The Borderlands 2 dev team is still ironing out the details of the game's downloadable fifth character class, the Mechromancer, but lead designer John Hemingway confirms that one of the goals is to make her more of a noob-friendly option in a new interview with Eurogamer. The Mechromancer's Best Friends Forever skill tree, which Hemingway describes as a sort of "girlfriend mode," is meant to offer players aid in the form of things like enemy-seeking weapons fire.
"I love Borderlands and I want to share it with someone, but they suck at first-person shooters," Hemingway explained. "Can we make a skill tree that actually allows them to understand the game and to play the game? That's what our attempt with the Best Friends Forever skill tree is."
The interview has since drawn some fire from the gaming community over Hemingway's use of the term "girlfriend mode," which Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford defended on Twitter as being a "personal anecdote." There certainly isn't a trace of malice in Hemingway's description, though it's easy to see why his choice of words is being viewed as controversial. Are you offended?
That's as far as I'm going to address the "girlfriend mode" issue. The community was right to step up and point out the questionable word choice, but the message has clearly been received and we should all just move on. There are far worse examples of stereotyping going on in this industry; I don't see how piling on Hemingway's clearly non-malicious statement any further is going to be constructive.
Hemingway also mentioned that the team's work on another Mechromancer skill tree could serve as a counterpoint to Best Friends Forever. "Right now, I'm thinking of it as a hardcore mode," he said. "So if you are a really expert player, and you want to do some tricky, difficult things, this is the tree for you, for just a totally different experience."
There's more in the interview, covering the Mechromancer's third skill tree, focused on shields and electrical damage, as well as some talk on how her look inspires some of the planned abilities.