Gearbox Can't Increase Borderlands 2's Level Cap (Without Breaking It)

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Gearbox Can't Increase Borderlands 2's Level Cap (Without Breaking It)

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Players might be ready for more level-ups, but their hardware isn't.

Borderlands has always had a pretty good track record with DLC expansions, adding new content and, by extension, more loot and experience points for players to earn. The first Borderlands created room for growth by raising the level cap as DLC was released, eventually bumping the max level from 50 up to 69. Borderlands 2, however, hasn't budged from its 50-level limit after three expansions' worth of new content. Top-level players are getting restless without character progression, and Borderlands developer Gearbox Software understands - it just can't do anything about it.

"We, as customers and gamers ourselves, hear the fans," says Gearbox president Randy Pitchford. "People want to level up more. It makes sense. We totally get it. We did it in Borderlands 1, so we have the precedent. And we're gonna break our fucking game if we change the math."

As Pitchford explains it, the team at Gearbox was very conscious of exactly what combinations of skills were possible with a level cap of 50. The way the skill system is implemented, players would be overwhelmingly powerful if they had the added flexibility of a few more points. Not only would it disrupt the game's balance, it would run the risk of exceeding the capabilities of the game itself. "We knew the impossible configurations. Some of the design exploits that. Some of the impossible configurations, if they were possible, would break the game. Sometimes very literally. 'Oh, that's gonna blow memory. Your Xbox will crash.'"

There are a handful of other challenges that exacerbate the problem of post-level 50 content. If the skills could be balanced, players will still need higher level enemies to avoid turning the game into a cakewalk. Worse still, enemies that are balanced against overpowered post-50 skill combinations would turn around and crush players with less optimized skills. This is to say nothing of the expectations of new max-level items, which present another slew of balance issues.

"It's easy to imagine," says Pitchford, "when we're playing the game, 'We could just change the number, and everything would be fine.' No, dude, there's a lot... This is the most fundamental thing about the game. It's a big deal."

Gearbox has released three expansions for Borderlands 2 so far, with a fourth coming soon to round out the game's DLC "season." From the sound of it, a level cap increase isn't likely this time around either, though Pitchford notes that only about 16 percent of players hit level 50 at all.

Source: VentureBeat

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I personally like making new characters once I have hit the apex of a previous character's potential. Is this something the player base is really adamant about? Sounds kind of silly to me.

Just add an exp bar that slowly goes up with kills and changes just the level number and none of the actual stats. the majority wont know or care

That's bull. Anyone played the most recent DLC and agree with this? I've got multiple level 50 characters and some of the new Level 53 enemies are crazy hard even with a good skills combo and full loadout of legendary weapons. Current endgame design basically requires good co-op partners, an increased level cap may strain an xbox's hardware but no way would it break the game for 95% of players. Regardless, they could have let people know this from the start instead of letting us expect the cap raise for 6 months. Very poor form Gearbox, I expected more from you.

That's a shame, I was actually waiting for the level cap to increase before playing the DLC on True Vault Hunter Mode. But if they can't do it without breaking or completely unbalancing it then oh well. I'm still having a blast.

Fappy:
Is this something the player base is really adamant about? Sounds kind of silly to me.

Go check out the Borderlands Facebook page or Randy Pitchford's Twitter, you won't believe how many people are complaining about it. Every time they announce a patch or something it just gets flooded with comments of 'RAISE THE FUCKING LEVEL CAP!' or something along those lines.

Supermane1985:
That's bull. Anyone played the most recent DLC and agree with this? I've got multiple level 50 characters and some of the new Level 53 enemies are crazy hard even with a good skills combo and full loadout of legendary weapons. Current endgame design basically requires good co-op partners, an increased level cap may strain an xbox's hardware but no way would it break the game for 95% of players. Regardless, they could have let people know this from the start instead of letting us expect the cap raise for 6 months. Very poor form Gearbox, I expected more from you.

Did you even read the article? This obviously isn't something they anticipated. Also, the end game isn't THAT hard. With the right loadouts for each area/raid boss you can solo anything. Sure it may be challenging but what the fuck is the point of playing if you can just roll over everything like in the first game?

