Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gearbox: Why You Nerf "The Bee" Shield?

A few days ago, Gearbox released a hefty patch for the PC version of Borderlands 2. Among the various bug fixes, they slipped in a controversial tweak to the already-controversial Bee shield, significantly nerfing the capabilities of The Bee and all other amp shields. Before the patch, The Bee was insanely over-powered, especially in conjunction with high pellet-count, rapid fire weapons like the Conference Call, because the extra amp damage of the shield was applied to every pellet. If a Conference Call shotgun normally did 5,000x20 (100,000) damage, a Bee shield would add 50,000x20 (1,000,000) extra damage, essentially multiplying the total damage by a factor of 10. It was able to kill epic raid bosses in mere seconds

The new patch changes the behavior of amp shields so that the extra amp damage is now divided among all the pellets; instead of dealing 50,000x20 damage per shot, it's a flat 50,000 damage per shot. The Bee itself now also has about a 50% longer recharge delay, maybe a 20% slower recharge rate, and deals about 15% less damage (these are just estimates based on memory). Even with all of these changes, The Bee still offers the best offensive damage-per-second in the game, compared to any other shield, but the nerf feels like Gearbox just gave us the middle finger in what may be the biggest "fuck you" from a game developer in my recent memory. Why do I say this? Well, for a lot of reasons.

1. The difficulty balancing in BL2 was already absurdly hard when entering New Game+. After a certain point the game stops being "challenging" and simply becomes "cheap" -- cheap as in a single bullet from an enemy depleting your shields, and three more hits dropping you to your knees, when it takes you an entire clip from an electric weapon to deplete an enemy's shield. Cheap as in bosses who do insane AOE slams on the entire arena, almost impossible to dodge unless you're already far enough away, which brings you down from full shields and full health to a meager 10% HP, only to be immediately hit with another undodgeable sweeping attack.
The game pretty much forced you to play a certain way: being extremely conservative, hanging back, slowly inching forward with a sniper rifle, and pressing your face against cover waiting for health and shields to regenerate. Instead of simply playing the way that was the most fun for your playstyle, you had to play along with the game's forced, tedious grindfest. The Bee shield was one of very few options for offsetting this insane difficulty imbalance, since it basically just brought your damage output up to par with the enemies'.
Thanks, Terra, for knocking me up into this sweet safe spot
2. Legendary loot was already way too rare and took way too long to acquire. Unless you were extremely lucky or actually went out of your way searching for legendary loot, you were unlikely ever to encounter any orange equipment or unique character heads/skins. Farming bosses is basically just a tedious waste of time -- even before the patch with the over-powered Bee/CC combo, you could still spend dozens of hours farming a single boss trying to get a single item. 
Even once you got that item you weren't going to have much context in which to use it, since you'd have already beaten the game and/or completed all of your other goals. With the nerf to the Bee, farming is an even bigger waste of time, since it takes 10x longer (or more) to kill bosses, and it's more stressful to boot. Gearbox even went so far as to raise the health of Terramorphous in addition to reducing your damage output potential, so there's almost no point in trying anymore unless you're a masochist.
3. If you spent a few dozen hours legitimately trying to farm a Bee and Conference Call so that you could legitimately farm other bosses, trying to acquire fun new gear for your build and new ways to customize your character's appearance, then Gearbox have basically just nullified all of your hard work and effort. I myself just got a level 50 CC less than 48 hours before the nerf, after spending two or three weeks sporadically farming the final boss trying to get one. If I'd known the nerf was going to happen so soon, or that it would be so severe, I probably would've spent my time doing something else instead. 
And thank you for finally, finally dying. 
4. Borderlands 2 is predominantly a single-player game that's sometimes played with close, personal friends. It is not a massively-multiplayer online game. The presence of an over-powered weapon or combination of gear doesn't universally affect everyone who plays BL2. Even when you're playing co-op, you're in a much more controlled environment than a typical MMO -- if I'm playing with two friends and we don't want to use the Bee/CC, our game isn't affected by some other people somewhere else using the Bee/CC because we, like the vast majority of players, are in our own isolated world.
The bottom line is that before the patch, you could choose not to use the Bee/CC if you thought that combo was "cheap" or if you wanted a challenge. If you wanted to farm a unique character head or legendary weapon, The Bee was an option simply for the sake of efficiency; if you were going to be farming the boss anyway, The Bee would enable the same net result, just in less time. People like me only ever used The Bee for farming, but whereas before, we had a choice whether or not to use it, now Gearbox have essentially forced the decision for us.
5. There are already so many different ways to cheat and exploit the game, that it seems kind of silly and almost counter-productive to nerf a legitimate gameplay strategy in the interest of keeping the game "balanced," while doing nothing to prevent actual cheating. It's kind of like Gearbox are punishing the players who wanted to stay legit, thus encouraging more cheating. After all, if they're going to make it this hard to get something as simple as cosmetic character heads, you may as well skip all the tedious farming and just modify the heads into your save file, or download a save file that already has them. 
Vermivorous is basically impossible to spawn, anyway

The only justification I can imagine for nerfing The Bee like this is that Gearbox wanted to make epic raid bosses like Terramorphous, Vermivorous, and Hyperious require four players to beat, and to encourage more online play. But was there no other way to accomplish this? If you ask me, it should still be possible to beat these bosses in single-player because people don't always have three other friends with whom to play, and your friends aren't always available at the same times, anyway. Besides that, people generally don't like playing this kind of game with random strangers online.

