Creative Director Paul Helquist says Borderlands could have been OJ and milk instead of peanut butter and chocolate.
Borderlands turned out to be a surprise hit when it was released in 2009, and Borderlands 2 creative director Paul Helquist says the team definitely learned some lessons from the experience.
"I think Borderlands in general was a risk," Helquist told Polygon at the 2012 PAX East convention. "Because it was cramming two genres together and you don't know if you're going to get a peanut butter cup or whether you're gonna get … what's a horrible combination? Like drinking orange juice after having a glass of milk or something."
Helquist said that one of the biggest surprises of Borderlands was how well players recieved many of the decisions the development team saw as a risk.
"So far everything that we tried that we thought was pretty risky has turned out to be something that people are really responding to," he said. "A lot of our risk taking was done during the DLC process. We sort of used that as a test bed for ideas to see what people would respond to."
"Everything we thought was risky turned out to be something people are really responding to."
The "uber boss" at the end of the DLC campaign "The Secret Armory of General Knoxx" was one of these. Helquist says that he's still surprised by how much players enjoy what was thought to be too hard for even Borderlands players.
"It was supposed to be super challenging, really hard," he said. "And people loved that. It's something that people still do on a daily basis."
Helquist says the goal for Borderlands 2 was to polish the rough edges, but not dilute the experience. They were also looking to address feedback from reviewers and fans. First among which being the desire for more story.
Helquist said that Borderlands fans enjoyed playing in the world Gearbox created, but wanted more story that they could sink their teeth into.
"This time around we're really focusing on making sure that we've got a compelling plot line," Helquist said. "As well as all the zany side missions and interesting characters that Borderlands really brought to the table.
"The plot line is significantly more integrated into your moment to moment. Everything is delivered through dialogue now."