In recent years, we have seen some great and terrible loot-based shooting games. The looter shooter genre has been around for some time now, but one game redefined the use of colour-coded loot and role-playing mechanics in these games. The level of customisation, memorable missions and characters helps to distinguish the game from other shooters.

Looter shooters have been around for at least a decade. These games are a hybrid of first- or third-person shooters and more traditional role-playing concepts. There are a large number of different weapons and gear available in the game combined with a extensive skill tree. This helps to create individual play styles and benefits the cooperative gameplay experience.

Not a traditional first- or third-person shooter

Even when a skill tree is present in a traditional first- or third-person shooter, its impact is small and often meaningless. A loot-based shooter has more depth than the traditional first- and third-person shooter genre you already know from the past. The concept can be considered as timeless.

A game such as Doom may be fast-paced and difficult, but the number of weapons you can use to eliminate the large number of enemies is rather limited. In Borderlands, you kill enemies and monsters and earn loot drops as a rewards. Even missions and sidequests have their own rewards such as a weapon, item or the reveal of a new piece of the story.

Character customisation and role-playing mechanics

In essence, Borderlands is a first-person shooter. The first person perspective is crucial in the design of the game, but the additional gameplay mechanics show many similarities with the more traditional role-playing games. Yet, real-time gameplay remains at the core of these loot-based game in the looter shooter genre.

Role-playing games often use colour codes to indicate the rarity and strength of the available weapons and gear. Sometimes you even need to be a higher level to use certain items. These indicative elements keep you looking for better equipment in Borderlands. The search for better items in this game is comparable to creating your own deck of cards.

Background stories, character classes, skills and abilities

In most role-playing games, you can create your own character and further customise its appearance and skills to better fit your own personal play style. In Borderlands, there are four different character classes with unique skills, abilities and their own personal background stories.

In Borderlands the first-person shooter gameplay and the additional role-playing mechanics were well balanced and recognisable enough to convince gamers of both genres to explore the game. The game marked the beginning of an entire new era of loot-based shooter. It created a template for current and next generation games.

A source of inspiration

Because item stats are random the element of searching for better loot is addictive and requires you to complete harder missions to earn even more rare loot drops. This process is typical for loot-based shooters and can be found in games released after the original Borderlands.

More recent games such as Anthem, Destiny or even Tom Clancy’s – The Division used some of these loot-based concepts in their game design. The different character classes, in-depth customisation options and lots of loot make the gameplay experience of these titles similar to Borderlands, yet different in their own unique manner.

The beginning of an adventure

Several game studios use the gameplay elements and role-playing concepts of Borderlands as a source of inspiration or template for their own loot-based first- and third-person shooters. These titles are being updated longer and are often larger open worlds with deep lore and characters.

However, the looter genre concept is not always as trouble-free to implement. As a result, numerous games are plagued with development problems and broken mechanics. Borderlands helped redefine the entire genre, but most loot-based games still have to find out how to implement the complex gameplay concepts in a balanced manner.

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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from Borderlands, a video game developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.

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