One of the many things I was extremely excited to see at PAX Prime was Borderlands 2. I love all kinds of games, but at times like this it becomes obvious that at heart I am such a FPS girl. 2K set up camp in “FPS Alley” as I coined it. Once you entered the far right gate of the convention center there was Battlefield 3, Counter Strike, and 2K with Xcom, Borderlands 2, and Darkness 2. So many shooters, so little time! The line for Borderlands became epic within a few minutes. They were checking IDs since this game will be rated M and so was the developer discussing the game.
It’s been five years in Pandora and things have changed. Handsome Jack has teamed up with the Hyperion Corporation and created a base on the moon. Who is he you might ask? One of, and probably the most important, in an unknown number of villains bringing the pain in Borderlands 2.
The demo starts about a third of the way into the game and we see a Gunzerker, Salvador, ready to battle an arctic Bullymong. Gunzerkers are a modification of the original Berserker class capable of dual wielding. The Bullymong, which I can’t really describe, but sort of seems like a gorilla mated with a skag and then sprouted two extra arms, just for kicks, or punches in this case.
The Bullymong has its own AI and thus there is no pattern to its behavior. He will throw snow, rocks, stalagmites, or even your own car at you, all at a rapid pace with his many arms, to which you have to be ready to dodge. Salvador hurts the Bullymong and for the first time we see that the enemies show a different behavior when they are wounded than when they are at full health. Once the Bullymong was defeated, the loot left behind was a completely redesigned Tediore firearm. This particular Tediore was “The Wal-Mart of Guns” because it is disposable. Instead of reloading your gun, you just throw it at the enemy. A level of strategy needs to happen with this particular weapon, as you can either shoot until your clip is empty, or you can toss it at the enemy to cause damage. The more bullets you have in the gun, the greater the damage. As the gun exploded on the Bullymong, it showed a ridiculous amount of blood and gore, as expected from Borderlands. The next gun we got to see was the Bandit brand. Clearly, you could tell that it came from a group of bandits as it was put together with “nuts, bolts and used condoms” and hand painted or perhaps that was old blood… who knows. I particularly enjoyed the sight on the gun as it was a screw, mounted upside down with a nut turned on its edge as a reticule. Not the most accurate gun in the game, but with a magazine of seventy two bullets, no one complains and it is a fairly low level gun.
We moved on in the demo and Salvador encounters the new Borderlands car. 2K and Gear Box are aware of how bad the driving was in the first game, enough to quip, ‘because the driving in Borderlands was the best driving ever’ with sarcasm dripping out of every pore of that sentence. So they started from scratch and improved the driving in a number of ways:
- Party Truck: driver, gun turret and two in the back.
- The suspension and physics were all redone, adding the ability to power slide and hitting a rock won’t stop you dead in your tracks anymore.
- Now when you hit an enemy or skag it will not automatically kill them, unless you squish them or cause enough damage the enemy won’t die.
The mission we were watching was about infiltrating a camp of the Bloodshot Bandits as they have taken one of our friends. Using the bandit gun, Salvador shoots the gate and it opens, letting loose a ton of psychos running directly at you. These psychos were a bit more nimble than in the first game, as they took dive rolls and moved out of the line of fire, but they are still psychos after all is said and done. We also see that if you can climb up or down an structure, so can the AI. Long gone are the moments where if you found high ground the AI will have no idea how to work stairs or climb boxes. After the area had been cleared, a huge nomad, another new enemy, jumped into view and said, “It’s time for the big guns” showing a shield with a midget tied to it. The comedy of Borderlands was definitely still intact as the audience burst into laughter at hearing the midget screaming while trying to get out of his predicament. This boss battle required a bit of strategy. The strategy used was to carefully shoot the chains off of the midget as the nomad approached, so the midget comes loose and starts attacking the nomad. This way, the nomad is distracted with the midget and you are free to go behind him and kill him, not dealing with the shield he carries. You have to be fast, as the midget does not have much life and the nomad just crushes him.
After the battle was over, Salvador received a skill point and we got to see the new user interface for leveling. To be honest, anything would have been better than what Borderlands had, specifically when playing split screen, but Gearbox took it a step further and made a nice, polish, easy to use UI. At this point, a character I am dying to find out more about, Maya the Siren, entered the game. Unfortunately, besides being able to see her, no more detail was given about her. She carried a sniper gun at all times, which seems odd, unless there is another character class twist coming, and we never saw her fight. At points I wondered if she was really helping Salvador at all.
The friend we had been going to save was none other than Roland, the soldier from the original Borderlands, who had been captured by the Hyperion Corporation and the Bloodshot Bandits. So now we were encountering a three way fight and as our presenter put it “S**** is about to get rowdy. ” The W4R-D3N, a floating cell, moved around carrying Roland, and Salvador needed to put as much firepower in it as possible. The missions on Borderlands are far different as you can destroy the W4R-D3N early on or you can mess that up and fight it many missions later. Salvador shot at anything in his path and the Hyperion sent in reinforcements from the moon base. It basically launches robots at you like bullets; fully equipped bullets that can fire more bullets. As the robots got hurt, they called for repair. If the repair units were not dispatched quickly enough, they repaired the damaged robots which were back attacking you as if nothing had happened. Salvador was in a bind and at this point the Gunzerker special ability made it’s appearance. He can duel wield any two weapon, and he quickly got the upper hand from the psychos and the robots, but the W4R-D3N escaped with Roland. Salvador kept pressing forward, shooting robots and eliminating them limb by limb. If a robot got both of its legs blown off, he would crawl towards you so it could explode near you to cause more damage.
Salvador put more and more pressure toward the W4R-D3N but the W4R-D3N quickly generates a robot in between. So Salvador had to defeat the robot and destroy the W4R-D3N so it didn’t escape again. As we watched Salvador gunzerking on the W4R-D3N, a huge explosion occurred, causing Salvador to fly off a cliff. As he falls he flips the W4R-D3N the bird with both hands. We then saw Salvador spraying guns all over the place, showing us that, yes… this is Borderlands and we have TONS of guns in the game.
The game looked finished, but we have to wait another year for its release! It’s not going to be out until late 2012. It is a safe bet that if you love Borderlands 2 and want to go to PAX, you better save the money and buy your tickets as soon as they become available for next year, since I am sure that 2K will bring a playable demo for the next show.