HOLY SKAGSUCK! Borderlands 2 Coming to PlayStation Vita in 2014


It’s confirmed, looters and shooters; Borderlands 2 is coming to the PlayStation Vita in 2014!

As announced on 2K Games’ web site, they have been working closely with Sony to bring the loot-and-shoot game to a portable platform, and it looks as if that endeavor is bearing fruit.

No details have been released as of yet, but it’s safe to assume that players will be able to join cooperatively with three other Vault Hunters over ad-hoc and WiFi. The game is also stated to take advantage of the Vita’s unique features. Given the trend in recent game ports to include released DLC out of the box, we may get to play as Gaige and Krieg on day one, as well as taking the adventure to the game’s add-on story content.

This announcement helps to bolster the other impressive offerings Sony presented at GamesCom this year. For the full run-down, be sure to check out our conference recap here.

The game is due out in 2014. Stick with us as we continue to cover this and other exciting developments!

Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep Released Today, Trailer Included

Borderlands 2 Wallpaper

The newest piece of Borderlands 2 DLC, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, has gone live today. The expansion is set to inject some more dungeon-crawling love into the shoot-n-loot, and Pandora’s craziest explosives expert will play a major part in the story. Check out the launch trailer below!

Gearbox Gives Twitter Fans Golden Keys for Borderlands 2

Those who pre-ordered Borderlands 2 may have been surprised to find a special “Golden Key” in their inventory. These rare items can be used to unlock a special treasure chest in the town of Sanctuary to acquire epic items leveled to your character. To those of you who may have burned your key early, or just want another roll at some phat loot, good news; Gearbox is giving out more codes to redeem for extra Golden Keys!

Just keep an eye on Randy Pitchford’s Twitter feed; the Gearbox President promises to be hosting additional chances to win over the next few days. Players can also earn additional keys by redeeming codes acquired from the game’s Shift system, available from the Extras menu.

And to you PC players who’d call themselves 1337 h@x0rz, there’s another way…but you’ll just have to research it yourself to find out. 😉

Borderlands 2 Review (PS3/360): “Shootin’ and Lootin’ Like It’s 2012”

Back in 2009, Gearbox Software and 2K Games had introduced gamers to the fresh new IP, Borderlands, which infused FPS and RPG mechanics. The game became a sensation amongst both critics and consumers around the nation, even selling out in numerous stores within its first week of sales. Three years later, Gearbox Software and 2K Games have pushed out the sequel to their highly-praised IP but is it superior to the original?

Story: 5/5

Taking place five years after the events of the first game, we find that Handsome Jack, the person who controls the Hyperion Corporation, is trying to reach a newly found vault on Pandora that contains a creature known as, “The Warrior”. Taking control of a new group of Vault Hunters (Salvador, Axton, Maya and Zero), you’re tasked with putting a stop to Handsome Jack before he can make his way to the vault and unleash this devastating beast amongst Pandora.

If there’s one thing Gearbox improved on the most with their sequel, it’s definitely in their story department. Borderlands 2 has a much richer and deeper story this time around, filled with characters’ histories to unveil, why they are who they are and why they are there. Pandora is a world filled with story to unravel, whether it’s the campaign or side story material that helps flesh more out of the main story. The infamous humor that was intact with the original is still found here but is even funnier and more clever this time around. I couldn’t even tell you the amount of times I was cracking up with how well written and executed the dialogue was. The characters that you’ll play as also have a good amount of backstory that can be told with audio logs scattered in specific areas.

The story does an excellent job with characterization this time around and you’ll actually feel for all of these characters more so than the original. Whether it’s familiar faces or new ones, all the characters are very likable…except for Handsome Jack. I don’t think I’ve come to hate a villain as much as him (that I can recall) and that’s a good thing. That comes to show you that Gearbox made a villain that’s twisted, sick and humorous, all at the same time, while still hating him. There are a good amount of plot twists and shock moments as well…but obviously none of those will be mentioned here. However, these moments really do an effective job of engrossing you deeper into the game’s story. Kudos Gearbox.

