Pandoraing To The Crowd: Hands-On With Borderlands 2

‘Manic’ is the word that lurked spider-like atop my forebrain after an hour or so with Borderlands 2. It had been a sustained torrent of colour and noise, the slaying of small armies of bandits, insectoid aliens and flying buggies interspersed with frenzied, light-speed jabbering from a psychotic teenage girl. Borderlands 2 is attention deficit disorder incarnate, a whirling, gnashing Tasmanian devil of hypercaffeinated gags, shouting and violence. I won’t lie – I felt a little exhausted after playing it.

The basic beats of Borderlands persist – shoot’n’loot in open environments, trying to kill all the men and collect all the guns – remain, but it’s a far greater spectacle than before. The simple deserts are now filled with towering junk towns, exploding alien plants and outlandish colour, colour, colour. We once thought of Borderlands as more-or-less sitting in the post-apocalyptic genre, but with the second game it’s taken a side-turn into all-out comicbook excess. Borderlands’ artstyle and Borderlands’ tone always seemed ever so slightly at odds with each other, but in the second game they’re united in a push for tongue-in-cheek chaos.

Tiny Tina is, in the section I played (with a level 25 character), emblematic of this. A thirteen-year-old girl with a penchant for building deadly machines and blowing stuff up, she’s a wild-eyed creature who babbles incessantly in a strange patois of absurdist prattle, nursery rhymes and rap-speak – think Ren & Stimpy re-enacting The Wire. She spends her time organising tea parties for home-made toys and dreaming of murder.

She could/should be a tragic character, being as she is an orphan whose parents were slaughtered by a local bandit by the unflattering name of Flesh-Stick, but her resultant psychopathy is depicted with extreme comedy. She’s essentially a quest-giver, asking you to collect her ‘guests’ from nearby bandit bases, to collect a plate of crumpets, to make a few big things explode noisily and, ultimately, to lure the conveniently just around the corner Flesh-Stick to her tea party and his horrible death.

It’s traditional courier quests painted in lurid high-concept colours, masking their true nature to the extent that I have only just now realised that they were, indeed, traditional courier quests. Borderlands 2 is built on action-RPG convention, but it wears an ever-grinning clown face that successfully makes it feel as though it’s doing something all its own.

It’s going to be a tall order to keep this up over a developer-estimated 60 hours of campaign, both in terms of actually creating that much inventive content and not causing players’ brains to snap in the face of this sustained onslaught of gibbering frenzy. I mean – I *think* a lot of the dialogue was funny, but the verbal gags arrive at such a speed that I didn’t have time to process one before four more had pounced at my ears.

In terms of combat, it does feel like a meatier shooter than before, a more tangible sense of click,pop,dead rather than graphics on top of numbers. With a much wider variety of enemies and more of a focus on particular weapon types (acid, fire and the like) for particular opponents, I found myself almost forgetting to worry about getting a better gun or hardier shield because I was that much more focused on the death-dealing business at hand.

That’s an improvement, I think: my co-op experiences of BL1 were characterised by my comrades and I regularly stopping to stare silently and obsessively at their inventory in the middle of fights, but here my priority was enemy management during large-scale battles which stacked the odds against me. Between that more honed shootybang aspect and the frenzy of the tone and dialogue, BL2 does seem a far cry from the relative simplicity of BL1, even though you couldn’t for a second think the two were unrelated.

A host of returning characters maintain the links as much as does the art style. Scooter’s still running the garages, former playable sorts Roland and Lillith are dialogue-heavy quest-givers, and one of my missions involves tracking down Mordecai. Borderlands 2 seems to have built a whole new fiction for itself from stray bits of bobs of Borderlands, rather than having much to do with the so-so story of its predecessor. As a sequel, it’s much more about amplification than extension.

