Conceptual: Borderlands’ New Style Revealed

Click for bignessifying.

Gearbox have revealed the first online screenshot of the Borderlands’ not-cel-shaded-but-a-bit-like-that style. Just one shot, the meanies, and peculiarly they’ve stamped a big advert for the forthcoming PC Gamer US June edition all over it. Peculiar because the current ish of PC Gamer UK has the same shot. Meanies because PCG UK has seven more in its pages that aren’t online. But shitting crikey, we’re looking forward to this. There’s an advert-cropped version of the shot if you click on the pic above, and you can see the whole thing at the game’s site.

The art design is called “Concept Style”, inspired as it is by traditional concept art. It’s a combination of hand-drawn work and magical computer tricks to give it the comic book feel, and it’s gorgeous.

Make sure to check out our interview with Gearbox producer Simon Hurley.

PS. You can see the cover of next month’s PCG US here, which has another rather lovely image, once more showing off the hand-drawn feel to the whole thing. Also you can see the cover splash, “Prepare to be shot and punched in the face by this role-playing shooter.” You can then fear for the future of the universe.


  1. Andrew Dunn says:

    A more sumptuous screenshot I have not seen in a long time.

  2. Pavel says:

    Hmm, alright.

    my anticipation risen from 10% to 90%. It does look gorgeous.

  3. fulis says:

    I suppose it’s good for the game
    It looked really generic before

  4. John Walker says:

    fulis, you haiku’s arrangement was wrong:

    I present:

    I suppose it’s good
    for the game. It looked really
    generic before

  5. Nuyan says:

    Just as with TF2, I believe not having a 100% realistic look really benefits a multiplayer game. This looks really good.

  6. Tworak says:

    Looks slightly less generic than before. Kudos++

  7. pignoli says:

    The first time in a long time I’ve developed an interest in a game based purely on a screenshot…

  8. Dominic White says:

    The art style reminds me a lot of weird-yet-great post-apocalyptic action-CCG thingy Phantom Dust on the original Xbox. Very distinct art design in that, which made the post apocalyptic world look quite distinct.

    Anything that reminds me of Phantom Dust is a good thing. I hope the game just turns out well.

  9. VaultDweller says:

    They got anime in my gritty, dark wasteland!

  10. Jad says:

    Reminds me somewhat of the new Prince of Persia game, which I recently acquired. Leaving aside that game’s possible faults or successes on the gameplay front, the “concept art” graphical style is awesome.

  11. Sharky says:

    …Isn’t that EXACTLY what the Prince of Persia guys said about their style too?

    Prince of Persia with guns!

  12. kozure says:

    “Make sure to check out our interview with Gearbox producer Simon Hurley.”

    The link leads to screenshots

  13. John Walker says:

    Thanks kozure – fixed.

  14. FreudianTrip says:

    /me holds out hope for Trigun mod.

  15. Flappybat says:

    It was hilarious how much bitching there was about people trying to base their pereceptions off the PCG US cover image, whilst those of us who had read the PCG UK article a week earlier thought it looked fine.

    Now everyone can actually see what it looks like the bitching stops.

  16. VaultDweller says:

    Seriously, why are they going for a cutesy style? Madmax meets MyBrute?

  17. Theory says:

    I actually quite like the Frank Herbet-esque* visuals from before. They’d done washed-out the right way (unlike you, Epic).

    * Disclaimer: your idea of Herbert’s world might be very different from mine.

  18. Lobotomist says:

    Can it be ?

    A cel shading done right !

  19. Dreamhacker says:

    Nuyan: Hey, that explains why BF2 did so well!

    …no, wait, it doesn’t…

  20. Kevlmess says:

    My head just exploded. Blimey!

    It sure looks pretty. I sure hope the game will be good. Oh, I had somehow forgotten that interview, though I’m pretty sure I read it when it was posted. Sounds very promising. Looking forward to seeing and hearing more.

    Also, @ VaultDweller:
    Cutesy? How the hell is that screenshot cutesy? Sure you didn’t mean to type “why are they going for a style” and just somehow, totally by accident, slipped “cutesy” in there? I’m sorry if I’m being a tiny bit abusive but I really couldn’t disagree more about this so called cuteness. Care to elaborate?

  21. Alex says:

    I was a bit doubtful too: also thought the old screenshots looked like washed-out-‘n’-gritty-done-right.
    But this is verrr’ pretty, although I can’t think this prettiness maybe should’ve be given (by, like, the Gaming Gods) to another game more in need.

  22. Oak says:

    Yes. This. More of this.

  23. James G says:

    I’m very pleased with the increasing tendency of developers to eschew photo-realism in favour of having clear and characteristic art direction. Not only does it add more variety into the scene, but it means that developers try and work with the limits of current technology, rather than against it. As a result, many of these graphics are going to age a lot better.

  24. Tei says:

    I agree with James G. Is a good change. Style is better than Number of Polygons.

  25. Mike says:

    It’s like my Rock Band avatars made their way into an action game!

  26. suibhne says:

    Mike wins. That’s exactly what the figures reminded me of.

    I dig the art just fine, but the emo-emaciated look is tiresome. I hope there’s a lot more diversity of models than what’s represented in that shot.

  27. gulag says:

    I was interested in Borderlands before (Giant digger FTW), but now I’m all kinds of fired up. Love the new look.

    Heh, PC Gamer cover looks like a 2000AD cover.

    PS. Mr. Gillan, when are you going to write something for 2000AD? Have they somehow not noticed your comix-tinged skillz?