Gameplay: 5/5

Let’s get this out of the way first…Borderlands 2 is bigger, better and more badass than the original. When it comes to the gameplay mechanics, Gearbox Software created something special with the original installment. This one takes everything from there and improves upon them dramatically, while adding little details that make this a more robust package. As with the original, you’ll kick off the game by choosing the character/class you’ll want to play as. You’ve got Salvador (a Gunzerker who can dual-wield any two weapons of your choice), Maya (a Siren who can Phaselock enemies, which suspends them in mid-air), Axton (a Commando who can throw down turrets) and Zero (a stealthy Assassin who can use Deception to find enemies’ critical points). All the characters can utilize the same weapons so it boils down mainly to what class pertains to you the most. From there, you’re ready to kick off your journey through Pandora.

In the original, you were only able to explore a specific region of Pandora. Now, Pandora has expanded dramatically and you’ll be exploring multiple regions of the planet, all completely varied from your typical wasteland environments from the first game. Whether you’re going through the snowy plains, western towns, or underground caverns, exploring Pandora has never been so much fun. While playing it solo is completely fine, Borderlands 2 is a co-op game at heart and joining or hosting a game on the fly is made incredibly simple. A new feature they added to the game is the ability to change your network settings, both in-game or at the main menu. You can set it to Online Friends Only (public for your friends to join), Online Public, Online Private (invitations only), LAN, and Offline. Another thing, the main menu is pretty awesome. You’ll see your character standing in real-time with the equipment and look that you chose for them, but if a friend jumps on via split-screen, you’ll see their character teleport on the menu as well. You can even rotate the camera to look around the environment the main menu is surrounded by.

Borderlands 2 plays essentially the same as the original, but with a few tweaks that further polishes the package. The first thing you’ll notice is that the game’s campaign is broken up into chapters now (18 in total), as opposed to being one massive game. Granted, it’s still one massive game but with a little more sense of progression. Collecting loot off of enemies has now been enhanced a bit where if they drop health and/or ammo, you’ll automatically pick them up this time, as opposed to looking at them and pressing the action button to collect. This certainly helps when in the heat of battle and don’t have the time to look down and grab ammo while being attacked from all directions. Should you go down, the “Fight for your Life” feature is back, in which you’ll have to kill an enemy to get “Second Wind” and keep going. This time around, you can actually crawl on the ground instead of being completely grounded. This helps out a lot because should you be shot down behind an object, you can crawl around the corner to try and get your revenge. Challenges also return but with a greater purpose now. As you complete the extensive list of challenges, each broken into categories and multiple tiers, you’ll earn points for your “Badass Rank”. Each time you fill up your Badass meter, you’ll earn a token which can be redeemed for permanently increased stats (i.e. Gun Damage, Shield Capacity, Maximum Health, Recoil Reduction, Fire Rate, etc). The percentage of these stats that you increase will effect not only yourself, but all the guns you carry as well, regardless of their pre-determined stats. Also new is the “Trading” system. When you go up to your partner, you can hold the crouch button to initiate a trade and from there, you can choose up to five items at once to swap with your partner. If you want to make things more interesting, you can duel each other for certain items, giving it a fun competitive nature. Also, there will be times when you complete a mission that you have to make a choice as to who to turn the mission into for a special reward, regardless of who tasked you with the mission originally. These choices won’t change the story’s outcome or affect your relationships with them, they’re strictly for figuring out which reward appeals to you more.