In everything from UI to dialogue to death animations to even the skies above, it’s cranked up, unreal – a sort of contained madness, the result of an anything-goes design philosophy butting up against mechanical limitations. I got the sense it’s essentially providing a framework for play, a tombola of chaotic vignettes rather than any sort of logical series of events. We’ll have to see, of course, but I think from afar that this is absolutely the right thing to do. With even Blizzard admitting that Diablo III struggles for purpose in the end-game department, the key to replay value is providing a packed toybox to rummage around in rather than simply seeing the same situations with escalating difficulty.

The new Badass Ranks system is intended to make tackling the game again with new characters feel like a reward rather than repetition, unlocking permanent, carried-over buffs and effects that are applied to your profile rather than just the one character. You’ll be able to accrue any number of these by completing in-game mini-tasks, such as x number of sniper rifle headshots or electrocuting so many enemies, which in turn reward you with a token that will permanently improve stuff like reload speed or recoil for any and all characters you play as. While individual characters have a traditional level cap of 50, there’s talk of players potentially getting thousands of Badass ranks if they put the hours in.

On top of that, there’s a bunch of visual customisation unlocks to be had, with assorted hats and suits that go way beyond the minor colour-tweaking of BL1. Let’s hope all this stuff stays contained within the game rather than being the herald of an army of paid add-ons, eh?

I also had a peek at a level 35 version of Zero, the new stealth-assassin character. He’s got a pretty nifty box of tricks at his disposal, such as summoning hologramatic clones to distract his enemies (which can be detonated if you purchase the appropriate skill), having his bullets pierce foes and carry on to anyone behind them, and an almost teleporting dash melee attack that covers a vast amount of ground in an eyeblink. He’s got the fastest cooldown of all the classes, apparently, and while guns inevitably remain the most important guest at his party, he’s going to be the guy to play as if you want something a little different to a straight-up shooter.

So, happily, Borderlands 2 does seem like a true sequel. While the majority of today’s manshoot follow-ups seem focused on simply how to sell the same experience again a year or two later, this one’s ramping up of systems, scale and tone appears to leave its predecessor looking rather small, simple and quiet by comparison.

I’m slightly worried it’s almost got too much going on, but then I say that having jumped straight into the mid-game rather than slowly nurturing my Gunzerker from level 1 and up. I do suspect I’ll need to take regular time-outs from its frenzy, but I can’t wait to wade into its impressively varied world of explosions with a few chums.


  1. Kollega says:

    Borderlands 2 is going to be the best thing since magazine speed-loaders. You heard it here first.

    And amen to hats not becoming a flurry of microminiature DLCs that attack in swarms and devour your wallet. I am hoping that Gearbox will make big addons, just like for the first game. It’s the best kind of DLC, the one that definitely gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

  2. Askeladd says:

    I pre-ordered this already…. amazing trailer.

    • NarcoSleepy says:

      I pre-ordered the ultimate edition for my son (I lie, it’s totally for me!) and another copy so we can play fullscreen multi-player.

  3. golem09 says:

    My god, I want to hit my best buddy very hard for taking vacation STARTING ON THE BL2 RELEASE DAY.
    I’m not going to start this one in singleplayer or without him in mp.
    This game looks like a massive improvement of an already fun coop game.

    • abandonhope says:

      All I heard was best buddy… very hard.

      • golem09 says:

        I was wondering what you meant by “very hard”. Then I googled “best buddy”.
        Now I have to clarify that english is not my first language and I actually only mean my best friend :P

  4. Hypernetic says:

    Psycho explosives girl is too cute.

    • Davie says:

      She looks and acts exactly like an amped-up version of my little sister, which is a bit unsettling.

  5. princec says:

    Forced to play it with a 360 controller at Rezzed. Could cheerfully have strangled someone with the device after fumbling with it for a minute. Looks lovely though.

    • Hypernetic says:

      Yeah they had CS:GO at PAX last year with 360 controllers and I was not pleased. I told them as such and demanded hats in compensation. Sadly all I got was a CS:GO beta key.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      You should have.
      They are not going to learn that FPS are not the ideal genre for gamepads on their own.

