Going to not respond directly to your post because I don't want to take up half the page with old information.
I was 'moved' that Bloodwing died because I played Mordecai in Borderlands 1. The same way I was 'moved' when Cain died in Diablo 3. It was very much a "God Dammit" moment for me.
The question you pose, 'what is story?', is an interesting one. The truth is, story is unimportant. Star Wars The Old Republic taught us that. Pacific Rim, the monster versus robots movie, also taught us that. When you play SWTOR you are bombarded with story. A lot of it is really good, but the delivery is underwhelming so as a result your experience suffers as a whole. Pacific Rim is another example of this. The whole movie storywise makes no sense what so ever, and on occasion it contradicts itself, but most people who walk out of the movie remember the monster fights. It is a great experience.
I never played Metal Gear Solid but I can say that Arkham Asylum had a very good story and they did a very good job of putting you in the boots of Batman. It was a whole package, full experience deal.
I can recall a lot of characters in from GTA 3 and GTA 4. Admittedly, I did not play a lot of Vice City or SA, but even then the short time I did play some of them still come to mind when I recall my experience. The characters were made to be stereotypical, loud, and iconic, just like in Borderlands 2.
Truth be told, after fighting along side Lilith, having Brick smash up robots with his bare hands, and having Mordie pop fools from his crows nest, I was having a very difficult time believing I was as badass as everyone made me out to be. Sure, they threw badass points at me and the NPC cast constantly told me how badass I was, but they fed that to me. I never bought it.
I don't really think it is a case of 'we didn't have time' like you're making it out to be. I don't think I ever even suggested that. The issue is that they can't boggle us down by forcing us to sit through story like Borderlands 2 did.
Just like in Diablo 2, the option to explore the different characters exist. You just have to talk to them and click on their conversations. This was done so that those of us that want to just power through Nightmare and Hell can do that without having to sit through long cutscenes or blocks of speech.
It isn't really going 'off topic' when you compare a game that was tiered to have two playthroughs, then waited six months to add a third to a game, and another six months to release a fourth, to another game where you're expected to play through three times before you unlock the never ending loot mode.
I agree that at its base level, Blizzard could have done more to make us like Leah and sympathize with her, but you always had the option to chat with her. All of her conversation options are there. You're just not forced to do it like you are in Borderlands 2, where every character gets an 'epic introduction' cinematic.
I hit max level on my Psycho, but I can't bring myself to start a fifth playthrough so I can get the gear I need to start the Digistruct challenge.
And this, really? I would say the humor in D3 is one of the few things they got right in most places (maybe not the vegetables bad, meat good bit), but I would not say that Diablo 3 has a 'serious' overtone by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, this is very subjective, but I would not say it is more serious that Borderlands 2.
And the four playthrough setup was one of the worst ideas that any game company has ever implemented in my opinion. This idea does not take any extra time because all it is is a scaling of numbers. There are no meaningful changes between the various playthroughs and this just makes the whole thing tedious beyond belief.
I will quote you however.
You're just being contradictory for the sake of being contradictory.
Everything about Borderlands 2 was comical. It started with the opening cinematic. If you think "but I would not say that Diablo 3 has a 'serious' overtone by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, this is very subjective, but I would not say it is more serious that Borderlands 2.", like honestly believe that, then I don't have words.
As for the four playthrough system, the 'three playthroughs' system is kind of a stable of Diablo games. The fourth one was a cool choice on their part.
They must be doing something right, Borderlands 2 adopted it.
In fact, the comical overtone of the game was a device so when they did introduce 'heavy' moments they hit harder.