Leveling up your character is still absolutely essential and the pacing Gearbox has in place is well done. If you’re the type that wants to get strictly through the campaign, well you may not be able to do that. Completing side-missions is necessary in getting more XP so that you can level up for the tougher missions. You can still manage through the higher level missions and the game will tell you what difficulty (Trivial, Normal, Tough, Hard, Impossible) the mission will be for you based on your level at the time. Basically, the game’s difficulty ultimately depends on how you play it but the great thing about Borderlands, it’s a game that anyone can beat while maintaining a solid challenge. When you die, you’ll return to the nearest “New-U” station at the cost of some money, but you will keep all the XP, weapons and items you’ve earned. Skill Trees have also been tweaked to have even more options in each of the three subclasses of skills you can branch from. The first game had about 15 skills you can upgrade, this one has almost 30 for each class. Customization is also a little bit deeper than it was before. Instead of being able to choose colors for the way your character looks off the bat (like the first game), you’ll earn customization skins by completing specific side-missions. It’s basically the same thing except now you have to unlock colors for the character. There are a ton to choose from in the beginning but you can definitely add more to it. On top of that, you can also earn new head/hair styles for your character to change up as well.

One of Borderlands’ hooks was that the game offered “bazillions” of guns. Well, Borderlands 2 one-up’s that by including “870 Gajillion More Guns….with Personality”. This time around, there’s an unprecedented number of weapons and every single one is entirely unique. However, to make the weapons stand out even further, each gun’s manufacturer has particular traits for their firearms. For example, if you have a Tediore weapon, they will always explode upon reloading and reappear as a new gun for you to use. Dahl Corporation weapons will all have burst fire functionality while zooming down the scope. The fact that Gearbox added more focus to the manufacturers to make them stand out a bit so that people can become fond with which weapons they like is a great little detail.

Enemies this time around will provide a much stiffer challenge, thanks to more advanced AI and strategic elements in place. For example, when going up against Loaders, you can strategically dismember them to give yourself the upper hand. However, the moment they’ve been dismembered, they will call out for a Surveyor to come repair them or even shield them. Certain enemies may cloak within the environment, making it harder to spot and shoot them. Others may have very specific locations to target to take them down, such as the Crystalisks and Spiderants. The boss battles that you’ll take on are definitely a step up from the first game’s, both in scale and intensity. These battles will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat, especially if you’re playing solo since you’ll have no one around to revive you.

Borderlands 2’s gameplay is just as addictive, if not more so, than the original game. It’s brilliantly paced, plays incredibly well and has that “just one more mission” element. The presentation and mechanics are above and beyond the original’s…and that’s saying a lot since the first game was impressive as it is. Getting through the campaign alone will take a minimum of 25-30 hours and there’s a ton of content (including True Vault Hunter mode, which is New Game Plus) to keep you coming back.

Graphics: 4/5

Borderlands had a fresh visual style and the same can be said here with the sequel, this time with more variety and detail. Every part of Pandora is incredibly lush, vibrant and detailed, making the environments pop out with character. Gearbox definitely made some enhancements to their visuals, but that’s also in part to the variety within their environments. Snowy regions look stunning and calming, with beautiful detail made to the ice especially, while the same amount of effort was put into the volcanic, cavern and desert regions. When in the volcanic and snowy regions of Pandora, you’ll see either snow or ashes sticking on the screen occasionally. Water has received a massive amp up from the original game, now looking more appealing with reflective surfaces, making you want to dive in. The scale of the environments have also received a vast upgrade, now with landmarks that really flesh out the areas and make each location feel distinct and unique. No matter where you are in Pandora, Gearbox has crafted a beautifully stunning world that you’ll want to explore in its entirety. There’s even a realtime day/night cycle that looks astonishing to say in the least.

Character models look a little bit better than the original, but not by much. This is not a bad thing at all since Gearbox had very detailed models in the original as it is. One little detail I loved to see was when you have your inventory open, your co-op partners can actually see a window open in front of that specific character to showcase they’re in their inventory menu. Animations for all the characters are very well done but there were a few instances where a specific enemy (Goliath) will sprint at you but when he turns to you, he’ll just magically do a 180 turn while still running forward (looks like he’s doing a moonwalk). It’s humorous, no question, but definitely odd. Another thing that hurts the visuals a bit is its technical issues. Environments tend to load textures as you progress through them at times, as well as the objects that appear when opening chests. Also, shrubs and grass that stick out of the ground appear to just pop up as you keep driving through the environment. The framerate is smooth most of the time but there were moments where the game slowed down a bit when aiming down scoped elemental weapons (i.e. a pistol with a scope that can shoot fire rounds). Lastly, I came across a few lockers and chests that were completely discolored and seemed as if they were in a debugging state. This one was a rare occurrence during my playthrough but should be pointed out. Regardless, Borderlands 2 looks absolutely stunning, but it is because of this that the little graphical bugs stand out a bit, making it just shy of perfection.

