Borderlands 2 - Mike's Rebuttal

Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, Windows, PlayStation 3
Genre Betterlands? Not so much
Score 8... for now  Clock score of 8
Buy from Amazon

What began as a simple reply to my original Borderlands 2 review grew into a full on rebuttal almost as long as the original piece! We wouldn't normally rewrap comments into their own review, but since Mike in Omaha is our resident Borderlands expert and I was eagerly looking forward to his own thoughts on the game, I asked for permission to make a little copy and paste magic behind the scenes. What you see is his original comment to my review with some bonus formatting to highlight his specific points.

Before I hand it off to Mike, I'd like to thank him for transforming my original Borderlands 1 experience from a fun solo experience into an absolute blast of cooperative fun. He gave me guns, helped me fight the final boss together multiple times, and exponentially broadened my knowledge of the game. He's an expert on Borderlands, its biggest fan, and as you'll see below, its biggest critic. He awarded Borderlands 1 a 10/10 and provided first hour reviews for both games.

Here's Mike in Omaha on Borderlands 2 and specifically my review of the game from Monday. Original comment from October 10, 2012 at 2:07 PM.

I was going to write a full game review myself, but you've done a great job with your review and I agree with most of what you've written so I'll just add a couple of my observations/disagreements so far.

First, let me agree with you about the grenades and shields. They've really made these more interesting and more useful. Lots to see and do with regards to ones shields and grenades, allowing deeper customization and application of a variety of defensive and offensive playstyles. However...

"The guns, all 87 bazillion of them, feature much more variety in Borderlands 2."

I've actually found the opposite. I liked the idea of each manufacturer having a "Schtick" in theory but in practice I've found it actually pigeonholes the weapons too much, restulting in less variety, not more. For instance, I can tell you that I will ignore every hyperion gun immediately because they all have that terrible accuracy for the first few shots. I also don't use Tediore because I really dislike the grenade effect of the guns. I'm a guy who loves a full clip, so I'm constantly reloading. Do that with a tediore and you'll be out of ammo in about a minute. And the guns that have burst fire while zoomed, those are also very restricting. So I actually found that the guns were much more limiting this time, even as they tried to offer more variety, they really ended up with less since each brand is so similar to other guns of that brand. In Borderlands 1, there was a greater range within each manufacturer. They still had their own identity (Jacobs was all about power, S&S Munitions specialized in high capacity magazines, etc), but each identity was broad enough that you never knew for sure if the gun would be good or bad, or would be better than something you were using now. The new weapon design means the guns of each brand are more recognizable yes, but also more predictable, meaning fewer interesting and meaningful combinations.

"Borderlands 1 was a great game, Borderlands 2 is a greater game. Gearbox fixed many of the irks and pains of the first game"

So far, for me, Borderlands 1 is a much better game. While I do appreciate the improvements you skillfully enumerate in your review, especially the increase in enemy types and development of the story, they've lost a lot of the magic of the first game. Seeing Pandora with lots of water and even lush environments with grass and streams and such has really changed my reality. Part of the magic of Pandora was the presentation as this vast Mad Max wasteland. An environment so poison and lifeless that anything that actually does live there would be incredibly dangerous and aggressive (or it would be dead). The effort to offer more visually interesting environments (to address some peoples complaints about the first game which I never shared) has meant that the Pandora of the first game was really just a region and that the "badnessness" of the planet is really just because of monsters, not also because of the incredibly inhospitable environment. It's subtle but it's a big shift none the less.

Borderlands 2 Siren Pandora Night Magic

Also, the classes feel much less "wild and fun" this time around. They are probably a bit better balanced (which pleases many critics) but there's no more going crazy like in the first game, at least not perhaps till the very end game. In Borderlands 1, going berserk as Brick, or Phaseblasting as Lilith or dropping Bloodwing could be a total game changer, even at very low level. The special powers of Borderlands 2 are not nearly so gamechanging. At least not until we got the Mechromancer. Each class has a skill that, rather than being amazing on its own, contributes to a cool group dynamic. This, to me, makes the game much less solo friendly (although, it probably makes the game feel deeper in co-op play). The first game was lauded for its inspired co-op design. But in my opinion the single player aspect never suffered because the classes were much more autonomous. In this game, the classes feel more needy. They almost feel imcomplete without another player to help make the most of their powers. Particularly with the introduction of slag (which was an effect that was part of corrosion in the first game, causing enemies to take more damage from bullets while being under its effect). Slag is much more effective in groups. Without a group, it's actually a pain to try to utilize for most of the game. You're constantly forced to switch weapons and/or switch grenade mods. In combination with enemies having massive resistance to certain elements necessitating equipment changes already, that kind of further metagame management isn't particularly fun. It's made worse by the fact that they've significantly nerfed elemental weapons, while at the same time making them more necessary.

