The biggest game of the month -- and quite possibly the year -- is almost upon us. If you’re in the US, Borderlands 2 has just become available. If you’re in Australia, it’s just two days away!
Here are seven reasons you should be super excited for the launch of Borderlands 2 on September 18 in the US, and September 20 in Australia.
Possible Game of the Year
It’s early. It would be a big call. Borderlands 2 may well be Game of the Year. It’s without doubt a strong contender, and for now it will have to make do with that. In what little I’ve played of Borderlands 2, it’s clearly vastly superior to its predecessor, a game much loved and considered one of the best 2009 had to offer.
It’s almost astonishing to see how much a game already revered with fans and critics alike can go on to improve itself like Borderlands 2. Gearbox has largely stuck to its guns, and kept the same formula that worked so well in the original, and then gone right ahead and tweaked everything to present a magnificently polished overall product.
If there was one resounding complaint about Borderlands, it was in reference to its, at times, pitiful artificial intelligence. In hindsight, it was fairly basic and ”yous ain’t a smart people” would be a fair like-minded description of even the higher level enemies.
Borderlands 2 has done away with all that and its -- in abundance of 300 -- different types of enemies have gained some smarts. Higher level opponents will actively work together to conspire against your quest to survive, and may even outsmart you and your virtual colleagues.
Choose your real-life friends wisely.
Industry Leading Co-op
Borderlands was headlined by its co-op experience. In fact, if you didn’t take it online, you were missing out and almost playing a different game. Since then, little has rivalled the experience, particularly when it comes to RPG-action shooters.
Borderlands 2 continues where its predecessor left off. It’s best played with a total of 4 players -- ideally the same four players from start to finish, and gamers you know well. That’s somewhat challenging with a campaign in excess of 35 hours, before you factor in all the ‘gone lootin’ time. If you want to go retro, offline split-screen supports two players. Remember that?
Whilst it's easy to get lost in loot when playing solo, you’ll be noticeably more quest and enemy focused when another two, three or four players join the foray. Enemies become more difficult and there’s a camaraderie developed between your group of allied players scarcely seen in video games.
Loot has gone next-generation with Borderlands 2: weapons, ammo, mods and even character designs. There’s always something better than the scummy old model you possess to aspire for.
The quest for loot in Borderlands 2 will consume you; if it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. Finding a rare or unexpected item is just as satisfying as slaying a horde of enemies or completing a milestone quest. It’s an integral part of the Borderlands 2 experience, and something you won’t realise means so much until you’re 25 hours in and murmuring “my precious” at the screen.
Exploration Doesn’t Get Better Than This
Borderlands felt like it had a massive world full of nothing to see. There was little to explore, and while I understand the concept of a quest, sometime it’s fun to get side-tracked by something out of leftfield that nobody in your crew expected to find.
Borderlands 2 does just that. With a more diverse environment, you’ll find yourself easily side-tracked as you uncover new quests and explore unexpected nooks and crannies in the search for more epic loot.
Borderlands 2 comes with four all new classes to choose from. Whilst you could follow a similar route, it’s a great opportunity to mix up your style of play, and fans will want to play through it again as another character.
Maya the Siren: Maya’s special skill is the “Phase Lock” which allows her to suspend enemies in a bubble of air. It can be upgraded to become more menacing.
Axton the Commando: Axton is the next evolution of the soldier. He can deploy a Dahl Sabre Turret, which can be upgraded with a longbow and even become a multi-rocket launcher and a portable nuke.
Salvador the Gunzerker: The Gunzerker was my favourite character when I first previewed the game earlier this year because he is so badass. It’s the perfect class for anyone dying to dual-wield weapons and blow things up much more quickly.
Zer0 the Assassin: The Assassin class is the opposite of the Gunzerker and tailored towards stealth. The Decepti0n ability allows Zer0 to deploy a holographic decoy of itself and essentially disappear.
Bigger Really Does Mean Better
Every sequel markets itself as bigger and better. In the case of Borderlands 2, it is actually true. Everything about the game is more refined, more polished more...better. It retains the essence of what made Borderlands so good and fixes its, now, obvious shortcomings.
Whilst still not perfect, the improvements are to facets of gameplay that Borderlands players will appreciate. If you didn’t like the original Borderlands, stay clear, the sequel has no intentions of winning you over.
If you were a fan, prepare to fall in love. Borderlands 2 knows how you like it.
By Ben Salter
Borderlands 2 will be released in Australia on September 20 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.