Supermane1985:
That's bull. Anyone played the most recent DLC and agree with this? I've got multiple level 50 characters and some of the new Level 53 enemies are crazy hard even with a good skills combo and full loadout of legendary weapons. Current endgame design basically requires good co-op partners,

The endgame isn't supposed to be easy; if you want easy go back to some lower level place and one shot everything.

an increased level cap may strain an xbox's hardware but no way would it break the game for 95% of players.

I'm going to go with the assumption that the people who actually designed the game and are adamantly opposed to raising the level cap (even though it probably isn't that difficult a thing to actually do) know more about what will break the game than you.

Regardless, they could have let people know this from the start instead of letting us expect the cap raise for 6 months. Very poor form Gearbox, I expected more from you.

Or, they could have never told you, ignored your pleas for an increase in the level cap, and enjoyed all the money they had, but they didn't. They decided to come out and say that they could very well raise the cap, and are very aware that people want them to, but that doing so would cause an, admittedly vague, set of problems to both game balance and actual hardware. Would you rather have them cave to your demands and then wind up with a broken game?

RedDeadFred:

Supermane1985:
That's bull. Anyone played the most recent DLC and agree with this? I've got multiple level 50 characters and some of the new Level 53 enemies are crazy hard even with a good skills combo and full loadout of legendary weapons. Current endgame design basically requires good co-op partners, an increased level cap may strain an xbox's hardware but no way would it break the game for 95% of players. Regardless, they could have let people know this from the start instead of letting us expect the cap raise for 6 months. Very poor form Gearbox, I expected more from you.

Did you even read the article? This obviously isn't something they anticipated. Also, the end game isn't THAT hard. With the right loadouts for each area/raid boss you can solo anything. Sure it may be challenging but what the fuck is the point of playing if you can just roll over everything like in the first game?

"As Pitchford explains it, the team at Gearbox was very conscious of exactly what combinations of skills were possible with a level cap of 50. The way the skill system is implemented, players would be overwhelmingly powerful if they had the added flexibility of a few more points."

Sounds to me like they saw a huge problem very early on.

After reading the original interview it seems to be less of a 'We can never and will never increase the level cap so stop asking' feel and more of a 'It's going to be harder to do than just throwing 5 extra skill points at you' sort of feeling to it. I'm sure they will figure out a way around it but it feels like he was trying to get across how much work goes into the level increase since many fans seem to think it's an incredibly easy thing.

I know it would be work but if they knew that increasing the cap would break the fundamentals of the game then they should have planned for it when making the game. Like say a new set of skills when you reach fifty and your old ones are locked out, accepted for when you rework them. Or something like that. I mean they had to know people would want a raised level cap and that they would want more endgame content. I mean there was a season pass for four pieces of DLC, that raises expectations.

This I understand, but could they not reduce the amount you have to invest in a tree to progress? I mean, at the moment, it's about five points or so to get to the next tier of abilities? That means it takes some serious investment to get to the best abilities.

I've played with a few people that modded their games to increase their level cap. I chatted with them quite a bit about it and they weren't having any trouble with running those profiles on their non-modded consoles. I call bullshit here. While their combos were scary, the enemies only got much scarier. The game is already unbalanced: giving just a few more points would really help balance things out so we wouldn't have to rely on glitches to stand a chance.

Supermane1985:

RedDeadFred:

Supermane1985:
That's bull. Anyone played the most recent DLC and agree with this? I've got multiple level 50 characters and some of the new Level 53 enemies are crazy hard even with a good skills combo and full loadout of legendary weapons. Current endgame design basically requires good co-op partners, an increased level cap may strain an xbox's hardware but no way would it break the game for 95% of players. Regardless, they could have let people know this from the start instead of letting us expect the cap raise for 6 months. Very poor form Gearbox, I expected more from you.

Did you even read the article? This obviously isn't something they anticipated. Also, the end game isn't THAT hard. With the right loadouts for each area/raid boss you can solo anything. Sure it may be challenging but what the fuck is the point of playing if you can just roll over everything like in the first game?