Sound: 5/5

When a game advertises that it has “gajillions” of guns, you would hope that they sound as powerful and badass as they quoted. Well, they do. The guns in Borderlands 2 sound like they pack a punch and would put anyone down. Voice acting is excellent amongst the whole cast of characters, whether they provide their hysterical or more suitable dialogue. You actually feel for these characters thanks to how well acted they are. For example, Handsome Jack is a bad dude, no question. However, it is in large part to how his voice actor portrays him and executes his condescending tone.

Environmental ambiance effects are terrific as well. As you’ll explore Pandora, each environment will provide audio that really brings them to life and immerses you even further into the game. The real star of the show is the superb soundtrack composed once again from acclaimed musicians, Jesper Kyd, Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan. Every track perfectly conveys the setting and scenarios that accompany them. When in the snowy region, the music is calming and conveys a sense of “coldness” to it, while being in a volcanic region is more dark and ominous. Combat music really intensifies the situations brilliantly and brings you deeper into the action. This is a soundtrack that will stick with you even when you’re not playing. Overall, this is an audio package that’s just plain rock solid. Crank up those speakers!

Overall Score: 19/20 = 9.5 out of 10

Borderlands 2 isn’t just a sequel that’s superior to the original in almost every way, it’s one of the best games released in 2012. Gearbox Software looked at everything that worked in the original and vastly improved upon every field. With a hearty-sized campaign, beautiful visuals, fantastic soundtrack and audio effects, and rich story, Borderlands 2 is a must-own for any gamer out there. Do not miss out on this experience.


+ Rich, deep story

+ Beautifully detailed environments

+ Fantastic soundtrack, audio effects and voice acting

+ “Gajillions” more guns than the original

+ Lengthy campaign with a ton to do after completion


– Textures load while playing and can look jarring at times

– Some technical bugs

Special thanks to 2K Games for providing us a review copy for Borderlands 2! Review based on PS3 version of the game.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @GamersXTREME

Borderlands 2 Preps Up Season Pass


2K Games and Gearbox Software have just made a press statement that Borderlands 2 will have a Season Pass. For $29.99/2400 Microsoft Points, you’ll receive four add-ins that include extra campaigns to extend the longevity with new locations and extra stories. Should you choose to buy each of these add-ons individually, they’ll go for $9.99/800 Microsoft Points.

The first Borderlands had four campaign add-ons as well but without the Season Pass so it’s nice to see a cheaper incentive to receive these.

Are you excited for Borderlands 2? Sound off in the comments below and check out the full press statement below!

New York, NY – August 30, 2012 – 2K Games and Gearbox Software announced today that Borderlands®2 will offer four brand new add-on content campaigns following the release of Borderlands 2 for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC. These four add-on content campaigns will each feature several hours of gameplay and introduce new adventures, allies, enemies and environments. They will retail individually for $9.99 (PlayStation®Network) / 800 MS Points (Xbox LIVE® online entertainment network) / $9.99 (PC). The Borderlands 2 Season Pass will grant access to all four of these add-on content campaigns as they become commercially available. The Borderlands 2 Season Pass will be available for purchase when Borderlands 2 is available on September 18, 2012.

The Borderlands 2 Season Pass includes $39.96 of add-on content and will be available for $29.99 (PlayStation®Network) / 2400 Microsoft Points (Xbox LIVE) / $29.99 (PC). Once purchased, the Borderlands 2 Season Pass enables gamers to download all of the announced add-on content campaigns for free as they become available on the PlayStation®Network, Xbox LIVE and PC. All four add-on content campaigns are scheduled to be available by June 2013.

