Borderlands 2’s fifth DLC character lands Gearbox in hot water

borderlands 2 dlc

Know this, oh ye studios and publishers: After 30 years, gender issues have overtaken violence as the hot button issue in video games. Earlier this year, Square-Enix was taken to task for not one but two of its studios’ depictions of women. Gearbox is now under fire as a newly announced downloadable character class for Borderlands 2 was described as “girlfriend mode” by one of the game’s lead designers.

Gearbox detailed a fifth playable character, the Mechromancer, that will be available as DLC for Borderlands 2 around two months after the game hits shelves. Taking inspiration from Jamie Hewlett’s (Gorillaz) old comic book character Tank Girl, the Mechromancer is a punk girl in a jean jacket,  pigtails, and a robot arm. Her support ability summons a giant tank named Deathtrap who, unlike commando Axton’s turrets, is there to draw fire away from the player.

The Mechromancer is different from other characters in a different way. One of her three skill trees, the chain of abilities unlocked as you progress in the game, is called “Best Friends Forever.” Those skills are built to make the game significantly easier than playing as one of the other classes. For example the “Close Enough” skill will give shots fired a chance to ricochet so the player doesn’t have to aim particularly well.

So what’s the problem? Making Borderlands 2 more accessible without affecting the core game has to be a good thing, right? The problem is how Hemingway described the Mechromancer to Eurogamer during a Gearbox studio tour. “The design team looking at the [Mechromancer] concept art and though, you know what, this is actually the cutest character we’ve ever had. I was to make, for the lack of a better term, the girlfriend skill tree. This is: I love Borderlands and I want to share it with someone, but they suck at first-person shooters. 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.”

Hemingway’s statements ignited a firestorm of angry Internet goers and the game remains a trending topic on Twitter as of this writing. Gearbox president Randy Pitchford took to Twitter himself on Monday morning to defend Hemingway and the game.

“There is no universe where Hemingway is a sexist,” said Pitchford, “The future DLC Mechromancer class has a skill tree that makes it easier for less skilled co-op partners (any gender!) to play and be useful.”

While Hemingway’s phrasing could certainly be seen as patronizing, Borderlands 2 is hardly a bastion of video game misogyny. The game is written by Anthony Burch, who along with his sister Ashly Burch is responsible for the surrealist comedy show Hey Ash, Whatcha Playing. The only serious topic that show ever tackles is how women are depicted in games, and the writer has shown a keen awareness of problematic game creation.

Hemingway chose his words poorly. If people want to take Gearbox to task for being misogynists, take them out for releasing Duke Nukem Forever.

Gaming

Riot Games and Tencent are developing League of Legends for mobile devices

Sources have revealed a collaboration between Tencent and Riot Games that will see a mobile version of League of Legends developed. Tencent owns Riot Games and also developed the mobile MOBA Honour of Kings in China.
Computing

AMD or Intel? We take a look at the pros and cons of both processors

When it comes to selecting a CPU for your PC, there's no shortage of chips for you to choose from. With Ryzen, Threadripper, and Core i9 CPUs though, the AMD vs. Intel argument is muddier than ever.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Huawei updates, Starlink launch, and Pac-Man’s birthday

On this episode of DT Live, we discuss the ongoing Huawei saga, Amazon’s social games for workers, Ford's partnership with a robotics company, the Starlink satellite launch, Pac-Man’s birthday, and more.
Deals

Dell Memorial Day sale demolishes prices on XPS laptops, 4K TVs, and monitors

The 2019 Memorial Day sales have already begun, and Dell has hit the ground running: The Dell Memorial Day Sale is destroying prices on laptops, TVs, and monitors, with discounts that can save you thousands. Read on to see the best deals.
Deals

Dell drops big savings on Alienware monitors, headsets, and gaming keyboards

Although known for its beefy PCs, Alienware also makes some great gaming accessories. A handful of them are on sale right now, too, so if you're upgrading to an ultrawide monitor or you just need a new mouse and keyboard, check these out.
Gaming

Amazon boosts productivity by gamifying warehouse workers’ tedium

Amazon is letting its warehouse staff play video games while they work. The games have been specially designed to inject some fun into the daily grind and, of course, to encourage them to work more quickly.
Gaming

Amazon slashes the price for Corsair’s HS70 wireless gaming headset

Amazon and Corsair totally blasted the price of Corsair's HS70 wireless gaming headset. With the HS70 price down to $60, you can save $40 when you pick up one of our favorite headsets with Wi-Fi wireless and 7.1 surround sound.
Gaming

Everything we know about the PlayStation 5, including PlayStation Now plans

PlayStation 5 rumors have circulated for over a year, but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.
Gaming

Project xCloud vs. GeForce Now: Which will be PC gamers' favorite choice?

Game streaming services are going to be all the rage over the next few years. Two of the biggest are Nvidia GeForce Now and Project xCloud. Here is what you need to know about the services and how they operate.
Gaming

Take the quickest route to level 70 and learn how to level grind in FFXIV

Leveling in Final Fantasy XIV seems to get easier as the level cap goes higher. With around 25 classes to level up from scratch, we outline the best and worst ways to level up each one fast.
Gaming

Here are all the game streaming services you should know about

You can still get your physical video game discs or cartridges at your local store or download games digitally, but another option is even more convenient: Game streaming. Here are the best game-streaming services.
Gaming

Here are the best games to play with your friends on the Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch's hybrid design adds convenience to your gaming time, allowing you to play Switch games both at home and on the go. The design also benefits multiplayer experiences, from co-op to competitive and online to offline.
Gaming

This quirky, crank-operated console delivers an exclusive new game each week

Playdate is a handheld console from Panic that will deliver 12 games across 12 weeks. Owners won't know what they're playing before it arrives, but one of the games is a creation from Katamari Damacy designer Keita Takahashi.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans to enjoy.