      They are going to keep developing for the pad and console first until they’ve all been strangled with said gamepad/controller cords.

      Then, one day a new breed shall spring forth.
      And lo: There shall be the ONE that shall recover the scrolls of the ancients; that will rediscover that kb+mouse is the one true way for aiming at one out of 2073600 pixels properly.

      Not a wibblywob analogue stick.

  6. Keymonk says:

    Smooth. Looking forward to this so fantastically much.

  7. elevown says:

    Very much looking forward to this :) especially co-op!

  8. El_MUERkO says:


    This & ARMA3 & Planetside 2. Bestist FPS release schedule evar!

  9. Prolepsis says:

    I hope they’ve done something to diminish downtime. I had about 20 hours in the first one before I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like most of the time I was playing I was traveling from quest giver to quest and back again. Many times the travel accounted for more time than the quest did! I think they could have solved it by giving me every possible quest for a single area before going there, instead of finishing a quest only to have the very same quest giver require me to travel back to where I just was. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t happened with the frequency which it did.

    Does anyone know if they’ve done something to solve this?

    • syndrome says:

      I solved the same problem in BL1 by not playing it anymore.
      It is ridiculous how todays RPGs are loaded with chores players sadly aren’t aware of. Of course the campaign lasts for tens of hours, when you spend most of the time in transit ffs. I get plenty of that in RL, thank you very much.
      So for me, Skyrims and Borderlands of the world could/should just fuck off.
      I really dig the style and the guns, tho, but the price is too high.

      • Brun says:

        It is ridiculous how todays RPGs are loaded with chores players sadly aren’t aware of. Of course the campaign lasts for tens of hours, when you spend most of the time in transit ffs.

        It’s not that ridiculous. Games like Skyrim are about exploration just as much as hitting people with swords, and if you aren’t a fan of a little exploring then such games aren’t for you. Borderlands’ biggest problem was that there wasn’t a very good fast travel implementation.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        Yea, to be fair, Skyrim doesn’t nerf XP to 1 for old enemies and it has a quicktravel-once-discovered.
        And there is werewolf running and horsetravel.
        And, also not unimportant, you can mod that travel / horse speed in turn.

        And to be fair, you CAN kinda collect quests around an area beforehand a bit, whereas in BL it really does just rely on “oh and since we’re now in this area, why not kill the green blobs after the blue ones this time, ey?” grind.

        That was my single biggest issue with BL – there was no really enjoyable reason to do any of the stuff unless you really found the actual shooting fascinating. And in that regard it just wasn’t that epic a single player FPS(it sure as heck isn’t an RPG).

        Skyrim is completely different as in it offers a whole world of its own of stripping people nude for enjoyment via pickpocketing, letting Giants pummel you through level-ups and feeding on sleeping people as a vampire.

        Sure, the core “questy mc questington” aspect is tedious as always, but theoretically there is quite a bit of pastime _if_ you are into that kind of stuff. Plus reading gratuituous books and lore(which I find rather pointless tbh).

        But I’ll grant you having a point in the first place; finding a smooth, elegant way of making you do stuff without it feeling blatantly obvious and hollow is _the_ challenge of a leveling RPGis progression.
        Making grind unnoticeable is the minimum; making it actually come with ease and joy and making you want to do so is the pinnacle achievement.

  10. NyuBomber says:

    Aaah, can’t wait! I want to try my hand at turret dude and psychic-chick.

  11. ghling says:

    Worst. trailer music. ever.

    • Koshinator says:

      you mispelled ‘Best’ there…

    • Torgen says:

      You’re obviously in the minority, and too young to remember this song.

      • davin8r says:

        Anybody here who isn’t on Medicare is too young to remember that song (but I still think it was a great choice!) :)

    • dE says:

      Don’t worry, there’ll be a wub wub voowoovoowoovoooooo wub wub wub creeoooooowwwwww ksssssh wub wub version soon.
      And all the cool kids can finally rage about them song stealers from ages past, that somehow grabbed a timemachine, travelled to the future just to steal that song.

