How Does Borderlands Balance Co-op Play?

How Does Borderlands Balance Co-op Play?

Borderlands features drop-in/drop-out co-operative play for up to four players. So what happens when your friend wants to join your game but is at a much higher level than you? How does Gearbox balance the experience?

“You don’t!” says Gearbox president Randy Pitchford.

I asked him how Borderlands balances the potential gap between player-character levels in co-op. Pitchford told me he’s happy to leave that up to the players.

“If you want to measure XP, you can. If you want to host a game where the other guys are around the same level as you, then you can set that up. But hey, you paid your sixty bucks for the game, and if you want to play your level 50 character with a friend who’s level 1, knock yourself out.”

In Borderlands, your character is persistent online and offline. I tested co-op with a friend recently, joining his game with my character just a couple of levels below his. I noticed that the quest I was about to take in my solo game was now greyed out; I’d joined my friend’s game world where he’d already finished that task. The quests we did together we significantly harder than the ones I’d been doing on my own. The enemies were much tougher, too.

“If you wanna do that, then it’s your choice,” says Pitchford. “The higher level guy will bleed off more of the experience. So if you have a level 50 guy and a level 1 guy, the level 1 guy isn’t going to get as much of the XP. The level 50 guy is just going to gib everything in sight just by looking at it and the level 1 guy is going to be like, OK, that was fun!

“But there’ll be a lot of loot lying around that the level 50 guy doesn’t care about, but will seem awesome to the level 1 guy. He’ll be snatching that up, but at the same time not getting as much XP.”

It’s refreshing to see a developer placing trust in his game’s community to make the right choices to find the type of experience they want.


    • They utilise various customisable colour schemes to differentiate players of the same class. Once upon a time I heard talk of some visual mods that let you tool out your character further, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

  • I’m pretty sure I’ve read somewhere that they will be different colours, whether that refers to base armour colour, the colour they appear in your UI or the like, I have no idea.

    • You can customise your appearance whenever you visit your “base camp” so there’s no reason why two characters should look the same.

  • Have you or will you, be posting the full interview at any point? All this trickling of quotes just seems pointless, unless the goal is just to help market it for them and/or increase page hits.

    But then, I’m not a twitter user either…

    (Just to clarify, I like that you’re providing the interview, I’d just rather have a transcript of it)

    • I’m guessing there’s an embargo on the review, which is pretty standard these days. I do wish there was a way for us to know that for sure, or to know when reviews can start appearing. I’d also guess the they are trickling out the quotes becuase this is a game they really *want* to tell us about in full but cant, so they are sharing what they have.

      From the footage I’ve seen I’m sold on it, I’ll be picking it up as soon as it’s released.

      Though a question for you David, you said 2 players per console. Does that mean I could have Myself on my console playing 3 player co op with my sister and her boyfriend playing split screen on their console? Or is that some kind of crazy future wizardry that isn’t available.

      • Pretty sure the split-screen was confirmed as offline only a while ago. That may have changed since I heard it, or I may just be wrong.

        Just saying I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much for online split-screen, as good as that would be.

  • I suppose more a majority of the 360/ODST owners… you can look at the co-op like Firefight.

    2 people per console but a max of 4 via online. (or system link, well ODST is like that).

    I presume from what i’ve read that Borderlands will work like this. However i’m so keen on the vertical split-screen. If there a horizontal setting David for console split screen????

    • here is my problem and want to know if anyone can help… if you play split screen co-op it only saves the one character… has anyone experienced this and can you save both characters…how? Sucks too becusase my friend had all the good sheilds and elite weapons (purple ones)… all gone twice!

  • Ok so i just wanna get a clear answer on this. Can 2 people splitscreen on one console and play online like that. Or is it only set up for online as one person per console? We tried it last night either we’re just dumb and can’t figure it out or its not not an option which is disappointing.

  • Me and a friend were trying to play co op on the same system but could not transfer over his character. how do you do that?

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