In Borderlands 1, if you're using an elemental weapon, there are two damage components. Bullet damage and elemental effect damage. In that game, if an enemy was resistant to the elemental damage, you could still count on them at least taking bullet damage. However, in Borderlands 2, they've made a pretty serious change. In Borderlands 2, if a creature is resistant to elemental damage, they also resist that guns bullet damage. So, for example if you have a super powerful combat rifle that also does fire damage, a fire skag will resist both, turning your super powerful combat rifle into a useless toy. This bothers me for two reasons. It makes good guns with elemental damage much less generally useful. And second, it means more weapon switching and inventory juggling for solo gamers. In Borderlands 2, I feel the need to carry around more versions of guns to do the job. There's more to do and juggle. This detracts from the overall experience in my opinion.

I'd also like to mention the badass rank system which I think is pretty cool. I particularly like how it is profile wide so that your increases will help any and all characters that you create. You don't have to start over with each new character. I also love the inifinite ability to upgrade your stats using it.  I do miss the proficiency and mini-quest system it replaced though. I very much liked the idea that as you use certain weapons you get better with THOSE weapons. If you want to be good with a shotgun, just kill more stuff with it. In Borderlands 2, if you use an SMG all the time, you STILL get better with shotguns and snipers. That feels a little off.

Borderlands 2 Handsome Jack Striking Pose

Then there is the scaling. They seem to have exponentially increased it per level. This does a couple of things. First, it can make difficulty feel very swingy. Something that is just a level or two above you can seem pretty hard. I've not had a lot of problems with this, but reading lots of feedback on the gearbox forums, it seems people think this game is a lot harder. I would argue that is at least in part due to the increased scaling effect. If you don't do enough side quests to maintain your level, this game will get harder faster than the first one. Second, it means that the math will skyrocket in the end game. Where guns early on do damage of 30-75 per bullet, you'll see guns later doing damage in the thousands per bullet. In the first game, where a great shield at level 50 might have been a 3000 point shield, in this game, a similar shield will offer 30,000 points of protection. But, yet, the enemies damage is also scaling so the increased protection is really just an illusion. An illusion that requires silly-large numbers to make it work. I say remove the ridiculous scaling so that things are a manageable scale again.

Lastly, I will lament the loss of repeaters and revolvers as distinct weapon types. First, I liked having a separate ammo pool and second, because again, it means we have less variety in the weapons we find. Gone are the glory days of giant hand cannons that could even be a good backup for a sniper. And so far, gone also are the ridiculous machine pistols that were like shotguns at close range, total bullet hoses with horrible accuracy and insane fire rates.

Ok, so my comments seem pretty negative. Overall, I do like the game. Not as much as the first, much of the magic of the first game has been "fixed", especially in solo play. But it's still very good. My critiques are those of someone who spent altogether too much time playing the original. I miss the previous classes and how guns and proficiencies worked. I miss that this game is more co-op driven and not as solo friendly. But I love the new quest mechanics, the pervasive ranking system and the class design while playing co-op. I think the game feels more complete and the design is more mature. I love the humor, the characters and the much more fleshed out story (the ending was more satisfying than the first game). With about 100 hours of playtime using 4 of the 5 available classes, beating the game solo as the siren and in co-op as the commando, I'd give it a very solid 8, but with a sad face next to it because I was more excited for this game to come out than probably any game in the last 10 years and for me Borderlands the original was easily a 10.

Comments

Falling

Something else has been bugging me.

If I remember correctly, and I think Mike in Omaha could confirm this, in the original Borderlands, you took damage if you fell from too high of a place. This made traversing over slabs of rock or trying to make a really long jump...stressful. Uncertain. A game of risk and reward. Now, in Borderlands 2, you can jump from any height and land as soft as a feather on the ground, not a dent in your shield, not a drop in your health. There's even a mission that ends with you leaping off a really tall tower, just so you can get to the bottom of the map quicker, which is where the fast-travel station is. Guess the developers didn't want you to have to backtrack down the tower's insides or build a custom exit route. I dunno. It just seems weird and aesthetically unneeded. There's certainly less risk in exploring. Throughout the Highlands, there's a bunch of high-up bridges, with some spots to explore below; before, I might have hugged a rock wall, inching my way down on every platform that looked stable, or gone the long way around, knowing that it might take awhile, but I'd get there nonetheless. Now I just jump off and begin shooting.

