This week sees the release of Borderlands 2, the much anticipated sequel to the shooter-cum-RPG sleep hit of 2009. After three years in development developer Gearbox are promising a refined & no-less crazy experience right out of the box. So as the days tick away until Friday’s release, we at infinite robots set out what we want to see in this second slice of gun-porn mayhem…
Something Approaching a Story
The first Borderlands took a lot of risks by combining FPS action with RPG levelling. But whilst Gearbox were seamlessly weaving these two genres together, some parts of the game like the narrative were left a little underdone. Despite a cast of cannibals, claptraps, bandits & aliens the story boiled down to some ghostly voice overs and numerous monsters with vaginas for faces. Freudian analysis aside, lead developer Randy Pitchford has promised that building a coherent narrative that develops throughout the game is a key focus this time around.
Revamped Hit Detection
Borderlands had a lot of guns. And we mean a lot of guns. But for all the shotguns with 4x damage or sniper rifles with a corrosive element there was a ton if issues with hit detection. Single shot weapons like sniper rifles & revolvers weren’t so bad but anything like assault rifles or shotguns felt more like a game of Pandoran roulette Compared to the intricate bullet physics of Halo 3: ODST (released the same year), Borderlands felt in dire need of a physics overhaul. During our hands on preview earlier this year the weapons all felt deadly, precise & more importantly different in Borderlands 2 so the signs are definitely good.
A Little Environmental Variety
To complete the main campaign & most of the side missions Borderlands will usually take around thirty hours to complete (excluding the four DLC packs). And for most of that thirty hours you’ll find yourself gunning around the same kind of environments & dungeons over & over again. If you like junkyards & sand-blasted plains then Borderlands will definitely get your boat swaying, but the for the rest of us it smacked of lazy designs. When we play-tested the game at Rezzed 2012 we shot our way through futuristic cityscapes, dockyards & rolling tundra so expect a greater focus on shifting design styles.
A Balanced Mix of Enemy Types
Like bandits? Like midget bandits? Like dog-like lizard things? Like fighting a ton of these things? Well the first Borderlands is definitely for you. Go buy it now? If you like a little more variety to your enemy types then here’s hoping Borderlands 2 steps up to the plate. Whilst something like Halo or Call of Duty use similar enemy types across their campaigns, these missions tend to be linear and timed to keep the action focused & fast-paced. By stripping away that safety net of linearity Borderlands became a huge set of maps littered with various mixes of the same enemy types. It’s a tough problem to overcome but after three years in development here’s hoping Gearbox have found a way to spice things up a bit.
More of the Same!
Ultimately, for all its niggling flaws Borderlands is still a unique FPS experience. No other shooter combines RPG & shooter elements in a way that transcends the single-player & multiplayer divide. Brink valiantly tried to do the same thing, but even all these years later Borderlands is still an addictive experience solo & with friends. If Borderlands 2 can retain that character & design style we all know from the first game & revitalise it with some new ideas & concepts then we could have a contender for game of the year.
Borderlands 2 is released in Europe for PC, Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3 this Friday. So is Borderlands 2 on your to-do list for 2012? Or is it just not for you? Let us know in the comments below. Keep it infinite!