So, if this week has proven anything to anyone, it’s that a lot of people love Borderlands. What’s not to love? It’s a smart, addictive game with a personality that is entirely its own. It’s a game that proves that risky new IP can go on to major success, given the chance. Gearbox’s RPG/FPS fully deserves all the love it gets.
I love Borderlands too, but I’m fairly certain that I love it in an entirely different way to the rest of you.
I wrote not too long ago about how games helped me to combat depression, offering an example on how my favourite hobby had a positive effect on my life. What I didn’t talk about is how Borderlands in particular had a bigger, more significant impact; it managed to keep my relationship together over six months that I had to spend away from my partner. Let me start from the top.
I adored the game before I met the lucky girl who is now my wife, of course; however, after a chance meeting and many, many subsequent interactions via Twitter, we decided to start playing the game together over Xbox LIVE. After a relatively short period spent working though the opening portion of the game, we bonded in a way that we simply couldn’t have under any other circumstances; you see, I was in the UK, she was in Australia.
Still, we decided that we knew each other well enough by this point. I bit the bullet and flew out to Australia in September 2010 to spend two weeks determining whether what we had was worth pursuing. Long story short; we made a great couple. I was to return to England with a heck of a lot of saving to do, along with many other things to organise in order to emigrate to Australia to be with her.
Unfortunately, this would take half a year. I can say with considerable certainty that if it wasn’t for Borderlands, our relationship probably wouldn’t have lasted during that time.
It became an obsession. Every weekend without fail, we would take to the barren Pandora deserts like Bonnie & Clyde, tackling bandits and creatures, looting every single chest we could find. The inhabitants of Pandora didn’t know what had hit them.
Traits of our personalities – and thus traits typical of our relationship – would seep into our play. During the week I would grab any loot that I thought she would like. She would greet me on Saturday morning and my Roland would throw an entire armoury at her Lilith’s feet, just on the off chance that she might want the electric SMG or healing shield I found.
My slower, more cautious long-range gameplan worked surprisingly well with her ‘let’s get this done’ attitude. Often I’d be scoping out a bandit camp, counting patrolling enemies and spotting potential spawn points, only to see they’d begun firing on something. I’d lower my scope slightly, and there she’d be, running into battle Leroy-Jenkins-style, with all the enthusiasm of a cowboy firing his guns into the air at a hoedown.
We’d laugh about it when the fight was over, though somehow it was me that ended up continually downed in spite of this contrast in play-styles. She’d always Phase Walk her way to my rescue, though.
In the space of those six months, we blitzed the game several times, including all DLC; even Moxxi and her bastarding Underdome. When we’d done all there was to do, Crawmerax was always there for the taking as many times as we wanted, always guarding his precious and powerful loot.
People can argue the merits of achievements and Gamerscore all they like, but that 100% completion status on Xbox LIVE will be the only time that I’ll ever be proud to have got all achievements on one game. It simply represents so much more than I could have ever hoped.
Although it was still very much a tough six months apart, through Borderlands we found a way to keep ourselves engaging and working together where traditional long-distance relationships may (and probably would) have faltered. It made us a better couple during our time apart.
Well over a year on, and we’re happily married (with a cat called Moxxi, funnily enough) and Borderlands 2 has just been released. You better believe we’re going to blitz it too, only this time we get to do so in the benefit of each other’s company, thanks partly to its predecessor.
Wherever life may take us both going forward, whatever ups and downs are in store — we’ll always have Borderlands.