Bazillions Of Guns
Before Borderlands came along, if a game had said it had a bazillion of anything I would’ve met its outlandish claims with an exaggerated roll of the eyes and a loud, unamused yawn. Then it came out, and while it wasn’t without its flaws—including but not limited to a serious case of repetition—it successfully managed to blow my mind. The different weapon types, their attachments, special ammo, and unique abilities created literally millions of different guns, practically guaranteeing you would never play with someone who shared the same gun as you. In Borderlands 2, the arsenal is but one of the many areas that have seen serious improvement, and, from what we’ve seen of the game so far, it looks to be shaping up quite nicely.
Before we dig into the rest of the game, let’s talk a little more about the weapons. For the sequel, developer Gearbox Software has implemented a brand-new procedural system that exponentially increases the game’s arsenal. This upgrade isn’t limited to the guns either; this means there are more shields, grenades, alien artifacts, and class mods to choose from as well.
Using these weapons are the five new characters that are being introduced. Don’t worry, if you developed a strong bond between you and your character from the first game, they will be returning, though not in a playable capacity. The first new class is the Gunzerker, a man named Salvador who’s more than a little adept at the use of guns. His mad firepower skills grant him the useful ability to dual-wield any two weapons in the game. Dual rocket launchers? Check. Machine gun, assault rifle combo? Check. The possibilities are endless.
The second new class—and the one that I’m most likely to be spending an unhealthy amount of time with—is the sword-wielding stealth character who goes by the mysterious moniker Zero. He can duplicate himself to create a decoy on the battlefield or use his cloaking ability to sneak up on a baddie Predator-style. He looks incredibly intimidating in the trailer, but it’s the katana that really sold it for me. My diet of pizza and video games might say otherwise, but I’m pretty sure I was a deadly assassin in a past life.
Another new character is Maya who, like Lilith from the original game, is a Siren. This means she has similar powers, as well as a few new abilities like Phaselock, which can be used to levitate an enemy above the battlefield so the team can focus their fire on it.
Axton is a lot like Roland, the soldier from the first cast, and he too relies on turrets. Axton’s balance of offensive and defensive powers could turn him into the backbone of any strong team.
The fifth and final class is still mostly under wraps, but what we know so far is her class is called the Mechromancer—possibly my new favorite gaming term—which, assuming her title didn’t give it away already, means she can control mechs. However, the Mechromancer won’t come with the game; instead, she’ll become available in post-release DLC.
One of my major issues with the first game was the intensely repetitive environments. Most of the locations in the game shared that brownish desert aesthetic that got boring to look at after spending a few hours with the game. This time around, it seems we’re exploring a more varied part of Pandora that will include arctic tundras, expansive grasslands, massive caverns, and much more. A little extra variety in the scenery will undoubtedly make Borderlands 2 a lot easier to spend all-night gaming marathons with. Also, while not much is known about how this is being done, Gearbox has said they’re looking into making the transitions (i.e. the brutal loading screens between each level) a little more bearable. What that means is anyone’s guess, but it’s good to hear.
Inhabiting each of these locations are tons of new enemies that may or may not make Crawmerax look totally harmless. Some of the many new enemies being introduced in Borderlands 2 are the Bullymongs; lumbering gorilla-like creatures that you probably don’t want to get to close to, and the vicious Stalkers. Hyperion’s mechanical army will also be trying to kill you, and Hyperion’s name should sound familiar to fans of the first game, since they were one of the better weapons manufacturers, second only to Atlus.
What’s a Borderlands game without intense four-player co-op? Not a Borderlands game, that’s what. Of course, the multiplayer is one of the primary focuses of the game. That means you’ll be able to drop in and out of other games without restarting them, split-screen is available to those who like playing their games with people in the same room as them, and LAN is there for anyone who still has the occasional LAN party.
Borderlands 2 promises a bigger, badder Borderlands, and, for most of us, that’s all we need. If you’re still on the fence, I’d like to throw out a few highlights for you: 87 bazillion guns, more Claptrap, five classes, and four-player co-op. If that doesn’t sell you on just how fun and addictive this game is going to be, I don’t know what will. Perhaps you’d like a little more “wub wub”? Because it totally has that too.
