Borderlands 2

Buckle up, because there’s a lot to talk about….

Starting BL2, some things immediately grabbed my attention: the world is more colourful, there is more stuff around, there’s more detail. There is also more immediate humour. And…oh look it’s Claptrap. Yey.

After spending over 100 hours on the first game to achieve 100% completion (and God knows how long grinding collectables from the Claptrap DLC), I personally felt like punching the little yellow robot in the face. It gets a bit better though, as the one wheeled blabbermouth , while keeping his hyperactive personality, is now somehow funnier. The game starts with an action sequence, which is definitely an improvement of the first game’s bus ride, and gets you pumped up to press onward. However, there are a lot of problems that unfortunately didn’t get fixed.

Okay, let’s see:

  • Ammo dropped on the floor can now be picked up automatically by walking over it, and yet loot still isn’t automatic or area-wide. Meaning that, just like before, you will spend hours and hours opening every little container in your surroundings searching for and picking up of ammo. Ammo, which in the first parts of the game is scarce and much needed, seeing how many enemies come at you and how many shots it takes to kill each one.

Item names stop being funny pretty quickly.
  • The whole game feels much harder than the first one due to absolutely ridiculous scaling. I remember being capped in BL1 and using one of the best weapons in the game, doing a few hundred damage per shot (plus the damage from fire/corrosion/etc). In BL2, if you have all the major DLC, when you get to level 60-70, numbers will range between hundreds of thousands and the millions (including your health). While it is certainly satisfying to see large numbers in this kind of game, this means that pretty much any equipment you have, no matter how good, will be obsolete in one or two levels. This, added to the fact that good loot barely drops, makes everything more frustrating.

  • 90% of the DLC is cosmetic, and consequently, useless. There is also a bunch of campaign DLC though, and most of it is pretty cool (especially Tiny Tina’s and Mr. Torgue’s). Quests are now more varied and not just an infinite repetition of “go here and kill those guys”. Many quests even have secondary optional goals that will give you additional rewards if completed.

  • Thinking back to BL1 now, all I can remember was desert and bunkers. BL2 features a bigger variety of landscapes, some very appealing.  In addition, you can now see a minimap on the screen, which helps you navigate without having to open the menu every few seconds. Navigation is also improved, as I didn't find myself having to walk/drive as much as I did in the first game, even though there are still certain areas without any checkpoints.

  • And speaking of menu, it kind of sucks. It might work well with a controller, I don’t know, since I played it on PC with a Keyboard and a mouse, but the menus were a headache to navigate.  Disappointing, seeing as they changed it so much from the first game. In addition, every time I opened the menu my framerate would lock at 30 for some reason, and stay locked until I alt-tabbed out and back into the game. I eventually fixed it by, once again, editing .ini files. And it’s never a good sign when you have to do so in order to get the game working correctly. Hey at least the game has an FoV slider now, so there’s that. Also, the game runs a completely useless online DLC search online every single time it boots up, greatly slowing up the process. I heard it might be possible to turn it off by further messing with .ini files.
This quest is actually pretty funny.

  • The gun variety hasn’t improved since the same game and, in fact, it might have decreased. Many weapon brand/type combinations have been removed and most weapons feel like the same. Every Jacobs’ weapon has high damage per bullet but consumes several bullets per shot and revolvers are pretty much gone. That being said, there are several great designs, so no problem there. In fact, some designs are so cool you’ll want to use the same weapon forever, even though, thanks to the exponential scaling, it will be obsolete once you level up.

  • Class mods and relics allow for a greater degree of character customization, even though most of them tend to suck or to only affect specific kinds of weapons. You can get some really good ones late game though, by killing raid bosses. Speaking of which, raid bosses can now be safely soloed if you’re overleveled enough (just make sure you’re not in Legendary Mode). No more glitching/exploiting to take down Crawmerax! Just get to level 65+ and brute force them down.
  • You might be asking now, what’s “Legendary Mode”? Well, remember in the first game, you had to go through the entire game twice to get even close to the level cap? In BL2 you have to go through the game twice to unlock a THIRD game mode. Legendary Mode will scale all the enemies to your level automatically and increase their damage and accuracy. Which is great for people who enjoy higher difficulties, as they can go through the whole game and all the DLC in legendary mode. People who want easy or regular difficulty can play in one of the other 2 modes. The question is: why not just make all 3 modes available from the beginning?

Trying to hard to be funny there.

  • The cast is greatly improved. The main antagonist, Handsome Jack is deliciously insane, with great voice acting to back it up. Added to the cast from the original game (which actually have personalities now), many new additions contribute for an entertaining experience throughout.  Of course, there’s a catch: writing can go from funny to cringeworthy in one line, and there can certainly be such a thing as too many references/memes. And I trust that if you play it, you’ll soon get to know the reason people call the game “Memelands” (or “Bordermemes”).

So, here you go folks. It’s not a bad game by a long shot, and it’s really entertaining to play with friends, and nothing can quite beat that feeling of satisfaction of downing Terramorphous after 30 minutes of non-stop shooting and nearly dying. Writing is pretty decent even with all the cringy parts, and there’s a lot to do. After all is said and done though, there’s a lot of stuff that should have been fixed and didn’t, and a couple of things (like framerate stability) even took a step back.

You can get the game plus all the important story DLC for less than 20€ on steam sales.