Some might see this as an enhancement, but I just think it's a bizarre design choice. Unless it was actually like this in the original game, and I'm misremembering that time I leaped off of Moxxi's place to the sandy floor below to lose a lot of health and then get killed by a Drifter.

You're correct

There was fall damage in BL1. However, it was very unpredictable. It had a ramp up that was pretty wild. For most smaller distances you took little to no damage. Practically speaking (mostly flat level design in BL1, it meant you could jump off whatever you wanted) For medium distances, you took a small amount of damage and then if you go a bit more you take large life threatening amounts of damage. A little more than that and you die before you even hit the ground. It was particularly weird because there were areas where it wouldn't even let you fall a survivable amount, it would just respawn you almost immediately.

I don't have an opinion on this design either way. I was ok with how BL1 did it and I'm ok with how BL2 does it. But even BL2's "no falling damage" has its oddities. There are lots of places where you're simply "not allowed" to fall. If you do, you will die, regardless of whether or not you can see something that you could land on.

I hate fall damage in most

I hate fall damage in most games, I like the removal of it in Borderlands 2 (I'm also like 75% sure it was in the original game). What I do find annoying are all the drop zones in heavy fighting areas where you'll accidentally backpedal into a frozen lake or lava or bottomless pit!

Something else I've now noticed

In BL1 when someone shot at you with something special, you could count on that gun dropping for you when you killed whoever was using it. Sometimes, you'd see bullets spiraling crazily through the air, or massive fireburst shotguns, or shield sapping electrical rocket launchers, etc. It was always fun to finally kill that baddy and go over and look at what he was using against you and then add it to your own inventory. BL2 seems to have done away with this. The guns the enemies use against you don't seem to drop when you kill them. I've had bad guys attacking me with awesome slag or corrosive weapons only to have them drop a plane bandit pistol or maybe some ammo. Not sure why they would make this change but it's not an improvement.

Yep

I've noticed this too, I'm guessing it's more about managing the loot experience but it is unfortunate.

Do you like how you can be set on fire, corroded, etc. in BL2? The other day I was killed by a fire DOT and had a good laugh at my misfortune.

Managing the loot experience?

While you're probably right, I find this a little offputting. I don't want them to "manage my loot experience". That's part of what was so awesome about the first game. The loot experience was fantastic. Why make such a dramatic change? (Sure it's a small change in a normal game but in a game that's all about the loot, it's significant).

With regard to DoT effects, I love them, in any game. What I want is that the world is consistent. If I'm dealing damage over time, simply from a weapon, I'd like the enemies to have similar capabilities. Now, in BL, DoT is an interesting beast because it really monkeys things up at times. This is because ones natural tendency in a game with recharging shields is to run away a bit and hide to recharge. But if the damage is coming from a DoT effect and you run away to recharge and end up dying anyway, you've just removed (or nearly so) your ability to get second wind.

Morderlands 2

I finished Borderlands 2 a week or so ago and overall had a good time, save for a few spots where things got glitchy. I'll try to summarize some thoughts here, but expect this to kind of be all over the place.

I really think it's a case of more of the same, with some enhancements. This doesn't reflect extreme enthusiasm or heartbreaking disappointment on my part: it's exactly what it looks like. Another Borderlands game. Which is a weird statement to make, considering there's only two in the world, with an IOS thingy to come out by the end of this month. There's a stronger, clearer story to follow, with a villain that is, right from the get-go, easily hate-able. Alas, the writing becomes overbearing, and Handsome Jack quickly flips from being a villain you hate to a villain you just want to shut up already. The inclusion of previous Vault Hunters along the main story missions is nice if odd, considering they never had stories before, and now we're getting them here. When we should probably be caring more about the new quadruplet of treasure-seekers. I mean, if you take that stance, we'll be learning why Axton the commander says "Cool story, bro!" or why Salvador is so angry and able to fire two rocket launchers at once with ease in Borderlands 3. Yeah, we get bits and pieces about them from audio logs--if you can find them all--but that's secondary telling; I want to learn about Maya the Siren from Maya the Siren.

