Borderlands' graphics now cel-shaded?

Source: Game-specific fan site Borderlands Guide.What we heard: At Take-Two Interactive's press briefing at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, attendees were treated to the first gameplay footage of Borderlands, the ambitious new open-world action-role-playing game from Gearbox Software...

Source: Game-specific fan site Borderlands Guide.

What we heard: At Take-Two Interactive's press briefing at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, attendees were treated to the first gameplay footage of Borderlands, the ambitious new open-world action-role-playing game from Gearbox Software. For a few minutes Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford put the game through its paces, driving up to an underground vault, taking out its bandit inhabitants, and collecting some loot in the form of guns--a few of nearly 500,000 unique weapons in the game.

Shortly after the conference, Take-Two released the first trailer for Borderlands, which will be published later this year under the 2K Games imprint.

As can be seen in the trailer and the screenshot below, Borderlands' graphical style was originally one of gritty realism apropos to its postapocalyptic, dog-eat-dog world setting. So it was with some shock, then, that those following the project reacted to a Borderlands Guide article that indicated its graphics have drastically changed. The article cited what appears to be a leaked scan from next month's PC Gamer magazine showing several cel-shaded screenshots that fell between last year's Prince of Persia reboot and the illustrations in the Shadowrun role-playing game books. The scan's caption appeared to confirm the change, reading: "Looks like a panel from a comic book. No, in fact, a screenshot."

Reaction was swift and sharp, with a chorus of protest erupting on the Gearbox forums. The cries grew louder when Gearbox staffer "Ennui" appeared to confirm the changes in a lengthy post. "The decision to alter the art style was assuredly not one taken or made lightly," wrote Ennui. "It also wasn't made without gathering plenty of information and feedback - we've been doing extensive focus testing throughout development. … The game world is no less gritty, dirty, or harsh--all of the detail is there, and the environments have even more atmosphere."

The official story: Later on in the day, what seemed like a fairly cut-and-dried case got even more complex. This afternoon, Ennui posted a message from Pitchford himself, which denied a move to cel-shaded graphics while at the same time concretely confirming a radical graphical overhaul.

"No, Borderlands is not cel-shaded--it's a gritty and serious world after all," said Pitchford. "But since the game was first unveiled we have made big advancements with the art direction and the technology to support the art, and have produced some pretty impressive, even shocking results." (Emphasis added.) He then promised that an upcoming update to the official Borderlands Web site would clear up all the confusion. Currently the bare-bones site bears only a splash page with the line "More Borderlands April 13"--that is, next Monday.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus that Borderlands will look very different from the version shown last year. Whether it's "cel-shaded" or not may just be a matter of semantics, though.

[UPDATE] Friday morning, Gearbox released the cover art for next month's PC Gamer, which shows the game's new--and very comic-book-like--art style. Prospective buyers can click on the adjacent image and judge for themselves whether or not it's "cel-shaded."

[UPDATE 2] Gearbox has now released the first screen from the game, which confirms what Pitchford is calling a "concept art style."

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232 comments
jad206
jad206

@thedude... this is NOT an mmorpg this isnt even really and rpg its a FPS with a nice blend of rpg elements which make it a great game

DTH17
DTH17

I think people misunderstand when they say your searching for a "vault". It's not an imitation of Fallout 3 for multiple reasons. It's on an alien planet, not the wastelands of Earth. What they mean by "vault" in this case is a container that protects something valuable (alien technology). Would you rather have had them call it a warehouse? It's a different play style than Fallout 3, plus vehicles and co-operative play. Not to mention the fact that this has probably been in production for several years. So it can't be an imitation of Fallout 3, which was released less than a year ago.

thedude5670
thedude5670

no, the difference between this and fallout 3 is that this is a mmorpg which is different than fallout 3...

valium88
valium88

in my opinion this looks like a cheap imitation of fallout 3. Not to be the negative type, but come on. could atleast be searching for something else then vaults right?

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

I'll take this over gray hyper realistic uncanny valley shine any day!! Cell shading(and cute design aesthetics) is under rated and hated on by graphic whores.....

