Borderlands Preview: Diablo with Guns, Looking Fun

"Oh, he's still sizzling," said a Gearbox representative. "Did he drop anything good?"

Imagine Diablo in first person, with guns rather than swords, hilarious levels of violence, and a large open world to explore. That's what Borderlands (PC, 360, PS3) is shaping up to be, based on the extended demo I was just shown.

Developer Gearbox is calling this an RPS, or roleplaying shooter, and the term certainly fits. All of the typical Diablo caveats are on display: the level bar, the skill trees, the story moments and drop-in, drop-out online play for up to four players.

Some extra details not immediately evident in the excellent walkthrough video:

  • Each gun is procedurally generated, with statistics such as firepower, reload speed and magazine size also randomized.
  • Weapon attributes are reflected in their appearance. A gun that glows green possesses face-melting poison.
  • Chest drops are totally randomized, just like in Diablo. The producers were constantly looking for better drops.
  • Skills are upgraded via software skill stations.
  • Skill category examples are Gear and Physique. Some examples of talents were increasing the number of grenades you can carry, or increasing your reload speed.
  • Proficiencies exist, such as "Assault Rifle proficiency," that are automatically upgraded in level.
  • Vehicle driving looked exaggerated for fun; the dune buggy shown was making huge jumps in the fashion of Halo or Battlefield.
  • All vehicles are designed with co-op in mind. Players can always trade places on the fly.
  • Dynamic music system.
  • Dismemberment is off the charts--limbs and torsos soar through the air, and explosions send enemies flying.
  • There are no longer half a million guns in the game; there are, in fact, 653,000 guns.