Borderlands Previews

If you went searching the web for more Borderlands-related content today, you'd find another slew of hands-on previews waiting for you. I'll save you the time:

Each skill can be boosted with up to five points to enhance its effectiveness. Once five are allotted to any combination of tier one skills in one of the three branches, the second tier opens up in that branch, and so on. In this manner, just like in plenty of action-RPGs out there, you're forced to choose in what manner you'd like to specialize your character class. Following the Medic skill branch gets you additional healing skills where your turret has a chance to revive allies and where your friendly fire can restore their hit points. It also allows you to strengthen your bullet resistance, bolster magazine capacity, and following a successful kill gives you and any allies the chance to get a bonus to health regeneration.

Sirens, on the other hand, have the "phasewalk" ability, which shifts them in and out of this dimension, essentially cloaking them for a few moments. Phasewalking also gives you a short speed boost and the ability to perform powerful melee attacks and cause damage to nearby enemies when shifting. Because special abilities have a cooldown time, it seems best to save your character's special powers for when you really need them. Like the soldier, the siren can also learn additional skill trees. In this case, the controller, elemental, and assassin paths help you regenerate health or daze enemies; add elemental damage, such as fire or corrosion, to your attacks; and increase your melee or critical hit damage, respectively. While you gain upgrade points by earning experience levels, you won't be able gain enough points to max out every single skill tree in any single play-through, so you'll want to choose those skills that best fit your own playing style.

What keeps me intrigued, makes me want to come back again and again are all of those weapons. Those glorious weapons. There are, by some accounts, more than 3 million variations of weapons in the games. And some do some pretty amazing things. All of them have great, randomly generated names like my machine gun "Bone Shredder", my electrified-bullet shooting sniper rifle "LB20 Static Wrath" and my brutal six shooter "MAL31-B Blast Law".

The guns themselves come in the following flavors: repeater pistol, sub-machine gun, assault rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle, repeater rifle, revolver, launcher, and alien. Each can come with elemental effects and other randomized bonuses. The best (and most enjoyable) weapon I found in my playthrough was a revolver that shot exploding bullets and set things on fire. It killed most enemies in a single shot, causing them to explode in cel-shaded glory.

Diablo is an appropriate comparison because in Borderlands there's lots of loot. More loot than I've ever seen in a shooter. When you kill one of the many variations of Skag (including the "Badass" type, or a demented, masked bandit (some of which are freaky midgets), little objects spurt out of the falling corpse like failed fireworks. Usually it's hard cash, but if you're low on health it might be a health boost, or some grenades or ammo. But occasionally a new weapon, created just for you by Borderlands' impressive random weapon creator, appears. When this happens, you breathe in a little bit. Your heart races ever so slightly. Your eyes and mouth open. Then your brain kicks in and a single question is asked: is it better than what I've already got?

As you gain slay bigger and badder foes and gain more experience, you'll also need to decide how to progress along your character's skill tree and which new abilities to unlock. Each class--fast-moving Lilith, Mordecai the Hunter, all-around soldier Roland and heavyweight powerhouse Brick--has its own set of special moves and abilities.

Borderlands is a mission-based game, with each mission rolling seamlessly if the preview disk carries into the release in any indication into the next. You will meet an interesting assortment of characters, collect power-ups, ammo and level experience. The game also will feature multiplayer gaming in a couple of different ways, including split-screen.

Weapons can also be customized to your liking with thousands of different combinations. There's also multiplayer action for four-player parties with drop-in/drop-out play. If you don't want to go co-op, then you can battle other players in the player vs. player duel matches. Steve also said that there are future plans for DLC and a level cap increase, but not right away.

MTV Multiplayer:
The Hunter is your typical range-focused character. His specialties are Sniper Rifles and Pistols, with many of his skills increasing accuracy and damage with those weapons. His special ability calls out a killer bird that can swoop down and attack nearby foes. One of the skill tree branches for the Hunter, Rogue, increases the effectiveness of your bird, dealing more damage and even stealing items away from enemies.

There's also a built-in challenge log that tracks you stats in many different categories, giving you a large chunk of XP when you reach a milestone. These include kills with certain types of weapons, kills of certain types of creatures and the number of containers opened. Even if you don't start off taking many missions, just wandering the world and facing foes there will earn you XP and help you level up. There's no lack of things to do in the Borderlands world.

And then there are five more trailers over at Voodoo Extreme, just for good measure.