  12. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    I need this game.

  13. AmateurScience says:

    Alec were you playing this on a PC or a 360? Any news on the quality of the interface/FOV/various stuff they said they’d fix?

    Also: ‘Ren & Stimpy re-enacting The Wire’. Someone make this happen. Please.

  14. Kleppy says:

    But will I still have to replay an hour long map just because I had to quit before I reached the end?

  15. Freud says:

    I loved the first one. Filled with humor and the shooting mechanics were spot on in an old school way. Jumping head shots never cease to make me happy. It also had the best DLC (Knoxx) I’ve played. Loads of content for $10.

    Looking forward to this one.

  16. Shooop says:

    OK, OK, fine. I’ll be buying this. Even if the co-op is P2P only like last time.

    The rapid-fire humor of the Knoxx expansion and more fleshed-out characters did it. Between this, Guild Wars 2, and Dishonored, goodbye life. Not that I had much of one to begin with.

  17. mouton says:

    Did they fix the difficulty? One of the features that BL1 took from Diablo was that it was too damn easy. Even in New Game+ we steamrolled most things. And even if something killed us, we kept running at it from the respawn point until it died.

    If they can’t fine-tune the difficulty curve, then at least skip that idiotic Diablo model and let us choose difficulty level at the start.

    • Severian says:

      I think the issue in BL1 was that if you did too many side-quests, it became too easy (you outleveled most of the available quests and your guns were too good). On my second run-through with a different character, I actively restrained myself from doing them and mostly stuck to main quest stuff and the difficulty felt better matched. This isn’t a great solution, obviously, so I agree with you that I hope they pay close attention to difficulty.

  18. Lagwolf says:

    To me it looks like Rage done right with a twist of humor. I do hope it delivers on it promise… love the trailer.

  19. MondSemmel says:

    The second-to-last screenshot is amazing in its awkwardness. Three of the ladies (I’m not sure about the one second from the left) have their left arms (and waistbelts) in exactly the same position. I mean, I guess I should be happy they at least aren’t clad in bikinis, but still, that pose…

    • Arathain says:

      I was about to post pretty much the same thing. It’s such an odd pose, too. I mean, I see it fairly often in media of various sorts, but I do not ever recall a time seeing a woman actually stand that way, in real life. It’s rather unnatural looking. It also surely can’t be comfortable for very long.

    • Metonymy says:

      They’re color-swamps of exactly the same character, who is the Siren.

      And it’s exactly because of vaguely feminist nose-wrinkling like this, that you see this purely stylized pose as some kind of negative representation of real women. When she gets shot several hundred times in a row, and fully heals a couple of minutes later, is that also an accurate representation of women? What about the magic spells she uses, that happens in the real world, right?

      • Arathain says:

        I mentioned your dismissal of my comment to my wife, who demonstrated the feminist nose-wrinkle. It was pretty cute, so thanks for that.

        Your contention, if I have it correctly, is that this is an entertainment product with a fantastical setting, and thus does not need to be constrained by humdrum grimy boring reality in how it produces pleasure and entertainment in its players. In that context, somewhat (not even particularly gratuitous, by comparison) sexualised female figures fit this nicely.

        This would be absolutely true and fine, if the game existed in a complete cultural vacuum. It doesn’t, though. Nothing does. In this case, the context is a society in which the women are judged consistently based on their sexual characteristics; it is expected that all women will display to some extent, whether they wish to or no. Furthermore, this is greatly exaggerated in most visual entertainment, the large part of which caters to the male gaze. A title can’t escape that context, and judgement based on that context just for wanting. It’s another brick in the patriarchy wall.

        Not a very big brick, mind. Nose-wrinkling was about as strong as a reaction as I had. Anyway, I showed my wife the picture. She said women do stand in a less exaggerated version of that stance. It’s also a handy way to carry a child, as they can be placed on the hip in a classic side carry. Heck, that even works for me, although I find myself wishing I had more hip.

