Exploitation Station

We're walking, we're walking, we're walking... and to our left up the shitty slope we have the Capital Wasteland Museum of Oddities and Antiquities. It wasn't much, but those four corrugated iron walls were my home for over 240 gaming hours, and was filled with fantastic artifacts.

A strange thing happened to me recently. My good friend Rook gifted Borderlands to me for my last birthday and, as I rarely play more than one game at a time, it sat on my shelf resplendent in all its foil-covered glory until just a few weeks ago when I had moved on from Fallout 3 and Risen.  I was hesitant at first, as I’m not really one for playing first person shooters thanks to my inability to stop looking around in awe muttering “oooh… that bit’s lovely” and “oh now I’d like to stay HERE!” every few seconds.  Somehow, in first person shooter world, you’re not afforded enough time to take in the scenery and dream of sunny days atop flower-peppered hills.

Whenever I’m playing a game with different weapon stats, be they swords or guns, my attitude to the game changes completely.  With Oblivion, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Vindasel very early on in my levelling up and, thanks to being a health potion stasher, was able to defeat Umbra before I was even level three or four.  This meant I could waltz around Cyrodiil with my shiny black and gold Umbra armour and wave my Umbra sword around like a loony to anyone who dared turn their eyes in my direction.  It was at this point that I realised how cool it could be to collect weapons, armour and other artifacts.  This fascination was further reinforced as soon as I bought my house in Skingrad… it had display cases in abundance and so, like any collector worth their salt, my collection went out on display.

Rosethorn Hall in Skingrad... I adored this place and it even came with its own maid. She made me pies.

In Fallout 3 I did exactly the same with my lowly “fixer-upper” in Megaton, turning it into a museum of antiquities and oddities.  In one corner I had a headgear display with the Antagonizer helmet, a Brotherhood of Steel helmet and even a standard police hat among others, and the corner opposite had my workbench with various legendary weapons and specialist builds such as the Freddie Krueger style Deathclaw Gauntlet, the Experimental MIRV and various other trinkets and toys. As far as my inventory was concerned, I liked to keep it as clear as possible with only two or three oft-used weapons to allow for more storage in order to build up my collection.

Borderlands, unfortunately, doesn’t extend the same courtesy as other games in that I have nowhere to display my wares or even stash my loot other than the backpack that I carry as I trawl through the wilderness.  It doesn’t stop me from collecting though, and I’ve found that most of my single player time is spent trying to find more elaborate and more expensive weapons even though I know that I’ll have nowhere to display them.  This is very different to how I started out with Borderlands.  Originally it was a case of running like hell whenever something chased me so that I could get far enough away to line up my sights for a perfect headshot to take the enemy down with as little ammo as possible, due to the short supply within the game and the lack of available funds.  The lengths I’d go to in order to conserve ammo were more ridiculous than expecting Donald Trump to have a full head of hair under his comb-over, but it was necessary for me to stay alive and to ensure that I’d always have enough ammo should I happen upon one of “those enemies” that require a massive amount of ammo… such as Bone Head when you’re only around level two or three.  Every time I started my game back in Fyrestone I’d spend ages running around opening up every cash box, looking in every safe, every locker and running through every skag pile to pick up as much cash and ammo as I could to prepare myself for whatever eventuality would present itself for the next hour or so.

Yeah ok so this is Skagzilla and not some lame-assed skag pup, but I'm crap at FPS games so they ALL feel like Skagzilla when they're jumping at me and sinking their teeth in. Shuttit.

Something changed though.  It was Dahl Headlands, and the fact that Lucky’s was always devoid of all enemies whenever I started my game off from that point, meaning that I had access to two white weapon crates and one red crate.  Not only that but there was a vending machine only seconds away which meant I could loot the crates and, thanks to my low storage space, quickly nip around to the vending machine and sell off anything that didn’t quite meet my overly high standards.  It was perfect; within a few minutes I could easily collect maybe $10,000 thanks to selling on the items that I didn’t want and, if I was lucky, pick up something that would outdo my current weapon of choice.

The exploitation factor comes in to play when it became clear to me that the New-U Station outside Lucky’s also had a save point so if I emptied the crates and sold off anything that I didn’t want, I could immediately save the game… quit to the menu… load in the single player campaign again which would not only start me back at Lucky’s, but with ALL the weapon crates respawned with brand new items.  I’m not ashamed to say that my plight for perfection within the game has literally had me spend HOURS performing a sort of “lather, rinse, repeat” formula where I’d start the game at Lucky’s… loot the crates, check for goodies, sell the crap, exit the game… start the game at Lucky’s again and so on.  One day I’d spent over $90,000 on a Scavenger class mod which gave me “+4 Team Scavenge Extra Items” and “+2 Team Find Rare Items” and $204,000 on an orange class shotgun and this almost wiped me out completely in terms of casheroonies, and so I performed the “lather, rinse, repeat” continually until I’d not only improved my weapons several times over but had also brought my coinage back up to a respectable $250,000.  Why would I need so much money, you ask?  In case I came across a vending machine with a better weapon or class mod, that’s why.

