2k Games was in full effect at PAX, bringing in two high profile sequels: Borderlands 2 and The Darkness 2. After sitting in on the showing of 2k and Gearbox’s second go-round in the Borderlands universe, it’s clear that they aren’t holding anything back.
The first thing one will notice when watching the play-through is we’re still on Pandora, but five years after where the first game left off. Since we’ve last visited the planet, a bit has changed. In Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack has crowned himself Dictator of Pandora after claiming credit for finding the Vault and slaying the Destroyer. The world also has a new sense of darkness as Jack blocked out the light with a base on the moon. The first environment we saw was snow-covered, so it appears that the weather may be affected by the moon base as well.
The enemies take damage specific to where it is inflicted on them and you’ll notice them limping or favoring areas that have been wounded. Of course, what fun is wounding the baddies if you can’t do it with some new weaponry. All of the favorite gun manufactures are back, but they come bearing some improvements. For example, every gun from Vladof comes with a gatling attachment. Even the pistols. You’ll be pumping round after round into anyone who gets close. Added to the mix in Borderlands 2 are guns from the Bandits, who now create their own weapons out of scraps of metal. There’s also a new type of gun called the TDR, which is unique in that rather than reloading you simply chuck it at your enemy. Don’t worry, you get multiple ones so you don’t just lose it completely.
If you’re not into guns and prefer to run things over, vehicles are back with 4-person incarnations. The physics have also changed a bit and the shocks and reactionary motion of the vehicles have been improved as well, though running over enemies no longer kills them instantly. You’ll have to back up a few times to make sure they’re dead.
Navigation has been improved by an added mini-map on the HUD. No more need to pause and bring up the map so you can figure out where you’re going rather than just running into a wall trying to get to the objective. The user interface changes didn’t stop there. A new, gorgeous look to the menus and leveling system will make you look even more forward to applying your stat points.
As far as gameplay, it’s the same old Borderlands that everyone knows and loves with a few added perks. Perhaps the most momentous occasion in the demo was when things started to get a little hairy when the player got overwhelmed and the call to kill was answered with duel-wielded weapons. You’ll be able to duel-wield any weapons you want, no combination is off limits. Want to launch rockets with one hand and spray shotgun rounds with the other? Do it, you sadist.
You’re going to need to inflict all the damage you possibly can with the new enemy AI. They take cover, call for backup, and just generally do not mess around. You’ll be facing some new enemies but don’t worry, all your favorite assailants have returned, including Psychos and Bad Asses. You’ll have plenty of bad guys to worry about too, as the warring of the factions has evolved. There’s constant conflict going on, and you’ll notice a lot of fighting even if you’re not involved.
While you’ll be playing through plenty of quests and missions, it was promised that there will be a lot fewer fetch-and-find style missions. The game is also completely dynamic so if you fail a mission, the game changes and presents different quests. The story works its way in, weaving missions together, and it’s shaping up to be a bit of an epic. The part that was shown in the demo displayed the new siren, Maya, and gunzerker, Salvador, in a battle to save Roland, who was captured. As the player is fighting to save him, the freaking moon launches rockets at them. Yeah, that happens.
If you dug the first Borderlands, you’re going to like Borderlands 2. It looks like they took a system that works and actually fixed things and made it better; Crazy concept for a sequel. Look out for Borderlands 2 in 2012.