Second Thoughts: Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 is here. And by now you already know that we gave it a glorious score in our review (which you can re-read here). But Paul wasn’t the only one spending time pouncing around the lands of Pandora. He was also joined by staff members Joel Taveras and David Rodriguez. Take a look at what the pair had to say about their time with the title.
I won’t even lie. When Borderlands originally came out, I wasn’t even interested. Not because I had something against cell shading or shooters, but because I didn’t really know what it was all about. After finally getting the chance to sink my teeth into it, I was instantly hooked.
Since that time, I couldn’t wait for a follow-up. Borderlands 2 is now here, and to say that it was worth the wait is an understatement. I don’t think it would be a reach to argue that not only is Borderlands 2 among the best shooters of this generation; it’s arguably the best co-op experience that money can buy.
Earlier in the year, I had a chance to preview the game with a level 25 gunzerker and siren, both of whom had their skill trees filled to the brim. Sure, it was fun to play with characters loaded with attributes and abilities, but if you know Borderlands, then you understand that it’s as much about the journey and the satisfaction of progression than it is about being a one-man (or in our case three-man) wrecking crew.
Just like I did for my preview, during my playtime with Paul LaCen for his review, I used the gunzerker and he used the siren. The tank and healer combination compliment each other perfectly. Over time, we picked up on what the other brings to the table, and in turn it helped us to be more effective and successful as we moved along.
This is what makes the game so great. Even though you’re playing as one class, you’re learning and figuring out different ways to use the other three. And now, as you progress through the story and pick up loot that benefits other classes, you can store those items in a locker and pick them up with your other saved characters. A feature that was only available in the first game through DLC.
More so than before, you’re going to get by with a little help with your friends. No seriously, things get so frantic at certain points that if you don’t learn to adapt to not only your own abilities but those of your teammates, you will die. A lot. But it’s how you bounce back from those deaths, and figure out what adjustments you need to make that makes the game even more satisfying.
I am sure that I can go on and on about Borderlands 2, singing nothing but praises the entire time. The game has better writing, visuals, and core functionality than its predecessor. It expands on everything we know and love about the world of Pandora. And it’s “a gamer’s game,” which means that it’s easy enough (at first) to pick up and play, yet there’s plenty of depth to make it hard to master.
In the generation of consoles where publishers and developers are shipping incomplete games in order to push DLC, there’s so much gameplay and variety in Borderlands 2 that $60 is actually a bargain. With that said, all you need to do is grab some friends, a headset, and call in sick to work. You’re about to play the best co-op experience on the market.
I was pleasantly surprised by Borderlands 2. In the short time that I played the game, Gearbox Software was able to meet and exceed my expectations and concerns of their ability to both surpass the original and prove to me as a gamer that I can still have fun and run wild in a first-person shooter role-playing game.
The first Borderlands – I did not finish it – conjured up mixed feelings within me. I only played the game with friends, never forever alone. For that reason, I enjoyed the game a ton more than I think I would if I played it solo. The initial story lacked anything that really spurred any interest, outside of the brilliance and humor infused into Claptrap’s characterization. Without the zaniness that came with playing with my friends, the arguably gimmicky formula that Borderlands was built on seemed like it would have shined through even brighter.
Borderlands 2 made some much needed improvements that I observed in one brief go-around. Once again I was playing with friends, but felt very much differently about the prospect of playing the game solo. The graphics are much crisper, and the inventory is a lot easier to navigate and sort – though it could still benefit from some improvements.
The strength and attention to the story was given the much needed boost that a lot of us craved and deserved. Much like the huge differences I saw between the abysmal Assassins’s Creed and its delightful successor, Assassin’s Creed II, which improved on the former nearly tenfold in the first five minutes. Borderland 2’s improvements are comparable in which the story flows a lot better, is much more interesting, and has occasional cutscenes that work to amp up the action.
Had I been the one writing this review, I am sure that after a lot more time spent in the game, I would end up giving it a positive review.