Despite its wild success the original Borderlands was not for everyone, and this was arguably because it didn’t do the best job of explaining itself. Shooter fans were free to ignore the grind, and follow the main story pathways until their pitiful skill levels prevented them from progressing. Conversely, some hardened RPG nuts grew tired of the ceaseless emphasis on gunplay; both camps misjudging the game’s ability to quietly adapt to each player. For newcomers, Borderlands 2 isn’t any more explicit about what it’s offering, but everything about it is improved. Best of all, there’s actually a discernible plot this time – which incidentally manages to not constrict the open nature of play one iota – and levelling up a character has never been this involved… or addictive.
Borderlands 2 expands upon the original game’s relentless obsession with firearms, and now allows you to pledge your undying allegiance to a particular weapon manufacturer if you so wish. Guns made by a specific operator now come with their own set of unique perks, and using these in tandem with others during co-op play will make you feel like an unstoppable powerhouse… which shouldn’t ever distract you away from the grind. Sorting through your loot has also been streamlined beautifully; you can instantly label something as trash to be sold at the next available vending station or store, or as a keeper to be adopted once you’ve levelled up to meet its specifications.
A mini-map has been introduced – though the fact that it can’t be switched off may rile the cognoscenti – and of the boundless array of minor gameplay tweaks, our favourite was the fact that under-powered weapons no longer frustratingly auto-equip. The world of Pandora is fully engaging too; the perpetual wastelands of the original now embellished with sumptuous new environments and a vast bevy of flaky citizens to interact with. Some of the most distinctive and memorable places in Pandora are either discovered by accident or via the odd side-mission, and re-treading old ground is something that you’re asked to do far, far less than you were in the first game.
If value for money is a concern, be assured that Borderlands 2 offers up a frankly obscene amount of content. As with the original, going solo is a vastly different experience to battling through it alongside a single co-op partner, which in turn isn’t the same as tackling it with two or three. More fundamentally though, the classes are much more varied than they were last time; the number of exclusive unlocks, weapons, upgrades and perks for each clan has been broadened significantly. There’s more emphasis on grandstanding set-pieces, more emphasis on comedy and a greater push to offer up as many disparate gameplay experiences as physically possible. A massive game in every respect, and basically essential.
Borderlands 2 is available now on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Watch the official launch trailer for Borderlands 2 below: