Borderlands 2 was at E3 this year, and I have to say... it was pretty uninspiring. The setup was a co-op mission somewhere in the middle of the game, so you had a mix of issues right there. One, you had no idea how to best use or learn your abilities for each 20 minute slot, and neither could you really rely on the stranger next to you (who, in my case, smelt rather... poorly) to be at all effective in combat. Plus, in terms of the plotting, you just had no idea what was going on or why.
And there was no Claptrap, making it instantly a less than stellar example of Borderlands gameplay.
I’ve a feeling 2K are aware of this shortfall, because follow-up preview sessions have been all focused on singleplayer gameplay, and a generous hour or two of it at that. What’s more, there were full missions to play, a chance to actually meet and get to know new characters, and two save slots; though both slots only access to the one bit of the wild outback, one slot was level 25, the other level 35, with a full choice of all characters.
Having just sat down with the game this morning, I’m very happy to say I’m feeling a lot more positive about Borderlands 2 (at least in gameplay terms – its trailers are still some of the funniest things ever).
Our time with the game began in the town of Sanctuary. This is basically the main quest hub, the place you’ll come back to to restock, rearm, and generally finish up and start new quest lines. It’s also a lot of fun to explore, as from the get-go the singular character and sense of humour of Borderlands is right there. You’ve got random citizens to chat to, little vignettes to witness, not to mention the deeper interactions of many of the main NPCs and quest givers.
Our first task was to track down one Roland, a member of the Crimson Guard, who... well, hopefully they’re good guys. They’re certainly fighting the main badguy, Handsome Jack, so they can’t be all bad.
The game’s set five years after the events of the first Borderlands, and, neatly, the old PCs are now among the most characterful NPCs you can meet. In fact, Lillith (oh, sweet, pale, sarcy Lillith) is with Roland, and the pair task you with contacting an ‘informant’ before seeking out another ally to help stop Handsome Jack’s nefarious plan to unlock a Vault – which just happens to be some actual nasty living beasty that could possibly maybe accidentally destroy all of Pandora.
I’m guessing that’s a bad thing.
So off we go into the outback, and the hard drinking informant is none other than Mordecai. I like him even more, now.
It’s got to be said up front that the game is looking fantastic. The cell-shaded, painterly style is still amazing to behold, and the new critters and art look wonderful. Even at this stage, the code is playing very smoothly, too, and even better, we played it on PC, where it’s feeling tight and responsive in combat as well as looking amazing.