Borderlands 2 Hands On

So a week or so ago I got invited to meet a guy in an inner-city Hotel for an hour of fun.  How could I turn down an invitation like that?  Especially when the fun was going to be some hand on time with the up-coming Borderlands 2 game.  The trouble is I was heading into the session with out actually playing the original Borderlands.  Mainly because when Borderlands came out, I was new to the whole RPG genre and was still infatuated with the Fallout world and didn’t really care for what looked like a cheap knock off with semi-cellshaded graphics.  I was kicking myself a while later however, when one of our reviewers gave Borderlands Game of the Year Edition five stars an a number of my gamer friends were raving about it. 

The other more recent problem was that I had now moved onto the luscious world of Skyrim and had lost my love for post apocalyptic shooters.  Guns seemed so unnecessary when I had my flaming Warhammer in my hands.  But guns it was going to have to be, because apparently their are billions of them in Borderlands.

So I sit down in-front of Borderlands 2, and after a little pep talk I’m left to discover the game for myself.  I start my session at the end of a deadend path facing the only way forward, so I start to walk around the corner where I spot in the near distance, some weird looking life-forms.  Kicking back into my Fallout experience, I decide to approach them, because they weren’t flashing up as enemies and I didn’t want to start a war before I had gotten used to the game.

Pretty soon however, they noticed me, and it turns out pretty much everything in this game is hostile towards me.  Luckily I had guns.  Guns are generally all you need against most types of alien life-form.  These critters however were well amoured and able to make little teleport style jumps.  I was soon shooting and walking backwards, panicking slightly, but confident that by the time I was backed up into my dead-end starting position I would have dispatched all the critters.

I didn’t factor in accidentally walking backwards off the edge of a cliff and falling to my death.

My second attempt at playing Borderlands 2, I was much more aware of the environment around me.

After dispatching all the critters and picking up the goodies they dropped, It was on with some more exploring.

For an open world game, the part of Borderlands 2 I was shown was pretty linear, following a path with a mission to find x number of samples before I could proceed into this industrial complex.  I was present with a number of different enemies to deal with and got well versed in the death and resurrection process, which fortunately for my inexcusable inability to perform well on the night, was a very forgiving system, where it cost you to regenerate at what ever was the closest regeneration point, and mercifully didn’t re-spawn all the bad guys you’d previously killed.

As for the linear game-play I mentioned just before, the map opened up a little and I decided to see what what ‘over there’ instead of heading towards what my HUD told me was the mission goal.  Not the best move on my part, because what looked like a safe and unoccupied green field was in-fact home to a massive eight legged triffid that exploded up out of the ground and sent me back to the last regeneration point in little time.

The early PC build that I was playing Borderland 2 on was still in the process of being balanced, and as such tended to play more like and semi open world first person shooter than the more traditional explore and up-skill RPG.  As such it was an absolute blast to play, with little time given to breath and explore.  This only highlights the inherent problem with these opportunities to play with early builds of games.  One, they are not finished product so can be immensely different from the finished product, and more importantly, you’re given a set point on which to begin your adventure, so you miss out on ‘beginning’ the game and slowly immersing your self in the experience.  You’re also not playing on your own set up, and are always very aware that the PR guy is watching your every move.

Having said that, I can see the possibilities that await when Borderlands 2 arrives, and I have a similar anticipation as I did after playing an early build of Red Dead Redemption, that is, when Borderlands 2 comes out, my family are going to miss me.

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