Gamers who pre-order Borderlands 2 from participating retailers will gain access to the Borderlands 2 Premiere Club, allowing them to download the Gearbox Gun Pack, a Golden Key, the Vault Hunter’s Relic and an all-new fifth character class, the Mechromancer. The Gearbox Gun Pack is a collection of unique guns to help players begin their journey on Pandora. The Golden Key is used to unlock a rare in-game item in the mysterious Golden Loot Chest found in the town of Sanctuary. The Vault Hunter’s Relic is an in-game item that boosts players’ gear-hunting fortune while playing solo or teaming up with friends. The Mechromancer character class will be available following the launch of Borderlands 2 once development of the character is complete. For those who do not pre-order Borderlands 2, the Mechromancer will be available for purchase at a later date. The Mechromancer character class and other preorder items are not included in the Borderlands 2 Season Pass. To pre-order Borderlands 2 please visit www.borderlands2.com/preorder.

Borderlands 2 will be available in North America on September 18, 2012, and internationally on September 21, 2012. Borderlands 2 is rated M for Mature by the ESRB. For more information on Borderlands 2 please visit http://www.borderlands2.com.

Borderlands Franchise – Sales and Pre-Orders Happening NOW!

2K Games made a few huge announcements today concerning its Borderlands franchise.

Firstly, Borderlands 2 is now available for pre-order on most popular digital distribution platforms, such as Steam, Amazon, and Gamefly, among others. Just like the physical version, pre-ordering the digital version of Borderlands 2 automatically qualify for access to the Borderlands 2 Premiere Club, granting access to extra content, including the Mechromancer class.

Secondly, for those of you who have yet to try Borderlands (and you should – ASAP!), its digital distribution – as well as all of its DLC – will have a 75% off sale from now until July 30, 2012 (5 days, as of this writing – get cracking!) For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, or haven’t gotten all of the game’s DLC, this is the *perfect* opportunity to take a maiden/return trip to Pandora.

The full announcement can be viewed here.

Borderlands 2 Collector’s Editions and Pre-Order Bonus Announced

Last month, we covered an exclusive hands-on for Borderlands 2, as well as an exclusive interview with design producer Randy Varnell. While we’re stoked to get our hands on the final product, 2K Games and Gearbox Software have something else to get fans excited.

2K Games and Gearbox Software have just provided us with the latest info on Borderlands 2, in which it will have two different collector’s editions to pre-order, as well as a separate pre-order incentive. The two editions you can choose from (aside from the standard edition) are the Borderlands 2 Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector’s Edition and the Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition.

The Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector’s Edition will retail for $99.99 and includes the following:

  • Borderlands 2 Game
  • Authentic Marcus Kincaid Bobblehead
  • 4 Exclusive Stickers
  • Map of Pandora
  • Comic Book Download
  • Inside the Vault: The Art of Borderlands 2 Hardbound Book
  • Bonus Digital Content
The Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition will retail for $149.99 and includes the following:
  • Borderlands 2 Game
  • Replica Borderlands Loot Chest
  • Authentic Marcus Kincaid Bobblehead
  • Numbered Certificate of Authenticity
  • Steelbook Case
  • Creatures of Pandora Wide Format ID Chart
  • 4 Lithograph Postcards
  • Field Notes from Sir Hammerlock
  • Comic Book Download
  • 4 Exclusive Stickers
  • Cloth Map
  • Inside the Vault: The Art of Borderlands 2 Hardbound Book
  • Bonus Digital Content

The Ultimate Edition definitely looks cool, seeing as how it has a replica of the loot chest from the game.

Now if you pre-order any edition of the game, you will receive access to the “Premiere Club” which gives you a Golden Key, Gearbox Gunpack, Vault Hunter’s Relic and a new character class known as the Mechromancer. Check out the content in the image below.

