While the Parable team was at i46, we got the chance to playtest one of the most eagerly anticipated titles of this year, Borderlands 2. The sequel to Gearbox Software’s 2010 smash hit First Person Role Playing Shoot ‘Em Up is one that focuses its selling point on the word “more”. More weapons, more explosion, more customisation and more content. With such a heavy emphasis on delivering more of what has already proved successful, it’s widely expected that the title will be both a commercial and critical success like the original, but this obviously brings forward concerns that the title may not be enough of an improvement over its predecessor to warrant the full retail price tag. In this article we’ve compiled our opinions of Borderlands 2 from the short 15 minute play session we got with it, as well as telling you whether we think it’s worth the investment.
With the short amount of time that I had Borderlands 2, it didn’t really surprise me that much. It’s definitely a sequel to the original Borderlands, but that’s not at all a bad thing; it’s exactly what it should be. So many games are coming out these days that feel like copy and paste sequels, but Borderlands 2, with all 4 of its new class builds, feels like a genuine sequel that will offer so many more different styles of play that differ enough from the 4 in the original game. The Siren class may be making a reappearance in Borderlands 2, but with an all new and revamped skill tree.
In the segment that I played, I was thrown into a situation where I needed to boot up a large flying robot, follow it to locations sporting some statues and then proceed to defend the giant mechanical beast as it was bombarded with gunfire from waves of enemies while it tried destroying the statues. As far as mission structure goes, I’m glad this is the segment that Gearbox made playable. The original Borderlands, as much as I do love it, didn’t offer all that much in terms of mission variety. This little segment that I played was almost like a reassurance letter from Gearbox just to make sure I knew that it wasn’t going to be a generic sequel. Because of this, the time I spent with the game hasn’t really extinguished my hype for the game like early demos usually end up doing for me, but rather washed all doubt out of my mind that it could be anything less than an improvement on the first game.
As it stands, Borderlands 2 is still shaping up to be one of the best games of the second half of the year. It may not be a completely different game, but I’m certainly reassured that Gearbox know how to make a sequel something more substantial than what seems to be the norm in more recent years.
Should you buy it? – YES
The booth that we playtested Borderlands 2 on was set up for both Co-Op play and Single Player, with the same demo being available for both. Myself and Greg swiftly jumped on adjacent Co-Op booths and into our playtest, which left us with the objective of destroying a number of Handsome Jack’s self portrait statues from central squares in a local city, while fending off his personal defence forces (Read: Robots) and a massive host of enemies. We were given randomly assigned classes, with myself getting the class I played in the original release; the Siren.
The first thing I noticed when playing the demo session is that the game feels an awful lot weightier. The incredible level of floatiness that was present in Borderlands has been toned down a significant amount, creating a balance between weighty gunplay and movement fluidity which still allows for the very arcade-like style of play Borderlands is famous for. Secondly, the difficulty in the build we played had taken a big step up; which could possibly be attributed to the improved enemy AI, or the fact that the avatars we were provided were of a lower level than I feel was really needed for the area. The enemies reacted to our positions accordingly and acted to surround us whenever possible, and unlike the original title found myself downed multiple time when I strayed away from the main party.
The weapon selection felt more varied than Borderlands, with each of the weapons feeling significantly different from each other and reacting to shots in different ways, which felt like a really good improvement. I can only hope that the full game manages to match this, but I can see it slipping into the same situation we previously saw with each weapon being little more than a reskin of the last with additional elements attached. Overall though, Borderlands 2 felt exactly as described. It’s Borderlands, but more, and I’m more okay with this than I originally expected I would be. Roll on September 21st, because I can’t wait to get to grips with the full release.
Should you buy it? - YES
Borderlands 2 was a fantastic little distraction from the slightly exhausting eSports focus of the rest of i46. The line for the booth wasn’t the most enjoyable wait due to the excessive babbling from the PR staff about how amazing the game was, which served to sour my expectations rather than get me excited in any meaningful way. I wanted to be told some meaningful facts about Borderlands 2, not meaningless dribble about how superior it was to other FPS games on the market.
However, this annoyance completely washed away as soon as I grabbed controller. Thrown into a seemingly mid-game mission, me and Dan paired up with a couple to destroy some statues of Handsome Jack before the time-limit expired, which proved harder than we expected.
Thrown into the role of the “Gunzerker”, the new weightier feel was immediately noticeable due to masses of guns I was using. It was immediately playable since, well, it was Borderlands but, sorry to use a cliché, bigger, better and prettier. Sticking with Dan, we helped each other pile through the hordes of enemy robots whilst reviving each other and covering each other’s advance, all the while poking around boxes for loot despite the fact I was only playing a demo. That’s the power of the loot urge.
Unfortunately, being thrown in the demo amidst a loud event with a character that I didn’t really care for dulled the sheen. Zero and Maya look far more interesting that the role I was thrown into which relegated me to running around dual-wielding two weapons and directly attacking enemies without much thought. The basic Borderlands feel was there, sure, but Gunzerker felt pretty tedious in comparison to other characters or builds.
Overall, it’s great fun. It’s Borderlands. 2. It’s nearly impossible to screw up the SHOOT N’ LOOT WITH FRIENDS formula, so come the 21st of September I’ll have Borderlands 2 spinning in my disk tray ready to have some great co-op times.
Should you buy it? - YES
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