Three Words for Borderlands 2: Harder, Bolder, Diverser

There’s been a general consensus concerning Borderlands 2: It’s bigger, badder, and better. While this is certainly true, there are three other words that describe the latest game from Gearbox Software quite well.

Harder

This was my first impression of the game wayyy back at PAX East. This game was hard. Really hard. I couldn’t run up to my enemies guns blazing and hope for the best. Instead, I needed to be precise with my shots, tactical with my movement, careful with my planning.

Now, is this Ninja Gaiden Black difficult? Of course not. But at the same time, the days of firings bullets until my clip empties as I run through Pandora are long gone. And you know what? I’m glad about this for two reasons. First, it encourages you to bring friends. Make no mistake, you can play this game by yourself, but at its heart, Borderlands is all about the multiplayer. Even their tagline is “Mayhem awaits. Bring friends.” But remember, while it may seem easier to do missions with four people instead of just one, recall that the game is more difficult with more people playing it. This helps add some serious substance to the game. You’ll duck for cover, you’ll have purpose in your weapon selection other than simply stats, and you’ll coordinate with your allies. And it’s all because the game is more difficult this time around.

Bolder

I guess I couldn’t escape using adjectives that begin with “B.” Oh well, but it remains: Borderlands 2 is a bold sequel that’s not afraid to crank the volume up to 11 as it tries to tell a decent story.

I did a lot of walking in the original game to the point where that’s all I remember. (Well, that and driving.) Sure, I ran across some bosses with stylized splash pages, but that seemed to dissipate as the game went on. That’s far from the case in the sequel, where, yes, there’s still walking and driving, but more bosses, more shooting, more action, and more saying, “Oh crap, how the hell am I going to defeat this?!” Isn’t that what you want in a game that’s all about finding guns and shooting things with said guns? Shouldn’t you spend virtually all your time killing things? That’s what Gearbox thinks, at least.

Diverser

I could mention how the landscape of Pandora has changed and actually looks varied in specific environments over the original’s shades of brown and call it a day (or the fact that “diverser” isn’t actually a real word). Truth be told, though, there’s far more diversity than just meets the eye.

Let’s take a look at my favorite classes from both games: the hunter and assassin. No matter the hunter spec, I’d always be at a safe distance having my bird harass as I pick enemies off. With the assassin, my playstyle depends on my talents. I prefer to run in stealthed and melee my enemies, while I’ve found others content staying far away and sniping. The ability to play a class in vastly different styles opens up a world of possibilities that weren’t really there in the original, allowing you to change up your playstyle without having to start from the beginning.

As for my thoughts on the game in general? I can summarize them with one sentence:

Borderlands 2 improves on the original in nearly every possible way, creating a high-octane experience that begs to be played.

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