Supposing you group up with three other people and manage to beat one of these bosses, and supposing after killing it 20+ times it finally drops a legendary piece of equipment, how do you decide who gets it? Is it just a mad dash under the rules of "finder's keepers" and "first come first served," or do you agree to kill the boss hundreds and hundreds of times until you get four of the same item? It's ultimately much simpler and more reliable to farm solo, so that you don't have to put up with these kinds of issues. If they wanted to encourage more online play for these bosses, they should alter the way rewards are distributed so that everyone gets an item. It would also help if they boosted the drop rate for full groups from "basically never" to at least "sometimes."

One of very few legendaries I've actually encountered in multiplayer

Basically, I'm just annoyed because Gearbox made it a royal pain in the ass to farm gear now. The whole point of this game is to "shoot and loot," with the loot being about 50% of the draw. You play through the game once for the sake of the story, and then the only reason to stick around is to get better loot and to keep improving your character. The Bee was the one thing making this a feasible end-game goal, the one thing keeping me sane in wasting so much time farming these bosses. Without it, you get much, much less reward for your time and effort, and it becomes a much bigger chore to keep playing.

It's almost like Gearbox nerfed The Bee to get people to spend more time playing their game, trying to accomplish their end-game goals. Yet ironically, by nerfing The Bee they may have just gotten people to play less -- I for one have lost most of my incentive to keep farming. I guess I'll just live without some of the fun loot I was hoping to get, or cheat to get it, now.


  1. Agreed. The bee was a choice that has been taken from us. I honestly hope they fix the bee, restore it, and don't nerf the conference call if, or hopefully when, they do. That combo makes farming bareable. Here's hoping we can all get back to playing this awsome game the way it was ment to be played.

  2. Agreed. The bee was a choice that has been taken from us. I honestly hope they fix the bee, restore it, and don't nerf the conference call if, or hopefully when, they do. That combo makes farming bareable. Here's hoping we can all get back to playing this awsome game the way it was ment to be played.

  3. U don't see the point in patching it there was no need for that and in reality u really think 4 people can kill Hyperion the invincible with no bee and the no baby maker lets be honest the baby maker is hard as hell to get and farming these weapons I agree are so ridiculous to get but now ur taking away the one thing that made this game fun and farm cool stuff with really that's dumb secondly idk why people were complaining this isn't call of duty get over it why complain about beating a boss to fast who says that -__- lastly the bee may have had high amp damage but look how fast enemies can kill u on true vault hunter mode so please do us a tabor bring the bee back

  4. The only way to get things back to the way they were is to flood their twitter and facebook pages with petitions. If the community speaks, they'll answer. That is if they want to make a BL3, they will.

  5. Join the cause:

  6. I agree. Games devs just don't get it.

    And this is overdue, but do a review of Fallout 3, already! We know you hate it, but we want to see you tear it to shreds like Skyrim!

    1. As much as I would love to do an in-depth review of FO3, the problem with doing so is that I'd actually have to play the stupid game. I've already tried to play it two or three times and I always burn myself out after ~10 hours.

      To do a properly-detailed review, I'd need to play the game in its entirety, and I'd need to play with very minimal mods, in order to review the base product that Bethesda created. I don't think I have it in me to do either of those.

  7. What a great article. I hope Gearbox is listening!!!! If this is the kind of things they are going to do, I will not be buying BL3! Shoot and LOOT!!! Not, loot! BL2 has been very fun to this point...why change everything. I have 5 legit level 50's so I have spent A LOT of time in this game. I can't use Bee/CC until level 50 anyway. I bought the game and the season pass and now you want to change how the game is played. That is not a good way to treat the paying customers.

  8. Well I must say, firsthand, great article. It's good to see an educated opinion every once in a while.

    I've been farming for the bee for about 3 hours now with no luck and then I here that it had been nerfed. My specific reason for farming the Bee is so that I could farm other bosses for more loot. I already had the CC, so I thought it'd be a great idea. Now I'm just pissed. 3 hours that I could be doing something else. It's just mind-blowing seeing all of the pro-nerf (or the few there are) that just tear the Bee to shreds for being OP. As you stated, Borderlands is predominately a single player game; so why should it matter to them?

  9. I agree 100% with this article. I played today 2 days after the patch was out and observed the bee is still usable vs other bosses unless its against Terramorphous or any other ultra boss.