Did You Say Gunzerker?
Borderlands came out back in 2009, delivering completely over-the-top cel-shaded shooter action combined with several RPG and dungeon crawler elements. It may not have been a completely flawless experience, but it was an absolute blast to play nonetheless, especially when teamed up with friends.
Borderlands 2 was unveiled just a month ago, and it definitely looks like developer Gearbox is prepared to answer some of Borderlands’ major criticisms while keeping intact all the elements that made the first game so great.
One of the biggest downsides of the original game was that its environment remained pretty similar through the entire game. There was desert, and there was rusted metal. But Borderlands 2 is taking us to some brand new locations on Pandora, and believe it or not, the planet is not just one big junkyard of a desert. Even though different areas will have very different aesthetics, Gearbox promises the new locations will still have that trademark Borderlands feel.
Along with the new environments comes a broader assortment of creatures. Borderlands 2 seems to be embracing some fantasy elements, bringing us several creatures that are a bit dragonish in appearance. A more sci-fi enemy type is a robot called a Loader, and we’ve been told there are several various categories of Loader, each with its own skill set. Of course, the skags will be back, as will the classic psychos and midgets.
While new creatures might lend a bit of visual variety to the game, without decent A.I. they could fail to impress from a gameplay standpoint. Thankfully, this is something Gearbox is hard at work on. In Borderlands 2, not every enemy will rush you like it has some sort of kamikaze death wish; now you’ll encounter baddies who actually utilize a bit of strategy.
Even though the first game was entertaining from start to finish, many fans complained that there was absolutely no story to speak of. While I tend to disagree (it’s a fairly straightforward plot, but it’s a plot nonetheless), Gearbox has heard these pleas. Borderlands 2 will have a much deeper storyline, and one that permeates the landscapes you’ll explore. It sounds like many of the little nooks and crannies you find on your journey will be seeped in Borderlands lore, whether this takes the form of a strange bit of graffiti, ancient runic symbol, or an out-of-the-way character with a story to tell.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Borderlands game without guns. Even though the first game had a millions of possible weapons, Borderlands 2 dares to push this even further. In the original Borderlands, there were several different weapons manufacturers that each made different types of guns. For example, you may have picked up a gun that said Maliwan on it, and that gun would have a slightly quicker reload speed (as well as some other properties). However, the differences were hardly noticeable to anyone besides the serious number crunchers. In Borderlands 2, Gearbox promises the differences between manufacturers will be much more noticeable.
And we can’t forget to mention the new Tediore guns, which will be disposable and explosive. You can fire a Tediore gun like normal, or you can throw it and watch it explode. The amount of damage this explosion does is based off how much ammo is left in the clip, so you might want to try tossing your gun when the clip is full. After the explosion, the gun materializes back in your hand with a fresh clip. Now, if this sounds a little ridiculous even for Borderlands, you have to be reminded that this sort of tech is already a part of the game world. Remember those digistruct stations that could materialize vehicles out of thin air? This is the same tech, only on a smaller scale. While this sort of weapon is way too over-the-top for just about any other game out there, it’s actually a perfect fit for the Borderlands world.
The characters from the first game will be back, but only as NPCs. Their corresponding classes have been scrapped in favor of four brand new ones. Only the first of these classes has been revealed so far: the Gunzerker. The Gunzerker looks to be a heavier class build, and one that can dual-wield weapons. And this isn’t just pistols here; the Gunzerker can dual-wield any two weapons in the game. You like your rocket launcher with a side of sniper rifle? Go for it. How about two shotguns at the same time? Yup. Or even better, how about two sniper rifles, each with a different damage type? It sounds like the real fun of the Gunzerker class will be just letting your imagination run wild and coming up with the most insane weapon combos you can think of.
With Borderlands 2 still so far off (all we’ve been given for a release date is the year 2012), what we know at this point barely scratches the surface of what will be included in the final product. Stay tuned to Cheat Code Central into the following year as we slowly peel back the shroud covering this very exciting project.