “relic types” assigned to them. So instead of constantly throwing away the manufacturer specific relics, you would have a “weapon relic” spot for them. This would fit nicely with the dynamic weapon system that has unique manufacturers, each with their own identity, aesthetic, and stat themes. Many people develop an affinity for a particular brand of weapons or they would, with the right relic, be motivated to find more weapons from Torgue, DAHL, or my favorite, Maliwan. A relic system like this would open up the game a bit, and give more varied use to an item that typically gets relegated to damage resistance in the early game and damage buffs in the end game. So how many should we be able to carry and use?
Categories to help ya kill stuff better!
The scope of all the various relics that can be found in Borderlands 2 can basically be broken into three categories:
1. Health & Shields
3. Action skill
I know there are many helpful “resistance” relics, but I would place these under “health & shields” to keep from op stacking of high resistance along with high shield buffs. These three categories could serve as relic slots, allowing a person to equip three relics, but only one in each category. This would prevent relic stacking that could result in insane damage boosts to a specific weapon type like pistols (Unkempt Harold: Destroyer of Raid Bosses). What this would also do is create depth in an item, giving it more influence over the way a player builds and what weapons they carry. I typically find a good resistance relic or shield buff and just use that until I get maxed with a grog nozzle, a harold, and then a sheriff’s badge relic for crazy pistol damage output. If I was constantly combing over relic stats that help certain weapons or apply different buffs and benefits to my action skill, it would make looting and finding relics all the more exciting and meaningful.
There is always the danger of adding too much or giving so many decisions that you overwhelm the player. In this case, I think relics are familiar and accessible enough to do far more with them, putting more power in the choices of the player and making the various pieces of loot you find more important.
Reverse the relics!
Something else that I think would create a fun twist on relics is to reverse their effects. So rather than have a health & shield relic that helps your health or shields, it would instead make you more effective at taking down an enemies shield or getting quicker damage over time to their health. A reversed weapon relic could make enemies less accurate when shooting at you at close range, long range, or even make you attract less aggro. And action skill relics could reverse to make your action skill more effective against bad asses but less effective against regular enemies. These are just examples of how reversing the effect of a relic could make choosing what type of relic to use more interesting and again, give players more power over how they experience the game.
Since I already shared my idea about adding pets to Borderlands 3, it only makes sense to tack on this idea as well. You could easily add a relic category for “pet relics”, giving you the option to increase the health, damage, or choose the elemental type of your pet. The pet idea may not get implemented, and accordingly neither would a relic for them, so I kept this idea separate. Still, you can see how expanding the usefulness and uses of relics can make the game open up more and provide more build possibilities and choices for the players.
Would you add more categories or relic slots? Less? Is this idea stupid? Let me know!
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