The Borderlands series has revolved around 4-player co-op, a trait which Gearbox readily admits is based largely on performance optimization for the current generation of consoles. "It's mostly for performance, to keep the network bandwidth down low enough that everyone can have a rich and fast-paced experience," creative director Paul Hellquist said. "Because Borderlands is a very fast-paced game. So if we went further than that, framerates and all that kind of stuff would suffer."
Even with new and more powerful hardware on the way, though, Hellquist indicated that they'll probably stick with the player count to keep the action manageable.
Speaking to AusGamers, Hellquist said that factors like frame rates would suffer with a higher player count, so they keep the network bandwidth low to keep it fast-paced. When pressed if the new consoles would alleviate that concern and allow for more simultaneous players, Hellquist segued the other reason they've gone (and will likely stay) with four.
"There's obviously more power, so some of those performance things will diminish, but... [laughs] we are always filling up all of the performance we are given by the hardware manufacturers, so I'm sure we'll have different challenges," he said. "But there is also a thing we've talked a lot about internally with going more than four, where we think that if we go too much more than four, the experience will actually start to break down; that four is kind of a nice sweet spot, in terms of enough craziness, and of all of these different personalities and character classes and everything, but you can still kind of keep track of what's happening.
"We do have a little bit of a worry that if we go to eight or sixteen or something crazy, that everyone will spread out, and you'll kind of actually lose that more intimate 'We’re working together' kind of experience. So there's an interesting balance there that we'll need to investigate."