The writing varies. There are funny parts, and really not funny parts. Most of the humor fails when it is trying to reference a meme from three years ago. Or when they just don't know where to draw the line (i.e., Tiny Tina). But when you come back from a mission to your headquarters, go upstairs, and eavesdrop on a conversation between Lilith and Roland, and just sit there for a bit, taking it in--that works just fine. Shoe-horning Handsome Jack so that he has some connection to the original game felt unnecessary, but not bothersome. Most of the side quests are humorous in nature, even if it's just fetch-questing or going and killing that dude.

There are aspects to Borderlands 2 that I simply love, but they are mostly cosmetic. Unlockable heads and skins for your character are great additions to help you feel like your Vault Hunter is special and more unique than someone else's. The way the quest system is constantly updating itself, checking off finished tasks and swooping in new ones really feels wondrous. Especially during Claptrap's birthday party quest. Lastly, that blue diamond when you are near your quest marker...perfect. And needed.

As for the problems I had with the game--and I'm playing on my ol' Xbox 360 here--a blue-colored weapon from a boss drop got glitched into a rock, and I was unable to pick it up, no matter how many times I tried squatting or looking this way and that. Also, I was able to beat the final boss by hiding in a certain spot, firing a weapon with corrosive bullets, and just watching its health tick by over time; really reminded me of the final fight from the original game, which was a cakewalk as well. I, too, think it's a shame that weapon proficiency was dropped in lieu of other perks, like Badass Ranks and relics to enhance performance with a specific gun type/weapon manufacturer. I can only imagine what my SMG proficiency would be like at my level 34 Siren...

One other thing: money is stupid. In the original game, you'd be picking up wads of cash or Marcus statues for large amounts of cash ($300 to $3000 range). Gone are those high prices. Now you pick up amounts of $3 and $7. What does it matter? It doesn't. Money is only there as a detraction, something to "lose" when you "lose" and respawn down the road. I rarely purchased anything from a vendor machine, especially now that Eridium is a separate currency for unlocking bonus weapon slots and increase ammo capacity. So money is just something to collect now. At least you automatically pick it up--sometimes this doesn't work--when you walk by it, but really. It's just silly. Last I checked, my Siren had a pocketbook of around $11,000 last time I played. If only there was a gun that shot money as its ammo...

I don't really think Borderlands 2 is a better game, just more of the same. That's not a terrible thing to be, especially considering the hours I sunk into the original. It just didn't do enough to shake things up. For some reason, I just don't see that happening again this time around, especially since the first DLC doesn't look like it's doing anything crazy to mix things up in terms of quest types and weapons. I'm gonna keep playing, as I want to know what the other classes play like, but it's more of a curiosity now than a desire.

Third Installment

This could be the third installment in the First Hours series: "Every writer on First Hour Reviews Borderlands".
Seriously though you've made a lot of good observations and it's refreshing to read a review/feedback on a game that takes a totally different angle (the story and how we interact with it) as the focus of ones experience. It really makes me look at things in a new light. With regard to the money, I agree, it's kind of just "there". I had similar experiences where sometimes, for no reason, it wouldn't automatically get picked up even after I ran over it about 4 times. I will say though that I've found a few pretty good items in the vending machines, almost always in the "Deal of the Day" section. But in general, I have WAY more money than I could need. I also had gear drops clip through the scenery and vice versa, while driving I've "hit" invisible obstructions that nearly throw my vehicle off the road. In particular on the highlands on one side of the large bridge with all the threshers underneath it.

Also on the subject of oddities, I've experienced that it's MUCH harder to trigger (pop open?) the skag/ice piles with loot in them. I used to do this by tapping the interact button repeatedly while running over them in BL1. But in BL2, for some reason it doesn't work more than half the time. You have to really slow down and sometimes you actually have to melee it rather than just generically "interact".

psh

It's irresponsible to NOT punch skag piles, at least for the gunzerker.

I don't do this

I don't type these 3 letters much, but that comment really did make me LOL.

Thanks for the rebuttal

Thank you so much for your super fleshed out opinion of the game, while I may not agree with everything, I definitely respect your opinion, especially coming from you.

"The special powers of Borderlands 2 are not nearly so gamechanging. At least not until we got the Mechromancer. Each class has a skill that, rather than being amazing on its own, contributes to a cool group dynamic. This, to me, makes the game much less solo friendly (although, it probably makes the game feel deeper in co-op play)."

