Gearbox Software has unveiled Borderlands 2's Badass system, its character-wide progression system with an infinite number of levels.
As you play Borderlands 2 you level up your Badass rank, which is linked to your profile but provides statistical bonuses to all your characters - new and old.
Each time you use a token gained through Badass, the game randomly picks a set of statistics. Then, you decide which statistic to increase. It's all powered by a secret algorithm the developer is keeping close to its chest,
Gearbox chief Randy Picthford, who expects to see long-term players with Badass levels in the thousands, told Eurogamer he believes the system is the first of its kind.
"I don't know of any examples," he said. "There are a couple of games that have done profile levelling. Even Call of Duty multiplayer, your growth is profile related, not character related, but they don't have character choices. You're not growing characters.
"And I haven't seen one that's comfortable with infini-growth. Everything puts a cap onto it."
Using data based on how Borderlands 1 players played the game some two-and-a-half years after launch, Gearbox is able to extrapolate how players will play the sequel two-and-a-half years after it launches, and use mathematical models to predict how the Badass system will evolve.
It's all part of Gearbox's effort to create a hobby with Borderlands 2, something players continue to play for years.
"Borderlands was a weird thing in the sense that, a lot of games are designed to be a story you consume and then you're done," Pitchford said. "Whereas Borderlands was this thing that launched and then both in sales and in playtime it kept accelerating, instead of just launching big and then dropping off."
Borderlands 2's expected enduring popularity should enable Gearbox to make a "really big investment" in downloadable content, much in the same way it did with Borderlands 1.
There's also the issue of value, Pitchford added. He hopes that by creating a game that, technically, will last players forever, they will feel they're getting value for money.
"They got to take a risk. They've got to spend some money. They've got to buy a game. And I want them to feel like, man, the value I'm getting out of this, it's not only worth the $60 or whatever, I'm getting more value out of this than the last $500 I spent on other video games. We want that goodwill.
"So we're thinking about it like a hobby and not like just a consumable, get it done and get ready to buy your next game."
New screenshots are below.