Borderlands 2 (PS3 & Vita)
Borderlands 2 Hands-On Preview - Siren Song
Written Wednesday, April 04, 2012 By Lee Bradley
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While the original Borderlands may have boasted a vast amount of variety in its weaponry, the same could not be said of the world. All cross-hatching and thick inky outlines, the graphic novel art style was a joy, but the sludgy brown colour palette that defined the environments was not. It was all so samey.

So when Borderlands 2 was announced, one of the most pleasing snippets of news was that Gearbox were mixing things up a little. Spreading the reach beyond the east coast of Pandora featured in the first game, Borderlands 2 promises colour and variety galore, stretching from the plains to the icy blue tundra. 

Indeed, we got a glimpse of this variety as the game sat idle before our latest play session. The camera swung lazily around our character, Maya, a tattooed, purple-bobbed Siren, as she stood atop a great peak. As the camera panned it revealed a giant dam, a lava dribbling volcano, waterfalls and a long pier leading to a mystery island. We immediately wanted to explore it all. And shoot lots and lots of things dead, of course.

You can talk about Borderlands 2’s new ideas, improvements and refinements all you like (and we will, promise), but one thing remains consistent: It’s your job to blast everything that moves, then hoover up whatever goodie filled detritus is left. 

That’s right, Borderlands 2 is as much about loot as ever before, with guns, cash and ammo bursting from every conceivable source. In the mission that we played, the deep purple, fungal environment was dotted with mushrooms and growths. Even the organic sacks dangling up above spat out loot, like an arms dealer’s piñata.

This focus on loot is accentuated by what Gearbox are hoping will be greater differentiation between weapons. Now each of the “gazillions” of guns should be more recognisable by their manufacturer than ever before, each brand carrying its own individual traits. Or so they say, anyway. It’s a bold claim considering the numbers involved, one that’s impossible to verify in our short play time. Still, “gazillions” sounds fun.

What we can reveal in more detail are the Siren’s abilities, the most important of which is Phaselock. This is a skill that allows Maya to suspend enemies in a kind of mid-air vortex, making attackers vulnerable to damage and unable to deal it. It’s a viable crowd-control tool, an ability that comes in handy when you’re surrounded by a family of snarling Skags. Yup, they’re back by the way. The four-legged beasties haven’t been eradicated from Pandora quite yet.

The character build we were given was at level 20, so our first task was to spend the skill points that had been amassed along the way. There are three trees to invest in; Motion, Harmony and Cataclysm. Each features two branches of three abilities each with five stages, which then join together for four more abilities of increasingly powerful scope. 

The early Motion abilities offer improvements to things like shield capacity and recharge times, as well as increased bullet damage. The Harmony skills begin with “Sweet Release,“ in which killing Phaselocked enemies creates Life Orbs that seek out and heal you and your friends, while “Mind’s Eye” offers a simple Critical Hit and melee damage boost.

The Cataclysm skills, meanwhile, are gloriously destructive. “Flicker” increases your chance to cause status effects with Incendiary, Shock, Corrosive and Slag guns. “Helios” adds a fiery explosion to your Phaselock ability, damaging all nearby opponents.  “Immolate” adds fire damage to all of your “Fight for your Life” shots. “Backdraft” unleashes an explosion whenever your shields are depleted. And on it goes.

The upshot is, as you grind away blasting fools into nothingness, you’ll have plenty of fiendish skills and abilities to invest in. A fully leveled Siren will be a fearsome thing indeed.

The mission we embarked upon, alongside a stumpy Gunzerker dwarf co-op partner, was called Wildlife Preservation and it involved the return of familiar character. Mordecai, the sniper class from the first game, had lost his Bloodwing, the dragon-like creature that constitutes his unique special ability. It was our job to get him back.

It’s in this way that Gearbox promises both to revisit the old playable characters of the game, who have been completely replaced, while also delivering a stronger narrative. The former is a nice touch, but we didn’t see much evidence of the latter, to be honest. You’ll still just be visiting static NPCs to pick up veiled fetch quests. 