This I have to disagree with, I'm not sure if you played a Gunzerker yet, but his power is definitely a game changer at times. Especially in later levels where I was able to gunzerk for minutes on end by extending it with kills. I have to agree though that the Mechromancer's power is definitely huge, and maybe a bit too much!

I am finding that in True Vault Hunter Mode (playthrough 2) my gunzerking is less and less useful. Nailing crits seems much more important and that is much harder to pull off from any reasonable distance while zerking. I was able to have tons of fun playing the first playthrough on my own about 2/3rds of the time (the other third with Steve), but it looks like TVHM all but requires co-op if you want to move at a decent pace.

You're right

Gunzerker is the one class I've not tried yet. It seemed like the most boring (ok, great, you get to shoot more) which is why i've avoided it to this point. It sounds from what you're saying like perhaps it's the most solo friendly original BL2 class, which would be a bummer since I've spent upwards of 70 hours playing all the others only to find the game less solo friendly. It makes me want to start over a little bit, but I'm close to finishing my first playthrough so I'll probably wait.

Speaking of TVHM, you say co-op is more necessary. Are you doing ALL side missions in this playthrough as well to keep your level up?

Just started

We just started TVHM (beat Flynt), but I was personally planning on skipping most side missions, though I'm not sure if that's going to be possible.

I kinda doubt you can skip

I kinda doubt you can skip most side missions and stay right with the story. But with how the game's exp works, it seems like it catches you up quickly enough with the content anyway.

Either way, it's a LOT faster just now that you know where everything is.

End Game

I wonder how this will effect the end end game. I mean, in BL1, there was good reason to avoid as many side quests as possible on PT2 because once you beat that PT, all the unfinished missions leveled up to 50, giving you a huge number of chances (in the form of newly upgraded LVL 50 red crates) to find all the best loot in what was often referred to as PT2.5. Having to play all the side mission to keep your level up would seem to minimize this capability in BL2, assuming a similar new game+ model. I found a large amount of my orange guns in BL1 on PT2.5 on those side missions. Moreso then refighting the main boss (The Destroyer), which gave next to no good loot. It sounds like BL2 puts a much lower orange drop rate on crates (and many fewer crates overall) leaving the higher (but still pretty low) drop rates on the main bosses. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the longevity of the game.

Yes

This was my reasoning for wanting to skip most side missions on PT2 in BL2. Probably worth looking into how it works now.

Wow, it's very clear that you

Wow, it's very clear that you feel very invested in the original. I can see your points here, but only after I've tried to get in the mind of someone who was that involved. At first glance, all the changes seem for the better, but I can understand some of your concerns.

Personally I think the character balance and abilities are much better than before though. I've played a siren both games now, and she felt extremely weak through most of the original whereas it was at least more interactive and fun this entire time, before I really got to enjoy the class with a full tree.

I also think the weapon system is generally better. The manufacturer-specific actions mean that those manufacturer names will actually mean something to the player, and they'll recognize differences and learn favorites and gravitate towards those. If you prefer one over another, that's not really a problem, they want you to think about it. If a weapon's good enough, you'll probably use it anyway, and reconsider your decisions on the manufacturer.

Also about the change in scenery, did they mention in the story that Pandora was originally a wasteland but began to grow more biomes with Hyperion intervention? I don't exactly remember and don't know how much time were between games, but that would be an understandable difference. Like Greg said, the world really isn't dead anymore and it's not just entirely full of scavengers and treasure seekers. The game and world has been evolving into efforts to make it more civilized.

Thanks Steve

I appreciate your response. You are right that I was very invested in the original, literally and figuratively. I often joke about "hundreds" of hours logged in the first game, but to be perfectly honest, it was probably over a thousand. I still play it today. I purchased the game including all 4 DLCs on on all 3 platforms (PS3/XBOX/PC) and have beaten the game with every class (on XBOX and PC. I only beat it on PS3 with the Siren). I love Pandora and everything about it. The look, the feel, all of it. Please don't mistake my critiques as hating on BL2. Every comment I make, I make out of love for the game and the franchise. I preordered the game to get the Mechromancer class and have already bought the season pass so I'll be spending a lot of time in this game as well. I intend to complete at least the first playthrough with every class available. I expect to enjoy it very much.

