Hands-on Borderlands 2

We Try out a Couple of the Gajillion Guns at E3 2012

June 16, 2012 by

One of the hottest demos at this year’s E3 was one that everyone had access to. Borderlands 2 had hundreds of exhibit-only attendees wrapped around the 2K Games booth in the longest line I’ve ever seen at E3. Said to be three hours long, the wait comes as no surprise after the success of the original and Gearbox’s brilliant debut trailer for the sequel that even nailed how to properly use dubstep in a trailer when gamers are already sick to death of its overuse to promote games. This was one time we didn’t feel too bad about using our media passes to skip the line because thankfully we didn’t have to wait that long to play the 20-minute demo and find out what all the hype was about for Gearbox’s highly anticipated sequel.

Admittedly, I went into the demo probably not as hyped for Borderlands 2 as most. That’s because I never got a chance to play the original, although I always wanted to. Since we got almost no introduction from 2K or Gearbox before playing the demo and neither myself nor other writer, Vinnie Leduc, had any experience with the first game, Borderlands 2 was very overwhelming, especially when trying to absorb as much info as possible for a preview within the span of twenty short minutes that quickly flew by when having so much fun.

To break it down simply for anybody who hasn’t played the original either, Borderlands 2 is a co-operative FPS with RPG elements like leveling up, assigning skill points to talent trees, and collecting tons of items from killing enemies. Besides its quirky sense of humor and solid shooter mechanics, what makes the Borderlands series so damn addictive is the process of collecting loot. The sheer amount of items in the game even makes loot in MMORPGs look like slim pickings. We’re told that the 17 million guns from the first game have all be scrapped so that Gearbox could add even more personality and characteristics to all the new guns and offer far more than in the last game.

Slight tweaks to the gameplay mechanics make for collecting loot and items easier than ever. Ammo is instantly picked up as you run over it and because of the redesign to the way guns look, you’ll be able to instantly tell when looking at guns on the ground how they will function based on their unique design and decide on the fly if you want them or not. As if killing hundreds of enemies throughout each level didn’t generate enough loot, there are also stores jam-packed with items where players can buy and sell what they find. Players can also easier trade items between each other. Because of our limited time with the game, we didn’t spend too much time bartering and quickly jumped back into the shooting lots of evil robots part — most of which involved us getting our asses handed to us and having to constantly revive each other.

All four new characters were available in our demo; I picked what seems like the main character, Salvador, who is the Gunzerker class. It seemed like the best choice to pick the guy with “gun” in his title in a game that’s all about the guns. As Salvador, I was able to switch between a wide range of weapons and even activate a berserk mode where Salvador would switch to dual-wielding for a short period of time. The interesting part of his dual-wield ability was that depending on my primary weapon at the time of activating the skill, I would either have a rocket launcher equipped as a secondary or a smaller gun that allowed me to fire as fast as I could pull the trigger. I could also equip a gun in one hand that did corrosive damage which would eat away at the enemy doing damage over time and also making the gun in my other hand do even more damage.

In our demo we fought our way through the City of Opportunity that players of the first game will instantly realize looks very different than the classic desert environments in the original. Gearbox has said that levels will contain a lot more variety and color this time around and players can expect to take on a lot more diverse levels that will include a frozen arctic tundra, grasslands, a return to the classic deserts, and a lot more locations in Pandora that have yet to be revealed.

Throughout the city were statues of the game’s new villain, Handsome Jack, which we were tasked with destroying. Since the statues were too strong for our own current guns, we were accompanied by a robot with a more powerful laser beam that could melt the statues. As the robot moved from statue to statue, it was our job to follow it and protect it against Handsome Jack’s Hyperion Robot army. Protecting the bot became more and more difficult as we progressed further into the city and destroyed more statues. Enemy A.I. in Borderlands 2 is said to be far more intelligent, and that became apparent as they began to flank us and use their own means of cover, such as shields and transport units that wouldn’t stop spawning enemies until destroyed.

We ultimately ran out of time before completing our mission; twenty minutes was just not long enough when I could have easily spent every second of that time just playing around with my character’s customization and studying which skills in my talent tree I wanted to invest in. Borderlands 2 is a massive FPSRPG that fans of shooters will love and fans of loot hoarding will love even more. Borderlands 2 plays like a more action-packed first person Diablo with guns, and for that, we loved every minute of our hands on time with it. We just wish we had more time so that we could loot more as we’re sure to waste many hours doing so when the game is released this September 18 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.