Gooeykat
Gooeykat

I don't get the negative reaction, I think the new art style looks cool.

spartanlaser
spartanlaser

i agreee with deathbycontrol this is retarded cell shading makes the game look unrealistic and in my opinion it doesnt make you feel "in the game" like with call of duty....

DeathByControl
DeathByControl

cell shading works good with adventure games, but fps's? not so much...

Small-Business
Small-Business

its not just regular cell shading its supposed to be some new type of cell shading that all the critics are going nuts over and they usually hate cell shading

livevil999
livevil999

Cell shaded type graphics take away depth from the environments. The characters and items "pop" too much. I don't really see how this is an improvement. T want realism, not graphics that look like paper cut outs.

scatterbrain007
scatterbrain007

I'm really liking the new Look. Kind of reminds me of classic Appleseed. When Duenan (however you spell that friggin' name) was in that wasteland.

Jazerblade
Jazerblade

It was top of my "to get list", now it's a complete disappointment. Could have been exactly what was needed in Fallout 3...The guns, The armour, The creepy scenery, The awesome 3D graphics, The vehicles...now it looks like its fallen into the "Taken a step backwards in gaming" pile. What a shame. Had something incredible and turned it into a DBZ reject. Way to go Gearbox, could have got it right for a change.

tsyunami
tsyunami

AKA...well were trying to rush this one..to meet the schedule release time...also we needed to make some room for the 1gb amount of weapons that we're gonna have, so we had to cut back on the graphics.....blah blah blah blah. Well I still hope its a good game!

lazy_trash
lazy_trash

cell shading refers to the dark borders around everything, making the character look like an animated cell rather than a 3d object. the "shading" refers to the depth. just commenting, someone said it didn't look cell shaded... im intrigued.

daveg1
daveg1

looks crap! before it had a gresat tech behind it with its shaders and textures now it just looks like jet set radio epic fail!! prob done casue the original tech wouldnt run on todays consoles!

xXL1QU1DFEARXx
xXL1QU1DFEARXx

looks a little bit like afro samurai, just a little, very very little

stryke297
stryke297

It's more so cel-shaded than it is not cel-shaded. Shader phail

Travanoid
Travanoid

I don't know if i would necessarily call these graphics cel-shaded, but it is definitely a very stylized look. I don't think it is the shading that makes it stand out so much as the colors used. The contrast really makes things 'pop'. I will wait until I can see more (hopefully at E3) to pass judgment, but at this point I am willing to say, "Cool!"

token78109
token78109

ositoPERU the best way to describe cel-shaded for you would be to go look at the game that started it all and the only one to do it perfect JET SET RADIO. on that note its not cel-shaded but i would say it looks like a much higher-res tm2 or bfh

electronic_eye
electronic_eye

Doesn't quite look like cel-shading to me. I think this Pitchfork's description calling it "concept art style" is accurate and so far, I like the look. Though, for the premise of the game, it might, might have been better to not make the graphics on the "softer" side.

ositoPERU
ositoPERU

for the layman, what does "cel-shaded" mean?

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

This totally blows... They are gonna turn this into a half life two game... Sure half life two was ok back when it came out but now adays sorry folks it doesn't cut it. I had high hopes for this game but seriously I can't stomach playing another half life two remake...

zungerman090
zungerman090

i dunno. it is a personal taste kinda thing. to me cell shaded looks great (assuming we can still see people's head explode) but it IS true graphical violence in cell shaded games is lower. hope that wont happen here

Razeup51
Razeup51

this graphic change is makin it into a kid version of what was supposed to be one of the best games ever!

oneofthefall
oneofthefall

As long as its Still going to be a Sci Fi FPS and a Good Sci Fi FPS...Where you can look down your gun sights lots of Explosions a bit of comedy a bit of Serious, some gory bits and a few Robots added for good measure, then ill still keep my eyes & hopes on this game! but yes i agree with the Majority its a shame that they changed there mind about the Graphics but then did we actually see any gameplay footage yet? no & is it good to hear some news on the Game at last...Hell Yeah!

soupa_mario
soupa_mario

I like the new graphics. Sets the game apart from the rest of the Open world RPG/ Shooter crowd. Quite nice cell shading too