I agree, at first glance, this game is chock full of improvements. But my main point is that the improvements are very heavily weighted towards a co-op playstyle. You're right, the classes are more balanced. But that balance comes at a cost, mostly to the solo gamer. But the reward to the co-op player is definitely more tactical play and the ability to more meaningfully work as a team. They've not only rewarded such play with gratifying increased capability, to a large extent they've made the game dependent on it. There's nothing wrong with this as a design decision. But it does impact gamers like me.

With regard to the Siren "feeling weak" I'm not sure what you mean. The Borderlands community at large, generally considered the original Siren to be the most overpowered of the previous classes. She was capable of the highest DPS as well as having the strongest defensive capability. The final raid boss in Knoxx was nearly impossible to defeat solo with any other class. That she needed "fixing" was to bring her power more in line with the other classes. Unless you mean "weak" in regard to her power being boring or something?

With regard to manufacture specific actions, they absolutely existed in the original game. Each manufacturer had their specialties. But those specialties were more broad and didn't generally intrude on how you played the game. They were bonuses, more than playstyle changing. They certainly did "mean something" to me. In fact, I quite miss them. Here they are, for the record, from the Borderlands 1 Wiki:

Atlas - Above average damage and magazine capacity.
Dahl - High recoil reduction, at the cost of accuracy.
Hyperion - Very high recoil reduction and accuracy.
Jakobs - Never manufactures elemental weapons. Very high damage, but with lower fire rate and recoil reduction.
Maliwan - Only manufactures elemental weapons, which have much higher tech regeneration rates. Also benefits from marginal increases to accuracy and reload speed.
S&S Munitions - Very high magazine capacity. Usually manufactures elemental weapons.
Tediore - Extremely fast reload speed, with a slight compromise on damage and accuracy.
Torgue - High damage and slightly higher fire rate, but suffers from much lower accuracy and recoil reduction.
Vladof - Very high fire rate, good recoil reduction, but suffers from much lower accuracy.

You'll notice a pattern. The guns each offered small tradeoffs. Whereas, Borderlands 2 offers fewer tradeoffs and replaces them with gimmicky feeling traits. Why would a gun manufacturer have burst file while zoomed? How does the gun even KNOW that you've zoomed in to change the fire rate? These changes feel somewhat forced and honestly, a bit hokey. Also, a very minor quibble, the guns all look very spacey, like guns that were rejected from older Halo games.

"If you prefer one over another, that's not really a problem, they want you to think about it."

That's just it. The differences are so pronounced, making each gun feel so much like every other gun from that manufacturer, I actually DON'T think about it. Instead of weighing the tradeoffs of each manufacturer, I simply ignore guns by those manufacturers whose gimmicks I don't like.

"Also about the change in scenery, did they mention in the story that Pandora was originally a wasteland but began to grow more biomes with Hyperion intervention? I don't exactly remember and don't know how much time were between games, but that would be an understandable difference. "

If they did, I didn't notice it. They very well may have. There's so much more "story" (echo recorders) and Jack monologues so much (in a good way!), it's possible that it got buried in there somewhere. Five years have passed on Pandora between games as far as I can tell. The only reason I've heard for the increased biological diversity on the planet has been to address gamer complaints of Borderlands 1 sameness. I suppose it's a valid reason to make the change, but it also changes the feel of the game and the planet to one that is, in my opinion, less unified and cohesive. I think they could have added environmental variation while maintaining that dead-planet feel. If the planet is evolving/healing in response to the first vault being open, that would make sense in the broader scope of the game. I agree with you there.

I don't at all take your

I don't at all take your comments as any dislike, but instead out of love for the original.

Does this game encourage co-op play more? Definitely. It would be quite the achievement to phaselock and slag and shock and corrode while burning and exploding :P While it would make a solo player feel slightly inadequate, I don't think it's that much of a problem because solo play isn't too hard, but more a sense of inefficient at least.

I believe the weapons still have their sub-distinctions as well as the major ones, but I could be mistaken (perhaps only some of differences). The larger distinctions were likely made so the average player could further determine between types and specialize. Most people would completely ignore them otherwise, but now it means more even to someone not playing 100+ hours or finding the absolute perfect items for themselves. If you absolutely hate a type, I guess that's a bad thing, but I'm guessing it's meant more to encourage people to think about the weapon types (based on what they saw in the original) or tailor different styles.

