Borderlands II is a riveting game that seems an upgrade over its predecessor in almost every department. I’ve played up until level 12 on three characters so far, with my current favourite being the Commando.
The classes in Borderlands 2 seem a lot more interesting than their predecessors: A gunzerker who dual wields anything from pistols to machine guns or rocket launchers is a lot more fun than a beserker who spends most of the game just hitting things with his fists. A siren that can lift enemies into the air, immobilising them, dealing damage and performing other status effects is more fun than a siren that just uses their power to run back to base faster after a mission. The abilities all seem more powerful, and define a character’s class. Another change in focus is away from classes having specific weapons; in the first game you were kind of forced to use weapons that your class gave you bonuses for; a siren with an SMG could do vastly more damage than any other class with an SMG, but likewise couldn’t use an assault rifle to anywhere near the level of a soldier. Instead of specialising in individual weapons, your character gets more generic bonuses (like more shield capacity, lower reload times, more damage) that are applied across all weapons. This results in a game where you have many more options; you can choose a weapon based on how good it is rather than whether it is designed to be used by your class.
Beyond the new classes, there’s quite a bit to see in the world of Pandora. The relatively few environments in the first game have been supplmented by quite a few new additions in Borderlands 2, and it feels like there’s much less retreading of the same ground and more solid progress, at least in the early game. The town of Sanctuary seems much more lively than its predecessors, and there’s much more to do. The new arctic environments are beautiful, and the whole game looks to have had a substantial graphic upgrade. This does mean that it runs slightly less well – on my year-old gaming PC, I’m experiencing some odd slowdowns in places and then only around 50 FPS the rest of the time, where in the first game I was glued to 100+ FPS. Hopefully this is a bug that will be fixed in a future patch, and in the meantime resetting the draw distance from low back to high again temporarily fixes the problem.
All in all, I’m having a great time in Borderlands 2 and I’m looking forward to providing a full review of the game in the future. I expected to have been further along by this point, but thankfully there’s so much to do that even with the hours-long sessions I’ve been putting in there’s still a lot to discover. And that’s a great feeling, knowing that Borderlands 2 still has the potential to surprise me and amuse me.
Borderlands 2 is available on PC (including Steam), Xbox 360 and PS3. Check it out!