There is absolutely no reason for this image whatsoever and, as someone who is actually NOT a breast man, I can't explain why I just HAD to use this in the article. Forgive me father, for I have sinned and fallen for a redhead.

As much as it pains me to admit it, playing Borderlands has become more about collecting and improvement than it has about the missions and the actual gameplay.  I no longer shy away from any enemies and run for cover, because my weapons are such that I can take just about anything out eventually and even if it means running out of ammo to reach that objective, I can still afford to buy more.  My single player gaming has become a case of exploring EVERY possible corner of the map on foot so that I don’t miss anything by using the vehicles, and I don’t care how many enemies come at me… I WILL destroy them because they could be standing next to another weapon crate which MAY just include a weapon that outclasses mine… and that’s worth the risk.  Even if it turns out that they’re not protecting anything of value, I may have been smart enough to switch my class mod over from the Sniper mod (replenishes a sniper round every few seconds) to the aforementioned Scavenger mod and hope that this spawns some half decent legendary weaponry from my kills.

Please be full of awesomeness, please be full of awesomene... *click* ah pish... lather, rinse, repeat!

Last night’s foray into multiplayer with Pete resulted in me recognising the area of Rust Commons West that has the famed “developer chest” containing the higher spec weapons with the elemental effects and so I did something that I would never normally dream of during a multiplayer game… I asked to be indulged this ONE time to see if I could not only reach the chest, but empty it of all its tasty goodness.  Thankfully, Pete is as much of a trinket whore as I am (he’s a chest rapist, even when I’m modding us up for better loot… the heathen!) and so we each had a turn at the chest, resulting in some pretty awesome sniper rifles.

As much as I adore looting and finding more advanced weaponry, I can’t help but think that Borderlands is somewhat flawed as it does allow people to exploit the save and respawn aspect of the game.  Another huge problem, as far as I’m concerned, is that there’s nowhere to display or stash these beautiful beasts… I can either carry them around with me forever, hindering my ability to pick up other items, or I can sell them on immediately and hope that I don’t regret doing so.  That said… I look forward to taking an hour or so tomorrow, to head off to Rust Commons West and have several dozen attempts at that developer chest.  If even one weapon out of one hundred is more kick ass than my current liquid sniper, then it’ll be worth it.

Last five articles by Mark R



  1. Rook says:

    You should invite me into your game to help you reach any chests, my Soldier and his gun turret will take down anyone and everyone that stands in your way. If it’s all about the money, then let me drop some weapons from my playthrough. The weapon’s I have will be too high level for you to use, but you can sell them for major fundage. As with any game, ou sell your stock for less than it would take to buy it. I have a sniper rifle that is worth 1.5 millions dollars to sell, most expensive weapon I have come across.

    I never had any need to display weapons or trophies. My home in Bruma had certain cupboards/chests for certain things but never on display. My home in Megaton was pimped with jukebox, Nuka Cola machine, man and woman light fixture but I never had options of where to put them. I refused to display my bobblehead collection until I had them all (which never happen due to not being able to return to enter Raven’s Rock again).

    The inability to store items in Borderlands was a pain. Even as I increased my carrying capacity, I hated leaving items behind. I would sometimes drop lower value items to pick up the more expensive items at times; other ocassions, I would only pick up items that were above a certain value. With Mad Moxxi’s Underdome, you get the ability to store items by placing them in a safe run by a dignified monocled claptrap. It was more a secondary backpack as it was allocated so many slots to store items, with no visibility of them for display. You could buy bigger storage slots for an expensive price, (the level 9 storage upgrade cost 4.5 million dollars at the vending machine in the Underdome.

    Unfortunately, the ability to store items was the best feature of The Underdome DLC. With my maxed out backpack and more money than Elvis, there are little to no weapons I come across that are better than those I already carry around with me. I defeated the main story of boss of The Secret Armory Of General Knoxx and his cronies using just my pistol from my first playthrough of the main game. However, I still love Borderlands, I just wish there wasn’t a level cap.

  2. Samuel The Preacher says:

    I have to admit to being a collector in-game as much as out-game, so I probably spent more time dickering about with the arrangement of things in my Megaton home in Fallout 3 than going about shooting up super mutants. I once spent two hours walking back to Megaton because I overloaded my Vault Dweller rather than let go anything I’d picked up. Not having that ability in Oblivion, there were several times I just stood in one place for ages trying to decide what to let go.

    When the type of game isn’t a straight-up RPG, I’m able to ignore this collecting compulsion and just crack on with the objectives though. Mostly. I just realised how many stupidly awesome cars I’ve collected in my Forza and Test Drive garages.

    All the same, I think I should be able to manage with a limited inventory space, when I finally get around to picking up Borderlands. Instead of thinking of them as items and weapons, I’ll just look upon it as an extension of the character stats, so each “upgrade” will replace the previous one without too much of a twinge of regret.

  3. Richie blucey says:

    Ha! You did the same thing as me on Oblivion. In fact, the guy who sells you the house in Skingrad disappeared because of a glitch and I ended up doing a second playthrough. As soon as I raised the cash I bought the house and it’s full of every rare item you can think of with glass cases dedicated to either gems, daggers and armour. I even lined the balcony with those bright blue gem things.

