When Borderlands came out in 2009, it showed gamers around the world what happens when an FPS and an RPG come together and make a baby. This year, Borderlands 2 is showing what happens when that baby grows up and is given 96.5% more wub wub.
Borderlands 2 is once again set on the world of Pandora, a beautiful yet ruined world full of snowy plains and lush jungles–a welcomed change considering the vast sandy deserts of the original game. As with the original Borderlands, the name of the game is guns and killing. There’s plenty to kill here, from crazy psychos to murderous wildlife, and plenty of guns to do it with. Yes, it does sound much like the first game, but there’s a lot more to love in Gearbox’s sequel.
The funnest way to play Borderlands is to team up with up to three of your friends to take out the strongest and fight over the coolest guns. In the fashion of Diablo, the difficulty increases the more players there are, but playing as a four player team is also the only way to get the rarest items available.
Outside of killing countless waves of the baddest of badasses and the craziest of Pandora’s killer wildlife, one of the biggest appeals of Borderlands 2 is the joy of finding the various weapon cases that are scattered throughout the world. Each weapon case holds but just a few of the game’s available “87 bazillion” guns.
The guns vary from the traditional weapon types such as pistols, shotguns and rocket launchers. They are also mixed into the fray with RPG stats such as required level to use, weapon damage, reload speed, ammo capacity, and elements such as electricity and fire.
And each gun differs from the next in both looks and general statistics.
For example, I got two assault rifles that look similar, but one of them is weak and shoots electric bullets that rip through my enemies’ shields while the other one shoots rockets–yes, actual rockets–instead of bullets.
Delving into more of the RPG tropes, each character has their own unique skill trees and play style, and playing together leads to plenty of cooperative strategies where everyone relies on each other’s specialties and abilities.
The four defining classes each have their own action skill that support the other classes well. Axton drops his turret for support, Maya phaselocks her enemies for control, Salvador duel wields in his “Gunzerker” mode for maximum damage, and Zero disappears and distracts.
As progression is made through the game by killing enemies and completing quests and challenges, character’s, of course, will level up. Skill points are used on various skills that make your character stronger in various ways. With a stronger character, facing newer, stronger enemies becomes possible. Rinse. Repeat. Level up. And get new guns.
Borderlands 2 is another case of a sequel that doesn’t do much different than its predecessor, but the game certainty does everything better. Gearbox added much needed variations between the various weapon companies. Hyperion weapons get more accurate the more you shoot, and a Tediore gun is reloaded by throwing the weapon away as an explosive and a new one materializes in your hand.
The biggest overall improvement is how the story is presented. Ask any Borderlands fan about story details and you’ll see exactly how many of them took the time to read through each mission description (hint: not many). Borderlands 2 took the smart approach of giving both a text and narrated description. This makes each quest more involving, and hearing some of those quest giver’s crazy requests adds memorable hilarity to each mission. Handsome Jack’s lines are absolutely hilarious.
However, this gives place to one big problem. Sometimes, quest updates are given in the middle of gun fights where bullets are loudly flying in every direction, grenades are detonating into dozens of smaller grenades, and angry bandits and excited teammates are screaming at you. This can quickly lead to missed quest details and golden comedic dialogue. This could have easily been fixed by silencing the background noises and focusing on the audio.
It’s safe to say Borderlands 2 is the perfect game to play when you’re in that murderous looting mood and a refined experience over its predecessor. There’s enough variety here to make the game another smash hit with the greater gaming community, and it’s something that will be played amongst friends for a long, long time–until the inevitableBorderlands 3 comes out.