Back in 2009 gamers got their first taste of Pandora with Borderlands, almost 3 years later gamers are ready to make their way back. Borderlands 2 was the one game at PAX East that I wanted to play more then anything and I got my chance.

The awesome statue at PAX East! (Photo by Dawn Bernard)

As I made my way into the 2k booth to try out Borderlands 2 for the first time, I was left breathless. In front of the booth over by the press entrance stood a giant statue of the game’s cast. The Gunzerker, The Siren, The Assassin, and The Commando stood larger then life in all their glory. While I had hoped to try out Zero ( the new assassin class) there were only 2 characters to choose from, Salvador The Gunzerker and Maya The Siren. I took my time making my way to the demo station hoping to get to choose which character I would play.  The choice wasn’t given, so while I wanted to try out the Assassin class (which wasn’t available) I had held out hope to at least try the new Gunzerker, which unfortunately didn’t happen. I got “stuck” with Maya the new Siren. Now don’t get me wrong I was glad to get my hands on Borderlands 2, I just hadn’t enjoyed the Siren in Borderlands 1 much and wasn’t really looking forward to testing her out in my brief time with the sequel. In the first game the Siren seemed lame, her Phasewalk ability, to me at least, seemed to be boring and not very useful. So thinking I would be checking out the scenery more then actually doing what I loved  in Borderlands (shooting stuff) I swallowed my pride and began my demo.

Gunzerker Skill tree

After running around a bit and reacquainting myself with the fabulous controls I began my trek in the only direction available. Before actually reaching any enemies the guys running the demo walked over to the station I was playing at to inform me and my fellow co-op partner that we were given 15 skill points to use as we wanted. Into the menu I went, quickly absorbing as much about the Siren’s skills trees as I could. The new interface is beautiful, and the menus are much easier to navigate. Seeing as it was a timed demo, I made a snap decision to go with the Siren’s healer tree. It allowed me to shoot my co-op partner to heal him, as well as use the Siren’s new Phaselock ability to get him up from a distance. Wait did I just say that the Siren has a healing tree? Yup. While the original Borderlands focused on 4 player co-op game play, it sorely lacked an actual healing class. The new healing Siren tree remedies this and gives players an even greater reason to use one of each of the classes while playing with their friends. But soon my skill choice seemed to be in vain, while I continued onward into the world, my co-op partner decided to take a detour and climb up and over a mountain. Left alone I continued on to explore the area.

I wonder if we could throw the little guy?

In the first Borderlands the landscape was mostly desert with a few cityscapes thrown in. The area in the demo was a nice new direction to see the series go in. I found myself in what appeared to be a broken down and rotted factory. Small pieces of land were the only safe haven from the lakes, puddles, and what looked like oceans of corrosive water. It was soon after walking into this area I spotted my first enemy, well it spotted me. This odd bug like creature charged me while I was taking in the huge landscape. I took aim and began shooting the thing, I was happy to see that damage numbers still fly from the enemy with each hit, giving direct feedback of how well my current equipped weapon was doing. Well seeing as I was in a corrosive landscape which this bug thing obviously resided my currently equipped corrosive weapon didn’t do anything against the enemy. I quickly pressed the left button on the d-pad and smiled gleefully as my character pulled out one big freaking rocket launcher. Lets just say that enemy didn’t bother me for much longer.

I guess on Pandora a sword is the closest thing to a bug zapper.

I continued my trek thru the demo jumping over corrosive liquid and fighting these bug creatures. It was at one point that I was being swarmed by a bunch of them I noticed one of them doing something new and intriguing. It stopped attacking and transformed itself into a “Badass Pod”, paying no mind to this pod I continued devastating the waves of enemies around me, this was a mistake. That nonchalant pod, soon broke open and I was staring a much beefier, stronger version of the bugs things I had been killing. This new mechanic of having enemies transform into stronger versions was cool. It took me by surprise and caused me to change up my tactics a bunch. Having found a new weapon, I began unloading round after round into this stronger enemy. Soon the clip was out and I had to reload, I pressed the reload button and was horrified as Maya threw the gun away in front of her. What was my character doing? I needed that weapon and now I was just throwing it away. My concerns were soon quelled as a brand new, fully stocked gun “magically” appeared in my hands. The one I threw away soon exploded, and killed the giant bug enemy. This new reload feature while freaking me out at first, was freaking cool.

Phaselock I think yes!

As my time with Borderlands 2 began to wind down, I found myself in another area with a new enemy. Thrashers are a new type of enemy that resembles a sandworm, they borrow under the ground and then pop up and slash at the player. I guess I shouldn’t have been in this area alone as there were a ton of them, including one which seemed to be a boss. I quickly got overwhelmed and was downed. Shot after shot, I unloaded into the group hoping to kill one to get a second wind, which I was able to do.  Trying to run away I was soon, downed and had to go through the pattern all over again. This process continued for what seemed like forever, until the only enemy left was the boss. I used the Phaselock on the boss and was rewarded with the enemy being suspended in the air temporarily, letting me get shot after shot in on it. I kept using this tactic to bring down the beast. The demo ended and I was forced to put down the controller and wait for the game’s release this September.

The gangs all here.

I was a huge fan of the first Borderlands playing as much of that game as I could. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could be any more excited for the Borderlands 2 then I was before playing. Well you can bet I was wrong, Borderlands 2 looks, and feels like it’s shaping up to be one great game. I don’t know about you guys but I know what I will be doing on September 18.

the author

When not writing about games I am playing them, talking about them or reading about them. Aside from videogames my time is spent with my beautiful fiance, my family &/or my friends. My other hobbies include Magic the Gathering, cooking, DC comics, movies, podcasts, and reading fiction novels.