Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hunting Game(s): Borderlands 2

So, last week I mentioned how I wouldn't be picking up Borderlands 2 for awhile.

As it turns out, I lied. I finally decided to bite the bullet and turn in games that I haven't played in awhile for something I would actually use. This, I hope, will tide me over until XCOM (two weeks from today!). The demo simply won't cut it (but IS available on Steam and coming to consoles soon!).

On to Borderlands, I played the first one for awhile but, due to only ever playing alone, really lost interest in it. It was similar to playing a single player MMO loot fest. And, for me, the gameplay and story wasn't enough to keep me going (like some other "single player" MMOs -- I'm looking at you, SWTOR!).

That was then, and mostly due to me jumping on the game so late. Now, in the first week of BL 2, I see plenty of friends playing at the same time.

The Cast: Axton, Zero, Salvador, and Maya
... Only I've yet to try co-op. Something about the second game has me really enjoying this as a single player (for almost all missions). I'm not terribly far, but have been really enjoying what I've seen. The art style is the same as the first, but seems a touch crisper and more diverse between the different settings. Also, there is definitely a bigger focus on story -- you choose one of four (soon to be five) brand new (and more interesting) characters and, throughout the story, find and interact with the player characters from the last game (I've spoken met Roland and one other at this time).

The world of Pandora changed due to events of the last game (which, as far as I know, included opening "The Vault"). Now, Handsome Jack is hunting for a way to access an even bigger vault that was discovered due to the changes. Jack is also killing any other Vault Hunters that pop up. In a Bioshock style, most of the communication in game is given via a radio system. There are very few cutscenes (most are just stylized character intros), though there are many more NPCs to interact with than in Bioshock.

It is definitely a loot fest -- every enemy you kill explodes into money, weapons, ammo, or equipment, and you're constantly looking through the rubbish for stronger weapons (or more expensive ones to sell later). It's enjoyable enough, and there is enough diversity among the weapon types to keep it interesting.

Very MMO-esque
Similar to an MMO (or RPG, really), your character also levels up and you can choose one of three skill trees (different for each character) to invest points in: my Axton is currently working on the Gemini tree, which will end up allowing me to launch two turrets instead of the customary one.

There is a new system, called Badass Ranks, that I don't believe was present in the first one (I could be wrong). You perform in game challenges (ie, running over a bunch of people or killing them in other interesting ways) and get points that you can spend on small upgrades that affect ALL the characters you ever play as (with your current profile, of course). It's a nice way to make replaying with other characters feel less chore-like at early levels.

All this, and I have yet to play co-op, the biggest selling point of Borderlands!

I'll look into it soon, but, even as a single player game, I'm still enjoying it. I won't give it an arbitrary rating yet, but for now I definitely consider it a good buy, and I look forward to playing it more.

Personal Pros vs the Original:
The four characters are MUCH more interesting
The addition of a narrative
Weapon/Equipment variety
Diverse enemies
Easter Eggs
And I'm sure more to come...

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