Today marks the release of the first DLC pack for “Borderlands,” “The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned.” But it’s important not to forget that there was a whole game that came before it. An overwhelmingly excellent game, but also a game which had, shall we say, an ending that didn’t quite deliver. I spoke with Paul Helquist, the Senior Designer on “Borderlands” to find out just what went wrong:
“We went through lots of different iterations on what the ending of the game was. We ultimately ended up with what you get to play. We didn’t know how people were going to react to it. Obviously the reaction hasn’t been as strong as we had hoped [laughs]. That’s something we’re going to be keeping in mind as we do new things, whether it’s download content or other games in the future. We’re gonna think more about it and try to get more user feedback before the game comes out so we can ensure that we’ll have endings that you guys like in the future.”
Helquist did see a silver lining to the “That-was-it?” ending of the game, though:
“I think what’s great about where we did leave the player is that we have pretty much infinite options of where we want to go next. We aren’t currently working on a sequel or anything like that, so that stuff is way down the line, but just from my point of view, it’s sort of an open book in terms of where we want to go. We can go in directions that continue to explore the vault mythology or we can do something completely different. The ending of the game, for better or worse, didn’t paint us into any corners.”
Oh, and in case you’re curious what the other in-development endings were like, Helquist confirmed that none of them ended up with you going in the vault and getting a bunch of awesome stuff. “They were all pretty much doom and gloom,” he said. “We had all kinds of things that we ultimately didn’t like and changed. We had things like Marcus [the bus driver/arms dealer] showing up at the end. All kinds of weird things with the Guardian Angel [the mysterious blue woman].”
So, in the end, it seems like Gearbox is left with a blank slate. The upcoming DLC should prove to be a nice chisel.