Borderlands II Preview

By Charles W - Mon Aug 13, 11:58 pm

Coming from a very successful shooter in 2009, Gearbox is back with another installment of Borderlands. Although first Borderlands did lack a couple of elements in gameplay it did not ruin the experience. It only dulled the gameplay and made it extremely repetitive. Gameplay elements like similar skill trees between classes, repeated gun models, and dumb A.I.s that run in a straight line to have their head popped off, and lack of purpose in the main campaign are some of the main drawbacks of playing different characters. Borderlands II however, according to Gearbox President and Executive Producer Randy Pitchford, has doubled downed on virtually everything. Not only did the story, characters, skills and loot get an upgrade in visual and effectiveness sense, but enemies and the quests have gotten major upgrades in all aspects. There is so much content in this game, it’s just ridiculous.


Prelims and story

Just to get the timeline of the game straight, the events of Borderlands 2 starts 5 years after the events of the first Borderlands. In the five-year gap, a man by the name of Handsome Jack has taken over the Hyperion corporation and has made himself the Dictator of Pandora. He has taken credit of everything that the Vault Hunters from the previous game have done, from killing the Destroyer and finding the Vault. You, the four classes, are recruited by the Guardian Angel to dethrone Handsome Jack and to restore “peace” on Pandora. As a side note, the four characters you played in the first Borderlands are making a return as NPC’s, Non Playable Characters for the new gamers. They will be giving you quests to take down Handsome Jack.

Within this 5 year period, Handsome Jack ordered the destruction of all Claptraps. The only surviving Claptrap is the first one in Fyrestone from the first Borderlands. The Claptrap seeks revenge on Handsome Jack by giving you side quests. But Claptrap of course is goofy, His quests just have you running around tagging walls and vandalizing Handsome Jack’s establishments.
The towns of Borderlands 2 is completely different then the previous towns by adding NPC’s that actually talk to and give you quests to complete. Towns are now “living and breathing” with actual interactions. The environments in borderlands are connected now. Loading screens are minimal and maps are now relevant and easily readable. There are now weather environments like frozen tundras, lush grass lands, and wastelands. With these new environments, elemental enemies will pop up.  Enemies like Threshers will adapt to the weather conditions which will create challenges and obstacles if you don’t have the right weapons with you.


Character classes and skills

Variety in the first Borderlands was lacking. It did not make the game unplayable, but it did make it repetitive. In Borderlands 2, everything about character classes, from personal skill trees to action skills, variety is not a problem. Problems that were prominent in the first Borderlands with classes was that there was no defining difference when it came to using your Skill Trees. A lot of the skill trees had similar skills like health regeneration after killing an enemy, or higher ammo capacities in weapons. Classes now have extreme variety in the classes you choose. With the different classes, you have their different abilities and specializations. The classes are The Assassin, The Siren,The Gunzerker, and The Commando.

The Assassin’s name is Zero and is basically a cybernetic-like ninja in a wasteland. Even though Zero’s proficiency lies in stealth and his melee with his sword, Zero is proficient in long-range combat with the sniper. Zero is also about being as efficient as possible with his attacks. The Assassin’s Action Skill is Deception. Using Zero’s action skill provides allows the player to be invisible for a set amount of time while sending out a holographic distraction. The hologram distracts the enemy in front of you and “attacks” him. While the enemy is distracted and your invisible, you are able to attack enemies with a powerful melee attack. You can upgrade your Action Skill to show where your enemies weak points are when you are using it. The Assassins skill trees include 4 different Skill Trees. The Cunning Tree, The Sniping Tree, The Bloodshed Tree, and an unannounced Skill Tree. The Cunning Tree upgrades your Action Skill by increasing Deception time, decreasing cooldown time, Damage, and other aspects. The Sniping Tree is for, well, sniping. The Sniping Tree increases damage, stability, and weapon capacities. The Bloodshed Tree is solely for you sword. Although the sword is not an equippable weapon, it is upgradeable with increased damage, health and shield regeneration, and possible 1 hit kills.

Maya is the Siren Class in Borderlands 2, and like The Siren in the last Borderlands Maya is proficient with elemental weapons. She is more of a controlling role in the game with her Phaselock Action Skill. Her action skill lifts the targeted enemy in a phase-bubble and keeps them stationary for you to shoot at an easy, stationary target. The Phaselock Action Skill upgrades include slamming the locked enemy into the ground, or to even turn enemy A.I.s against each other. Maya’s individual Skill Trees include the Harmony Tree, the Motion Tree, The Cataclysm Tree, and an unnamed Tree. The Harmony Tree allows Maya to help her and her teammates by healing her self or to instantly revive someone with her action skill. The Motion Tree is all about survivability by increasing speed while shields are down, or increasing shield capacity, or increasing the cooldown rate of your action skill. Maya’s Cataclysm Tree is all about elemental increases and damage by increasing damage for elemental weapons, and adding elemental damage to the Phaselock Action skill.

