Borderlands 2 feels a little rough around the edges
Gearbox Software and 2K Games’ western-themed role-playing shooter is back, but not much has changed in three years. On the face of it, Borderlands 2 is still very much the same game; playing as one of four character classes, you undertake quests that involve a lot of killing to gain experience points which in turn let you level up your character, unlocking a slew of cool abilities unique to each class. The planet Pandora serves as the setting this time around as well, but you’ll get to experience and explore different sections of the planet, meet strange, curious people and creatures (most of whom want to kill you) as well as discover elusive treasures (mostly big guns, explosive things) and that rare mineral, ‘Eridium’. But let’s start at the beginning.
‘Vault Hunter’ is a term players of Borderlands will be more than familiar with. It’s been five years since the original four Vault Hunters, Roland, Lilith, Mordecai and Brick found the all-too-elusive Vault, only to discover the alien creature known as ‘The Destroyer’ in it. They killed it, of course, leaving Pandora with several deposits of the rare and valuable mineral Eridium. This drew a few eyeballs to say the least, a couple of which belonged to Handsome Jack of the Hyperion Corporation (manufacturers of weapons and death-dealing equipment, mostly). Jack mines the Eridium and pretty much takes over the planet, which he now rules in a lovely tyrannical sort of way. But there’s a rumour of a bigger, better vault in Pandora which again draws in Vault Hunters from across the galaxy. This is where you come in.
This time around, you get to pick from four vault hunting classes: the Commando, the Gunzerker, the Assassin and the Siren. An additional class, the Mechromancer will be available to download as DLC mid-October. Each class has its unique special ability as well as different upgradeable attributes when levelling up. The class names themselves give you an idea of what each one is capable of, but it’s worth mentioning that the Assassin (named ‘Zero’) is a pretty cool looking ninja-type character with a brutal melee attack — and it’s no surprise Gearbox have revealed that he is the most played character by Borderlands 2 players.
In addition to the new classes, Borderlands 2 features a bevy of new features. Firstly, the loot randomisation engine has been upgraded, giving rise to the possibility of even more guns and equipment than the first game. There are new four-seater vehicles which are sure to make co-op games infinitely more fun. The game also features a ‘true’ open-world, which means that mission areas will not be ‘boxed’ in —players will be able to leave main quest locations, explore other areas and return (useful when ammo is in short supply, for instance). Enemy AI has been overhauled as well, resulting in smarter foes who take cover when hurt, heal allies and are intelligent enough to pursue players. The effects of the new features are quite evident during gameplay — enemies, for example are definitely more formidable, and there’s a real sense of the game world being a lot more open, but everything’s not perfect.
Let’s start with the new interface — it’s cluttered, clunky and a pain to navigate. The new ‘true’ open-world comes with its fair share of bugs, resulting in a quest system that almost feels broken as a result of scripting issues — the side missions in particular suffer from it. There’s also a ridiculous amount of unnecessary traversing required, thanks to poorly spaced checkpoints and infrequently placed ‘Catch-A-Ride’ terminals. Moreover, the save system doesn’t always work as advertised, with the game placing the player at a random locations (more whimsical than logical) on reload.
Simply put, Borderlands 2 feels buggy, annoying, and at times, completely broken —even when it’s not. That’s because you know there’s an amazing experience under all the annoying stuff, and the fact that you’re not able to get to it makes it frustrating. The truth is that it’s just a little rough around the edges, and that’s all right. Borderlands 2 is available on PC, PS3 and X360.