The Original Borderlands took the gaming industry by surprise, when it became a sleeper hit. There’s many reasons why it sold so well and turned into one of the best selling video-games of 2009.
The fans obviously couldn’t get enough so 2K did the obvious and started working on a sequel. But how does developer GearBox Software go about improving an experience that is already so impressive?
The simple answer is to build on what worked in Borderlands and try to add new features. It was possible to try out two of the new characters in Borderlands 2. Salvador is the standard masculine man character that focuses on strong physical attacks.
Maya is more of a strategic character and is a long range shooter. This basically means that a player can pick a character that best suits a preferred play style. It’s nothing new since each of the four characters from the original also had unique traits.
Anyone familiar with Borderlands will like the fact that the skill tree has made a welcome return. Not only that but it’s been simplified so it’s quicker to use. There are skills in there too and they are unique to each character.
Salvador’s skill involves using two guns at the same time. It’s deeply satisfying and it’s very easy to rack up an impressive amount of kills. Maya’s skills stand out less since she is more of a tactical character.
So she can levitate one enemy and then easily shoot him. She can also throw her equipped weapon at enemies. It’s confusing at first but the weapons are so cheap to manufacture that the girl can afford to leisurely throw them away.
The surprise though is that the weapon will explode on impact and it’s even more powerful when fully loaded. These unique skills provide additional reasons for picking one of the characters. They also demonstrate that a lot of thought went into trying to improve the skill tree.
Borderlands 2 has an impressive array of weapons that can match up to the quantity available in the first video-game. Each gun has a different feel to it and works like a charm. It’s important to try and use certain types of weapons at times.
Some enemies have resistance against some types of ammo. This creates an opportunity to try being strategic before each new encounter. It’s not just about aiming a gun and shooting until the creature stops moving. But it doesn’t mean that players can’t have some fun with the arsenal at their disposal. There’s something for everyone from explosives to guns that require precision.
It’s nothing new but the Second Wind ability is back in Borderlands 2. Anyone new will find that it’s very helpful when playing through single player. It’s possible for a player to revive a player when playing together.
However, a downed played can also get back health by killing an enemy. It’s a tense moment as the player attempts to kill any creature before a time run outs.
Borderlands 2 and the previous installment deserve a medal for even making limbo exciting. But dying isn’t all that bad either as it only requires a small amount of money to get revived at a near checkpoint. Money is easily earned by defeating enemies so it’s not an issue.
There were quite a lot of different enemy types in the two levels being demonstrated. Creatures have shields that are linked to active powers. Getting rid of the shield will make it possible to kill them. But it’s also a way to stop them from using powers, such as the invisibility cloak that the Stalker uses.
Some enemies can even evolve into new variations and it should amuse anyone that dabbled in Pokemon. A common Thresher Maw will evolve into the ferocious Baddass Pyre Thresher. It’s possible to even take out such a ferocious creature by looking out for weak points. Each type of monster will have some sort of weak spot that players need to focus on.
It’s enjoyable to try and find out more about each creature and their attack patterns. This is the sort of idea that makes Borderlands 2 more than the typical shooting experience.
Visually Borderlands 2 is similar to the first installment in that it’s still cell shaded. There’s a lot more detail added to the environment. One of the levels made use of vibrant colours. It’s basically a zoo for bizarre creatures with overgrown mushrooms everywhere.
Another location has bright toxic fumes that players need to avoid. Both areas are incredibly vast in size and will take a long time to fully explore. One of the goals in this sequel is to make sure that anything the player sees in the horizon is reachable. It’s not quite there yet but there is a lot of ground to cover and each area has new surprises. The game isn’t exactly a cake walk when played on single player.
New players are bound to die a few times but will soon get the hang of it. It’s still an excellent experience when playing with others too. Progress is tracked by means of on screen messages that show when challenges are completed. Old characters make a come back too and they are eager to give the player missions.
It’s always difficult to improve something that is already so well received by fans and critics. Gearbox Software deserves praise for realizing it and instead focusing on improving what works. All the tweaks make for an even better Borderlands experience.
The inclusion of new characters and the skills they come with is a great idea. It’s still early days and this is but a small glimpse that hints at even bigger surprises to come.
Yet Borderlands 2 is already turning into a worthy sequel, to one of the most innovative video-games in recent years.