    That said, Borderlands didn’t satisfy that kind of collect-o-urge for me. The billions of weapons just came down to a few archetypes and once I got a good sniper rifle that sorted me for a good ten levels.

  4. justbiglee says:

    I collected all sorts on fallout but wanted to change the decor of my crib and i was scared that if i did all my junk would disapear. I’ll be going back to the waistlands soon I downloaded mothership zeta and point lookout this week – only 400 points each, bargin!
    i never got on with oblivion hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side

  5. Kat says:

    I clearly put a lot less thought into Borderlands as my game consisted of running wildly into the fray with no regard for what gun I had. Then of course calling out to anyone co-oping (coping, heh) with me to help/revive my sorry arse.

  6. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    @Rook… would it not be grossly unfair if your level 61 character was playing with my level 27 and Pete’s level 25? We both made the mistake of playing together when Pete had literally just stepped off the bus (I didn’t know that when I invited him) and 30 minutes later he was something like level 8 and ended up at level 11 by the time we stopped playing. It’s clear to me now that he was getting higher XP because my level was much higher than his at the time. I’d love to go three or four player co-op though, I’m really enjoying playing this particular game on multiplayer.. much to my surprise! I’d thought about asking you but any time I’ve been on you’ve been playing Bioshock 2 and I didn’t want to bother you.. I’m nice that way :D

  7. Rook says:

    You and Pete would only get huge XP if I invited you to my game. The enemies are around levels 50+ so you would get loads of XP but might find the fight tough. If you invite me to your game, the enemies level will be at your characters level and I would get pittance XP, not that it matters as I’ve reached the level cap anyhow. I could go to my game first to pick up some sweet weapons to drop for you guys and you’d gets lots of money to set you up for a while.

    I understand about not sending the invite to someone when you see them playing another game. I’m up for some co-oping over the weekend. You can see how my Soldier’s gun turret works as my action skill. You’ll also get the viral achievement for playing with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone from Gearbox. :D

  8. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    You’ll also get the viral achievement for playing with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone who has played with someone from Gearbox

    My head hurts :( I’m actually ok for cash, I reckon I’ve got somewhere around $400,000 – $500,000 at the moment and I rarely spend any… except the other night when Pete kept crashing the bloody car and I kept having to fork out $15,000+ in respawn fees heh heh. That guy needs his license reviewed, seriously! I’m up for seeing what awesome snipers you have though, that’s my tool of choice really but it’s less about the damage for me and more about the number of rounds and the fire rate. I’ve got a 310 damage rifle with 2.2 fire rate and 5 rounds but I tend to use my rifle with 224 damage, 2.9 fire rate, 9 rounds and 3x shock because I end up with over 25 rounds thanks to the double capacity skill and a class mod with another 50% capacity on top again.

    I’m up for it though, for sure. I’m looking forward to 5pm when I can actually stop work and run upstairs to see what the shops have in stock today :D

  9. Adam says:

    I couldn’t get enough of Borderlands. I find RPG games that use guns to be somewhat tedius having spent all my RPGs swinging swords and my FPSs emptying mags. Fallout never really did it for me but right from the announcement, Borderlands had me.

    For all the inventory sytems faults, my biggest gripe with the otherwise brilliant random loot system was the lack of any sensical data regarding what it was I was actually looting. The inability to actively compare weapons with understandable data made that part of the game a real headache.

    I love loot, I’m a real kleptomaniac when it comes to games but like with the origional Mass Effect, the inventory system really stuffed that part up.

    That’s not to say that it’s not one of my alltime faveorite games, Borderlands really is. It’s just that Gearbox is clearly going to make us wait for the sequel to get it right.

  10. Rook says:

    @Markuz – the weapons I’ll have will probs be to high level for your character to use. I’ll bring some along thou. $400: – $500k- awwwww. I was charged $6 mil to respawn the first time Crawmerax killed me.

    @Adam – you could press X in the inventory to compare one weapon/shield/class mod with others. And before you pick up an item it would have up/down arrows telling you if it had better stats that the weapon/shield you were currently holding. What way do you think would have been an ideal system?

  11. Adam says:

    So that’s what the arrows meant! Doh! Just another one of those tiny things that changes everything!

  12. Tiq says:

    This ties in somewhat with a massive character flaw I found in myself after taking my first step into the world of MMO’s, and it’s something that’s only gotten worse with the huge increase in games that give you the option of character customization. Time and time again I’ve found myself sabotaging my little avatars chances for survival, because I refuse to let my character wear anything that doesn’t look incredibly stylish or “bad-ass”, even if it could save his/her life. Fallout 3 has been a particularly bad case for this… as I found myself getting incredibly bored of the standard power armour, and wound up wiping out a small army of outcasts, just for the chance to wear the incredibly stylish modified power armour they all wear… hell, half the reason I bought most of the DLC for that game, was simply for the chance to diversify my collection of clothing… and all that, just to leave most of it sitting on a table, in megaton… never to be worn again.

Leave a Comment