The Gunzerker is your tank. Salvador is your meat-eating, blood drinking, duel wielding class. Salvador’s proficiency is using heavy-duty weapons like Support machine guns and rocket launchers. Salvador is more for the run in and leave nothing breathing class. Salvador’s action skill is Duel wielding. This is not a sub machine gun in one hand and a pistol in another, Salvador can hold any two weapons while duel wielding. That means a rocket launcher in one had and a machine gun in one. Salvador probably could be the most threatening force on the field. Salvador’s individual Skill Trees include a Rampage Skill tree, The Brawn Skill tree, his Gun Lust Skill tree, and his unnamed skill tree. The Rampage Skill Tree is all about upgrading his action skill by increasing the duration of the action skill, increasing magazine capacity, and decreasing the cool down time. His Brawn Skill tree is all about increasing his health and increasing damage with his mêlée and weapons. Salvador’s Gun Lust Skill Tree is all about weapon stats by increasing magazine capacities, one shot kills, and allows Salvador to use his Action Skill while down.

Axton is your Commando class and is a balanced with proficiency with all weapons. Axton, like Maya, is a control type class where your Action skill acts more as a distraction to enemies. The Commando’s Action Skill allows Axton to deploy his turret. Axton’s Turret is extremely customizable by adding elemental damage to it, rockets and even a nuke. The turret is just a deploy and forget distraction on the field at first to draw fire away from your character. If you decide that your Commando is just for turret use, you can just buff your turret up to deal loads of damage. Axtons Skill trees include The Guerrilla Tree, The Gunpowder Tree, The Survival Tree, and the unnamed tree. The Guerrilla tree is all about short-range engagements. There are no upgrades for precision weapons in the Guerrilla Tree as its more focused of getting up close and personal with your enemies. This also increases the aggressiveness of your turret. The Gunpowder Tree focuses on explosives and adds rocket pods on your turret. The Survival Tree is pretty self-explanatory. It’s all about staying on a defensive stance and staying alive by increasing health and defensive capabilities on the turret.

There is a fifth class called the Mechromancer. The Mechromancer is a downloadable class available 2 months prior to launch. Not a lot of information is released about the Mechromancer but concept art reveils that she has a digistruct called the D347-TP, Deathtrap. This will “beat the living s**t out of the enemies” according to Randy Pitchford.
All the characters are able to be visually customizable. Like in the first Borderlands, you can change your color, but now you are able to change articles of your clothing and visual appearances. For example, Salvador is able to have a baseball cap, hair, or be bald. This gives the player to actually feel his character is actually his or her own creation. With the addition of these customizations, if you played the first Borderlands you get an exclusive set of skins for your character. You still have a month and a half to play the first Borderlands to obtain these skins.

Loot (ranging from pistols to grenade mods)

My God, this section will be a huge, but bear with me. The Borderlands universe is centered around the idea of finding a loot. Every enemy you kill will drop some form of loot be it in the form of money, shields, guns, ammunition, or grenade mods. Depending on the strength of the enemy, normal fodder or your Badasses, will dictate the amount of loot and the rarity.
Loot chests are found everywhere in the game. With Borderlands 2, there are many different types of loot chests. Loot chests contain pretty much everything. Small safes contain money and ammo usually. Medium sized loot chests usually contain ammo, but can contain just weapons. Large crates can contain all types of loot besides cash. This goes the same with the Extra large crates. If you watch the gameplay videos all over, you will see there is more variety within the crates themselves.
Anyway, killing a fodder, a very  common,even leveled, or lower leveled enemy, will drop very common items. Items dropped by fodders are very cheap weapons like Tediores. Badasses are your “elite” enemies. If you are revisiting a previously conquered area, you are more likely to run into Badass enemies. Any wildlife badass you run into, like Skags and Threshers, will more than likely have an elemental theme to it.

Breaking down weapons go to multiple paths depending on play-style. You have your weapon manufactures, from manufactures you then have elemental types, then from elemental types you have types of weapons, then from types of weapons you have the guts of the gun which are fire rates, damage, reload speed, and accuracy. A lot of your weapon choices depend on your class and play-style. Certain characters specialize in certain weapons, but they all can use every weapon.