        • Metonymy says:

          And as a man, I’m expected to have a deep voice, and make lots of money, and be confident and interesting, otherwise I also get judged negatively.

          The argument always breaks down because it’s nonsense. Feminism just makes women unattractive and combative, and tells them they aren’t good enough so that they’ll purchase more garbage. It’s another divide-and-conquer attack from the same lunatics who wave patriotic flags and start wars with anyone who has something valuable.

          • Arathain says:

            OK, your comment made me boggle soundlessly for a while. I’m not going to get into a lot of detail or any posts past this one, because I’m not sure either of us will benefit, so you’re welcome to have the last word should you see it as useful.

            “And as a man, I’m expected to have a deep voice, and make lots of money, and be confident and interesting, otherwise I also get judged negatively.”

            Deep voice notwithstanding, that men are expected to be cool and successful and women are expected to be sex objects is a pretty clear example of male privilege. The discrepancy and lack of equal treatment is a big problem.

            “Feminism just makes women unattractive and combative…”

            How in the heck does a desire for equal rights and fair treatment and an end to discrimination have any impact on attractiveness? Why the heck are you even using that as a yardstick? Using attractiveness as a yardstick in irrelevant circumstances is the actual problem under discussion. And since when is fighting for the things at the top of this paragraph a bad thing? Fighting for your rights is bad now?

            Anyway, what about the part of the sprawling, messy, vibrant debate that is feminism that encourages women to take possession of their sexuality, and leads women who might otherwise have caught the toxic purity meme to become more sexual?

            Believe it or not, that line made me boggle more than the one in which you seemed to claim modern feminism is a neo-conservative conspiracy. I’d be fascinated to hear a more detailed breakdown of that one.

    • Arathain says:

      Without wishing to speak for a person whose existence I was unaware of until minutes ago, I would suspect that your wife would like to feel represented in her entertainment. Men get hundreds of variations on dozens of archetypes to represent them throughout gaming. Don’t like the characters in this game and the next one along will likely have someone good. Women get a much reduced selection. It’s fine if you like playing characters with a fetish for skimpy armour and a total disregard for their safety in combat, but I imagine that gets to feel a bit limiting, you know.

      It’s also one more thing telling women that their most important trait is how sexually they act and appear. That’s not fantasy; I suspect it might be a little too close to reality. Run that by your wife and see if any of them seem to ring true.

      “Few men actually have washboard tummies, chiseled features and tree trunk biceps (and those who work hard to are, IMO, the male equivalent of women with implants, stilettos, and slathered in makeup…”

      There’s a discussion here with some meat to it. Look, here’s where the non-equivalence comes in. To be attractive men need to appear (and become) more capable, stronger, healthier. Our washboard abs man could just as easily put on a shirt and step into a boardroom, or put on a vest and do physical labour, or play a sport or whatever. Our made-up, stiletto-wearing, implanted woman is now physically less able. Outside of the time both have put into their appearance our man has made himself stronger and our woman weaker.

      • shizamon says:

        Actually one thing, and I’m not disagreeing that women are misrepresented in media, but the thin, toned, woman in question, is more likely to have more endurance, strength, etc. than a woman who is heavier (or even one who is still thin but doesn’t exercise). They just need some suitable armor for combat. So i think that the fallacy of they’re thin so they’re weak/frail is dumb, for men or women.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      You don’t like young girls into play, er, bikinis?

      I know I do.
      What do you have against bikinis?

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Tell her to talk to all the women depicting themselves as sexual objects on youtube first.
      Then tell her to talk to every single girl age 12-29 I’ve ever met with b/w semi-nude / fully nude sculpted male butts/torsos etc on their wall posters.
      Then talk to the girls/women who only watch the vampire stuff(from crap like Twilight to the heard-it-to-be-so-at-east better stuff like True Blood) because they have “that cute guy” in them.
      Etc pp

      Basically, make her take a reality check, just like all the other women who have their head up their butt because “double-standards allowed for only one gender ata time, soz”.

