A couple of years back when Borderlands 2 released, people were in a bit of a snit.
For anyone who had played the first Borderlands, you knew the legendary drop rate was as close to perfect as it could get. You knew you were going to be seeing those orange weapons on the regular, and in a loot-based game, that’s a major component of what people want.
They want to experience those awesome, over-the-top weapons the dev team put so much thought into.
When Borderlands 2 released, that changed for the worse.
The game released in September of 2012, and from the get go, players were unhappy with the abysmal drop rates. I can attest to playing the game through in its entirety twice and only once seeing an orange item actually drop. And I never saw one in a loot chest. The only orange items I was seeing were mission rewards.
So it was a bit silly, and weirdly appreciated, earlier this year (over two years later!) when Gearbox finally adjusted the loot drop rates to three times what they had been. That’s a huge difference. And I still wasn’t seeing anything much.
However, shortly after the game originally released, they were quick to nerf something I loved: The Bee shield.
For anyone not familiar with the term, nerf doesn’t refer to the spongy sport items of joy, at least in this case. Nerf refers to when something is scaled down in stats.
And it wasn’t enough that they did it once. I believe, all told, they nerfed it three times. Within the first few months.
The perks of The Bee were obvious: they made you a powerhouse. The Bee is an amp shield, which means you do bonus damage at the expense of a temporary shield drain. The Bee has no drain, so you are basically getting ridiculous stats all the time.
Now in a gonzo game like Borderlands, why wouldn’t I want to use it? And if I wanted the “pure” experience, why couldn’t Gearbox trust me, the player, to decide if I didn’t want to be overpowered and to just change it out for a different shield?
It’s sort of silly.
What brought about this topic for me today was the announcement that Bungie will be nerfing the exceptional exotic weapon the Gjallarhorn in Destiny.
The Gjallarhorn (or Gjally as some people refer to it) is arguably one of the best weapons in Destiny. It’s a rocket launcher with tracking rockets, which also detonate into Wolfpack Rounds which further add to the damage. It’s a lethal combination to just about any boss in the game.
But the reason for this nerf was completely bizarre: apparently some fireteams have been unwilling to accept a player for certain types of endeavors if they do not have a Gjallarhorn.
I think that’s a pretty elitist way to decide who can join a fireteam.
I also think it’s not Bungie’s responsibility to mess with a weapon’s stats just to level the playing field thus (in theory) allowing certain players without that weapon to potentially get accepted into more matches.
Bungie has been consistently nerfing (and buffing, truth be told) weapons over the last year since the game released. They have gone back and forth on certain types of weapons, but some have suffered.
A while back, they took one of the best auto rifles in the game (the Suros Regime) and scaled down its effectiveness. It wasn’t super fun. They also significantly nerfed the Vex Mythoclast after it was just wrecking people.
This also announced that they will be nerfing the Thorn as well.
If I was still playing the game, I’d be pretty cranky about that one.
The Thorn is a hand cannon and arguably the most difficult exotic bounty to complete. The hand cannon is a beast. And if it weren’t for my partner and I sharing a profile for Destiny, and his being better at the Crucible than me, I’d never have it to begin with.
The problem I have here is twofold:
One: if there is nothing wrong with a weapon, why not leave it be? What I’m saying is, unless there was an actual mistake in the programming, why nerf a weapon at all? Video games are supposed to be fun. Having the occasional overpowered weapon can be good, silly fun. If there are people out there who don’t agree with that, they don’t have to use the weapon in question.
Two: why should a developer assume this type of responsibility in this way? In the instance of the Gjallarhorn, they are nerfing it in hopes it helps people become less discriminated against. That’s a great endeavor, however after it’s nerfed, some other weapon will take its place in the ranks, and the attitudes of those same fireteams will continue on.
Is it unfortunate that there are fireteams out there who won’t accept someone into their team without a particular loadout?
Is it Bungie’s responsibility to make up for those players?
Not really. You can’t control the millions of players out there. It’s a nice idea to try to make things more inclusive, but I don’t see it working out the way they think it might.
How do you feel about nerfs? How do you feel about overpowered weapons? Do you think it should be a developer’s responsibility to adjust weapons to alter player behavior in other ways?
And on these somber notes, I bid each of you a glorious weekend. Cheers!