It is December 2nd. My Borderlands 3 login screen in still full of jack-o-lanterns and the sound of werewolf howls. My games are filled with green and red ghosts spilling out of enemies and attacking me. Why. Why is this happening.
I am not sure why Gearbox decided to make Bloody Harvest, its first Borderlands 3 holiday event, run from October 24 to December 5, six full weeks spanning three different months, though I have a theory.
My guess is that the innate mechanic of the event, the Terror debuff and Terror anointed gear, needed enough time to feel viable to farm, because who wants to bother with earning gear that is going to be mostly irrelevant after an event ends, right?
Well, maybe that’s a sign that this idea shouldn’t have been implemented to begin with, and I think Gearbox can learn a number of lessons from the Bloody Harvest going forward, most of them regarding what not to do for future offerings like this.
I did like Heck, the new map that was introduced for the event where you would run through it and farm Captain Haunt, a decently fun boss encounter. I liked the new cosmetics (though I barely got any) and the Fearmonger shotgun. Ghost Call is going to remain a top grenade for a very long time, most likely. All that was great.
And all of that could have been condensed into 2-3 weeks, at most.
The problem has been just how sprawling this event has been over the course of six weeks, and how it’s affected nearly every corner of the game. There were two problems created by this event, the first being that ghost-infected enemies were present no matter what you were doing. Not just in Heck, but in the story campaign, in Proving Grounds and Slaughterhouse, or even for brand new players just starting out. And again, the first week or two might have been fine, but 5.5 weeks later and everyone is sick to death of ghosts and the Terror debuff.
The second problem is the Terror Anointed gear which at one point, was dropping so frequently it was 9 out of every 10 Anointed drops on the map, meaning farming for the gear you actually wanted was almost impossible. Gearbox eventually toned that down a few weeks in (Terror gear almost exclusively drops from ghost kills now), but the entire “temporary Anointment” mechanic is not a good one and makes farming feel fruitless. Yes, it’s theoretically possible to self-generate Terror once this event ends and the ghosts go away, but no one is going to do that as those builds can’t keep up with more traditional ones. So this entire mechanic has been a waste of time.
In short, the two lessons I would take away from Bloody Harvest would be that if a holiday does create something that affects the entire game, make sure it’s more fun than annoying. I’m thinking less “ghosts making your aim terrible” and more “Destiny snowball strikes,” if you get that reference. The second lesson is that new gear for holidays is fine, but new gear or mods that affect old gear should not be tied to a temporary event, and that event should not be artificially extended to try to make that decision relevant.
But new maps, weapons and cosmetics for holidays? Go nuts. All of that sounds great to me, and that part of Bloody Harvest has been a solid addition to the game. I think Gearbox wanted to go big, real big, for this first holiday, but they overdid it judging by the fact that it’s snowing in December and I’m still playing a Halloween event that started six weeks ago. Time to rein it in next time.