Borderlands has centered a lot of its marketing around one major element of their games: the guns. They boast of having millions of guns, and after playing through any of the titles you will really get a sense that when guns drop and show up they rarely look, feel, or behave the same way. Up to this point, however, there has not been any real element of weapon customization or crafting in any of the games. The Pre-Sequel had “the grinder”, but that became a glorified trash can that output the same result with the right recipe, so it had almost no customization factor at all. As I’ve said in previous posts I want to be careful not to suggest something that will take away from the identity of Borderlands while still trying to add something fresh and new to the franchise.
Planet type and weapon type
First, before I can get into how some of the specific crafting will work, I need to establish a piece of how I think the new game will work. I think the various vaults should be on planets that have elemental themes that tie into the weapons that are found on that planet. So a fire planet would be rich with fire weapons, and an ice planet would be populated with ice weapons, and so forth. These elemental types would play a significant role in the game as advancing to new planets and areas would be directly impacted by the new weapon elemental types you’ve been finding. One story mechanic that could tie into this is a weapon specialist NPC that helps you plan your order of attack, as each vault and planet will be easier when coming from a planet with weapons the next is susceptible to. For example, the story could go that the weapon specialist tells you to travel to an aquatic planet first because the water weapons will be helpful when you travel to the fire planet next. This weapon specialist NPC would then be the person you interact with for weapon crafting.
Now, within crafting there could be two types of crafting. First there would be “elemental melding”, which simply combines two weapons of the same type with different elements, enabling the new gun to do both elements with a downside to having random properties and stats. The second type of crafting could be “part specing” where you farm parts from your unwanted weapons, saving up gun stocks, barrels, and large clips. Since this second option would give the player significant control over how the gun looks and performs, the downside could be that the element it ends up with is completely random. Obviously some people might push back and say that this will become too prominent in the game and would change the entire weapon system in Borderlands. And that leads to my next point.
Once every 5 levels
Rather than just be able to farm for all kinds of weapons and parts allowing you to just keep making weapons infinitely, it could be limited to only once every 5 levels. So every 5 levels you would get what amounts to a weapon crafting token to use with the weapon specialist. This is where the two types of weapon crafting would come into play. Do you have two awesome pistols with different elements that you really want to combine? Have you been farming for specific weapon parts by combing over found loot? This will probably determine whether or not you choose “elemental melding” or “part specing” when cashing in your weapon crafting token. A story element that could develop as you progress through the game could be that some planets are hybrid with respect to elements. So there might be a planet with a mix of enemies who are susceptible to corrosive and fire, so you decided to elemental meld a fire rocket launcher with a corrosive one to get one with both elements for fighting your way through the new planet. Even if there is no story development that motivates which type of crafting you choose, having it only be available every 5 levels and leaving the choice of which crafting type up to the player would make it more personalized while not being too much of a distraction that pulls away from progressing through the game. You never want a new mechanic to become its own entity within the game, and weapon crafting could certainly become that if not done properly.
I know this is a feature many might shy away from or think is too out of sync with the identity of Borderlands, but I think the Grinder was a good step toward more personalized weapons. As long as a new crafting feature didn’t become a huge focus shift in the progression of the game and was just something fun you could do every so often, it could be a great addition to a massive game and experience.
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