Just completed a lightning round phone interview with Gearbox regarding the next DLC pack of "Borderlands," entitled "Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot." The initial press release mentioned a focus on arena-based play, and, based on the few arena quests that were in the original release, I didn't think that sounded tremendously interesting. Gearbox's Jon Hemingway, the designer on the next DLC pack, was happy to clarify just what we can expect.
I started off by mentioning the arena quests from the first game, and Hemingway was quick to correct me:
"This is totally different...basically the idea is that we have this character, Moxxi. She's running this underground coliseum tournament arena thing. The best thing you could compare it to is either Horde mode in 'Gears of War 2' or Firefight mode in 'ODST.' But even those don't quite sum it up.
"It's all about this crazy Moxxi character, and she's running these tournaments. You go in and fight waves and rounds of monsters, and then she starts changing it all up. She throws out what are called 'Moxxi Maxims,' these rules that dramatically change the way the game play. She'll be like, 'Vampire Rule!' which makes it so that the player's health is constantly draining, but every time you get a kill you get a whole bunch of health back. Now all the players are like, 'Holy crap, I have to play amazingly aggressive,' so you have to charge in before you basically bleed out. Another example, she'll go 'Shotgun Challenge,' where all shotguns do bonus damage and all other guns take a penalty."
The comparisons to "Firefight" seem pretty apt, but in terms of the scale and length, it seems like these battles will go considerably longer. Regarding the play time:
"There's a small tournament and a big tournament. The small tournament takes probably about an hour, and most people will be able to get through that. The big tournament...one of the things people have been asking for is for something that challenges them, and that's what the big tournament is. I think the last time I went through it, it took me six hours to get through a big tournament. You can't save your progress, you have to do it in one sitting, but you can stop, walk away from it and come back [Ed note: You just can't turn the system off]. It's really hardcore. To get through the big tournament, you'll have to get some friends who are very good and you'll all have to plan out what people are going to do and what weapons you're bringing."
The complaints that "Borderlands" may have been too easy will probably be put to rest once people spend an entire Saturday trying to complete one of these big tournaments. Hardcore indeed.
Oh, and while we're at it, here's official, unedited pitch from Gearbox's Randy Pitchford:
This is an ENTIRELY NEW GAME MODE.
Think ODST's "Firefight" or Gears of War's "Horde Mode".
Cash, prizes and competition!
It's like Smash TV in coop FPS, but in the Borderlands.
This DLC expands greatly on the possibilities of combat as well adding a ton of new rules such as vampire mode or low gravity mode etc. This is not just deathmatch arenas [sic].
These are not just new deathmatch areas.
Yes, he said that twice. His rabid enthusiasm even comes through in email form.