Borderlands 2 since it was officially announced has been getting alot of attention and hype. After seeing it for myself I can say it deserves all the hype and more. The Borderlands 2 booth had a live play-through and demo of the game to show it off. The first thing noticeable is that while it retains the cel-shaded look the game looks more detailed and sharper. Borderlands 2 sports some good looking weather effects, in this instance it was snow. As the demo started snow flakes were falling onto the screen and could be seen melting away. It was a very cool effect and something that helps immerse the player into the world even more. Another addition that helps bring the game to life is a living and breathing world. Events are taking place on Pandora all the time and as the player comes by they might experience them or miss them happening. In the same vein anywhere the player can see Borderlands 2 they will be able to get to. No longer will there be something in the distance that can’t actually be reached. Vehicles are back, but with more variety and reworked control scheme. There are now 4 player vehicles to transport you and your friends around Pandora. Speaking of friends part of the demo showed off the co-op in Borderlands 2 as two characters went rampaging through a base. Another addition to the world is factions on Pandora. These factions don’t get along and will fight amongst themselves when given the chance. In fact during the demo a mini boss came out with a huge shield that had a midget psycho strapped to it. Shooting the restraints holding the psycho to the shield frees him. He then proceeds to attack his captor and the two totally ignore the player as the battle each other. The much larger enemy quickly kills the midget psycho, but it buys the player valuable time to attack. The AI has improved as well meaning the psychos will attempt to dodge as they charge instead of running headlong into your bullets. Other enemies will use teamwork to cover each other and try to flank the player. They also take advantage of terrain and cover that exists in the world. In one area with robotic enemies there are even enemy drones that will heal or give stat buffs to their allies. If the player doesn’t prioritize the targets it could quickly be the end of them as the regular enemies will call in these other helping enemies when they need them.
There are more guns in Borderlands 2 than in the first which brings the number up to hundreds of millions or maybe more as the count was lost at some point. Even more than in the first game the gun manufacturers will have distinction from each other. One manufacturer may will have all their guns operate like a mini gun regardless of what type of ammo it fires. That means a rocket gatling gun is entirely possible and may actually be quite normal. Other manufacturers will have their own specific traits that will let the player know that it is their gun. While there weren’t any details given it was noted that a scope system will be implemented which allows the players to swap out different scopes with different abilities on their guns. The only thing that is known outside of this is that in the screens and art released a beer bottle duct taped onto a gun will function as a scope. The UI has also been given an overhaul as now instead of going out to a menu it stays in game and appears in front of the player as if it was a hologram in front of them. In that same area the skills have been revamped to be more effective. This time around putting points in a skill won’t just give a small percentage gain, but will have more of a noticeable effect.
As for what the game is about it still takes place on Pandora, but has new characters to play as. The demo showed Roland, the soldier form the first Borderlands, and we’re told the other characters from Borderlands will be NPCs in this game. During the co-op section we got to see the new Siren who will have different powers than Lilith did in the first game. As far as the story goes the main enemy is Handsome Jack who believes he is the hero on Pandora and that everyone else is the villain. This opens up many opportunities for the humor from Borderlands to return and it is there in full force. During the demo one of the psychos broke off his attack on the player to just jump off a cliff to his death. Borderlands 2 has a new writer too. Anthony Burch, former writer on Destructoid and co-creator of “Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin”, is now the writer for Borderlands 2 and that appears to be a very good thing based on his past credits. The only downside to Borderlands 2 is that it is far off. Borderlands is due in fiscal 2013 which means sometime after April 1, 2012. My bet would be a holiday 2012 release. However, at the Gearbox panel they made the wait a little easier for those in attendance by giving everyone a code for a free copy of Borderlands 2. This amazing gesture by Gearbox and 2K Games received a 5 minute standing ovation from the crowd and really cemented Gearbox as one of the best developers out there. My loyalty to Gearbox is now on the same level as my loyalty to Valve which is slightly below I’ll take a bullet for them. Borderlands 2 was my clear cut Game of The Show until Prey 2 showed up and tied it. This game will be a heavy hitter when it releases and could set the bar in certain aspects of game development.
Gearbox Panel (left to right) Randy Pitchford (CEO), Mikey Neumann (Creative Director), Anthony Burch (Writer), Scott Kester (Content Designer), Jeramy Cooke (Art Director), Brian Burleson (Aliens: Colonial Marines Producer), David Eddings (Business Development Head)
A - Top notch and stellar. This game accomplished everything that it set out to do and then some.
B - Great! A game worthy of a B means it is a requirement for any gamer to get. Only slight set backs seem to hit a game like this.
C - Games that get a C rating are good. They may not be great. They may not be fantastic. They are fun, interesting, and worthy of a play-through.
D - Average. Sometimes games play it too safe, sometimes they don't step out of their bubble, and sometimes they have too many problems. But they are playable and you may still find fun. Those games deserve a D.
F - Don't play this. The game failed in what it was trying to do. It's not fun and it's not compelling. The game may or may not be playable, regardless, if it has an F, it's probably safe to say you shouldn't play it.