Seven things you need to know about Borderlands 2
- Randy Pitchford
- 2K Games
- Seven Things You Need to Know
2009’s Borderlands was both awesome and flawed in equal parts. It felt less an innovation than an experiment, chucking RPG-style looting, levelling and weapon stats into a cocktail mixer already containing an open-world FPS – then shaking it to see what would happen. The result was enjoyable yet occasionally aimless fun and, despite sales exceeding four million units, Borderlands failed to win over as many critics as developers Gearbox might have hoped. With the sequel heading for a 2012 release, we’re about to return to Pandora with a bang. Here are a handful of things you really need to know about Borderlands 2…
The series' distinctive cel-shaded look makes a welcome return. As does all the blood and carnage. Yay!
#1 - Credit where it’s due
Anyone who played to the end of Borderlands’ main story may remember a sense of, well, meh. After spending 20 to 40 hours shooting, driving, looting and laughing, you finally reached the mythical Vault and tore it open to reveal… yet another boss, and absolutely nothing that made the experience worthwhile. As Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford told Game Informer: “(In Borderlands) one of the things we did incorrectly was the ending. It didn’t really pay off the promise… but that was a lesson for us.” One way in which Gearbox intend to draw the player in deeper this time is with the inclusion of a focal antagonist in the form of Handsome Jack. Having taken credit for the player’s actions at the climax of Borderlands, Jack has now become CEO of Hyperion and decided to wipe out Pandora’s colonists and industrialise the planet. It’s your job this time around to stop him. “By having a principal villain like Handsome Jack, it creates a new layer of tension, and gives us the opportunity to raise the stakes,” says Pitchford.
#2 - Tell me a story
This new direction is also evident in Gearbox’s handling of the main plot. Instead of taking on the role of an empty character given tasks by random lazy NPCs, Borderlands 2 will have a more focused narrative – and the characters will have more purpose. “With Borderlands, we gave you a very simple premise; we didn’t want to burden you with plot. In Borderlands 2, if you’re not interested in the storytelling you can discount it, but everything in the game is now really connected to the universe,” Pitchford attests. “In light of Borderland’s loose plot and the passive method of storytelling, we found that people became really engaged in the characters, and so the idea that there will be more meaning behind why the characters are doing their thing (in Borderlands 2) is really exciting.”
Although Gearbox have seen the merit in introducing new enemies and characters, the uber-annoying Claptrap will make an appearance. Bleurgh!
#3 - Come the moment, come the Mentalists
The characters in Borderlands were a diverse bunch separated into four broad categories of Support, Sniper, Stealth and Tank; all were capable of - and equipped to - complete the game solo, but they were equally designed to work together. Borderlands 2 will feature a similar line-up of four and, although details are currently thin on the ground, they are likely to follow the familiar tried and tested formula. The only character so far confirmed in any detail is Salvador the “Gunzerker”, the dual-wielding maniac dwarf featured in the trailer. In an interview with G4TV, Borderlands 2 Concept Designer Scott Kester revealed that “the Gunzerker is an evolution of Brick (the Berserker class character from Borderlands), and he can dual-wield any of the weapons in the game.” Only one other character has so far been revealed, and though Kester remained mostly tight-lipped about her he did say that “the new Siren, Maya, doesn’t phase-walk like Lilith but has her own unique abilities.”
#4 - Job satisfaction
Although Borderlands’ world, Pandora, was massive, there wasn’t a great deal of variety to be found in it, particularly where jobs were concerned. A lot of the missions were either kill-quests or fetch-and-carry jobs that sometimes felt generic. Pitchford assured Game Informer that in Borderlands 2 “you’ll see less grinding, and more meaningful activities that are connected to the story.” With a larger world and a more cohesive plot, Borderlands 2 aims to engage the player in ways that the original occasionally failed to do. Scott Kester backs this up: “The quest system has been overhauled. It’s a lot more dynamic; it allows for things to change and branch out on the fly.” With hints of dialogue trees and more impact in player choices, Gearbox seem keen to add even more RPG elements to the mix.
Although there are four new protagonists, the original game's quartet will feature as NPCs integral to the plot.
#5 - Tools of the trade
Which is not to say the shooter side of things will suffer – not by a long shot. Borderlands’ 87 Gazillion guns will return in the sequel, as will their manufacturers, but now there will be far more variety in their appearance and effects, and each manufacturer will have a unique style of gun. For example, weaponry designed by Maliwan will seem more technologically advanced, whereas equipment made by Jakobs will appear more rustic and old-fashioned. The reasons behind this are simple. “We found that people became attached to the brands of guns,” says Pitchford. “So we’re amplifying those identities in a major way. What appeals most is how distinctive each weapon manufacturer is now.”
#6 - Three’s a crowd, four’s a party
Speaking of technology, the vehicles have been re-examined. There is more variety in their design now, and in light of the four-player co-op they come with two seats in front and two in back – all of which can be filled by gun-crazy players. “Co-op is really at the heart of Borderlands,” Kester told G4TV. “Multiplayer is such a pillar of the design, and we’ve done all we can to enforce that.” But although multiplayer is a big part of Borderlands 2, it’s still crafted around a single player experience and nothing in the campaign will deduct from either style of play.
We couldn't think of anything clever or informative for this caption so, instead, just focus on the explosion. A picture's worth a thousand words, etc...
#7 - Clever carnage
But 4-player co-op means you’ll be needing more of a challenge, and Gearbox once again aim to please. Enemy AI has been tweaked considerably, and enemies will now flank the player, ascend stairs and ladders or drop off ledges to get a better shot at you. New nasties will join Borderlands’ skags and bandits, including predatory Stalkers and the impressively-named Bullymongs. “A lot of Borderlands was experimental,” Pitchford explains. “With having so many people spend so much time on it, we’ve learned so much. Almost every component of Borderlands 2 has had some level of polish or improvement.” And it shows in the variety of enemies, characters and locales already revealed.
The Borderlands 2 release date is tentatively slated as September 2012.
Words by Mick Fraser (Twitter: @Jedi_Beats_Tank)
- Related Games
- Borderlands 2
Mick brings you the lowdown on Ubisoft's excellent Wii-U exclusive death-fest, ZombiU
Gearbox make it easy to go gun-loco with these snazzy viral commercials