Claptrap: good or the worst?

The Borderlands 3 announcement has been controversial due to Gearbox's decision to release the game exclusively with Claptrap included as a character. Depending on who you ask, the annoying one-wheeled robot is either the worst part of the Borderlands series, or actually good and funny, if you loosen up, you whiners.

In his Borderlands 2 retrospective, Jody said that Destiny's Ghost is "just Claptrap for boring people," which we all thought was a pretty funny dig at the team's Destiny players before we went back to seriously debating the merits of metal companions who won't shut up. 

That brings us to the simple question in this mid-week PCG Q&A: Is Claptrap good or bad? Our answers are below, and you can leave yours in the comments.

Andy Kelly: Bad

Claptrap is the worst. He's every bad Hollywood comic relief character squeezed into one tiny, dancing robot. He's the Jar Jar Binks of videogames. He's Rob Schneider's character in that Judge Dredd movie from the '90s. When he starts dancing and beatboxing I want to toss him in a car crusher then eject the resulting yellow cube into a wormhole that leads directly to the shit dimension, where everything's made of shit. If there was a paid DLC to remove all traces of Claptrap from Borderlands 3, I'd spend any amount of money on it.

Shaun Prescott: Bad but so is everyone else

I don't understand why Claptrap is more annoying than virtually every other character and dialogue line in every single Borderlands game. I love the games, and I have to admit that some of the Australian slang in the Pre-sequel made me smile. But I don't play Borderlands to be amused: I buy them to find weapons that double as grenades, and then to use those weapons to shoot baddies.

I like that Borderlands is lighthearted and silly because the cliched grandiosity of games like Destiny and Anthem makes me want to tear my ears off. As Jody wrote last week Destiny's Ghost "is just Claptrap for boring people." I'd go further: Destiny is just Borderlands for people with a dozen Star Wars Funko Pops. Leave Claptrap alone, he's shit but what do you expect, he keeps shit company.

Joanna Nelius: Good, at least in-fiction

I'll take an annoying robot with a heart of gold over a charismatic villain with a massive, unapologetic ego any day. So what if Claptrap is on the eccentric side? At least he didn't declare himself dictator over Pandora, take credit for finding The Vault, and take over the Hyperion Corporation when he should have been going to therapy for his deep-seeded grandma issues.

Christopher Livingston: Bad but not the worst

Not good, but I'm sure not the worst. But definitely one of the worst. It's really just a question of volume.

To refresh my memory, I watched this compilation of Claptrap's "best quotes" or at least as much as I could tolerate. It's not like he's a badly written character, it's just that he's constantly shrieking his lines. I'm just not into having dialogue screamed at me when there's no reason for it. I get the idea that he's supposed to be annoying—Hammerlock makes several references to Claptrap being irritating—but just because a character is intentionally annoying doesn't make them less annoying. They're still annoying! Loud is an adjective, not a personality. Claptrap is just exhausting to listen to.

But hey, I could be wrong! To me, Guardians of the Galaxy is just a bunch of people and aliens yelling at each other at the top of their lungs for three hours, and there are plenty of streamers who make millions screaming at games, so what the hell do I know? If you enjoy him, enjoy him. Maybe endless shrieking is actually great.

Jody Macgregor: Good

The Claptrap defender has logged on. Actually, I hated Claptrap in the first Borderlands just like everyone else. It was only in the sequel, when he's being beaten by bandits and he starts acting out a debate with them, that I started to change my mind. He pretends to be the bandits, explaining that beating up a robot makes them feel better and since he doesn't really feel pain it's a net moral good. By then end of this imaginary conversation he's convinced himself it's really OK for bad dudes to kick the shit out of him for no reason. Borderlands 2 Claptrap is much better-written than OG Claptrap.

What really turned me around was the sidequest where you're invited to his birthday party. Nobody else turns up. It's just two minutes of awkwardness while he sighs because he bought too much pizza. Borderlands 2 really runs with the idea that even in-universe everyone finds the loud robot annoying. It's the saddest thing, and by the end of it I realized I would defend Claptrap with my life.

Fraser Brown: He's a minion

Claptrap is just a really loud Minion. Throw him in the bin.

Wesley Fenlon: Bad unless voiced by Keith David 

My memories of the first Borderlands are, at this point, pretty hazy, even though I spent weeks playing that game with my friends. I don't remember hating Claptrap in that game, though. He was just a silly little robot with an annoying voice that I don't remember interacting with much after the beginning of the game. Borderlands 2 is where things took a turn.

I believe Jody that Claptrap is a better-written character in BL2, but there's just so much more of him. Claptrap isn't the worst, he's just way overexposed, with a screeching shtick that gets old fast in a game that throws 15 jokes per minute at you. I think my biggest problem with Claptrap might be that he guided me through a tutorial I didn't need, because I'd already played Borderlands, so I just wanted to get the hell on with it.

For all us haters, I think Gearbox should let us choose between Screeching Claptrap and Deep Voice Claptrap in Borderlands 3, and hire Keith David to voice the latter. I will never complain about any character voiced by Keith David ever.

James Davenport: Give Claptrap human hands and a mouth

I don't remember much about Claptrap, probably because my brain doesn't prioritize remembering robots over humans, which I remember quite easily and dream about often. To help everyone remember and therefore dream about Claptrap better, I whipped up a few concepts to bridge the gap between robot and human, or forgettable and memorable. With a mouth full of saliva and muscle, Claptrap is sure to become a classic and beloved videogame character. 

Above: James' concept rendering.

Samuel Roberts: He wasn't bad until dubstep

I liked Claptrap in the first Borderlands. He seemed to represent the game's famous shift in art style from its dull-looking forerunner to what we actually got to play. In small doses, he is fine. By Borderlands 2, which threatened me with dubstep, I was ready to leave him behind (along with dubstep).

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