Borderlands 2 is all about exploration, in fact one of the biggest features of the game is that you can go anywhere that you can see; want to travel all the way to the furthest mountain in the distance, you can. Borderlands 2, we are told, is a true sequel, not just a game with a few added maps and new box art. No, this title has been completely reworked from the ground up, having had a major overhaul and plenty of changes to boot.
Steve Gibson of Gearbox was at pains to tell us that the developer is really proud of what it has achieved in the three year’s this game has been in development and from what we saw recently it has every reason to be.
Borderlands 2 is set five years after the first game. The game begins with you finding yourself dumped in the Arctic Tundra having pissed of the titles new dictator known as Handsome Jack. One of the changes explained to us immediately was that of the weapons system, which sees every manufacturer in the game being given a different style of weapon. What this means is that cheap, throw away weapons such as the TDR’s are quite literally thrown away once you run out of bullets, with a new one then appearing in your hand automatically. This is quite amusing because when it’s time to throw these weapons away you can actually use them as projectiles, whacking the enemy on the head with them and in some cases causing you to stun them. There are all different styles of weapons to be had, although the only other type we saw in the demo was the bandit weapons, which are strung together will all different types of materials and, thanks to their large clips, carry lots of bullets.
Another large change is to the enemy AI. Enemies are now a lot more unpredictable and different factions even fight against each other, which is something you can use to your advantage. Enemies will also continue to fight on even if they are injured thanks to there being different states of health, not just living or dead. An example we were shown of this saw the enemy continue to fight, despite one of his arms being unusable. Enemies will also look for higher ground to gain advantage in fights, flank you and do whatever it takes to make sure you are the one who dies and not them. Finally AI can also do and go anywhere that seems natural. It seems pretty impressive really.
One of the other main points I noticed was that when shooting at enemies they will stumble, being knocked and staggering by the force of your bullets. AI characters are also very talkative, in fact just sitting there watching them I was already having the urge to shoot at them just so they would shut up.
Graphically the game looks very good indeed. It still has the cell-shaded, unique art style of the original, but it just seems a lot sharper than before and thanks to the huge draw distance, and the fact you can go anywhere you see, it also gives off a large sense of adventure. Another observation in terms of graphics was that the game seems to communicate a lot more visually than in the original, e.g Shields now begin to shatter as they are getting weak.
In terms of co-op, vehicles have also been reworked, meaning that up to three players can jump in and use guns while someone is driving. The vehicles now also feel more believable, which was shown by the driver running over someone in-game and the animation that followed. Unfortunately we weren’t really given any other details on multiplayer other than the changes to the vehicles, but if there has been as much care in this area as there has in the main adventure then there should be no worries at all.
The original Borderlands was well received and from what we have seen of the sequel this will be a worthy successor. It may be a while before we get to play the full game since it’s not out until 2012, although judging by what we have seen so far it will be worth the wait.