      I think that the people that go “sexist outrage” at an overdone character in a fantasy media setting are the ones helping to be offensive towards human beings far more(by giving the medium far too much power and belittling all of the consumers into morons too easily influenced to do anything but be subtly turned sexist by media consumption and dismissing the notion of conscious choice) as opposed to e.g. people who go half-dismissively, half-knowingly that they have their own versions: “boys and their toys *rolls eyes*” and just move on with their life and click play.

      Or just admit that its god damn comfortable to be outraged against videogames and movies instead of e.g. camping and picketing outside of borderline illegal, mafia run brothels where a good example of actual abuse of young people sits(you know, the ones with abducted kids nobody asks many details about. Or “flatrate” places, etc pp, not the high-rent, professionals at work parlors). Its so much easier to point fingers and wrinke noses on firstworldproblems levels than actually get into the ugly shit that is real world abuse of peple, be it men or women being beat to shit out of hate and idiocy.
      I’m very willing to put forth loads of money on the bet that its not because one of the abusers played GTA that the other side(which can be male or female, mind) is lying in the hospital with broken ribs, but that something went very wrong in their head and in their upbringing, social context/value systems/relations.

      in TL;DR: I view all this anti-media sexism-paranoia as comfortable, convenient, easy, overdone, misplaced in terms of proportion and reductionist in its view of humanity. And, accordingly, sad.

  20. Severian says:

    Loved the first one, definitely looking forward to this one. More wackiness and comic-book-ness sounds good to me.

  21. Tei says:

    link to

    “Rock, Paper, Genocide: Fire Weapons”.

  22. Bob says:

    ” In the wasteland, the mighty wasteland, the what-the-hell-was-that sleeps tonight”.

    I loved the first, definitely pre-ordering this.

  23. Wedge says:

    I severely regretted pre-ordering the first game (dropped it shortly after reaching the main city), yet I still keep being interested in this. My two biggest gripes were the technical issues on the PC port, which they say to have fixed, and the total irrelevance of stats in the face of the harsh level-based scaling of damage (enemies 3 levels higher than you take almost no damage and do tons to you, no matter what your weapons were). Did they ever do anything about that later issue?

  24. JackShandy says:

    Huh. So you’re willing to defend that final boss fight?

    • Vinraith says:

      Seriously, the planet was called Pandora, what were people expecting?

  25. The Dark One says:

    I’m warming up to this game as they drip more bits and bobs out to the press, but Borderlands is one of those games like Assassin’s Creed where I feel the sequel has to improve on the first one dramatically, even if I did enjoy myself the first time around.

    It sounds like they have been working on some of those areas, like fleshing out the core quest system, and adding more meaningful variety to the infinite spectrum of guns. I really hope that they’ve given the same kind of overhaul to the incidental dialogue*, the UI, and the matchmaking back-end. On a slightly less important level, I’m hoping the facial animation is better. The sparse post-apocalyptic feel of the first game made the flapping puppet mouths of NPCs a little more forgivable, but I hope there’s enough juice in a 360 that they felt it was worth adding it in.

    *Even as someone who won’t shut up in a co-op game, I still love the variety of things that my character can shout out in L4D. Just the other week, I heard Francis yell out “little vampire!” as a Jockey ran by in the No Mercy port, and I couldn’t stop laughing. In contrast, I was completely sick of my Siren’s lines by the time I got to the General Knoxx missions.

  26. Scandalon says:

    That looks properly mad. I had zero interest in Borderlands, but this looks…fun!

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Don’t forget that 90% of trailer magic is…trailer magic. I.e. prerendered or pre-animated at vastly different/higher standards than the chunks of actual gameplay, which are only lightly peppered on.

      Things that I’m curious about..
      There are a LOT of PC specific promises at
      link to
      but I wonder if higher resolution support also means higher detail texture maps / LOD features included(= actually bigger game than for the consoles due to more materials/ more content)?