"As Pitchford explains it, the team at Gearbox was very conscious of exactly what combinations of skills were possible with a level cap of 50. The way the skill system is implemented, players would be overwhelmingly powerful if they had the added flexibility of a few more points."

Sounds to me like they saw a huge problem very early on.

I didn't think that was the big issue though. They said it would literally break the game. You can always tweak the balance of other skills to make sure they aren't too OP when put together. Heck they could even program it so that if certain skills are used together, they get a nerf specific to that situation. I don't think they anticipated it literally breaking the game.

So they deliberately made a game that had nowhere to go even though they had plenty of DLC planned for it?

Not only would it disrupt the game's balance, it would run the risk of exceeding the capabilities of the game itself. "We knew the impossible configurations. Some of the design exploits that. Some of the impossible configurations, if they were possible, would break the game. Sometimes very literally. 'Oh, that's gonna blow memory. Your Xbox will crash.'"

There would be a potential work around for that, however it would come at a small price. If certain combinations would physically crash the game, then there would have to be restrictions on combinations. For example: If x is chosen y becomes locked.

Granted implementing it would take time and potentially cause bugs, but it is possible. And the small price of locking certain combinations would only annoy a small subset of people who complete freedom to choose anything.

In fact an alternative option would be to have a subset of skills that kick in at level 50 and lock the previous ones out. These skills could be balanced and tested to ensure there is no game breaking conflict.

So really, there are ways around it. Though with only 16% of the player base getting that high a level it probably wouldn't be cost effective.

I hacked the skill points and unlocked everything back when I played through the original campaign...made me more than a little overpowered but didn't exactly asplode the game. I still died more than enough times on normal difficulty (probably due to skipping almost all of the side quests) and could still easily lose a duel if I did particularly badly...I don't see a few extra points doing all that much.

Allow us to interchange characters as we progress through the game. This means if we hit max lev we can just swap out to a under level character and boost them, I love Claptrap but the idea of doing his starting missions five times is a tad jarring.

Then why make the cap 50 and not 99?
50 is such an awkward, arbitrary number to place a level cap at.
It suggests room to grow and since that isn't technically possible or something, what gives?

Besides if x+y somehow crashes the game, how about fixing that?
Why would you put that in the game and leave it there, well aware of its existence?

You know what part stood out the most in this article?

'Oh, that's gonna blow memory. Your Xbox will crash.'"

Screw everythin else he just said. What does this tell you? Borderlands 2 is not a super graphically intensive game out there, and yet certain skill combinations would stress the console so much that it'd literally crash.

We need new consoles and we need them now.

Hazy992:
That's a shame, I was actually waiting for the level cap to increase before playing the DLC on True Vault Hunter Mode. But if they can't do it without breaking or completely unbalancing it then oh well. I'm still having a blast.

Fappy:
Is this something the player base is really adamant about? Sounds kind of silly to me.

Go check out the Borderlands Facebook page or Randy Pitchford's Twitter, you won't believe how many people are complaining about it. Every time they announce a patch or something it just gets flooded with comments of 'RAISE THE FUCKING LEVEL CAP!' or something along those lines.

Are they just saying that baselessly? Why would there be a need to raise the skill cap more?

shintakie10:
You know what part stood out the most in this article?

'Oh, that's gonna blow memory. Your Xbox will crash.'"

Screw everythin else he just said. What does this tell you? Borderlands 2 is not a super graphically intensive game out there, and yet certain skill combinations would stress the console so much that it'd literally crash.

We need new consoles and we need them now.

And why isn't it possible on PC? I'm pretty sure PC has a shot at it. I guess they want to make the game fair for all platforms. Still, no harm in trying.

OT- At least they're straight up honest, unlike some certain game companies which shall not be named to avoid flame wars.

I don't see why they can't raise the cap to 99 or so and just not give us skill points only health boosts, if the enemies leveled with you solo players would stand somewhat of a chance in the DLCs.

