Borderlands 2 hands-on preview from E3 2012
Published: Monday, June 18, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 17:08
When Borderlands was finally released after years of toiling in development hell, it was an instant success and one of 2009's best games. Featuring a wonderfully imaginative cel-shaded visual style and addictive "Role-Playing Shooter" gameplay, Borderlands made for seemingly endless hours of exploring, shooting, and looting with friends online around the huge open world of Pandora.
So when Borderlands 2 was officially announced last summer by developer Gearbox Software, it skyrocketed to the top of most gamers' must-play lists. While the full game comes out this September, I got a chance to go hands-on with the sequel at E3 2012, and, spoiler alert, I killed a bunch of bugs with some huge guns.
As anyone who played the original Borderlands will tell you, the FPS/RPG was extremely addictive. There was always one more quest, always one more gun to loot, always one more boss to fight, it never seemed to get old. And on top of that, the whole game was co-op, so the game was seemingly never-ending. Now that Borderlands 2 is coming out, it looks like we'll never leave Pandora again.
One of Borderlands' strongest traits was its satisfying and "realistically" weighted weapons. When you fired a sniper rifle, it felt appropriately heavy and kicked back just like a rifle should, and when you fired an SMG each individual shot feel like an individual shot rather than a continuous stream. Basically, gunplay just felt right. In Borderlands 2, that delightful gunplay is back and better than ever.
In the demo I tried, (an impressively long demo at 20 minutes) I had the chance to try a variety of different firearms, getting a general feel for the weight and kick of various guns. One sniper rifle I picked up from a downed creature impressed me greatly. It was certainly a sniper, but it was a rapid-fire rifle, firing powerful fast bolts from a great distance. It felt wonderful.
Speaking of gun variety, Borderlands made a name for itself early on with the massive number of weapons the game boasted. As infinite as the weapons seemed in the original, Borderlands 2 ups the ante even further. In just the demo I tried, my co-op partner and I picked up 50 unique weapons, each of which boasted special statistics and felt a bit different.
For the official demo at E3, testers were paired up and sent into a large, entirely new section of Pandora that served as the home for many a foul and powerful creature. We could choose from either the Gunzerker class, a heavy warrior type who can duel wield and unload massive amounts of damage onto enemies, or the siren, a ranged specialty class found in the first game. Both classes were at level 20 for the purpose of the demo. We were then left to fend for ourselves in the cruel toxic wastes of Pandora.
The classes feel more balanced and well defined than in Borderlands. The Gunzerker and the Siren were clearly different and offered different advantages for group dynamics.
For Borderlands fans, Borderlands 2 represents more of what made the first game so lovable and addictive. For the uninitiated, Borderlands 2 is a gaming must, a virtual experience as deep as Diablo or Elder Scrolls but far more social. Get ready to sit around the couch or get your friends together over Xbox Live or PSN and explore Pandora, killing all the nasty creatures you come up against. I promise you'll love it.
Borderlands 2 will be released Sept. 18, 2012 on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.