Borderlands is an explosive and brash FPS-RPG franchise that hangs its hat on crude humor and the largest arsenal of weapons in gaming. Despite its reputation for being a bit one-note and too loud for its own good, it’s earned a massive following that continues to engage in the satisfying loot-grind to earn some rare guns and increase the strength of the core cast of vault hunters. Following Borderlands 3’s one year anniversary, we spent an hour chatting with Gearbox Software founder and executive producer Randy Pitchford about the early history of the franchise, the ethics of running an evolving game, and what’s to come with Borderlands 3 with the next-gen consoles on the horizon.
Editor’s Note: This interview had been edited for clarity and readability.
Firstly, given that 2020 is a chaotic year with COVID-19, how have things been at Gearbox Software?
It’s been pretty wild. We were kind of early movers in transitioning to a work from home, to follow that curve. We were one of those handful of folks back in the end of February that said, “Yeah, we’re not going to go to GDC, and we’re not going to E3.” So we shifted early to work from home, and it was a culture shock. We have a really awesome studio space, and we’re all used to working with each other and seeing each other every day, and interacting off of the live vibes of that. That is often what game development is all about. There’s a huge amount that’s collaborative, and it is a team sport.
We did take a hit when we were transitioning [to work from home]. We have some tools that we can use to get a sense of how productivity is going, and we noticed that on average we saw about a
As the pioneer of the so-called “looter-shooter” sub-genre, Gearbox Software’s Borderlands is a brash and in-your-face action-RPG series with an infinite supply of guns and a squad of badass, quirky vault hunters to get to know. After a short hiatus between entries, 2019’s Borderlands 3 was an explosive return for the franchise’s bizarre yet enticing nightmare gallery, filled with big guns, fast vehicles, and tons of pop-culture references. However since the release of 2012’s Borderlands 2, the landscape has changed, with the rise of other looter-shooter games like Destiny 2 and Tom Clancy’s The Division. Because of this, Borderlands 3’s non-subtle and more energetic approach to the loot-grind was simultaneously a nostalgic sight and something of a throwback to the early 2010s shooter.
At launch, Borderlands 3 was a solid return for the series, keeping up with the many tenets of collecting loot, nailing fast kills with your character’s expanded suite of abilities, and a plot that sought to tie up many of the franchise’s long-gestating questions. However, it wasn’t without its criticisms. While the story was a lot more sprawling in comparison to previous games, it didn’t quite land many of its more impactful moments, and its endgame content left people wanting after the story’s completion.
But like its direct predecessor, Borderlands 2, the most recent entry in the series was a game in progress and it has evolved in some significant ways over its first year. Since its September 2019 release, Borderlands 3 has seen a suite of changes and revisions that have not only fleshed out its universe but remade the original endgame loop (known as Mayhem mode), upping the thrills and keeping people invested post-campaign. In many ways, this first year of content for Borderlands 3 has gone a long way in further defining the game’s