Borderlands 'Mad Moxxi' DLC Interview: Gearbox Talks Bank, Patch Restrictions and More

By Chris Faylor, Dec 28, 2009 11:35am PST With the second downloadable add-on for Borderlands due out on Xbox 360 tomorrow (and PlayStation 3 next week and PC, well, sometime), we caught up with designer Matthew Armstrong for more on the latest addition to Gearbox's colorful shooter-RPG.

And while Matthew wasn't able to answer all our questions--the matchmaking team had already taken off for the holiday, so they couldn't tell us if there's an option for online players to seek out other DLC owners--he was able to shed some light on other aspects, including the new areas, why there aren't new foes in Riot Mode's ever-increasing enemy waves, the reasons behind the later PlayStation 3 and PC releases, and just why Gearbox is charging for more in-game storage.

Shack: The first downloadable add-on, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, was accessible pretty early in the game. How and when do we get to Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot?

Matthew Armstrong: The Lobby area is accessible almost immediately, so you can get to the new shops and start using the bank really early on. You can battle in the arena starting around level 10, but generally we recommend you wait until you have a Class Mod to tackle it (you get your first class mod around level 18). It's pretty challenging. Level 50 characters will also particularly enjoy the challenge.

Shack: Some over and under-leveled players were upset that Zombie Island's enemies and quest levels were based off one's story progress, not character level. Does Max Moxxi use the same approach?

Matthew Armstrong: Moxxi likes to keep things challenging, so the enemies will balance out according to the player level.

Shack: How do the three new Riot Mode areas differ from one another?

Matthew Armstrong: The designers created three distinct combat areas which each require different tactics and gameplay.

Hellburbia is all about street fighting. It's a small neighborhood of buildings you fight around or on top of with lots of chokepoints and tactical options. The combat is very assault/defend themed as the enemies spawn at various buildings and you have to move in to take them out.

The Angelic Ruins was based upon the ending sections of our game - the pretty snowy areas with alien ruins. Many of our players told us they wanted to spend more time there. The Ruins are hilly and open. You can't see very far, but there are almost no chokepoints. You have to keep moving to stay alive there.

The Gully is a large outdoor arena in a large canyon. It winds from the bottom, which is a dense bandit camp, up and around past the Crimson Lance region to the top where there are some premium sniping locations. There's also a teleporter that takes you from the high ground to the bottom of the gully and back again, but the badguys know how to use it too!

Shack: Judging from the screenshots, it appears that Riot Mode's "onslaught of Pandora's baddest enemies" includes some returning bosses. Are there any new enemies as well?

Matthew Armstrong: Moxxi is doing some wild and unexpected things with her Maxims which change the nature of the game constantly. Unfamiliar enemies combined with the new rules tended to frustrate players during playtesting because they couldn't make the tactical decisions and they didn't feel as if their fate was in their own hands. We want the Underdome to be challenging, not frustrating, so you will be fighting familiar enemies with in decidedly unfamiliar ways.

Shack: Beyond the new Riot Mode, can you describe some of the new quests and areas in Mad Moxxi?

Matthew Armstrong: Outside the Underdome is a cool lobby area with a bank for storing your stuff and a couple of nice shops. Beyond that we fully focused all out attention on the Underdome, making it as solid and entertaining an experience as possible.

Shack: Can you elaborate on the new bank feature? Is it just weapon storage, or all items? How much extra capacity does this allow players? Will bank storage access be available throughout all of Pandora, or only in the new Mad Moxxi areas?

Matthew Armstrong: The bank requires space. Marcus owns it, and it resides just outside the Underdome in a colorful lobby area. The lobby is small, and the bank is very close to the fast travel station and a full suite of shops, so players can get to the bank quickly and easily from anywhere in the game and stow stuff, sell stuff, or shop for new stuff. We created this feature as a direct response to what gamers were asking for.

Shack: Why add the new bank feature in a premium-priced downloadable add-on instead of a free patch?

Matthew Armstrong: Once again, it requires space. It has to exist somewhere, and there is no easy way for us to add new space to a completed game. There are some boring technical reasons but it all boils down to restrictions on space allowed for the free title updates that we can distribute to the platforms. Your audience has surely heard developers bemoan that challenge before.

Shack: Does Mad Moxxi raise the game's level cap? If not, why, and is that something that's coming in a future download?

Matthew Armstrong: Early on, we said we would dedicate our DLC to giving the players what they want. We have many loyal fans who have played the game for a long time asking us for a place to really challenge themselves and show what they can REALLY do. Riot mode is not about growth! It's about proving yourself. It's about over the top co-operative combat and seeing if you're as tough as you think you are.

We have two tiers of tournament. The small tournament is five waves and gives a real nice prize at the end. It's a challenge, but it's designed to be something that anyone can tackle with a couple of friends. Each of the three coliseums takes about 2 hours in the small one, so there are six hours of repeatable gameplay in that one. But for the hardcore player, we have the BIG Tournament, which takes you through 20 increasingly difficult rounds, with new rules added, tougher enemies, and more enemies as the rounds progress. It's an epic challenge where you have to team up with real good players and fight as a team to emerge victorious.

