The Big Gap gabs about: Borderlands 2

Vault-hunting bloggers Pearlyn and Junch breakdown Gearbox Software’s latest BAJILLION GUNS RPG-Shoot-em-up fest Borderlands 2.  We played a fair bit of it, and now we will tell you what we thought of it.  And be warned, minor spoilers.  

Junch: So, Borderlands 2.  Better than the first?

Perr: Definitely.

Junch:  But at the same time, it feels more like Borderlands 1.5. Like the Borderlands we should’ve gotten the first time round but who’s to say that sequels are always supposed to reinvent the wheel anyway?  And not to mention, the co-op drop in, drop out aspect has been vastly improved.  In fact, I am always so wary of RPG games that have co-op features, and how they handle completion progression for the individual and as a group.  I was surprised when I found that even if I went ahead of my own game in a co-op party, when I returned to my own game, I was given the option to “skip” the parts that I’d already done in multiplayer.  That’s cool.

Perr: It has this addictive quality to it.  I always tell myself “this is my last hour” and then the next thing I know, it’s 2AM and I have a meeting 7 hours later.  I’m never really a loot whore.  I’m more obsessed with character building, and I love how they kept the reset skill mechanic because then the only replays I have to do is for the other classes, and not for the same character.

Junch: Yes, that’s definitely a plus.  I mean, I’m an elitist gamer – always playing on hardcore whenever I can and whatnot, but this game is forgiving, but not intrusively so.  So those who snub their nose at the less-than-hardcore types won’t be offended by this game.  Actually, the whole game just reeks of cool.  You don’t feel pressured to play to the “best of your ability” at any time.  It’s just you, a whole bunch of guns, your friends, and shooting people dead.

Perr: But there is no story.

Junch: Yes.  That’s a poo in my books.

Perr: Ok there is, but we’re busy blasting the faces off of badass psychos.

Junch:  But perhaps that alleviates the stress of having too many things to focus on, but I would like for once in my life to have an RPG, an action-RPG anyway to have a story.  Cause Fallout doesn’t count, that’s a Story-RPG.

Perr: It’s tough for Borderlands 2.  The combat is so crazy and life-consuming that if I had a child I would neglect it while I played Borderlands 2.  It’s probably the best thing about the game.

Junch: Hahahahh, yes I think that’s what you meant when you say “compulsive”. Sticky, frictiony gameplay.  The constant popping of numbers and flashes of color and jingles.  It’s like being at a casino and all these things keep getting thrown in your face whether it’s loot or more bad guys to kill.

Perr: But that’s what it always has been.

Junch: Yeah.

Perr: Over the top.

Junch: So what’s changed?  I think it’s the fact that they made it even more over the top. Case in point: the goliath bad guy. You shoot his face mask off and he becomes this raging hulk thing.  If you leave him alone long enough, he will actually become GODliath.

Perr: Yeah, he levels up when he kills someone else.

Junch: And that’s I think, indicative of the whole game, it’s like a massive slap in the face of sensory overload.  Which is refreshingly nice.  No game has gone out of their way to be as bombastic in recent times as Borderlands 2.  Everyone else is trying to be uber realistic.

Perr:Oh yea, I have to mention in this review about my rat thief treasure of disgusting proportions.  There is a really populated place in Lynchwood after braving the train track farce,  you get to go to this really barren area of conveyor belts and old beaten houses.  And I realised, omg, why are there so many enemies around here?  It was the perfect place for a sneaky bitch called the rat thief to pick your pocket.

Junch: So it was actually more like a scripted event,  but unsuspectedly so.

Perr: And for me, I really hate it when people sneak up on me or hang around too close (ironic because i’m a shotgun user).  So I notice that there’s this midget trying to get behind me, so I blast it in the face and with its name “thief” I just assume that it’s going to steal my money.  I yell, “no, bitch!” and while my teammates are finishing off the rest of the enemies, I realise there is a smattering of un-picked loot lying around  so one by one I go fetch them, then realise that there’s this one money stack that’s not marked in yellow.  I pick it up anyway, and the money counter on the right is like 11089022dasflkjd.  Then I ask everyone, err, does everyone have 100k now?  I just picked up a lot of money.  And everyone’s saying, “huh? no, maybe a couple of hundred”.  When I check my inventory the money has commas for denominations and realise I have something like 12 MILLION DOLLARS.

Junch: Holy shit!

Perr: Then I tell my mates, oi! I HAVE 12 MILLION DOLLARS YOU GUYS YOU SURE YOU DON’T HAVE ANY.  Then everyone’s like omgomgomg so lucky?!  It’s shit like this that makes Borderlands 2 surprising.

