Since my midnight pick up of Borderlands 2, it’s an understatement saying that it’s been a tremendous trending event in my life. I’ve had about a week with the game and I’ve thrown over 40 hours into it so far. With other places like IGN, Gamespot, and other professional sites giving reviews of having played even more hours than I have, I decided to share some of my experiences and impressions instead.
Any Problem with the First Game? Consider it Fixed
If your beef with the first game was the dry settings, similar AI, and bland/uncompelling story, then start praising Gearbox for taking the time to listen to their audience and fix all these problems. It’s not uncommon knowledge that the settings are way ore beautiful, the enemies are way more diversified, and the story is much more sensical and even worthwhile. Even some smaller issues with the game like lack of personalization of your characters are attempted to be fixed. Beforehand, ‘treasure hunting’ was the primary motivation for the vault hunters, but the game makes somewhat an effort to try and draw why these new characters are on Pandora in the first place. And if you were confused as to why the originals are in Pandora, seeing them again certainly fills in some plot holes.
Everything You Loved with the First Game? Multiply it by 10
Shooting and looting. Shooting and looting. Shooting and looting. That’s the unofficial tagline of Borderlands because you end up doing that a lot. Killing enemies, comparing their guns with yours, and using their guns to kill more has been the essential Borderlands experience. So when Gearbox makes even more guns, creates harder enemies, and utilizes 4 unique skills to execute them, you can’t really complain. The game is just as addictive as ever in this aspect. And I can expect myself to be throwing in even more hours of gameplay shooting and looting until Borderlands 3.
Gan Manufacturers are as Distinct as Ever
Gun manufacturers were present in the previous game, but they come back even more distinct than ever. As I’m shooting and looting, I find myself saying ‘Oooo, Ahhh’ to picking up guns from manufacturers like Tediore and Jakobs. I absolutely love that each manufacturer has its own quirks and specialties. With such diverse manufacturers, any play style you might have can be suited and if you’re feeling sneaky and snipery from shooting up close and personal, you can easily switch to fit your mood.
Also: Dahl and Maliwan FTW
AI is Faster, Stronger, and Smarter
Borderlands 1 had essentially 3 generic enemy types, guys with guns, psychos, and generic creatures. There were slight modification here and there by throwing another name on top of them to pass them off as a different enemy type, but Borderlands 2 raises the bar even more. Psychos are just as crazy, rolling, side stepping, finding any way possible to get their axe to your face. Bandits rally to each other and attempt to flank you as they rain bullets onto your face. And then the many creatures take the form of old favorites and dangerous new types as they try to eat your face. They’re harder to hit, faster to dodge, and sometimes way more dangerous to fight.
Getting Stuck and Dying
2 tough problems I’ve been dealing with are my tendencies to getting stuck in environments while fighting and then when I go down, enemies having the tendency to running away. That makes things pretty tough. So I often die, a lot. Luckily death isn’t a huge penalty in life (wish I could say the same for the many bandits I’ve slaughtered), and powering through is often enough for me to get through the story.
Multiplayer is a Must
Borderlands 2 is pretty tough by yourself. I highly recommend playing Axton if you’re solo as the turret is an invaluable resource if you’re under fire and don’t have a buddy to take some of the aggro. But if you are playing multiplayer, let mayhem ensue. Firefights are way more fun in multiplayer as the risk of danger isn’t as great. Reviving your foes mid-fight is invigorating dynamic between two or more characters. Their revamped mission taking structure fixes a lot of the aggravating aspects of having players jump in in the middle of a story. This way, you can join a friend who might be a little further in the story without feeling guilty. As for the actual story, you don’t need to worry about missing too much by jumping in with someone a little ahead, primarily because the story is so loose, that besides missing a couple of well written lines of dialogue, the shooting and looting is truly why you’re playing the game.
The Class(es) I’m Playing and My Favorite So Far
So as for my status, I’ve currently got 3 characters in play: Axton, my solo character and two split screen players I’m using with friends: Zer0 on one hand and Maya on the other. Currently, by far my favorite character is Axton as that turret is just the best at cleaning up messes and finding difficult enemies to hit. I’m going with Guerilla tree, as I like the idea of my turret producing as much damage as a crowd controlling turret can. Increased turret accuracy, damage, and a double barrel is truly appealing. Zer0 is fairly difficult to use. As I progress down the Bloodshed tree, his skills are nice and the cool down is even nicer, but sometimes enemies are little too far for me to reach and as soon as I attack and kill them, I’m exposed and in the middle of a large crowd. Maya’s skill is also very cool, although requires more accuracy than I’d like. The range of my Cataclysm build is nice and the damage it reaves is crazier, but you need enemies exactly in the crosshair, which is significantly difficult for smaller enemies.
Finishing the Campaign
There are certainly other games out there that have made me actually feel feelings. So I’m sure you know Borderland’s trademark humor, but I never would’ve pegged them for creating a heartfelt campaign. Two major factors contribute to this heartfelt feeling I got when playing this game. The first is the game’s primary enemy: Handsome Jack. Handsome Jack has both some of the most comical lines in the game as well as the most despicable. The writers did a good job in making me hate his guts while simultaneously getting giddy every time his face comes up for some dialogue. It was really nice having motivation for progressing the story. By motivation I mean wanting to punch Jack’s face in.
The other aspect that made the story heartfelt primarily involved the vault hunters from the first game. While they were horrifically uncharacterized in the first game, personalities and voicework really show here. Roland, Lilith, Mordecai, and Brick send you on missions all the time, while sprinkling dialogue throughout. It’s really nice as they weave in old jokes from the first game that makes you feel nostalgia all over. And having them in crucial moments of the game gives you a large sense of pride and purpose as you make your final push to Handsome Jack. Cutscenes had me goosebumping and lost in shock during certain parts of the game. No spoilers…You just have to play and find out for yourself what I’m talking about.
The Road Ahead
I will be playing this game for a long time. Like a very long time. With three separate playthroughs, each promising a 40-60 hour campagin, it will be a while before I’m even done with the story for each one. I do want my Axton to reach the end first so that I can team up with friends to take down Terramorhpous the Invincible. And then there’s the DLC that’ll be released of course. The Mecromancer comes out October 16th and of course I’ll have my hands on her as well. The potential amount of time that will be dumped into this game seems insurmountable. Shooting and looting is an addictive force. And I can’t believe I’m writing this article instead of getting my high. Peace out.