Here’s the official press release that came alongside the info:

New York, NY, May 17,2012  2K Games and Gearbox Software today announced two tiers of special limited editions for the highly anticipatedBorderlands®2 –the Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector’s Edition and Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition. Currently in development by Gearbox Software, Borderlands 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed four-player cooperative shooter-looter that combined intense first-person mayhem with role-playing gameplay. Both editions will reward fans with a number of collectible and in-game bonus items that will enhance the action-packed experience of Borderlands 2.

The Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector’s Edition (MSRP $99.99) includes a copy of Borderlands 2; authentic Marcus Kincaid bobblehead; Inside the Vault: The Art & Design of Borderlands 2 hardbound book; collectable sticker set; map of Pandora; digital comic download code; and bonus downloadable in-game digital content. The Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition (MSRP $149.99) includes all of those items, plus a collectable scaled replica of the red loot chests found throughout Pandora in Borderlands 2; steel book case; Creatures of Pandora wide-format ID chart; lithograph postcard set; field notes from Sir Hammerlock; cloth map of Pandora; and a numbered certificate of authenticity. Both of the special editions will be available for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows-based PC.
Gamers who pre-order the Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector’s EditionUltimate Loot Chest Limited Edition or the standard edition of Borderlands 2 from participating retailers will also gain access to the Borderlands 2 Premiere Club, allowing them to download the Gearbox Gun Pack, a Golden Key, the Vault Hunter’s Relic and an all-new fifth character class – the Mechromancer. The Gearbox Gun Pack is a collection of unique guns to help players begin their journey on Pandora. The Golden Key is used to unlock a rare in-game item in the mysterious Golden Sanctuary Loot Chest found in Borderlands 2. The Vault Hunter’s Relic is an in-game item that boosts players’ gear-hunting fortune while playing solo or teaming up with friends. The Mechromancer character class will be available following launch when development of the character is complete and is free to those who pre-order Borderlands 2, and will be available for purchase for those who do not. To pre-order all editions of Borderlands 2, please visitwww.borderlands2.com/preorder.
Borderlands 2 features all-new characters; skills; imaginative, diverse new environments with unique missions and enemies; and more exciting and fun weapons, equipment and loot than ever before. All of these features come together in a story that takes players to the world of Pandora to take down the notorious Handsome Jack and his corrupt Hyperion Corporation as a solo campaign or with up to four cooperative players.
Borderlands 2 will be available in North America on September 18, 2012, and internationally on September 21, 2012. Borderlands 2 is not yet rated by the ESRB. For more information please visit www.borderlands2.com.”

Are you interested in picking up Borderlands 2? Sound off in the comments below!

Is Duke Nukem Coming to Borderlands 2?

During an interview with Randy Varnell, Design Producer over at Gearbox Software, I asked him a question about a specific character possibly coming to Borderlands 2. Seeing as how 2K Games and Gearbox Software were involved with finishing up Duke Nukem Forever and acquiring the license, I figured it was logical to ask if Duke Nukem would appear as a possible special playable character. Here’s the Q&A to that particular thought:

Glacier928: “Is there any sort of chance that Duke Nukem would be thrown in as a secret playable character in Borderlands 2?”

Randy Varnell (laughs): “I’ll definitely pass that to the development team back at the office. It’s not the first time we’ve heard that question though. It’s a tricky thing, you know? There really is a kind of spirit in Gearbox. You look at a lot of the games we put out and are working on between Duke Nukem and Borderlands and all. As a company, we really kind of like that tongue-in-cheek, just over-the-top ridiculous humor and all that. Certainly one of the reasons why we put our energy and focus on Duke Nukem Forever and it was a classic, kind of ‘close to our heart’ game for a lot of us. Borderlands kind of carries that spirit onto Pandora, our fictional universe. I’ll pass that request along, that’s a really great question!”

