Me and the Weapons Manufacturers of Borderlands (specifically 3)

The number of different kinds of guns in Borderlands has been a big part of their marketing from the beginning. Of course, the number of guns that feel distinct from each other is much less than the number they adverstise, but there is a surprising variety of them anyhow. They really put work into these concepts.

While the ewapons of each of the manufacturer has their own look, they also feel different. This is actually kind of ingenius. I don’t use a controller, but the visuals and sounds still make them feel very tactile (when they obviously aren’t). Each of the manufacturers has it’s own philosophy and motivations, which guides their design. However, they are also about image. You tell the world about yourself with your guns in this world, even though palyers might often just use what is most efficient or fits their build the best.

But this is about me and my relationship to these manufacturers. This isn’t a ranking of them. This isn’t about how playable the different manufacturers are, but rather about how I feel about them. I’m not claiming this is any sort of objective truth. Quite the opposite. This is supposed to be subjective. With that in mind, in alphabetical order…

Atlas

The fins that open when firing remind me of my heat pump. Otherwise the designs feel like Federation space ships from Star Trek. In general, I’m not a big fan. The slowness of the projectiles just seems unfun to me. While I know some of the weapons are actually quite good (Q-System and… which ever of the pistols has the best fire rate) and the reload animation is kind of cool, these just feel like form over function in the wrong way.

CoV

Speaking of form over function… I actually like CoV much better than Atlas even though it’s for this specific reason. The CoV weapons have this feel of being representative of whoever built them. Like the Bandit and Scav manufacturers before them, these weapons are built from whatever parts they have, but they also add their own personality to the designs with spikes and splattered paint. They might be somewhat art brute, but you could also say that these guns are the highest form of culture these people have. They do have music, paintings, movies, dancing, fashion and so forth, but this is the way they can best express themselves.

Yeah, I have a weird fetish for them.

Dahl

Dahl is very… solid. When you find a decent, early Shrike from the Marcus’s vending machine in Clap-Trap’s enclosure, you know you’re set for some time. They feel like they could exist in our world and, while some of the accessories have a feel similar to what low-budget movies would do to make guns look futuristic, the technology feels quite modern as well. These are guns a professional would use, if there indeed were such people in this world. I do like them, but just because they are, again, just solid in every way. Well, except some of the legendaries, which are just awful.

Hyperion

I like the concept here: These are for that yuppie, who wants to impress their boss with their gun. These are for the upwards-mobile, who want to amke it through office politics rather than being good at their job, and when they make it, they will use their position to their advantage in any way they can. So, not for me.

Maliwan

If Jacobs tries to speak to the traditionalists, Maliwan is for those who wait outside to get the latest iPhone. They are sleak and efficient in what they do. Many of them are not very practical, though, but they seem to be the kind of thing that would birth it’s own community of people, who distinguish themselves largely by simply using the guns of this manufacturer. I like them on Amara, where I can minimize the problems, but not really otherwise.

Tediore

Weirdly, they sell themselves as consumer-friendly products, that are good for protecting your home. Would you really want to have guns running around, firing indiscriminately, in your house? Or big explosive bubbles waiting to be burst? Personally, I like the gimmick, but I don’t really like they work in practice. They are fun to play around with, but I never use them for anything challenging.

Torgue

Torgue is my favorite. For a long time, my bank had a couple of pages worth of Roisin’s Thorns just because I enjoy using it. When the level cap was changed to 72, this has largely changed to Plaguebearers, because I was trying to farm for a corrosive one, but it just took ages, so I deposited all the other ones. Not that Torgue are very good in general, but when I talked about the tactile feel of the guns above, Torgue is the one that comes to mind first. The thing is, I would never go for any of this stuff in real life. I don’t feel like I need to display my masculinity is such a way, but I do like how they’ve incorporated machine parts into their guns (well, machine-parts you wouldn’t normally see in guns) just for the hell of it. I don’t even mind them being so impractical. Firing those Plaguebearers into a nicely organized group of enemies is just fun.

The thing is, these are powerful weapons, if unpractical. However, I don’t think Mr. Torgue sees them as masculine. We’ve learned that he was raised by his grandmother, who has a very similar body type to his, despite her age, so this love for explosions might not be about gender expression for him at all. He just like them.

Vladof

I don’t remember the exact line, but there is an African warlord in Lord of War, who espouses the benefits of using child soldiers saying something along the lines that it doesn’t matter who carries the gun, as bullets are still deadly. Vladof might not go for the children, exactly, but they do seem to have a pretty similar ideology. You can forget about accuracy, as long as you can make sure there’s enough lead in the air. This way of looking at people as just pieces of meat used to carry weaponry is just not for me.

Finally

While Borderlands 3 might have somewhat lost this idea, the manufacturers used to be about caricaturing real world corporations. These are huge and powerful entities, that have a very calculated public image, even if that public image is presented to us as very exaggerated. Even Mr. Torgue doesn’t actually control the Torgue Corporation. He is just a face they can use to sell their product to a certain segment of the market, to which I don’t really feel I belong to, but apparently my Borderlands-player-self does. Each company has this vibe of “buy this gun and you can feel a part of this group”. It just happens that in real life I probably wouldn’t want to be in a group Torgue would speak to, but in this fictional setting I do love them.

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