In the theme of weapons, you have multiple weapon manufacturers. Weapon Manufactures are very important when it comes to multiple variables. Variables include play-style, elemental type, fire rate, accuracy, damage, cost, and reload speed.
Tediore is a cheap weapon manufacturing  company. Specializing in fast reload speeds while maintaining an equal damage and accuracy, Tediore is your best bet when you are running low on money. A special addition to Tediore in Borderlands 2 include the ability to literally throw your weapon at your enemy. You can throw your Tediore weapon at any time at your enemy. Depending on how many bullets you have left in your clip will dictate how much damage your thrown Tediore weapon will do. Good weapon types for Tediore are combat rifles and sub-machine guns

Torgue specializes in high damage and fire rates. Tourge weapons have very high recoils which parallels to its low accuracy. Torgue weapons are usually used for close range combats, like shotguns and your heavy machine guns. Get in close and cut your enemies down.

Vladof weapons are known for their extremely high fire rates and recoil reduction.  Vladof suffers from very low reload speeds and abysmal accuracy. Same with Tourge, Vladof weapons focus on close range combat and support of your other mercenaries.  Vladof, however, do make decent mid range snipers with high fire rates.

S&S Munitions will not be returning. Replacing S&S is Bandit. Like S&S, Bandit specialize in high magazine capacity. Bandits over the past 5 years, have started making their own weapons.  Bandit weapons are easily distinguishable with their junk type modifications to their weapons, be it glass bottle scopes and nuts and blots all over the weapon.

Maliwan make extremely high-tech, futuristic weapons. Specilizing in elemental types and higher tech regeneration of ammo, Maliwan is your best bet when it comes to weapons. With these additions, minor improvements of accuracy and reload speeds make Maliwan weapons a little more expensive than other weapons. Maliwan weapons in Borderlands were always the more high-tech looking weapons always having a very glossy blue and purple appearance. Since there is a visual makeover of all the weapons in Borderlands 2, expect Maliwan’s elemental weapons to be the most unusual looking weapons.

Jakobs take power and accuracy over any aspect of weapons. Snipers and revolvers are Jakobs’ key weapons. A drawback to Jakobs is that they do not offer elemental improvements the lack high fire rates. Jakobs sniper rifles are pump-action and require at least a second to be fired again. Jakobs weapons are very distinguishable since they’re made out of wood.
Hyperion provides very high recoil reduction with accuracy shots over long distances. Drawbacks to Hyperion weapons include that they are rare to find in the wastelands and are expensive to buy in the vending machines. Hyperion is distinguishable with its crimson red and black color schemes.

Eridian weapons are only found in loot chests and badass enemies. They can not be purchased in vending machines. Eridian weapons are distinguishable due to their organic type of appearance, high damage, and unlimited ammo. The only drawback to Eridian weapons is their slow recharge speed.

Dahl weapons have High recoil Reduction but low accuracy. Dahl weapons are relatively cheap and specialize in combat rifles. Dahl is one of the big manufacturers in Borderlands. Dahl weapons appearance consist of different camouflage patterns

Atlas will not be returning to the game since the previous vault hunters killed General Knox and the destruction of the Armory.
The next variable to weapon choosing is elemental types. There are five elemental types in Borderlands Two from the four traditional types of elements in the  first Borderlands. The five elemental types in borderlands are fire, shock, caustic, blast, and slag, and each elemental type does extra damage to varieties of enemies. The fire element does extra damage to flesh, Shock dissipates shields faster, caustic is acidic where it eats away armor, blast just does extra damage. Slag is the new element and is effective on most enemies. What slag will do is weaken the enemy while increasing the damage of any weapon on the enemy that is slagged. Slag is refined from Eridium and can be used as a currency. Not much has been released on the slag being a form of currency.

Borderlands, as a series, is known for the gargantuan amount weapons. Borderlands 2 has twice as many weapons in it then its counterpart. One complaint that people had about Borderlands 1 is that there was very little variety of the weapons that are shown. The only thing that is different about the weapons in the first Borderlands is the stats and the name. Randy Pitchford Claims that when you pick up a weapon in Borderlands 2, you will be able to tell the manufacturer, type, and element. Each weapon will be unique in its own way.

When it comes to changes in shields and grenade mods, not much has been released. There are possibilities of combining two grenade mods and using them as one. This would be an interesting idea if you wanted to drastically change play-style. For example having a Proximity Mine mod and a Bouncing Bettie mod combined would actually create a Bouncing Bettie similar to the ones used in ww2 by Germans.