I fully understand what he's getting at, mostly because if I had a few more skill points, I could combine my Siren's Ruin capstone skill (Area slag, acid, lightning, etc. upon phaselock of an enemy) with the enemy grouping and repeating phaselock from the motion tree...

Ok this is just silly.

First..only 16% of players hit the current cap of lvl 50? So only 16% of players like the game basically?

Second, increasing the level cap is easy, just don't give anymore skill points but instead give "epic" or whatever you want points that go into a new set of "universal" skills (Same for all players.

The skills could be things like:

Absolute damage: Increases total damage of all attacks/guns/powers by 5% per point (1 point per level, max of 5 points invested in the skill)

Max Health: Increases max health by 5% per level (max 10 points invested).

Ammo Regen: Gives 1 ammo regen per second per point. Max of 5 points.

Etc etc. There are tons of universal abilities that could be made (shield based ones etc).

This not only solves the current level cap problem (allowing an increase of 10 levels the first time to 60 total), but provides for future increases as well.

It certainly wouldn't "break" the game doing that..and it would be fun. It would also allow players to grow stronger vs current content..without making them insanely more powerful...and allow for new higher level content to still be playable even by level 50 characters (Lvls post 50 still count at 50 for all base stats etc...it's just the epic abilities that increase).

And yeah, I thought of that in like 2 seconds after reading this post....how can they not come up with something WAAAAY better with a full staff and so many months to think about it?

Another nice addition would be to have one of the "epic skills" be weapon specialization. It basically brings back weapon spec from the first game...and the more points you invest in it (max 10) the larger the bonus you get as you use a gun more and more (10% of max bonus per point up to a max of 100%).

This would bring back having chars specialize in a few guns..and have no limit on that specialization (although it gets slower and slower).

Using guns would give accuracy/damage/reload speed/fire rate boosts just like in the first game...with the added requirement of needing 10 points in the skill to get the full bonus.

Would be nice to have that back, and thats a great way to add in playability to epic levels.

If it will break consoles hardware leave it as is..

But can we get a level cap raise on PC? Our hardware CAN handle it without blowing up..

I think the specific explodificating combinations are ones where you have multiple Action Skill or Melee overrides in place simultaneously. The 'obvious' answer there is of course to just not allow those specific abilities to be used in combination.

It would've been nice if he'd elaborated on which combinations specifically broke the game.

I'm calling crap that players with more skill points would be OP. I've played with moded characters at my bud's place and, despite having all skills unlocked, I wasn't "one-man-armying" my way through enemies. Sure I felt powerful, but shouldn't you feel powerful at the lvl cap? I know I certainly don't in the regular game when I can get killed in seconds by some pack of bandits with crap weapons, while I'm kited out in all legendarys.

But why are they so concerned with players being OP? I've been completely unable to fight bosses without resorting to bug exploitation and glitches. For example: The Badassasaurus fight in the Torque DLC was completely unwinable, even with a full party. The only way we beat him was by throwing Deliverance (http://borderlands.wikia.com/wiki/Deliverance) under the door over and over until we won. And we're all level 50.
And I know that you can disable his attacks by blowing up barrels on his body, but we couldn't get close. As soon as we exposed any part of our pathetically weak and squishy LVL 50 bodies we got hit with homing missiles and died.

We had to completely give up on the Pete the Invincible fight because we couldn't find any way to glitch him out. Also when he hit us with his AOE Acid Attack and we had to get under the water pipes to wash it off, swarms of lvl 66 spider ants would come out of the pipes and kill us anyway.
And yes I know you're supposed to swap between the two pipes, but trying to think about that sort of thing is a bit hard when you're covered in acid and a guy is chasing you with flamethrowers. It probably would have been winnable if turning on the pipes didn't cause a bunch of Mobs to spawn and try to kill you and you alone before fighting each other.

Zakarath:
I fully understand what he's getting at, mostly because if I had a few more skill points, I could combine my Siren's Ruin capstone skill (Area slag, acid, lightning, etc. upon phaselock of an enemy) with the enemy grouping and repeating phaselock from the motion tree...

