It’s been a while since I actually played Borderlands the first, and I didn’t bother with the DLC, so don’t expect many comparisons aside from the usual shit. The usual shit in this context means upgraded visuals, skill trees, user interface, firearm diversity, and even banter. Yes, there was a banter upgrade from Borderlands 1 to 2. What’s the difference? In Borderlands one, you’re a Vault Hunter. In Borderlands 2, you’re apparently a Butt Stallion. So, Butt Stallion, let’s get on with this review.
I’m only so far in, so the preliminary nature of my opinion will be pretty obvious. To start, the plot this time around revolves around a new vault. Hyperion, a massive, overzealous company, is eager to mine the living crap out of the planet in order to get to it. On the side, they also mine the Eridium ore that was released from the first vault. You can’t mine it, but you can steal it, so good for you, you nasty filch. You survive your first encounter with a perfect asshat called Handsome Jack. He’s the antagonist, and he’s condescendingly hilarious. He’s the rich guy that calls you names over a hijacked frequency, more or less.
After he fails to kill you, your adventure begins. You start off on a glacier, doing some busywork quests, aided by that enigmatic AI that has gotten a little spunkier, your main objective being entering the city of Sanctuary. Sanctuary’s your hub for a while, your main HQ of quests, gambling, Eridium running, and shopping frenzies. Not sure for how long, though, since I haven’t quite gotten out of it yet. NPCs will sometimes give you rare items as gifts, so be sure to gab with everyone. EVERYONE. Especially the guy with goggles and a bandana over his mouth.
Actually, that leads me to another point. Most characters from Borderlands make a comeback as hotshot heroes. Lilith’s a badass Eridian charged uber-Siren, Roland’s the leader of the Crimson Raiders and the military head of Sanctuary. I’m not sure whether punchy and bird-man are going to be making a cameo or not, but I’m hoping they will. Everyone else has.
Difficulty? Yeah, there’s difficulty. You know how they say the best offense is a good defense? Pay the fuck attention to the people that say that. You NEED to use cover. You NEED to be mobile. You absolutely cannot rush into battle haphazardly unless that’s what your class is designed to do. Note that I’m talking about solo play. Multiplayer is an entirely different story. I play Zero, the haiku-writing cold-blooded three-fingers-and-a-thumb-on-each-hand assassin. A badassassin, if you will. Portmanteau of “badass” and “assassin,” in case you make the mistake of thinking I use the word “bad” as slang for “good.” Point being, he’s squishy. Don’t let squishy people get squished.
Bosses. They’re called bosses for a reason. They’re also complete assholes that don’t like you, and tend to use overpowered means to nuke you down to dead in less than a second. That’s not an exaggeration. When you get to the mission from Dr. Zed that requires you to kill Doc Mercy… Bring a car with a rocket launcher on it. You’ll need it. Remember the grenades in Borderlands one that ruptured into homing mini-grenades that deal crazy damage then return that to the thrower as healing? … No? Well you’ll damn well remember it this time around, I guarantee.
Also, the Constructor robots are cheating bastards. Infinite robot summons and a massive nuke AoE if you try to melee? You need at least triple the amount of ammo you’ll have by the time you get there to take that goliath down. Don’t even get me damned started on how tough its shields are. This game will piss you off, and it will piss you off badly if you’re unprepared to die in horrible, unavoidable ways. This ain’t Dark Souls, but it damn well tries to be. You’ll have the death messages memorized by the end, that’s a personal guarantee. Unless you play multiplayer. Then you’re set.
So, what do I think? I think I’ll keep playing. I’m not addicted to the Borderlands 2. I’m just hoping it doesn’t irritate me so badly that I won’t want to finish it. Kinda worried that that’s where this is headed. Hopefully I can get some overpowered melee skill that’ll balance things out. I damn well better.
David Hinkle of Joystiq lays down the specific changes from the 1 to 2, explaining the new classes versus the old ones, and some general gameplay improvements. I find that having Sanctuary as a central hub is extremely useful when grinding out quests. Check out his detailed review right here, through the digital portal: http://www.joystiq.com/2012/09/18/borderlands-2-review/