I know the siren could be extremely strong in the first, but I was honestly pretty bored playing her in the original, up until the end of the first playthrough once she finally started getting strong abilities. Whereas this time, early abilities also let you craft a useful and interesting/interactive playstyle.

Thanks

Glad to hear that. I don't want anyone to think I'm hacking on the game. It's only by comparison of something I really love that it feels wanting. Had I not played the first game as much as I did, I'm quite certain most of my "issues" wouldn't be issues as all.

Also..

"It would be quite the achievement to phaselock and slag and shock and corrode while burning and exploding :P"

I may be mistaken but I'm pretty sure that the final upgrade on one of the BL2 Siren skill trees does exactly this! But you're right, this can make the solo player feel inefficient. Great choice of words. Words that make it feel like we understand each other at the very least. :)

I think that is actually

I think that is actually true, lol (well, slag shock and corrode). Siren may be kinda OP again once you get used to her. The last control tree ability already completely cheeses bosses that you can phaselock. Two sirens would probably be crazy.

But like, my very first ability causes you to heal everyone around out of phaselock, so you immediately get in-tune to using your abilities strategically. It felt like everything in the original were just minor additions until you could fill out a tree (and playing siren in the first really wasn't fun until you got game-changing phaselock add-ons).

Exactly

"But like, my very first ability causes you to heal everyone around out of phaselock..."

...heal everyone around.....

There's no one around me. I'm playing solo. :)

This is actually in keeping with the first game. In BL1, Roland was the healer class. One of his first skills healed anyone standing near his turret. But seriously, yeah, there are certainly more co-op/tactical elements to the skill trees, which is what I'm seeing too. But also you have to keep in mind, you only had to hit level 21 to engage the final upgrade on a skill tree in BL1 (which was generally the most freakishly cool thing each class could do). In BL2, that number has been pushed out to LVL 31 if I'm not mistaken. In BL1 you could hit the end of 2 skill trees by level 37 which means in a single playthrough of the game you could have an amazingly beefed up character. This is never possible in BL2, where even at LVL50, you don't have enough skill points to max out 2 trees. And there's even a bit more potential frustration with Salvador and Axton who, for some reason have more skill options to spend point on yet no more points to spend.

Phaselocking phun

For me, the Siren--in Borderlands 2; never played with her much in the original--only got "strong" once her Phaselocking did more than just lift an enemy in the sky and take it out of commission for a bit. Currently, when I Phaselock, it also sends out an explosion to enemies around, covers them in corrosive damage, and restores my health if the Phaselocked enemy is killed before the cooldown ends. All pretty handy. It leads to a lot more strategy and has proven just fine in solo boss fights. Though it does seem like most fights are geared towards a group...

Me too

I ran a similar build for a while Paul. But recently I've respec'ed so that my phaselock pulls all the nearby baddies into a vortex like circle where a slag grenade is waiting for them. :) Both are pretty neat.

The major bummer about the phaselock is that it's useless against the baddest enemies. It sucks to think that your talent essentially disappears (does raw damage) when you need it the most (against bosses). Can you imagine if your turret wouldn't function against a boss, or if you were not allowed gunzerk against a boss? That's what they did to the siren.

Changes in biome

Many of the environmental changes are story driven, particularly by Hyperion's near complete takeover of the planet. There's an area very late in the game which actually brings back one of Borderlands 1's early areas, but has completely changed due to Hyperion presence. There's also the whole idea that after the Vault was opened, Eridium was discovered and that seems to have driven a lot of ecological changes too.

Personally, I love the larger variety of areas, Gearbox made each one very distinct whereas I feel a lot of places blended together in Borderlands 1. The Eridium Blight and Caustic Caverns both stand out as triumphs of art design. If I have one complaint, I feel there are almost too many areas in the game and some of them feel underused and one-visit locations, such as Opportunity.

Great point

I agree, the Caustic Caverns is exactly what I would want in an effort to diversify Pandora. It introduces new colors, new enemies and different geographical/ecological design while maintaining that dangerous poisonous feel. I love it. I'm actually really enjoying Opportunity too. It made a great contrast to the start emptiness that is much of the other areas. You're right Greg, it does feel like there are more smaller zones. Thankfully, the new quest structure guides you to fast travel beacons, rather than always routing you overland as the first game did. This is another HUGE improvement in Borderlands 2, the quest system is very robust, giving lots of options in both how they display and how you complete them, whether by level, location or story progression.

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