Grizzly Gaming

Friday, September 14, 2012

Borderlands 2 preview: Is it Sept. 18 yet?

Is next Tuesday yet? Well, how about now? No? Ok it’s been a few more minutes, it’s gotta be the 18th by now…

“Borderlands 2” by Gearbox Software is finally hitting shelves next Tuesday, Sept. 18 and if you couldn’t tell, I’ve been anxiously awaiting its release for what feels like years. After tearing through the original game and its numerous DLC packs, I’ve been hanging on literally every piece of news about the sequel that I can gather. I’m not the only one out there struggling with the wait until the 18th and Gearbox knows it – which is why they’ve been posting pictures like this on their official Facebook account:

So to pass the time until “Borderlands 2” is released, I’ve been endlessly creating different character skill trees which the folks at Gearbox have graciously provided on the game’s official website. If you visit, click on “Characters,” select any of the four new characters and then click “Skill Tree,” you’ll be able to not only view each of that character’s three skill trees, but you’re also given 50 points to play with – as many as a completely leveled-up character would have.

Since the Soldier was my class of choice last game, Axton the Commando is most likely going to be the first character I create. His skills are similar to Roland’s except that he is more geared toward offensive output than Roland, who had numerous skills dedicated to healing/protecting teammates (many of those healing powers now belong to the Siren, Maya), though Axton does get a skill that encircles his turret with a protective shield but other than that, his skills deal mostly with dealing damage. Also, I’d recommend pursuing the Guerrilla tree to get the most out of your turret. Though the skills to add a shield or Longbow abilities to your turret are in other trees, Guerrilla will increase its fire rate, add missile pods as well as add a second gun to your turret that fires Slag rounds (a new elemental power that make affected enemies take extra damage). Though the Survival tree will eventually let you throw two turrets and if you get creative enough, you’ll eventually be able to throw two shielded turrets with maxed out rates of fire, accuracy as well as missile pods. But these are only a few of the numerous different skills combinations possible for just one character in “Borderlands 2.”

In the course of messing around with the various skill trees, you’ll get a better understanding of that character’s strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, though, with the way the skill trees are laid out now, I’ve noticed that you’ll only earn enough points to fully upgrade one tree - meaning you would do well to focus on one tree enough to unlock its most powerful skill. As you can tell, the choices in character creation is almost endless and will have you agonizing over where to invest every newly earned skill point. Don’t worry though, you’ll be able to re-allocate your skill points at any time during the game – for a price. The more skill points you have to redistribute, the more money a re-allocation is going to cost you.

If you’d like a more visual introduction to “Borderlands 2,” spend a few minutes watching “And introduction by Sir Hammerlock,” one of the new NPC characters you’ll meet in the game:

But the additions to “Borderlands 2” go way past just new characters and skills. Though you won’t be able to build or customize weapons, you’ll be able to customize the visual style of your character with new outfit pieces, hair styles or clothing colors. These changes are just cosmetic but will let you differentiate your character from the rest.

In the first “Borderlands” if you found a weapon you wanted to keep but couldn’t use (say, a unique boss weapon) you’d probably be forced to sell it off eventually to make inventory space for usable guns. A storage system was eventually released as part of the Mad Moxxi DLC but it was only available in areas included with the DLC. That feature is a standard part of “Borderlands 2.” Not only that, but you’ll now be able to trade weapons amongst the various characters on your profile meaning that sniper rifle your berserker found won’t just automatically need to be sold to make room in your inventory.

If you preordered “Borderlands 2” through Gamestop, you’ll receive a number of awesome bonuses. First, you get a pack of unique Gearbox weapons to start your character off as well as a Golden Key to open a special loot chest in the main hub, Sanctuary. You’ll also be able to download the new Mechromancer class when it is released as DLC on October 16. This new class is able to summon a massive robot to fight alongside you in battle – and it’s free if you bothered to preorder the game. But that’s not all – you also get access to the Creature Slaughter Dome, an enemy-attack mode similar to Mad Moxxi’s Underdome, except this time you actually earn XP and weapons (unlike the Underdome, which only rewarded you with guns for finishing rounds – and no XP). I’ve also just read that the item you get out of the Golden Key chest scales to the level of the character that opens it, so you may want to hold off until you have a few levels under your belt before cracking it open.

But perhaps more than anything listed above, I’m very interested in experiencing the plot of “Borderlands 2.” Though I adore the first game, plot and storytelling was not one of its strong aspects. For the sequel, however, Gearbox has spent a considerable amount of time not only creating interesting characters for the player to assume but has spent time creating a recognizable villain for the game – Handsome Jack. A lot has happened on Pandora since the first game and Jack has been the driving force behind of most of those changes so I’m very interested to learn more about him, see how he acts and find out just what he has in store for Pandora this time around.

“Borderlands 2” is shaping up to be the game I spend the majority of my time with in the remainder of 2012. With all the spectacular upgrades to the gameplay and the formula, this is one game you’ll want to experience with friends. And even more people will be able to get in on the action this time now that players on splitscreen will be able to play online with others (something not possible in the first game). Even the skill tree screen has been refined so that people playing on splitscreen will be able to more easily navigate their abilities.

So…is it next Tuesday yet?


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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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