    If they are making ultra bosses this hard they gotta increase the orange drop rate on these specific bosses. They are making killing an ultra boss an impossible feat, that not increasing the orange drop rate would make killing such bosses pointless with no orange reward in the end. Farming pre-patched Borderlands 2 was hard already cuz the drop rate on the orange weapons on some bosses like Doc Mercy was damn near impossible. I farmed Doc Mercy day after day like a heroin addict and still have not seen him drop an infinity pistol. I have gotten other bosses drop their legendary weapons in a couple of days of farming and here I am trying to do things legit while Gearbox nerfs the Bee and buffs Terra. Before they fix anything else they should do something about weapon duping. They are screwing customers who are not cheating and letting cheaters get the best weapons. They are forcing honest customers to cheat to get the best weapons in the game by their business decisions.

    I new something was up when I popped the game in and decided to farm Terra for a bit and ended up getting my butt handed to me and thought my game was glitched until I checked online and found out what Gearbox did.

  10. Thank you! Such a well developed article that also pointed out some issues I mentioned to my friends.
    Con: "We want more challenge. The Bee takes that away."
    Pro: "Well take it off or go play Dark Souls."
    Con: "But the Bee nearly one shots everything."
    Pro: "So do modded level 125 characters with infinite badass points."
    Gearbox: "We couldn't come up with any ideas to combat our invention, so we decided to nerf it instead."
    Pro: "Fixed percentage bosses that null excess damage and change throughout the combat, dividing the raid boss's health into several objects that require a certain objective to be done before damage is dished out(Crawmerax; limb spots)."

    Instead, they give us unavoidable AOE attacks that pretty much say, "Here's my Goliath-sized cock! Don't bother running, just open your mouth and say ahhhhhhhhh!"

    1. I have to say I agree fully with your comments and that last part is especially hilarious

  11. I tried to suggest a solution in the official forum and I was treated like: ...d'oh!

    Here's my post:

  12. !00% correct..that's why we enjoyed B1 so much and bought B2...Gearbox..listen and restore the Bee...we need a plausible way to gather legendarys, so that we can go round a third time for fun...nd a fourth's great when you've worked your way throiugh VH mode solo, to reach L50, farm some great weapons and go round again in a more relaxed manner...Come on!!

  13. Anyone out there is there a way to unpatch it and play the second DLC [torgues campaign] without the damn nerf. i really like this game.

  14. I´m playing B2 Solo on PS3 and love it. I totally agree to the main post. Gearbox are cheating their honest gamers. Farming is hard enough and I definetely want to slay Theramorphous and Pete and Hyperious ALONE!!! - even I have no Conference cal by now but a bee!! ;-)
    If Gearbox change my Game with an update on PS3 to nerf the bee or other things droptables of legendaries they spoil the fun and enthusiasm of many of the Borderlands 2 fans.
    Shame on Gerabox it´s just craven

  15. Brilliant assessment!! As a result of Gearbox's shortsightedness, I am not buying DLCs. There loss!!

  16. typo... Their loss!!

  17. Dead on. Pretty frustrating overall for "entertainment". As an adult with a job and family, I don't have the time for marathon sessions to farm bosses, so the low drop rates are really killing the fun. Thanks for the clarification on the nerfed Bee with shotguns, couldn't figure out why my Ravager wasn't doing as much damage as I thought it should. Had to farm Hellquist about 50 times to get the Bee. It is still good for general game play and Captain Scarlett but still working to beat Terra. Guess I'll switch to my Unending Anarchist pistol and see how that works. May have to go do the Campaign of Carnage for entertainment.

    BTW, anyone have any idea what is the difference in Terramorphous' health between Normal Mode and TVHM? (besides Ridiculous and Totally F#$%king Ridiculous)

    Lv 50 Commando

  18. I too hope they restore The Bee + CC combo. I just acquired my CC by farming the warrior for several days, only to find out it has been patched..

  19. You people just dont get it. i have never had a problem with any of these bosses. my badass rank is over 300000, with a damage increase over 60% and health over 40%. the badass rank system is there to give you more over the bosses. you just have to work hard to get it

    1. Yeah but not everybody has time to waste to get ridiculous badass ranks buffs,some don't have much time to play,so i think it's right that they can farm bosses more easily when playing ALONE (or with people that are okay with it)

  20. If you fuckin buy something then unless specifically requested by an individual(in that case you grant the individuals request only). You fuckin leave it the fuck alone, if an individual wants something changed, it's up to the individual to customize (make a fuckin mod for customizing easily, gearbox (crooks/pirates). Legally if you buy something it should always perform the same unless requsted (No matter what additional fuckin bells and whistles you may fuckin offer assholes. I have a feeling that payback for crooked actions to honest people are a bitch!!!!!!!

  21. your badass rank over 300,000 mine would be as well but the fuckin game keeps reseting it

  22. Sadly they nerf the bee but fail to fix half of the game breaking bugs, aka dt from the mechro. As for badass points if you have 400k you either play way too much and reset your challenges or glitched yourself that high. I have almost every char up to 50 2 at 61 and complete challenges on a reg basis on all of em butonly have around 50k... so yeah..

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