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Why People Think Borderlands Had One Of The Worst Endings Ever

In Borderlands, the player is a Vault Hunter, seeking the allure of mysterious and alien treasures. With bright art and fast-paced four-player co-op, Borderlands quickly became a hit. Whether working solo or together with friends, players had to clear large numbers of enemies and upgrade large numbers of guns, all while exploring unique and interesting locales.


For a looter shooter featuring a lot of guns and far less character development, the Borderlands franchise actually has a pretty complex story. There's drama, politics, friendship, betrayal — and even a little romance sprinkled in. And even though the focus was on combat, there really was a lot of storytelling going on, both in the form of memorable cutscenes and great NPCs.

And that makes it easy to forget that the first Borderlands had one of the most disappointing game endings ever. But what exactly was so bad about it that it's left a sour taste in gamers' mouths, all these years later?

The core mystery of the game is subverted at the very end

Subversive video game endings can be done right. The indie game Braid comes to mind — the ending of the game completely recontextualizes everything the player has done until that point. But the problem with Borderlands is that the ending isn't just a subversion. It's simply anticlimactic.


Throughout the game, the player is working toward a mysterious "vault." This vault is rumored to contain incredible loot. And in a game about loot, that's pretty alluring. But once the player actually gets to the vault, there's nothing there but a big monster. The player has already fought big monsters — and this one just sits in one place.

While this was likely designed to create an aura of mystery and world-building around the concept of the vaults, it turned out to be a big disappointment to players. Even the developers admitted that they didn't anticipate the negative reaction to the ending – but they did keep it in mind for future iterations.

But maybe the end of Borderlands isn't so terrible after all

The ending of Borderlands isn't universally hated. First, it's not entirely unexpected. There's actually a lot of foreshadowing. As one Reddit user pointed out, the players are told that the vault contains "power," and it does — in the form of a giant monster. Some thought the twist was, in fact, pretty cool.


And in Borderlands 2, the developers dig further into the lore — explaining what happened and why. Perhaps it makes more sense in context: The Borderlands developers weren't sure whether they would even get a sequel and wanted to make it open-ended.

So is the Borderlands ending really terrible? It depends on your perception: It was objectively disappointing. It's certainly terrible in the sense that it doesn't give the players what they wanted. But it may have given them what they deserved, with a valuable lesson: Don't just do what the ghostly apparition that appears in your head tells you to do.