While I have been very positive about Borderlands 3 overall lately, after recent buffs to skills to make gameplay a lot more diverse and fun, there is something that is still bothering me, the fact that I have yet to make a single serious run at Takedown at the Guardian Breach, and last night, my frustration reached a boiling point.
Here’s what happened when I went to play Takedown at the Guardian Breach with my fun new Iron Bear Moze.
1) Despite being a Saturday during a pandemic and playing on the only logical difficulty (Mayhem 10), it took me probably 5-15 minutes for each matchmaking session to put me with a group (on PC).
2) I use the term “group” loosely here, because I never got a single group of four. The most I ever had was three. One player would usually quit immediately or be AFK. The one run I did manage to actually start it was just me and one other person and the game figured that was enough.
3) But before I could even get to that Guardian Breach run, I matched into the Maliwan Takedown my first five times because there is no way to match specifically for Guardian Breach, it groups both Takedowns together.
4) We began our run and were doing okay, but my partner went down during the plate section, and with all the chaos going on onscreen, I didn’t even notice until he was dead. There are no respawns, so he was forced to simply spectate through that entire segment, the following jumping puzzle and the first miniboss.
5) It’s a miniboss with something like 8-12 immunity phases, which is a huge headache. I got him to about half health and I was booted because….guess why? My spectating partner quit because he got bored, and he was the game host, so it kicked me out of the entire thing. And no, of course there are no checkpoints when you get back in. You’re starting over.
6) So yeah, it took me close to two hours to first even find a game with a group, get about halfway through, and then get booted through no fault of my own. I’m done, I’m never doing another run at this unless some serious changes are made.
What needs to change? Pretty much everything. And if that’s not going to happen then no, I do not think Gearbox should be wasting any more time making Takedowns that are so broadly inaccessibly compared to 98% of the rest of the game. And I don’t mean in terms of difficulty, I mean like literally even attempting to play them.
I don’t know why matchmaking is so terrible in Borderlands 3, but this game was in no way designed for randomized matchmaking for things like this. First, keeping both Takedowns together is absurd, as obviously everyone wants to play the new Takedown, and yet 80% of matches are in the old one. And the game simply gives up every time before finding you a full group of four, how the event was meant to be played. So you either play with friends you already know, or you pretty much don’t play at all.
These Takedowns are not designed for solo play, despite difficulty scaling making that mildly possible for a tiny subsection of players with perfect strategy and builds. Guardian Takedown, with its multiple plates you need to stand on, is especially punishing for solo players unless you have the exact timing of hopping between them down to a science, which is a huge headache. But it’s the respawn system that’s really the worst, as if you die on a class with no second chances like Moze, you are likely going to be sent back not just to the beginning of the boss fight, but the beginning of the entire dungeon which is maddening and unfairly punishing. It feels like a colossal waste of time.
The respawn system in general is just terrible. A game like Destiny might have limited revives in its raids, but if you wipe, you are at least sent back to the beginning of that encounter, not the beginning of the entire raid. Or in a Nightfall, you might have a 30 second respawn timer, longer than normal, but you will get back in the fight if your teammate can just survive that long. This is not at all how it works in Borderlands, and it tries to make the Takedowns “difficult” by terrible checkpointing. While some games can make long progress setbacks a part of gameplay (Dark Souls), Borderlands is not a game focused on Save Points or cautious play. This system is totally at odds with the entire rest of the game, and is the main reason Takedowns are garbage.
Finally, there’s farming efficiency, in that there pretty much isn’t any when it comes to Takedowns. The main way to farm literally anything in Borderlands 3 is to pick a boss, farm that boss as fast as you can, and get a zillion drops so you get what you’re looking for. But Takedowns, especially Guardian Breach, are a 30-60 minute slog (if you can play them at all) where you’re fighting bosses you cannot burn down because they have 8-12 separate immunity phases, and you can go through all that and still end up without even a single one of their dedicated drops. Why would anyone possibly want to bother?
The worst part of all of this is that the actual content of the Takedowns themselves, the enemy encounters, the boss design, even the new puzzles of the Guardian Breach, are actually…good content. But there are so, so, so many obstacles in place to actually enjoying the experience that it is without question the most frustrating thing I’ve ever attempted to do in a loot-based game, and I don’t say that lightly. Enormous, serious changes need to be made, or Gearbox needs to abandon the Takedown idea altogether, as it’s proving to be an enormous waste of resources.