NearlyPrescient
NearlyPrescient

'I dont want a Cel-shaded FALLOUT3. I WANT BORDERLANDS.' this statement implies that BORDERLANDS is the equivalent to FALLOUT3, assuming that cel-shading doesn't differentiate it from what it would be emulating. why don't you just play Fallout 3 if that's what you want?

blackfridayrule
blackfridayrule

this sucks. I really liked it in its original form. the game better be twice as bad ass to make up for it.

xxalucard66xx
xxalucard66xx

@Irish Vandal Your use of the word "kidz" truly furthers your point, mmhmm. Realistic graphics =\= grit. A world where characters stab each their mothers in the back with a serrated blade for $10 is dark, a world where bandits can literally blow half your face off is as well. Style won't change that, just make it look more interesting in comparison to every other game out there.

xxalucard66xx
xxalucard66xx

To those of you that don't like it, too bad. The new prince of persia had a similar style and it is still an excellent game. Just because the graphical style is different doesn't mean it'll be any less dark or gritty. A game doesn't have to be drab with realistic graphics to make it dark. I for one am glad they're doing this, it went from looking like 99.9% of the other FPS games out there to something unique. If done well the new style is just going to make it that much better.

plapshapaul
plapshapaul

it m might actually enhance the atmosphere of the game i like it :)

theafiguy
theafiguy

Graphics =/= gameplay. I don't mind if the graphics are cel shaded, it won't change the way you actually play the game.

JS0123456789
JS0123456789

Wtf? Why are they doing this? This tested well amongst focus groups or something? What? Focus groups full of idiots? This was my most anticipated game for 2009, now it has slid down that list significantly.

JACKAL1883
JACKAL1883

LAME!!! ------------ I was looking forward to this game and now not so much.

code-56
code-56

its crap they took the best game that was ever gonna come out and ruined it. the graphics were perfect. everyone loves to see a real game not a childish piece of junk. i want blood i want gore when i shoot a guy i want to see his head blow up and with the new graphics i dont think your getting that.

Mordechai28
Mordechai28

Cel Shaded huh?! Well thats another game I had on my wish list that needs to be crossed off.

BlackLabel677
BlackLabel677

so many companies see the success of other games and emulate that, hoping to get a cut of the profit, but thats like opening a pizza shop in a town that is known for the best pizza shop...its really killing the potential for a true gem to emerge the only logical reason i can think of for the graphic change is to lower the system requirements without making the game look dated

Sr_Waffles
Sr_Waffles

I really wish that the graphics had stayed the same instead of changing. I'm not saying that they look bad, but I think that the realistic graphics would have been better. It's like IRISH_VANDAL said, "I don't want a Cel-shaded FALLOUT 3. I WANT BORDERLANDS." I guess we will have to wait and see if the graphics live up to the game.

IRISH_VANDAL
IRISH_VANDAL

I myself had an interested eye on Borderlands. Now my "Eye" will stray much more easily. I love TT and all they are about. Atleast one company has the *allz to stand up to EA. I am a 39 year old true gamer. Married with 4 kidz, 2 of them gaming boyz. Now i prefer my games to have evolved from the last year that was before it. But here it just seems like they went for that Oblivion/Fallout3 and even GTA4 style and just found things alot harder to handle and seem they would be able to handle "Extreme Cel-Shaded" graphics easier. Sorry, no sale here. I want realism. I want grit. TRUE GRIT. Not enhanced animated graphics. Call it cel-shaded. Or not. it the same. The looks like it could be the "Saints Row" version of GTA. Both are going to stand out. But would Fallout3 be the big boy here when TT still has the chance to stand out and poss take the crown? Come on TT, be for real. You have the ability to pump out a Game of the Decade here and you are about to piss it away. For what? You have your reasons. But we, as gamers want more of more. Not just graphics. not just guns. not just elements. We want it all. We want to not leave our systems for day cause the entire game truely demanded it. And to have more to complete when we go back. And to WANT to play it again cause we missed things and could go left and not right. WE WANT TO BE PART OF OUR OWN MOVIE AT HOME and by cutting back and/or down on the graphics will only hurt the entire game as a whole. So, not sure what kind of feedback you heard. But I buy the games in this house and i am becoming very stand-off'ish as to really buying this game on release. I dont want a Cel-shaded FALLOUT3. I WANT BORDERLANDS. The real deal. Just my opinion, others must already differ and that is sad for this could of put TT into the spot they deserved. Good Luck TT, and i hope it works better than what I am seeing here. You have the abilitys, we have seen them.