Personally, I think Duke would fit great in the Borderlands universe…chances are he’d be hitting on the Guardian Angel, Lilith and Maya. It would definitely add to the tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top humor Randy mentioned. Despite critics bashing Duke Nukem Forever, I personally enjoyed the game. It wasn’t a great game by any means, but it was definitely an entertaining game that held my attention for a few playthroughs and being a Duke fan, I still cracked up at some of his lines. The video interview can be found here and he answers the question in Part 3 of the video.

What do you guys think? Should Duke Nukem appear as a playable character in Borderlands 2? Sound off in the comments below!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Borderlands 2 – Interview with Design Producer: Randy Varnell

During the Borderlands 2 Hands-On Event that occurred in NYC back on March 23rd, I had the opportunity to interview the Design Producer at Gearbox Software, Randy Varnell. In our three-part interview attached below, Randy expresses how much detail has gone into this sequel and just how passionate the team over at Gearbox are about their latest project. Check out all the details that Randy was able to share about the upcoming sequel below!

Borderlands 2 Exclusive Hands-On: Returning to Pandora Never Looked So Good

Let me just start by saying, Borderlands was one of my favorite games this generation. The game oozed with character thanks to it’s unique and fresh art style, bazillions of guns, interesting characters and insanely addictive coop. On March 23rd, we were invited to an exclusive hands-on event to test out a pre-alpha build for Borderlands 2. After clocking in a solid amount of time with the sequel’s early build, we don’t just walk out satisfied, but incredibly impressed.

Upon starting up the game, R17 and myself were able to choose from two of the available classes, the new Gunzerker and returning Siren. Being a fan of the Siren class from the original Borderlands, I focused more of my time on that, while R17 focused more of his time as a Gunzerker. From here, we were able to coop two different areas: Wildlife Preserve and Caustic Caverns.

When starting up Wildlife Preserve, we were given an objective to meet up with Mordecai, the Hunter from the first Borderlands title. He was in hiding from the Hyperion Corporation which is being run by Handsome Jack, the game’s main antagonist. The Hyperion Corporation got their hands on Bloodwing, Mordecai’s trusty hawk sidekick and asks if you could infiltrate their base and retrieve him. As you progress through the intricately detailed environments, you’ll reach one of Hyperion’s facilities and notice the main gate is locked shut. Sentry bots known as Loaders are then requested to take care of you, and not in a friendly homecoming way. Mordecai gives you a heads-up that you can’t kill the Loaders and must cripple three of them for reinforcements to come outside the gate, leaving your entrance wide open. It’s interesting because for the first time in the series, there’s a dismemberment system incorporated here. While dismemberment is always a neat addition, there’s a strategic element here. Loaders will utilize multiple resources to try and attack you, even if they’re missing legs and arms. Also, scout bots known as Scavengers will scour the area and reassemble dismembered bots if you don’t take care of them. The Loaders all have certain attack types as well. One in particular had propellers on his arms to deflect any bullets right back at you. Another was essentially a “bulldozer” Loader that had a wicked ram attack that would bring you down in no time. Speaking of going “down”, the “Fight for Your Life” feature is back and brings a much appreciated enhancement. You can now crawl while fighting for your life so if a friend is pinned down and can’t make it to you, you can slowly make your way to them. As we progressed through the level, we came across a familiar enemy, skags. These enemies can still prove to be a challenge if you’re character isn’t up to snuff, especially going against packs or elemental ones.