Yet it doesn’t really matter. Leveling up, investing in abilities, getting better gear; that’s the narrative of the Borderlands games. The actual story provides only the lightest of motivations.

Nowhere is this more apparent than when you’re out there, blasting the crap out of everything. Borderlands 2 never shies away from its “gameiness.” It’s still a riot of positive affirmation, boasting a screen full of numbers, level up indicators, loot and shiny, glowing targets. It’s part of what makes the series so moreish and it’s oh-so-satisfying.

It wasn’t long before we were back in the flow, shooting and exploding our way from waypoint to waypoint, slaves to the pulsing diamond target on our radars. The truth is that the formula of the original game doesn’t have to be tinkered with too much. All we need is a bit more colour, a bit more variety and enough encouragement to keep on shooting. Gearbox look like they’re about to deliver just that.

Borderlands 2 doesn't even hit shelves for another five months, but we’ve already seen enough. No ifs or buts, you’re going to want this game in your collection.

Borderlands 2 hits on September 18th in North America and on September 21st in Europe.


User Comments
Forum Posts: 394
Comment #1 by HuDaFuK
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:30:53 AM
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Good stuff, I'm still playing the first one!

Forum Posts: 5297
Comment #2 by Rawanz
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:37:13 AM
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Really looking forward to this. Borderlands was an amazing game! And surely Borderlands 2 will be even better!

Forum Posts: 22
Comment #3 by CynicalNerd
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:49:31 AM
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No Lilith = No Buy.

In Mordin Solus's voice: DO. NOT. WANT.

Forum Posts: 111
Comment #4 by aLamb979
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:52:15 AM
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Haven't played the first one, might have to get it!

Forum Posts: 188
Comment #5 by EmptyFibers
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:54:44 AM
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No Lilith = No Buy =... Your retarded :), terrible reason to refuse purchase. Considering that Maya sounds more kick ass than Lilith was.

Anyhow, stoked for this. One of my favorites!

Forum Posts: 2198
Comment #6 by theDane21
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 08:07:40 AM
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this is gonna be awesome, can't wait to blast through enemies with a variety of powerful weapons.

Forum Posts: 49235
Comment #7 by Terminator
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 08:13:57 AM
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I've already pre-ordered this so all I can say is, "Roll on September!"

Forum Posts: 4833
Comment #8 by LukeyCow
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 08:23:18 AM
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I have too many games to play to preorder this anyway but im still really looking forward to this. probably wait for the GOTY Edition though seeming how much dlc borderlands 1 had and how expensive they were. Definently will pick this up though.

Forum Posts: 226
Comment #9 by KindredCampbell
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 09:51:48 AM
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I just hope that knowone will be able tohack this game with moded weapons, people joining my game taking the fun away from actaully usein the dificulty just a few shots from thereb ivisable guns, and im left saying WTF

Forum Posts: 1173
Comment #10 by Nakatomi_Uk
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 01:49:13 PM
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I cant wait to test out that Sentry Gun I hope it changes as I add new moves to it like a rocket launcher, I hated seeing the 1st games turret just instantly spawn a missile out of nowhere looked stupid.

I want to look cool when firing and to litery blow my mind on my SS system

Forum Posts: 2232
Comment #11 by alx681
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 02:32:25 PM
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96.5 % more WUB WUB : )
this and max payne are the 2 games i am really looking forward to this year

Forum Posts: 68
Comment #12 by KyLeKhAoS
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 04:42:08 AM
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Definitely looking forward to this! I just played the first game, got my platinum, then finished the Dr. Ned Zombie DLC, I still have the rest to go, but surely I can get 100% before September =)

Forum Posts: 98
Comment #13 by bobbygo20
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 04:50:10 AM
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Forum Posts: 691
Comment #14 by crazyrice24
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 08:50:42 PM
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borderland 1 was actually a fun game i enjoyed it alot though i had no real friends except one who brought it so most of the time i would play w/ randoms

fun game hope borderland 2 also has a easy platinum

Forum Posts: 117
Comment #15 by four_2113
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 01:11:40 AM
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Septemher cannot come fast enough!!! Now all we need is some Vita Borderlands...

