Borderlands 2 Hands-On Preview

The Siren and Gunzerker of Borderlands 2 take it foes.

New vault hunters, new villain, new classes, new monsters to kill, and a whole hell of a lot of new guns: this is what Borderlands 2 aims to bring to the table by expanding upon its highly successful predecessor, and I’ll be damned if the title isn’t shaping up to be exactly that. Not much of the core combat has been changed from the original, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t crazy entertaining to shoot up everything Pandora and antagonist Handsome Jack have to throw at you.

Borderlands 2 takes place five years after the adventures of Lilith, Brick, Mordecai, and Roland. The four heroes have had their credit for finding The Vault and defeating the Destroyer stolen from them by Jack, who has taken control of the Hyperion corporation and declared himself dictator of Pandora. It is thus believed that the heroic quartet has been captured by Hyperion. As a result, it’s up to the new foursome of vault hunters to stop Jack and bring peace back to the troubled planet.

My time with the game threw me into the boots of Maya, Borderlands 2’s Siren, who doesn’t play exactly like her Borderlands counterpart. Instead of phasing to get a safe distance from battle and avoid damage like Lilith, Maya will use her abilities to instead lift and lock an enemy into the air for a short period of time via her phaselock. Doing so leaves the foe vulnerable to attack, and with my co-op buddy controlling the trigger-happy Gunzerker known as Salvador, it complimented his play style perfectly. The run-and-gun tactics of the Gunzerker are aided by his ability to dual-wield any two guns in the game for a limited amount of time, creating a fury of bullets that tear through these levitated beasts.

Despite this advantage, the monsters that players will face in this sequel won’t go down without a fight, special defense, unique strategy, or all three. One such tough species of brute are the crystalisks, large quadrupeds that have just one vulnerable spot: their crystal-protected front legs. Shoot anywhere else – even their heads – and you’ll just see a bunch of zeroes floating in the air to tally your damage. Even with that knowledge, these hulking beasts still absorb a lot of damage after the crystal guards are removed. Another tough group of foes are the threshers, who will burrow and maneuver below the ground in order to flank and/or drag you down with them. It makes phaselocking difficult and requires players to remain vigilant and communicate effectively. Though those two types were the only examples found in my short session, there will surely be many, many more new foes in the final release.

The skill tree for the Gunzerker

Regardless of the enemy types, Borderlands 2 wouldn’t be anything without its guns, which once again are both plentiful and varied. I was able to roll with three assault rifles with different skins, zooms, firing rates, stats, and elemental damag, as well as a shotgun for special duty. I gave them all a whirl and ultimately found my one-round, high-damage shotty and scoped, three-round-burst rifle, complete with the game’s newest form of elemental damage, slag, to be my personal favorites. This new elemental damage will weaken an enemy by covering it in the actual slag, making subsequent attacks deal more damage.

The game’s skill trees and stat upgrades offer more choices than in the previous game, as each character will have 30 talents to master, versus Borderlands‘ 21. All skills serve either to boost a characte’s class-specific ability or boost stats like weapon damage, healing, melee damage, and more. One that I particularly fancied was Maya’s power to turn enemies felled while in phaselock into health orbs that seek out teammates. Other skills for Maya included ricocheting bullets back upon opponents and reviving teammates via phaselock.

Even though it was a short session, my Borderlands 2 experience definitely left me itching for more and eagerly awaiting future adventures in Pandora in order to fully explore the Siren and try the game’s other three classes. With even more interesting foes, the introduction of slag, a ton more guns, and new skills to play with, the game is looking to be a worthy sequel. Fans will be able to find out for themselves when Borderlands 2 is released on September 18 in the US (September 21 internationally) for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

One Comment on "Borderlands 2 Hands-On Preview"

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.