It's time to wake up the Claptrap and pick out a gun, because Borderlands is back and ready for round two. Recently 2K Games had their American unveiling of Borderlands 2 at PAX Prime, offering gamers and journalists alike a chance to see the first few minutes of this hotly anticipated sequel. I came away impressed with what I saw and ready for more.
As with any teaser, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. They barely touched on story elements, most of the characters are a mystery and they didn't mention anything about weapon management. Thankfully I was able to snag a few juicy details that certainly suggest that Borderlands 2 is the sequel we've all been waiting for. Here are the ten things you need to know about 2012's biggest sequel!
1. This Is Still a Borderlands Game
If you had any fears going in that Gearbox would drastically change the Borderlands formula, let me put your mind at ease. This is still a Borderlands game, complete with the stylish visuals, goofy sense of humor and more guns than you know what to do with. Although the guided demo was short (around 20 minutes), I did get a good sense of where the team is taking the much-loved franchise. Gearbox promises that this will be more than just another set of levels and missions; it will be a full sequel in every sense of the word. They have gone in and fixed, altered and upgraded every complaint I had with the game ... including a few I didn't know I had.
2. This Time the Enemies Aren't Messing Around
If you've played the original Borderlands, then chances are you've noticed how easy it is to game the computer AI. Because they can't climb ladders or roll out of the way, some gamers found the enemies a little too easy to beat. That is no longer the case in Borderlands 2. Now the midget psychopaths will jump from level to level, climb up large walls and do everything in their power to kill you. They are also better at dodging your fire, making them an even bigger nightmare this time around.
3. No, Seriously ... The Enemies Aren't Messing Around
If it wasn't bad enough that your enemies can scale walls and roll out of the way, they also have the ability to interact with the backgrounds. That means they'll pick up rocks, grab weapons and more. Early in the demo we see a large robot rip an icicle off the snowy environment and use it as a stabbing device. This certainly has the potential to alter the way fight is headed at a moment's notice, which means that you'll always have to be on your feet.
4. The Guns!
Borderlands had a lot of guns. At times it felt like there were hundreds of guns to be found, each a little different from the last. That's definitely going to be the case in this sequel, but with one important change. This time around Gearbox has put a larger emphasis on the gun's manufacturer. Each company now has its own signature feature, which helps set it apart from the other manufacturers. For example, one company is so cheap that they make disposable guns out of plastic. Another gun maker is known for their rapid fire rate, even when it comes to weapons like the shotgun and missile launcher. This sounds like an excellent way to make the companies matter this time around.
5. Introducing the Gunzerker
Much like the first game, Borderlands 2 offers four playable character classes. While Gearbox has stayed quiet about most of the classes, they were ready to show a brand new character with a very special ability. This brand new character is a Gunzerker, a slightly modified version of the original Berserker class. This massive beast of a man towers over the enemies and knows a thing about shooting a gun. In fact, he knows a few things about how to shoot TWO guns. This character's perk is the ability to wield two guns at the same time. I'm not talking about a couple of pistols, but the ability to wield any two guns. It can be a couple of assault rifles or, if you want to make sure the enemy is dead, two missile launchers. The choice is yours.
6. Enemies Can Call For Backup
Did I mention that the enemies aren't messing around? Now when their forces start to dwindle, the enemies can radio for backup. Once they've called for help, a few more baddies will be rocketed from the moon to your location. That's right, they come from the moon! Apparently in Borderlands 2 the bad guys have a moon base they use to keep their forces strong. The effect is incredible, even though it means you'll have to fight even more robots, psychos and midgets.
7. No More Small Upgrades
Anybody that played through the original Borderlands can tell you all about the incredible perks the game has to offer. They can also tell you that getting some of those perks was a real hassle. In order to get what you really wanted, you had to spend points on perks that barely made a difference. Using your hard-earned point to gain a 3% shield increase is no fun, which is why it has been taken out of the game. This time around every perk will do something substantial from the get-go. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see this first-hand, but Gearbox is definitely aware of the leveling quibbles.
8. Multiplayer Fixes
For being a game so focused on multiplayer, the original Borderlands sure had a lot of multiplayer problems. Depending on who saved the game first, sometimes players wouldn't get credit for completing missions. This would ultimately lead to ineligible missions and a whole bunch of other annoying problems. Thankfully Gearbox has addressed this. They haven't explained how they are going to resolve this problem, but they stressed that ineligible quests are a thing of the past. Good riddance.
9. The On-Screen Map
At long last, there is finally an on-screen map. The importance of this simple addition should not be underestimated. Having the constantly switch to the full-screen map made driving and getting around a real hassle. Now you can see where you're supposed to go without stopping. What's more, the entire heads-up display has been improved. Going into the menu (for health packs, changing weapons, etc.) is also done on the fly. Your items will put up in front of you, allowing players to see if anything is getting ready to attack you. The interface reminded me of Dead Space 2 ... only without all of the scary corridors and gory aliens.
10. The Game Looks Great
Borderlands 2 is still a year away, but I was impressed by the presentation of this early demo. The landscape is full of detail and the enemies are more menacing than ever. Better yet, there were a lot of different types of enemies. I saw large animals, robots, soldiers, psychos, midgets and more. And that was just in the first twenty minutes. The animation has also been improved. Now you can injure bad guys and watch them limp their way towards you. As you drive through the world the flowers will bloom and snow will get stuck on the camera. Even in its early state, Borderlands 2 looks amazing.