flfpfe87
flfpfe87

i agree with denolitions first thing i thought was this looks like crackdown and i also agree with blacklabel677 this artistic style just doesnt have the same kind of emotional impact that i thought this game would have after seeing that trailer i do think the art style is cool though but still a little sadened

BlackLabel677
BlackLabel677

not cel-shaded!? ok maybe not in the wind waker traditional sense, but are people blind that the environment and people have thick black outlines? also color transitions...there are huge steps in hues from one shade of a color to another...like a more detailed prince of persia the thing about "realistic graphics" has that it has the potential for looking epic....like the pictures of the huge rigs and monsters was bewildering and gave that wonderful sense of huge within a game...and the concept of borderlands was the perfect platform...most people who read the game informer with borderlands should probably agree...unfortunately it is harder to suspend belief with cartoony-ish graphics...

PS2Dude89
PS2Dude89

These graphics aren't cel-shaded. The graphics/art style is a bit different from the original art style but its not completley different or anything. I'm really excited for this game, hopefully the game doesn't get delayed anymore and comes out this fall or at least before the end of this year.

denolitions
denolitions

it looks like crackdown . . . i liked the visuals from the trailer, it looked awesome

Ratholas
Ratholas

The Graphics aren't Cel-Shaded

Gwarpup
Gwarpup

The problem with supposed "REALISTIC" Graphics is that it's not realistic at all.. its more fake looking. People covered in plastic or too robotic, their eyes glazed and dead, etc. People in games need to fit the gameworld they are designed in. To immerse yourself in that world everything has to somewhat fit that world and realistic graphics are just too full of holes to seem real. While cartoonish stuff fits in more often. Think of Heavenly Sword, or the latest Prince of Persia, or things like World of Warcraft even the graphics are perfect for the setting. Half Life 2 also had very living chars without going totally as real as possible. More Polygons never means better art design.

madskills6117
madskills6117

I'm interested in seeing where Gearbox goes with this. I have to actually see the game in action. With that said, I'm getting a little tired of the usual Gears of War and Killzone 2 (both great games) art direction. If done right this could be great. I just hope this doesn't turn into Crackdown in first person.

topeira
topeira

looking at the scan from the magazine it looks like a good change. i was skqptical while reading the article but the scan changed my mind. it DOWS look kinda like a comic book but a dark-horse style comic book and not a childish marvel\DC comic book. the style looks great in my opinion and i remember the gameplay footage of the game and it fits, if u ask me.

NearlyPrescient
NearlyPrescient

technically, they could do a cartoony style without actually using the mainstream cel-shading techniques.

BalefulSpartan
BalefulSpartan

This style is exactly like Prince of Persia which did look great when playing it. BUT this style fits the prince of persia universe not what has been describe to me as the Borderlands universe. You can't achieve and dirty style with clean ink outlines . . . This art style is a complete copy of the new Prince of Persia. Sorry, but I'm just not feeling it . . .

kftaurus
kftaurus

Ok, I must say first and foremost, that I have been following this game for a long time and have been very excited about its release. I also would like to point out that I do, in fact, like and appreciate it when games have unique graphics like cell-shading, thinking crackdown, at the moment. However, I must say that although I will still give the game a try when it comes down to it, the changing of the gritty graphic realism this game was first shown with to this strange comic book cell, shade-esque look is a very big disappointment. When I saw the game informer cover not to long ago I liked the way they portrayed the game as a mad max type game, and I think that changing to the graphic art direction is a huge mistake, like I said Im still going to try it when push comes to shove, and Im not saying the cellshadding is a bad thing, I just dont think that I would like this particular game to be in that type of art style.