  28. Rei Onryou says:

    I just compared it to the PC Gamer UK screenie that’s the same. Or so you’d think! Not only is it mirrored, but the number 3 is missing in PCG. Conspiracy theories ahoy!

    PS: Yes, it looks awesome in PCG and my interest has spiked. I hope there’s a Concept Art giant digger along with the vagina mouthed beast.

  29. Howard says:

    Sorry but big pile of “meh” for me. I have no love at all for Cell Shaded or cartoony graphics with TF2 being the exception that proves the rule.

    Oh well; Pity…

  30. LionsPhil says:

    JamesG: Evil Genius agrees with you.

  31. Alec Meer says:

    Prepare to be shot and punched in the face!

  32. malkav11 says:

    I was a little afraid when I first heard the news – not that I dislike cel-shading, but it seemed like a poor fit for the game as previewed. That screenshot looks just fine, though.

  33. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Am vaguely reminded of Tank Girl. And that’s no bad thing.

    Another fine step away from the quickly-outdated photo-realism approach and one step towards a more timeless, visually appealing art direction. I remember when people complained about TF2’s then-new and rather controversial look.

    So hush. If you want more of the usual brown n’ greys, there’s plenty of games that scratch that itch quite well.


    I know cute. That ain’t it. Ain’t anime either. “Spunky,” perhaps. Just a few degrees off Punk, I’d say. Perhaps a bit too clean to look right, but that’s about it.

  34. Aftershock says:

    Hmm, this strikes me as a bit off…. I thought borderlands previously had a great art style, based on the animal designs and all that. Like they’d done washed out properly.

    But we’ll see how this goes, but i can’t get myself excited about this art, as much as i am about the game.

  35. Gerfervonbob says:

    I think I’ll be one of the few dissenters. I liked the old style before. I guess you could just call me a “realist.” However this doesn’t change how I feel about the game, I’m still looking forward to it. I look at the graphics style as more of a preference over the game play itself, which I hope will be good.

  36. (Con)Quests says:

    Don’t like it one bit. It looks like silverfall, and very childish. Too bad.

  37. apnea says:

    James G has it right. Visual style goes a long way in keeping gameworlds fresh even after the technology moved on. ‘Gritty realism’ is a misnomer for the actual lack of stylistic differentiation between many contemporary games (Uncharted on console is an example of a ‘realist’ game that manages to maintain its own visual signature). I’m glad to see studios trying their luck with something outside the Realism-of-War/World-of-Wartoon opposition.

    Also, I’m a complete fan of many concept artists (games and movies). I believe their work always supersedes its on-screen representation in terms of flair and vividness. Games moving toward concept art is Good Thing from my point of view.

  38. BigRocks McHugenuts says:

    “Heh, PC Gamer cover looks like a 2000AD cover.”

    Yes, it does.

    I don’t understand when people see stuff like this and claim it’s “anime”. People know that the westerners also make comics and cartoons, right?

  39. Muzman says:

    Yuck. Looks contrasty and annoying (and I know in advance that fidgeting with the gamma won’t help)
    This is what concept art looks like:
    giant link reducer1
    giant link reducer2
    (yes, I know there’s many flavours of concept art)

  40. Dave says:

    I don’t like it. Weird proportions, weird outlines, just weird and ugly.

  41. ChampionHyena says:

    I see the screenshots, and the first comparison that occurs to me is “Second Life.”

    I don’t know why it’s happening, but it is very frightening.

  42. Arnulf says:

    The first two things I noticed:

    1. The female does not have balloons affixed (and still looks nice)
    2. At least the NPCs are not beefy like they are in UT3, GoW and countless other comparable games.

    I wonder if these are even playable characters?

  43. Okami says:

    Must.. not… become.. involved.. in.. internet.. discussion.. about.. tastes.. in.. art… style..

    It looks lovely and everybody who says different is obviously stupid and kills little cats FOR FUN!!!

  44. Ian says:

    Where’s the anger, people?

    Not only does this game have COLOUR there are also not enough shadows meaning you can SEE WHAT’S GOING ON.

    How utterly outrageous. I plan to start a message board dedicated to take any future screenshots of this game and posting them in grayscale.

  45. Okami says:

    Now that you mention it, this screenshot does not look heterosexual enough for my tastes. It reminds me too much of World of Warcraft, because that has colors too.

  46. Demikaze says:


    It looks good – but I’m with you on the whole perspective thing. The gun/ammo cache is toying with my eyes!

    It is just one screenshot though! :)

  47. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    @Rei Onryou:

    I just compared it to the PC Gamer UK screenie that’s the same. Or so you’d think! Not only is it mirrored, but the number 3 is missing in PCG. Conspiracy theories ahoy!

    Mirroring screenshots doesn’t strike me as a particularly unusual practice, presumably the 3 was photoshopped out so the flip wouldn’t be obvious.

    The PCG version of that screen actually looks a bit better as the higher resolution shows the scratchy pen lines they’ve added as fine detail. As a big fan of PoP’s look, I approve. Still not too sure about the game itself though.

  48. Heliocentric says:

    Those two need to eat a pie. If they can’t handle a pie each without throwing up they can share one pie.

  49. roryok says:

    The big case of guns in the background seems to contradict the earlier concept of a digital ‘weapons deck’ in the game… I was kind of looking forward to that =(

  50. Unrein says:

    Reminds me a fair bit of Full Throttle. Me likey.