Borderlands 2 Editorials

05 Oct 2012

We have rounded up a few editorials centered around Gearbox Software's sequel for the loot-driven FPS/RPG Borderlands.

No High Scores thinks it sucks (but likes it anyway!):
The gunplay is rudimentary at best outside of picking which shooting implement to use at a given time. Playing a Gunzerker makes the game feel almost like a Serious Sam title. Despite class abilities, extended elemental effects, and more enemy variety than the first game it’s still pretty basic, undynamic shooting action that really isn’t all that much fundamentally different from Doom. Or Castle Wolfenstein 3D.

Further, there are no RPG elements in the game despite claims otherwise. Fiddlefarting over whether to sell Gun A that does X damage and has Y% of this effect or Gun B which does X+1 damage but doesn’t have that effect but another is not role-playing. Nor is shopping for new class abilities with your new XP-purchased skill point. Those things are micromanagement, not role-playing.

More discreetly, Borderlands 2 sucks for the same reasons that the first one did. It’s the same silly, ultimately pointess loot grab where 99 percent of the loot you find is either not as good as what you already have, it’s something to give away to another player, or it’s more or less worthless. Shops are stocked with the same kind of junk with the occasional daily deal there to tempt to you sell off your entire backpack. And don’t get me started on clicking on Pandora’s countless lockers and storage boxes. I don’t consider wandering around and picking up $2 and a pack of sniper rifle bullets over and over again to be gameplay and it’s definitely not great gameplay. I almost grimace when I see a bunch of green lights from a distance. I know I’ll go over there, collect my two dollars and sniper rifle bullets, and move on. Like a Pavlovian dog.

But it’s the leveling and character development that keeps you playing, right? That’s great, but the development curve and sense of progression in the game remains completely screwed up- it’s too long, drawn out, and rewards perseverance and grinding rather than good play and player skill-building. It takes like 10 levels to even unlock your character’s core class ability. Levels are few and far between, it seems, and it feels like you are constantly chasing a game-changing function that never materializes.

PopMatters writes on the "art of support":
While playing support Maya is mostly defensive, Gearbox deftly incorporates all the traditional shooter concerns into their support class. The team marketed Borderlands 2’s “gazillion guns”, and every one of them matters for Maya, even when they are not targeted at enemies. Good team players, no matter the class, still think about the elemental gun properties that best complement the group. Maya support players pay every bit as close attention to their loadout as others. Fire rate, accuracy, damage total, and unique properties all play a crucial role in healing with the Restoration skill. A shotgun can quickly top off allies, but the low ammo capacity and terrible range means it works only in specific scenarios. High accuracy weapons, like sniper rifles that fire in bursts, could work great for long-distance allies, while general all-purpose healing could be best accomplished with rifles or explosive rounds that have a chance of healing more than one ally simultaneously. Few players understand the game’s weapon system as well as a Maya playing support.

Playing Maya as support also demands a quick and astute reading of combat systems. While lifting enemies in the air with Phaselock heals the part, it also puts Maya’s instant revive ability on cooldown. You will also have to consider saving Phaselock for a more opportune moment, like when that Badass enemy shows up right when two allies are down, begging for help. Do you instant revive one fallen foe? Tag the Badass and pick up your friends manually? What’s your plan C? Maya support players constantly assess the battlefield with an encompassing offensive and defensive frame of mind. Weighing the efficacy of your actions becomes a constant meta-game. When you jump in, revive your allies, heal them with a spray of gunfire, and turn dramatically to fight the boss, you will feel like a master of all things Borderlands.

And FemPop's Alex Cranz is happy for getting the chance of blowing a misogynist NPC's head:
One day though I realized I had a quest I hadn’t touched that had turned “trivial.” Being a completionist I HAD to go and finish it right? I returned to a town full of dying people trapped in their homes where a lady doctor asked me to retrieve a battery to build a shield that would save the town. While doing all her tasks this guy provides running commentary on how stupid she was and how unmanly my character was for helping her.

He had choice zingers like “make me a sandwich.”

I hated him immediately. It’s Pavlovian guys. If you’re a woman who plays video games you will immediately hate anyone who makes a request for a sandwich. You get your first request the very first time you play a video game online. Like the first HOUR. You say “hey I’m a lady” and they say “hey make me a sandwich” because apparently it’s in a manual for all guys playing games that they say that. Some are being ironic. Some are being assholes. Some just say it because the manual told them to.

All guys do it. But having it come from a NPC? That was a little new.

I manage to ignore him (because he is not real and it was clearly leading up to something delightful) and followed her requests. Her final one was for me to test the shield. I climb up a cliff face, kill some robots and take control of a giant mortar that overlooks the serene little town. I fire.

And I watch as that mortar slowly makes its decent and hits the jerks’s house on the fringe of town. He tumbles to his death. I’m a little sad because I hate killing people when it’s unnecessary.

But then I’m laughing because the voice actor did a great job being obnoxious even as he died and because it was IMMENSELY satisfying to blow up a virtual misogynist.