Junch: Yeah, it’s like Randy Pitchford (he of gearbox chiefdom) says “fuck it lets just do that thing here”.

Perr: Seriously, who ever thinks of a ridiculous randomized drop like that?

Junch: Without rhyme or reason, but that’s kudos to Gearbox.  They make some stellar games but they are cool in their own way.  I mean we all know that Valve is the king of cool but Gearbox feels like the rebel younger bro who does weed and drugs and shit, and doesn’t need to prove how clever it is, like its older brother Valve.  It’s like “check out this painting I did, it’s whacked out but funky” – that’s Borderlands 2.  I especially adore Tiny Tina, nothing comes close right now in terms of amazingly awesome NPCs.  Just being in her presence, can bring a smile to any cynical face and her backstory is just damn tragic.

Perr: I feel like she’s my sister.

Junch: She’s the little sister I want also.

Perr: “a’ight, imma catch you a ratty bandit with a mohawk so you can electrocute him for your tea party with a jar of varkid larvae and a stuffed princess”

Junch: lol

Perr: Really well-written.

Junch: Yeah, the characters are well written –  which brings me to the next point.  Probably the most prominent character: Handsome Jack, they try to make him out to be this charismatic villain or ok, I don’t know, I just see him as extremely douchey.

Perr: He is.

Junch: But maybe that’s the point too.

Perr: I usually skip through his lengthy monologues if I can.

Junch: I’m not listening half the time.

Perr: Maybe the point was to create someone annoying enough to make you want to defeat.

Junch: The chattery gets a bit way too much sometime.  I mean Claptrap is not any less interesting but he is annoying still lol.

Perr: I went to his party.  He gave me pizza.  If you think about it, there aren’t many characters that actually resonate with you.  Just people you are familiar with.  I mean, how many people really care about what Angel’s talking about?  Or what Lilith does for that matter?  Some cool things happen, like with Sanctuary going up in the sky going “suck it” to Hyperion.

Junch: Yeah, or Bloodwing dying.  That was the extent of my emotional connection.

Perr: Or that you meet some of the old characters from the first game.

Junch: I mean it’s cool they brought back the old characters and how they are revealed slowly one after the other.  But once you gave them voices, they became instantly unlikable.  Except for Bloodwing, that was some sad shit.

Perr: Yea, you feel sad about Bloodwing because it bears some residual sentimentality from the first game and that you know that Mordecai loves that bird unhealthily.

Junch: I mean, its his daemon after all.

Perr: I’m just a bird.  Eating bandit eyeballs, pooping on your car,  I’m an innocent.

Junch: Hahahah on that note.  It sucks that none of the new chars have a pet like Bloodwing except for the upcoming Mechromancer and her robot.

Perr: Well Dukino is my dog, so I have no complaints.  How do you feel about being an Assassin?

Junch: Honestly I like it.  He is probably the most unassuming of the classes but I can’t stress how important it is that I can place a decoy in the heat of frenzied battle.  It’s especially useful when I solo the game because it can get quite overwhelming and the samurai sword does sick damage up close.

Perr: Would you pick up another class once you’re done?  Or that’s it?

Junch: Probably Siren.  I’ve always had a thing for either sneaky or magicky.  How do you feel playing the Siren?  Is it any different from the first game?

Perr: I didn’t play Siren from the first game, so I can’t say anything about that but I picked Siren because looking at her skill tree, she seemed like a very versatile, balanced choice.  I usually don’t go for the balanced characters, but I wanted to be able to explore the character and combat in very different ways and Siren seemed to offer that. My playstyle is really being in the thick of battle.  I’d run up and shotgun someone’s face, turn left and phaselock someone as a distraction to go help my mate.

Junch: Yeah, we work well together see, cause I like to totes hang back, shoot the shit and collect the loot everyone else on my team is dropping from dead bad guys.  Haha, I’m always the first to loot shamelessly.

Perr: Yea, and that kind of being able to just switch styles immediately was what made playing a Siren pretty great or maybe just the way I built her.  I mostly have the points in cataclysm, but I have a foot in the kinetic skill tree too.  I very much like the gunplay and mixing it up with phaselock, and I use weapons that traditionally have small magazine sizes, so it made sense to go into the kinetic skill tree and place the main focus on damage dealing.

Junch: Yeah, lets speak about the guns a bit now cause obviously that’s one of the selling points of the game: 87 BAZILLION GUNS.

Perr: Those guns are crazy.