The enemies in the first Borderlands were very repeated and did vary depending on where you were. Bandits were everywhere and so were skags. But Spiderants and other wildlife did vary on where you were on pandora. Borderlands 2 however have different varities of enemies and depend on where you are in the world. For example, if you go to the new Hyperion city opportunity you will run into Hyperion robots and if you are in the pandora wasteland, you will run into bandits, skags, threshers, and so many other enemies. Then each enemy have different enemy types. Bandits have your normal fodders, then you have your shielded bandits, then you bruisers. Then after those enemy types you have the Badass types.

The Enemies in borderlands two have had a makeover also. When it comes to killing them, they will dodge, roll, run away, flank, burrow, and do anything possible to kill you and not die in the process. Threshers are good examples of this. Threshers are squid-like enemies that protrude from the ground and either try to smack you while your close and throw projectiles at your character. While you are shooting at the Thresher, it will burrow and move to a different site and will try to kill you from there. Enemy types in Borderlands have thankfully had a makeover hat made the last game very repetitive and sometimes boring.

There is a sense of camaraderie among the enemies, bandits specifically. A new enemy class known as the Nomad is part of the bandits. The Nomad is your commander of the bandits on the field but hates midgets. The Nomad is able to tell other bandits to throw grenades all at once, charge at you with mêlée weapons, basically to keep you on your toes. A side note on the midget hating part of the Nomad, he will strap a captured midget on his shield. If you are able to, you can shoot the ropes to free the midget so he can distract the Nomad so you can get a shot on the Nomad.Another example sense of camaraderie among enemies, The skag also has this ability. If threatened, a badass skag will use a buff to increase awareness and damage among his lesser Skags.

Interesting note: if you played the first borderlands, you have probably run into the Raak Hive. The thing was massive, right? Well expect something bigger then that in Borderlands 2. The Ultimate Loot Chest Edition of Borderlands contains a Creatures of Pandora wide format ID chart. This chart shows all the organisms in Borderlands 2. On the very edge of the chart there is a Raak Hive and next to it is just the legs of the biggest creature in Borderlands 2.


The quests system in borderlands 2 has also had a change through time constraints. For example, Tiny tina sends you out on a quest to find a certain bandit for her to take revenge on, you have a certain time limit to lure bandits into her area. If you miss the window, the quest is closed and can not be completed ever until you start a new character. There are quests that are supposedly game changing and change the story.

Completing quests have the usual rewards with loot and experience. It is important to realize that when you are assigned a quest with a time constraint, you have to complete that as soon as possible. Its pretty obvious, but so many people don’t take that into account. Tiny Tina is a good example of failing a quest. This thirteen year old is having a tea party, and she demands the attendance of the bandit know as Flesh Sticks. If you kill Flesh Sticks before getting him to Tina, I’m not going to ruin this quest by telling you how to get him there, the quest results in a failure and can not be completed in that play-through. You are also denied the reward of course.



Vehicles are of course making a return in this game. As the only means of transportation vehicles are an integral part of the game, be it vehicle combat or just running over hapless midgets. Runners now have the ability to drift, a very welcomed addition to the game. Vehicle combat in the first Borderlands was fairly dry and sometimes difficult, hopefully Borderlands two wont have you going in circles for 5 minutes trying to kill a bandit.

With the addition to the runner, there is a 4 person vehicle called The Technical. The Technical will have different weapon configurations depending on your play-style. Although Gearbox has introduced more vehicles in the game, they want you to explore and grab as much loot as you possibly can. Any two vehicles can be deployed at the same time during your co-op experience in Borderlands so don’t worry about having to be limited to one technical or one runner.

You have a ton of returning Characters, from the original Vault Hunters to Doctor Zed. They of course will give you side quests and information of the world around you, You also have new NPC’s like Tiny Tina and an unnamed obese woman that apparently crushes people with a trash compactor. Interesting. With the return of these characters, you can expect a lot of sarcastic and ridiculous humor, especially with Claptrap. Of course Claptrap will dance and command you to dance for his enjoyment, but hey, its Borderlands. The game is not supposed to make sense.

So many aspects of this game makes it exciting, from the loads of loot to the awesome musings of Claptrap. Gearbox is making their most ambitious game to date and so far its looking very promising. When it comes to major details of the game, Gearbox keeps it well under wraps, letting the player be surprised when he or she plays it. Enjoy slaughtering the masses of enemies and gathering your loot September 18.

Leave a Reply