The Average Gamer

Hands On Borderlands 2 with Tiny Tina

Borderlands 2 Maya Character Customisation
Guns, yeah?

There’s a lot to Borderlands 2. There’s a quest system that provides interesting mission structure peppered with insane dialogue, self awareness to nearly distracting levels, characters you’re just pumped to be around and a relatively open world filled with variety and coated with beautiful near-cel shaded art.

But, boy howdy, there are a lot of guns in that game.

I managed a good 90 minute spurt at level 25 with Axton, the commando; following on from having played the previous entry through as a soldier this seemed to make the most sense. The new class plays similarly but is improved to huge degrees.

Like before, this character’s main draw is their ability to call upon a turret for assistance in combat. It was previously plagued with issues like the rotation arc being limited to shooting things positioned in front of it and once called the player would have to wait for it to run out, then suffer a cooldown period before being able to summon it again.

Now the turret can shoot a full 360 degrees and can be recalled if you’re dissatisfied with the placement. There’s still a cooldown on throwing it out again, but this is sped up significantly if you reel it back in. These improvements perhaps sound relatively minor, but they’re the kind of considerations that seem to rise from either responding closely to fan criticism or deeply close development consideration.

During this play session I was tasked with meeting the bomb maker Tiny Tina and contracting her help. Tina’s somewhat of a, putting it lightly, complete lunatic. She talks using odd terminology that’s better suited to Lil Jon or a gaggle of Valley Girls (badonkadonk, crunk et al) rather than a 14 year old whose outlook on life seems removed from all reality, preferring to assume that her dolls are real people and overly happy to murder pretty much anyone.

Tina’s hosting a tea party and needs you to round up some guests, two of whom are toys that have been left scattered in precarious positions. The third, the bandit that killed her parents.

The dolls are found easily enough though not necessarily collected with the same simplicity: one was misplaced outside a nearby house; the other in the nest of a difficult miniboss.

By luck, after several attempts to dispatch it I’d managed to stumble upon a weapon that made short work of her; a Gatling gun with a round magazine that shot as fast as you could pull the trigger and absolutely ate ammo. It started what is likely going to be a lifelong appreciation and loyalty for one of the in-game gun brands.

Each gun is made with randomised parts and the stats reflect this. In the previous game it would be noted that the guns were made by specific manufacturers and this gave gameplay benefits, but this didn’t really denote anything visually. In Borderlands 2 the manufacturers have specific styles have even more impact on gameplay and now have their own artistic styles. Some brands look very futuristic, others look shoddy and inferior. One brand considered to make cheap and disposable weapons, when reloaded, results in the gun being thrown at the target for extra damage. My gun was a Jakobs, which are designed to look like artisanal hand-crafted weaponry and pack a massive punch to any attacks, but will never have any elemental damage attached.

After collecting the dolls Tina needed me to kite the bandit back to her base without killing him; he was promptly stuffed into an electrified chair. Tina then needed me to defend her from swarming waves of other bandits coming to his rescue while he was continually shocked.

When the waves are dealt with, the bandit is electrocuted to death and Tina’s Party is over. She presents you with a souvenir of the experience: A shocking neon-pink pistol.

Though your guns and levelling up are tied solely to the character class you’re currently playing, Borderlands 2 has included a new system called “badass points” that allow for character progression in any class you choose to play after in your profile. These can be used to pick assorted random gameplay benefits like faster reloading or dealing slightly more damage. This means that by playing the game as your Commando for a while, when you want to roll a Gunzerker they’ll already be slightly better.

Saying that Borderlands 2 is more Borderlands isn’t a slight. It’s More Borderlands in about every sense.

Borderlands 2 will be out on 21st September in the UK for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Preorder it for access to the “Borderlands Premiere Club”, which includes an additional area, rare “golden key” and yet more guns.