Junch: Does feel that way does it?  But yet it feels so natural.

Perr: I can’t get over how noisy this gun I have is.  It’s a reward.  I think you have it too.

Junch: You have the talking gun?

Perr: Yeah.

Junch: I don’t believe I do.

Perr: I think her name is Rosy.

Junch: It’s a sidequest I haven’t picked up.  But it’s so cool that they had that I mean, I can hear it everytime Ray uses it.

Perr: Ray’s gun is really sarcastic with him. Mine is very supportive when I make kills.  I dont’ know if that’s intentional or just so happened that I got the good randomized talking bits.

Junch: Oh my god, but thats amazing.  That there is even variety in that but yeah, that speaks true of the entire game’s concept on guns.  I think there are no two guns that are the same out there.  I like that they tie in more heavily to a “brand”, like you know Jacobs has the fire power but its slow.  The mythbuilding is even deep on that level which is a mark of even more great writing and game design.

Perr: And I like that high-powered weapons are not out of reach for low levels.  I mean, I still have my mirv grenades from level 16 that spawns 9 child grenades.

Junch:Yeah that’s the thing, I used a low level sniper for a great duration of the game.  I guess in the grand scheme of games this year, Borderlands 2 is definitely a stand out experience.  But I definitely prefer it cooperative then played alone.  I can’t just seem to enjoy it solo, maybe it’s just that the wastelands are pretty desolate and for stretches, it’s just boom boom boom and loot loot loot.  I guess it’s more fun when done with friends too.

Perr: Which I think is perfectly fine.

Junch: LOL it makes me glad I have friends to play with.

Perr: hahaha ronery.  It’s the combination of working well with others during battle that gets me going, it feels good to just throw your shit down and rush over to your injured friend who’s in the middle of the train tracks.

Junch: Yes definitely, helping friends get to second wind is cool.  And the fact that you can get back on your own by shooting an enemy is cool too.  It’s one of those other things that some hardcore folk will snub their nose at, but I think is perfectly fine.  Because it keeps the flow of the game up except the times when your friends shoot the bad guy you were trying to kill to get the second wind.  That’s funny and happens a lot.

Perr: Yeah, like “it’s okay OMG!  GO AWAY!”  But mannn, I realize that I have no collective memories of this like I do with Day Z.

Junch:  What do you mean?

Perr: I mean apart from the fantastic find of 12 million dollars, I don’t have much else that I remember about it.

Junch: Hmmm its not necessarily the individual experiences I guess, because that’s all scripted.  But you’re right, it’s all a weird blur of colors and sounds  in my head right now.  Is that a good thing?

Perr: I’m not really sure.  I said that it’s addictive in the sense that you always want one more hour with it but the moment you quit…

Junch: … it’s gone from your mind.

Perr: I don’t have this compulsion to go back to it.  I’m okay with not playing for 3 days, and not thinking about it.  But when I do go back, it’s like a running hug in a field of daisies.

Junch: Perhaps thats the point.  That as long as you are enjoying it while you’re in it, it’s like a neat little compartmentalized adventure which means the game is not IMPORTANT in big capital letters, but it is FUN.

Perr: It’s just really fun.  Who do you think would like this game?

Junch: Good question.  RPG-heads straight up, anyone who likes anything to do with loot and character progressions but like their RPGs a little left-field and are out to have a good time.  Because honestly, I’d take this over Diablo 3 any day.  If I had to choose one or the other, I would say I had a bucket load more fun with this.  And not to mention, this game handled their connectivity thing a heck load better than D3 ever did.

Perr: I prefer this to D3 too.  I don’t feel boxed in with their system.  D3 probably comes off as arrogant compared to Borderlands 2 who is like the childish yet engaging version of an action-RPG.

Junch: Haha, Borderlands 2 is the Tiny Tina of RPGs.  Fuck yes, Borderlands 2 is TINY TINA.  SHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.  REVELATION OF THE MORNING.  D3 is like “LOOK AT ME, I’M IMPORTANT GAIMZ”.

Perr:  And Borderlands 2 is “imma be all up in here making carbombs in my garage”

Junch: HAHAH yes.

Perr: “wanna have a crumpet” hehe

Junch: Shit, I need more Tiny Tina in my life.  In fact, if there was a way that she could be a constant companion instead of Claptrap, I would gladly oblige.

Perr: Yeah, I know right.  She should have a spinoff.

Junch: YES.  Okay, so I’m guessing this is a good point to wrap up this conversation.  We’ve pretty much said all we needed to say about this crazy whacked out 13 year old of a game.

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