The Borderlands franchise is widely considered to be one of the best co-op shooters on the market. Its zany charm, gorgeous cel-shaded art style, and addictive looting systems all combine to create some of the most beloved and memorable gaming experiences of all time, but it might be time for the series to switch things up a little. While the first Borderlands pioneered the modern co-op shooter experience, and Borderlands 2 perfected it, Borderlands 3 felt a little too same-y for some fans. If and when Borderlands 4 releases, it might be time for the franchise to experiment outside of its comfort zone with a proper open world.
Open-world games have been a staple of the gaming industry for quite some time now, with Far Cry 3 massively helping to popularize the genre in 2012. Since then, open-world games have flooded the market, and although there's nothing worse than a half-baked, empty open-world game, the Borderlands franchise could actually fit quite well into it, and it's not a bad direction for Borderlands 4 to go in.
The Case For Borderlands 4 Going Full Open-World
The Borderlands series already borrows a lot of elements from the open-world genre. Players are often dropped into fairly large open zones, some of which require a vehicle to traverse, and they can pick up a variety of quests from across the map. Borderlands' ever-evolving loot system is also very reminiscent of open-world games, with players constantly finding better gear through exploration and progression. But the Borderlands games have never quite been considered full open-world titles.
There are a good few potential benefits for Borderlands 4 going full open-world. One of those is greater immersion in the game's universe. With a large open-world, there also usually comes a lack of loading screens. One of the biggest issues of the original Borderlands titles is their frequent loading screens, popping up every time the player fast travels or enters a new area. These loading screens could take quite a while, and they took players out of the game for a minute or two. Having a full open-world would mean that players don't need to sit behind loading screens anymore, allowing them to be fully immersed in the game.
A full open-world would also help to make Borderlands 4's map feel a bit more dynamic. In past games, gameplay would often just involve the player receiving a quest, and traveling toward that objective, seeing very little along the way. Going full open-world could allow for more events to happen in the open world, like those seen in Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, such as different groups of raiders and Psychos fighting each other by themselves.
The Case Against Borderlands 4 Going Full Open-World
On the other hand, taking a more restricted approach, following in the footsteps of previous games in the series, Borderlands 4 could continue to feature more varied environments. In Borderlands 3, players were able to travel to different planets, with each feeling truly unique. By going full open-world, Borderlands 4 would run the risk of everything looking a little too same-y, as the environments would have to remain realistic and appear as though they'd all naturally be linked together.
Keeping each environment separate allows Borderlands 4 to get creative with its areas, giving each one unique hazards, enemies, and structures. Variety has always been at the heart of the Borderlands series, and it would be a shame to lose that in exchange for a mediocre open-world. It would make sense if Gearbox ultimately decides to stick to its strengths, but nevertheless, an open world is at least worth considering for Borderlands 4.
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