The original Borderlands was a game that was easy to fall in love with. The loot heavy gameplay kept you scouring the world of Pandora for new and improved weapons. Despite some notable flaws, for many, Borderlands was one of the best games of 2009. Fans clamored for a sequel for years, and last year Gearbox announced the sequel. During our hands on with Borderlands 2, Gearbox had two more playable characters that hadn’t been available before. I asked who the closest character to Mordecai from the original was, and I was directed towards Zero. Since Mordecai was my go to character in the original, I was settled before I had even started on my new character. Add in the fact that Zero’s action skill includes him throwing out a hologram of himself that also makes you invisible and able to sneak around enemies to deliver critical blows, and it wasn’t a hard sell.
We set out on Statueesque, a level where Handsome Jack has created this entire city and has planted statues to commemorate himself. The objective was to break down all of the statues of Handsome Jack by following a construction drone throughout the city, guarding it while enemies tried to destroy it. In our abbreviated playthrough we were given 20 skill points to distribute across the three skill trees, where each level required five skill points to unlock the next. Given that we were on a timer, I personally didn’t have nearly enough time to think about the decisions that I was making. When the final game arrives, there will be plenty of time sunk into the crafting of a perfect skill tree that fits my playstyle.
Being fans of the original, it was pretty obvious that the gunplay had been overhauled to make the combat much smoother and more rewarding.
Playing in co-op mode with another Attack of the Fanboy staff member (Ethan) we were off to rip down some Handsome Jack statues. Neither of us had played Borderlands 2 at any prior media events, but since we were both fans of the original, it was pretty obvious that the gunplay had been overhauled to make the combat much smoother and more rewarding. Where the original Borderlands had gunplay that felt somewhat clunky, this aspect of the gameplay was much more refined in this sequel. What we were explained by our hands-on guide at the 2K booth, the gunplay was one of Gearbox’s key improvements to Borderlands 2, mainly in the aspect of gun responsiveness. Being that this is a key gameplay mechanic in Borderlands 2, Gearbox picked the right element to perfect this time around.
The mission panned out like a traditional Borderlands level. The dungeon required you to complete a specific objective, while also collecting loot from the nooks and crannies of the level. This specific area had us battling through bots that had been dropped down from Handsome Jack’s moonbase. The combat started out with somewhat less difficult bots as we pushed towards a Contructor bot, that we were tasked with protecting, whose goal was to rip down the statues of Handsome Jack. As the demo progressed the enemies gained a Constructor bot of their own. The enemy Constructor spawns enemies and repair bots that help the hostile units survive longer. Killing the Constructor first seemed to be the best policy, at least on this level. Though that’s not quite as easy at it sounds. This super enemy type used a devastating attack the closer you got to it, and healing bots were keeping this massive enemy in working order. Reaching the last of the statues in this level, the battle became massive. Between the enemies that were being dropped in by Handsome Jack, and the enemies that the Constructor bot was spawning, we were begging for a repreive, and then it all stopped.
That awkward moment when someone is called over to confirm that we “Beat the Demo”.
Our tour guide explained to us that we were one of the lucky few who had “beaten the E3 demo”. Though it felt more like a glitch had occurred that prevented us from going any further. With only a few months to go until release, hopefully this really was us beating the level, and not a sign that Borderlands 2 still has some big kinks to be worked out prior to launch. It’s not like the systems we were playing on crashed or anything, so we were able to continue playing, at which point we decided to do some looting and dueling.
All in all, we both walked away from the demo with the understanding that Borderlands 2 has seen some meaningful changes. The original formula is still very much intact, but Gearbox has focused on refining the core gameplay in ways that’ll make Borderlands 2 an even better experience. Without the awkward moment where we seemingly broke the demo, Borderlands 2 was easily one of the best looking, most fun hands-on experiences that was to be had at E3 2012. A great sign for Borderlands fans anxiously waiting for the sequel that is set to arrive later this year.