Borderlands, the over the top shoot & loot game by Gearbox Software, is one of those surprise franchises developed by a small group and became a worldwide phenomenon – amongst gamers, obviously.
What? What does that even mean?
“Shoot & loot” is the loose genre name Gearbox coined (probably).
Basically, Borderlands is a first person shooter game incorporating some RPG elements (skills, classes and levels). Loot is generated procedurally (a la Diablo) and plays an important and integral part in “builds” – combination of certain skills with different loot (which are VERY different than each other, believe me) geared towards optimising some aspects of a character (survivability, DPS, etc.).
There are a ton of factors to optimise and a ton of play styles the game can accommodate at varying levels of optimisation. Even the hard-core “endgame” content does not have be-all-end-all builds for each character. All of these combined = great replay value.
The first game, telling the story of four vault hunters coming to Pandora to seek “riches beyond imagining” and murdering thousands of psychotic – and murderous – denizens of the planet in the process, was a huge success – I would say, thanks to its unique blend of cooperative FPS gameplay, procedurally generated loot, interesting enemies, quirky but fun gunplay, over the top humour and beautiful artwork.
The vault hunters of today, including yours truly, remember the game as a fast paced post apocalyptic epic of shooting and looting. Then we fire it up and realise that it actually was not that fast paced. It is still enormous amounts of fun – if you haven’t played it, there is nothing on the market that compares to it. However, it was done on a budget and while the stories told in the game are very detailed, it is an old school game throughout which you’d need to read thousands of pages of information and open up every corner of the game-world to truly take it all in – which is something most of the gamers out there wouldn’t care to do given that the game mechanics are a bit outdated as well.
Now, for the second installment in the franchise, fans would remember waiting for years and actually going euphoric the moment it was announced (we weren’t sure if it was going to happen or not). Actually, my grasp of the English language is nowhere near adequate to convey how the then fans of the franchise felt. Luckily, a Brit rapper by the name of “Dan Bull” did this…
“Man, it’s actually happening…” indeed!
Enter Borderlands 2, old-school fans of the franchise were both puking rainbows and disgruntled about the changes Gearbox made to the game. We all played it – extensively and constantly I should add – of course but gamers being gamers, we complained as well. A lot.
However, if you are new to the series, you’d have no years-spent-imagining-back-stories-for-the-vault-hunters and such under your belt so most of the complaints would seem alien to you. Complaints about the mechanics, on the other hand, can be legitimate from time to time but nowhere near game-breaking as they are usually made out to be. Mostly a matter of taste, I personally liked the addition of more Raid Bosses, ridiculous scaling at Over Power levels and the unorthodox way of saying “this is for the casual gamer and this is for the hard-core…”
Long story short, I’d bet my admittedly unappealing arse that most of the fans would recognise the second installment as an improvement in every aspect of the game.
The game offers hours of fun for both the casual and the hard-core gamer. It does not have a difficulty slider (once you beat the game in normal mode, a la new game plus, you have access to True Vault Hunter mode and then Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode – then some more challenges in the form of Over Powered levels) and some of the stuff (loot, really) can only be seen with a bit of luck, loads of play-time and a good team – but if you spend 20 hours and play only the normal mode you can see all of the main story content the game has to offer, definitely get your money’s worth, have ridiculous fun with three of your friends and still have conceivably hundreds of hours of hardcore stuff left – against which to test your mad skillz.
Probably most importantly, the devs have this old-school approach to gaming – they actually listen to the fans to extents they realistically can and the community is just NOT full of pimples and testosterone which is a rarity. I personally love the company even when I sometimes hate their decisions but those are 99 % of the time matters of personal taste anyway.
Why now, though? Well, there is going to be a “pre-sequel” game from the devs soon (filling in the gaps between the first and the second game, story-wise, and introducing new mechanics, mostly those requested by the fans) and as those who have Steam games would know, a new game in the franchise means there will be RIDONKULOUS deals for the older games in the series along the way.
If you are not sold by now, as a one last stab at your wallet, this game lets you do crazy shit like this…
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