So Many Guns…
While most gamers are forced to grind it out until the long wait between now and the Sept. 18th launch of Borderlands 2 is over, 2K Games was recently gracious enough to invite EGM editors Brandon Justice and Ray Carsillo to a hands-on preview with the hotly anticipated action title. So, did it look like it’s going to live up to the hype? Find out below…
Brandon Justice, Managing Editor: Man, I loved a lot of things the first Borderlands attempted, but I wasn’t as caught up in the universe as I would have liked. Getting my first real look at Borderlands 2 a few weeks back for the Issue 254 cover story, it’s pretty clear they’re trying to put some meat on the franchise’s bones, and this playthrough was solid proof of that fact.
Ray Carsillo, Associate Editor: Most definitely. I often said the story, especially the ending, was easily the most disappointing aspect of the first Borderlands, considering how awesome the gameplay was. And the two completely different levels we saw, one where we were wrapping up side quests, and the other where we doing a main plot driven favor for Borderlands 1‘s Mordecai where we went head-to-head against the machinations of this game’s clear villain, Handsome Jack, showed just how far they’ve already come in terms of immersing us in Pandora and her…unique…ecosystems.
Brandon: Even more disappointing than Mass Effect 3? *snicker* In all seriousness, though, it definitely came off as window dressing in a lot of ways, but they definitely seem to be turning it up a notch, and not just with the story. Could you believe those environments? Lush waterfalls, hulking machinery, massive buildings…and they were all so huge! Considering that Gearbox’s plan is to make the world seem more organic and more connected, this definitely stuck me as a step in the right direction.
Ray: The intergalactic zoo we worked our way through was easily two or three times larger than any area in Borderlands 1, and the Caustic Caverns level, chockfull of mutagenic acid pools and crag creatures that come right out of the walls, had so many nooks and crannies to explore that there were various points where we split up and went on completely different adventures while still being part of the same game.
Brandon: Yeah, and we didn’t even get to scratch the surface, because the demo wasn’t a complete mission. Definitely lends credibility to how vast this world is going to be. Another thing that impressed me was the revised interface. I really like the way the new skill trees and equipment menus are presented. They’re so much cleaner and definitely seem to right the multiplayer wrongs of the past.
Ray: The menus are definitely very clean. We constantly traded items that we picked up for our specific classes and rearranging items on the fly like it was nothing. But the thing I loved most about the skill trees were the choices. Three branches each within three different trees, and each power just seemed so tempting that I wanted to kill every enemy I saw so I could level up faster and get more points.
Brandon: Yeah, I liked the trading aspect a lot. I wish I would have gotten more class-specific loot so it wasn’t so necessary, but the cooperation it encourages was nice. That said, for all the new guns, I did feel that most were lacking in terms of punch and feel and unlike the first game, I never really found a gun that suited my style. I’m sure that will come with more time behind the controller, but all things considered, I was a bit bummed by the lack of firepower.
Ray: Really? I found plenty of firepower that I was happy with. I was blowing everything away with my shotgun and assault rifle and stacking all kinds of damage and chucking grenades and was just having, well, a blast. It could also have been because of the classes we were. I played the entire experience as the Gunzerker, Salvador, and you were the Siren, Maya. But, then again, considering how much loot we got per kill it seemed, I’m sure if you were to play from the beginning of the game you’d have found a gun that you would have liked or fit that class better.
Brandon: Yeah, man, I must have tried 30 to 40 different guns, and none of them ever felt like “the one.” Definitely a different story for me in the first Borderlands. That said, the guns themselves all felt solid from a control standpoint, and the game definitely benefits from being a sequel in that sense. Everything was so polished, and you can tell this one will fill in a lot of gaps the first game failed to tackle. The mission structure seems so much more refined, and the amount of scripting in each little area was pretty impressive.
Ray: The scripting, and the new enemies that resulted from that in each area. Aside from spiderants, skags, and bandits, we were treated to giant mutating flies, crag creatures of varying sizes, burrowing tentacle worms, and a plethora of deadly robots. I mean, Borderlands 2 promised us more variety in terms of, well, everything, and if the two levels we saw are any indication, they’re going to deliver. Combine that with an actual story this time, and I can’t wait to go blow more s*** up, man.
Brandon: Yeah, especially considering how small a slice we witnessed during the demo. It’s pretty damned impressive to think of what’s to come this September. Luckily, the rest of the world will get a chance to play this content at PAX East this coming weekend, so it should be interesting to see if the strong impression it left on us is shared by other folks in the gaming community.