Some examples of these rules are things like low gravity mode or vampire mode or headshots only mode etc. As these overlap it gets to be quite intense.

Now with that being said, we do recognize that some people just want an avenue to build their character just a little more. So what we did is figured out a way to maintain compatibility across all players and also allow people who got Mad Moxxi to gain additional skill points. It's in there.

Shack: Zombie Island hit PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 simultaneously, but Mad Moxxi is arriving on PlayStation 3 a week later than Xbox 360. Why the delay? And is there any clue as to when Mad Moxxi will be available on PC?

Matthew Armstrong: We try to get everything out to our fans as quickly as possible. Development, testing, certification, and a multitude of other factors all contribute to defining the release of DLC or games on various consoles. When we find that the release/ship dates for different consoles do not fall on the same date, we have to ask ourselves whether it's better to delay some so they all ship at the same time or to allow them to ship when they are ready, regardless of the other versions.

On Borderlands, we've generally decided to release things when they are ready to be released. Almost every developer or publisher has to make this call sometimes. It is inherent to making games. Next time maybe we'd love to do things differently.

Shack: Is there more Borderlands downloadable content in the works?

Matthew Armstrong: Our customers called out for more story and more humor and zombies. So we made The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. Our customers called out for a place to test their skills and have a real co-op challenge. They asked for a bank to store their stuff. So we made Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot.

We would love to continue the trend. If our customers continue to buy and play the DLC we make, then we know we are going in the right direction, and we can afford to take the time and money to deliver on the other things players are asking for.

Priced at $10 / 800 Microsoft Points, the downloadable Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot add-on will be available to Borderlands Xbox 360 owners on Tuesday, December 29, followed by a PlayStation 3 release on Thursday, January 7.

It's also coming to the PC, though an exact timeframe has yet to be announced.

Click here to comment...


  • I've played the shit out of this game, and i love it, and will probably buy the next DLC.
    I also have been neglecting TF2 since this game came out. But last night i played some TF2. Here are some things that BL could take from TF2.
    1. Connecting to an internet game is really easy in TF2, borderlands is very finicky, some times i get connected to my friends games sometimes i dont.
    2. TF2 Graphics work perfectly, borderlands has minor issues, not deal breakers.
    3. TF2 is much more challenging, my friend i were thinking that it would be nice if they had the AI from fear, or farcry.
    4. i think they should add personal loot for rare items.

    Basically borderlands is a great base, but it really needs to polished. I'm all for buggy games, but i think they should have free DLC to show love for the gamer who has bought the game and puts up with the shit.

  • Take Stardock for instance. They do niche games, but they deliver exactly what their target audience wants. In their current project - Elemental - they've given the beta-testers quite a lot of influence on the development direction. If the community agrees they want something, Stardock will deliver.

    And each Stardock game brought 10x return on investment. Sure, the numbers aren't as high as for Modern Warfare, but its 10x ROI !

    If you just shove the game out of the door without thinking about your target audience, you'll get burned rather quickly in PC world.

  • Stuff I would have liked to see instead of the 10 dolla "Rehash'd" treatment.

    -Or more appropriately titled-

    Stuff that would happen if this were made by Valve.

    New mobs, more mob w/resistances, new guns, new gun models, weapon crafting, stat mixing, (ice+electric, etc) higher levels w/ a 4th skill line for each class to accomodate post-50 skill point attainment, trading interface, player specific loot drops in MP, self-only and shared storage, improved PC HUD/interface (smaller fonts & option off for individual components + color blind accessibility option), DX10/11 supported, (and actually included) proper FoV, PTT voice chat, text chat buffer and improved MP connectivity support (kick gamespy to the fucking curb already).

    I'm predicting none of the above will see the light of day ('cept obviously pers. storage - for a price of course) until "Borderlands 2" and the PC tweaks will never see light of day at all. Next installment likely won't even be on PC if the current support is any indicator. If it does make it to PC, I wouldn't be all that surprised if 2K just has some third party studio port it over on the cheap with no post release support at all.

  • What about the retarded voice chat in the PC version, or the especially horrible FOV? Playing this on a 16:9 monitor just hurts my eyes, and I've NEVER had a FOV issue with any other PC game (this is coming from a long time FPS gamer). Or the port opening to play online, etc. Honestly, it's a fun game but I'm not putting any money into it until this shit is addressed, which it likely never will be.

    It's sad, especially when they talked up the fact that the PC version wouldn't just be a crappy port, when that's exactly what we got.

  • bunches of bs with the explanations of "our customers wanted".

    The announcement for the first DLC came out before launch of the game, and with a Halloween theme it was probably intended to be available for Halloween, so to say "our customers wanted" is just spin to cover up for a money grab.

    The reality is that they are milking the cow for what it is worth. Personally I have no problem with this. The game is good. The DLCs are decent. But don't try to pretend that this is something it is not. This is not steam and TFT.

    The devs should just come out and say that their support is going to be in the form of DLCs. Want more/better expect to pay for it.

    But they do need to fix the horrible browser and hosting issues.