I did that. It's really really useful, but it's certainly not over powered.

wulfy42:
Ok this is just silly.

First..only 16% of players hit the current cap of lvl 50? So only 16% of players like the game basically?

Dude a lot of people don't finish games. Something like 80% don't finish your average game. Maybe some finish some games, some finish others, etcetera.

That's why a lot of games have good openings but shit endings because the devs figure people won't get to the end anyway (that and the end gets cut first usually)

I understand where they're coming from. I did a little side-by side comparison of the first and second games, and the first game has way lower numbers to crunch. A level 69 machine gun has, at most, less than 700 damage, and sniper rifles max out at about 1200 (if that). BL2 sports pistols that boast 3000 damage and sniper rifles that hit the ten thousand mark. That's math the game has to do every time you fire your gun at an enemy, eventually it's going to hit numbers too big, too quickly to calculate or have numbers that come in an unexpected combination, over taxing the memory and borking the whole system.

an annoyed writer:
I've played with a few people that modded their games to increase their level cap. I chatted with them quite a bit about it and they weren't having any trouble with running those profiles on their non-modded consoles. I call bullshit here. While their combos were scary, the enemies only got much scarier. The game is already unbalanced: giving just a few more points would really help balance things out so we wouldn't have to rely on glitches to stand a chance.

I played with increasing the skills post-level cap once I had "finished" Borderlands 2 on the PC and the results were not hilariously only unbalanced - phase locking and wiping out entire rooms - but I noticed a significant performance drop upon activating phaselock as a Siren. I have no way of knowing if this is enough to crash an Xbox 360 but, given my experience with the console, I can see it happening.

OT: Meh. The game didn't hold my attention after my first run through of the vanillia content so it doesn't really bother me and for those still playing I doubt it's a deal breaker.

EDIT:

Machine Man 1992:
I understand where they're coming from. I did a little side-by side comparison of the first and second games, and the first game has way lower numbers to crunch. A level 69 machine gun has, at most, less than 700 damage, and sniper rifles max out at about 1200 (if that). BL2 sports pistols that boast 3000 damage and sniper rifles that hit the ten thousand mark. That's math the game has to do every time you fire your gun at an enemy, eventually it's going to hit numbers too big, too quickly to calculate or have numbers that come in an unexpected combination, over taxing the memory and borking the whole system.

Huh, I didn't even think of that. Thanks for the numbers!

This is really unfortunate since you can easily max out your characters before getting into the DLC, basically making all the DLC pointless. I mean, you get new weapons from the DLC but considering the fact that they keep giving away gold keys we're all getting tons of extremely high level loot anyway. In terms of character development this means that there is literally no point to playing the DLCs other than to get badass points.

Now are the DLCs interesting to play? Of course, but it just feels hollow without being able to level up your character while doing it, which is what Borderlands has always been about, the loot and the leveling.

Well that's a shame. They did it in 1, but I can see why it would be a problem. With all five points in Metal Storm and a few others, I had a few framerate issues. Nothing to bitch about, but I can see how it would fry the system. Although Gearbox is such a cool developer I can say, it's OK man, it's just a little fuck-up, which is a lot more than I can say for others. >.> Visceral

Also I'm in the 16%, I feel special :3

wulfy42:
Ok this is just silly.

First..only 16% of players hit the current cap of lvl 50? So only 16% of players like the game basically?

This is what confuses me a little.

I love the game. I've put 50 hours into it, finishing the main quest and the first two DLCs along with a bunch of side quests. I still have not reached the level cap with my single character. Am I doing it wrong? I keep seeing people talk about how easy it is to hit the cap, and I'm really not all that close after 50 hours of one character...

who the hell invented level cap anyway? what happened to no level cap games? why would you EVER want a level cap? maybe if you fail to program a formula for skills based on level, you know, you fail at basic math. there is no other excuse.

FelixG:
If it will break consoles hardware leave it as is..

But can we get a level cap raise on PC? Our hardware CAN handle it without blowing up..

No, because the industry is trying to be as much up Console ass as possible at the moment.

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