Look at that sunrise, thanks to the new Day/Night cycle

After spending some time on the Wildlife Preserve, we tackled the dangerous Caustic Caverns. These aren’t just your typical caverns, as we had to worry about tentacle creatures popping out of the ground and traversing through an acidic swamp. As we started, Handsome Jack pops up on the radio, stating how he’s going to ensure we won’t survive. Pushing his banter aside, we were assigned to explore unknown readings at a certain part of the cavern. As we reached that point, a massive organic rock creature simply known as “Blue” pops out of the ground. This was essentially a mini-boss fight in which we had to shoot the crystal rocks on its legs to expose the weak spot. It actually provided for some teamwork in which your partner can distract the creature while you flank it and shoot the back of its legs. It was a pretty clever fight and it’s great to see Gearbox incorporating more strategic fights against enemies. After taking down the behemoth, a massive treasure box that was attached to its back is now reachable. Upon opening it, you weren’t treated to weapons, money or ammo…but rather, risqué photos of Moxxi. Moxxi appears on your headset asking if you could return them to her. However, Marcus then pops on stating how if you give him the photos, he can make a huge profit off of them and you’ll receive a cut. From here, you have to make a decision on who to give the photos to. Unfortunately, the demo ended here and couldn’t let us make a choice. It certainly peaked our curiosity on the decision making moments Borderlands 2 will contain and whether or not it will affect the story in any way.

Dual-Wielding Weapons, meet Blue...Blue, meet Dual-Wielding Weapons

Now, lets talk about the new features the game holds. First off, there is now a secure trading system incorporated into Borderlands 2. If there’s a weapon one of your buddies has that you want and vice versa, you can initiate a secure trade. If you want one of their weapons and they’re not as willing to give it up, you can “duel” for it and the winner will net their reward. It’s a sweet addition and provides some competitive fun against your buddies. The next addition is the fact that you can now actually see your partner accessing their menu, whether they’re upgrading their skills, swapping through their weapons or sorting through their items. In the first Borderlands, you would just see your partner stand there, staring at whatever is in plain sight. Gearbox decided to add a little extra immersion by showcasing this neat element. Skill Trees have also received many more abilities within their three subclasses. In the first game, you had roughly 15 skills that were upgradable. Now, you have more than 30+ skills to upgrade for each class. To make your character even more powerful, there is another ability in the middle of each subclass that then further branches your upgrades. If you spent a great deal of time fully upgrading your character in the first game, you’ll have even more to look forward to in the sequel.

The Siren (known as Maya) will not have the same phasewalking abilities that Lilith had in the first game. Instead, she will have a phaselocking ability in which she can encase enemies in a sphere, paralyzing them in suspended air. This will give players the chance to score some major damage on your enemies. If you gear toward Maya’s “Harmony” skill tree, she’ll act as more of a medic on the team. At one point, she can even shoot “healing bullets” at her allies to get them back up, as opposed to running to revive them. Salvador, the Gunzerker, plays very similar to Brick from the original title in which he’s a complete brute. However, the sweet action that Salvador can utilize is the fact that he can dual-wield any two weapons when using his special ability. Hence “Gunzerker”, Salvador will go nuts dual-wielding guns and you can even take this opportunity to reload all you weapons (including the ones that are out of ammo).

Visually, Borderlands 2 looks astonishing and the crazy part was, the game was only in pre-alpha. This means that these aren’t the final visuals and evidently not the final gameplay mechanics. As I played through the demo, I really looked around to explore the environment. The art direction was simply beautiful and has increased quite a lot from the original. When you see the large moon out in the sky in the Wildlife Preserve, you can’t help but wonder if you’ll go there at some point of the game. It wasn’t just a simple background design. It really seems like an area you’d be able to go to later on in the game. In Caustic Caverns, seeing the light peering through the ceiling was simply breathtaking. It gives you this feeling that regardless of you being in these massive, wide-open caverns that look like an outdoor environment, there’s an outside to where you are. Another amazing addition is the fact that the game has a realtime day and night cycle. This adds even more depth and immersion to the game and certain missions can only be tackled depending on the time of day. The day and night cycle just looks stunning to say in the least. Borderlands had a unique art style and the sequel looks to take it a step further.

Simply put, Borderlands 2 looks and plays astonishingly…and it was only a pre-alpha build. The team told us prior to starting the game that it was still in a very early state and that we’d come across glitches. The funny part was, despite the game only crashing on us once throughout our entire lengthy playthrough, Borderlands 2 already has more polish than games released at launch! Borderlands 2 releases on September 18, 2012 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!