      I do at least appreciate the effort at trying to listen to the people actually playing on the platform you’re selling/porting to.
      I’m still sad that we need/get this kind of thing, because its no longer natural that you develop for the PC in the first place. The consoles should be getting letters that genres built around precision / mouse-aiming are being adapted so they are so-so playable with gamepads, not this other way around.
      I just hope they understand a FOV slider and *gasp* being able to use the mouse! on a pc! is not the pinnacle for “specific PC support” already(but instead should be a normal standard, a given).
      Either way, a starving man in a barren world is thankful for scraps.

      From what I can see in between the render-render it still looks like the guns aren’t the most exciting thing ever and they’re still doing the “shooting numbers onto enemies” thing(what I mean is: Why can’t I demolish enemies in a way that I will see that they are nearing death? Why can’t I shoot stuff off of mechs, people? What’s this weird number fascination or health gauge logic? I think I’d actually feel better if this were all done more “natural”..nobody is going to believe that this is a hardcore RPG just because numbers are moving up and down, yea? And look at actual modern crossover developments there: I don’t believe I see a -97 HP pop up when I smack someone over the head in Skyrim).
      Meh. Will have to see more actual gameplay-gameplay and try a demo.

      I appreciate the whole over-the-top sentiment trying to break through, but I don’t see it reflected gamewise yet(sometimes I wonder if anyone ever played DOOM, Blood, ROTT, SOF2, Painkiller..there are plenty of references to beat if you want to make a gory/splashy/fun/over the top FPS, and its not valid/effective to try and compensate via cutscenes).

  27. RegisteredUser says:

    “better writing and more interesting dialogue per scene than any game I can think of, ever”

    Is this tongue-in-cheek? Sarcasm?
    Or lack of wide enough game experience?

    This is the second time in this thread that I’m wondering if I’ve played the same Borderlands that others have(oldschool shooter feeling and the best writing in any game? I’m at a loss tbh).

  28. ffordesoon says:

    I recall feeling rather differently about the game, I’m afraid. Not because the interesting writing and world were awful – they were, as I stated, quite intriguing. The problem was that you would go for long stretches without ever encountering any of that, particularly if you like to do all the sidequests, as I normally do.

    So, for many hours of its running time, Borderlands was a perfectly adequate Diablo clone with a striking art style that had little of the viscerally satisfying combat of Diablo. As Alec mentions in the article, I felt like I was making a number go down every time I shot something. Granted, you’re always reducing a number in video games where you kill things, even if it’s just from 1 (alive) to 0 (dead), but Borderlands made the classic mistake of a thousand perfectly average action games: no reaction animations. It’s a simple trick, but it makes a huge difference to the feel of combat, particularly in a shooter. A shot hitting an enemy needs to look like it hurts every time, or at least enough of the time that I instinctively understand I’m doing damage. A number and a decreasing life bar reads intellectually as damage, but it isn’t satisfying in the way a shooter should be. Borderlands didn’t have quality reaction animations, so the guns felt underpowered and pea-shooter-y. It’s a fun game, don’t get me wrong, but I think the sequel’s changes were desperately needed.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I agree about the damage/impact/feel issue.
      Some little things make such a huge difference, and I find it weird that the pioneers of the genre often did it so much better just in the way things FELT than so many of the people with now insane animation budgets and capabilities in front of them.

  29. Jupiah says:

    Borderlands was a great game with a fun leveling system, addicting loot system and surprisingly clever writing. Unfortunately, it was also bloated with lots of boring sidequests, mind-numbing grinding, a rushed and disappointing final boss and ending, and almost unplayably unbalanced co-op.

    If they can fix those flaws while expanding on it’s strengths, Borderlands 2 could be the best game ever made.

  30. trugstomp says:

    This looks great and all, but what it really needs is for the SP to be online only requiring a MMO style server/client system and a real money auction house.