Forum Posts: 1515
Comment #16 by DarkByke
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 01:10:09 PM
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Not interested in new characters... would have preferred more backstory on the other ones..

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #17 by nov26ooo
Saturday, April 07, 2012 @ 02:05:10 PM
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i did love part 1, and for sure i will get second part too. but maybe i will wait for the goty to save some money

Forum Posts: 314
Comment #18 by ZombieBP
Saturday, April 07, 2012 @ 04:35:14 PM
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I really look forward to this game although I would have preferred to have kept the phasewalk ability or for them to just give this phaselock (which seems the same as singularity from mass effect or other games) in addition to phasewalk.

Forum Posts: 124
Comment #19 by Fatboyrick
Sunday, April 08, 2012 @ 10:45:41 PM
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I cant wait for this game i already pre-ordered it

Forum Posts: 292
Comment #20 by brandaman69
Monday, April 09, 2012 @ 04:41:59 PM
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Hated the first one but buying the 2nd one to play with friends can't wait to use Zer0

Forum Posts: 2319
Comment #21 by Crowquilt
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 01:48:08 AM
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No retarded fun-less arena dlc please. Can't wait to see the new guns + stats they give.

Forum Posts: 165
Comment #22 by lfcfrank94
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 05:16:40 AM
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This looks epic, the first one was so much fun and was one of the few online co op games i really liked, looks like this has even more features, especially the 5 classes :D

Forum Posts: 265
Comment #23 by Hayward022
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 08:39:18 PM
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I would be impressed if someone wrote there will be googles of blank.

Forum Posts: 158
Comment #24 by Shika
Saturday, April 14, 2012 @ 07:34:33 PM
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"You’ll still just be visiting static NPCs to pick up veiled fetch quests."

this was the killer of the 1st for me, but if the 2nd makes the gameplay that much better it shouldn't be too bad

Forum Posts: 13
Comment #25 by LivingFestival
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 01:24:52 AM
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THIS LOOKS SICK :D so excited for it to come out.

Forum Posts: 157
Comment #26 by MenToS
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 11:16:11 PM
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Cannot wait!!!, I would go with gunzerker

Forum Posts: 8
Comment #27 by tomx1986x
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 02:30:36 AM
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can not wait i loved borderlands best game ever hours of fun never got old new siren looks bad ASS

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #28 by Vocaloid
Sunday, April 22, 2012 @ 05:34:14 PM
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Oh this will just be pure awesome all over again

Forum Posts: 98
Comment #29 by bobbygo20
Tuesday, May 01, 2012 @ 12:29:02 PM
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first one was awesome... second is promising to be even batter!

Forum Posts: 97
Comment #30 by Beanz777
Sunday, May 06, 2012 @ 12:37:10 PM
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Loved the first game, can't wait.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #31 by moltenbullet
Sunday, May 06, 2012 @ 06:32:05 PM
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CANT WAIT TO PLAY THIS!!! anyone wanna play this with me when it is out?? pm me if so!

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #32 by tjforever
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 @ 02:13:05 PM
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@3 dude lilith is the narator. id rather have her talking to us the entire time then play as her


Forum Posts: 426
Comment #33 by maiku1
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 02:20:35 AM
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This looks even better than the first one and I thought that it was impossible! In anticipation for this, I'm making my friend play the JP version with me on the weekends so he can help me stack and get the trophies all over again. :)

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Game Info
Gearbox Software
2K Games


US September 18, 2012
Europe September 21, 2012
Japan October 25, 2012

Resolution: 480p, 720p
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Players: 1-2
Online Players : 2-4
ESRB: Mature
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