Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 Hands-On Preview - Siren Song
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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: 14
Comment #1 by Ark_Thompson
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:04:33 AM
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I can't wait...Finished the first one so many times...This game is gonna be awesome.

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #2 by kaiyo penguin
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:11:54 AM
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finally got round to working my way through the first one. loving it so far! so this is gonna be a definite buy. :)

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #3 by Novaflame13
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:14:55 AM
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Can't Wait!

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #4 by gartside27
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:17:12 AM
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This will be epic! Comes out just after my birthday too which is nice as I'll actually have the money to buy it :D Keep going Gearbox, this is a franchise your fans adore!!

Forum Posts: 1485
Comment #5 by dirge
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:17:59 AM
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Simply cannot wait to get back into some more outstanding four player co-op!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #6 by GSG9Enigma
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:25:15 AM
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Can't wait for this going amazing will be getting this on day of release

Forum Posts: 623
Comment #7 by Teh Phantomz
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:32:15 AM
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Get in my Xbox!!

Forum Posts: 96
Comment #8 by Aliasalpha
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:51:52 AM
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Damn, I was sure I wiped out the skags, damned things are like roaches!

Did Maya seem significantly different than Lilith in terms of gameplay?

Also weren't sirens supposed to be insanely rare? I have some vague memory of them being numbered in single digits. I may well be remembering wrong.

Forum Posts: 553
Comment #9 by Hansathan
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:55:25 AM
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Sounds like I'll be playing as the Siren again!

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #10 by GVTEDxGNVSHERxGOD
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:56:13 AM
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Damn I Can't wait, 1215 Gamerscore In Borderlands...Yeahhhh!!!!!!!!

Forum Posts: 7120
Comment #11 by Opiate42
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 07:57:29 AM
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@ 8 : I believe so.
"There are reportedly six Sirens in existence at the time that the events in Borderlands take place."

Who knows how many have been altered since the time of the first game. Lots 'O alien probing.

Took some warming up but I really did enjoy the first game. Looking forward to this.

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #12 by ruby kavalier
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 08:10:19 AM
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I knew I wanted this from the first hour I started playing the first one. Cannot wait. I will be in line on day 1 at PAX East to play the demo.

Forum Posts: 451
Comment #13 by deluxnugs
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 08:23:53 AM
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@7.ha thats great.i just hope they dont sub out the dlc like claptraps revolution.that was shit.the rest of the game was top notch

Forum Posts: 13
Comment #14 by frankumms
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 08:37:44 AM
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Love the first, hopefully this does have a better story though, seriously the borderlands ending was just awful.. Yay you killed a giant monster.. ok all done.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #15 by RichWaterz
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 08:47:39 AM
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Will we get a demo sometime soon?

Forum Posts: 592
Comment #16 by TransonicPower
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 09:22:56 AM
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Hopefully they support this game wit awesome dlc like they did with first borderlands. Expect the fucking arena piece of shit. I'm. Saving clap trap dlc for September to get extra pumped for this game near release.

Forum Posts: 2286
Comment #17 by Daiphyer.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 09:31:05 AM
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I love the changes they have made to the art-style. Looks so good.

Forum Posts: 469
Comment #18 by francisrossi
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 09:41:26 AM
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@14 - Not only that, but you don't get into the Vault, and the loot you get instead is garbage. The three times I've finished the game, I've never once got anything better than what I was already carrying.

Forum Posts: 305
Comment #19 by bfmv lfc
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 09:51:29 AM
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Can't wait and the 21st is my birthday. Should be a good birthday this year!

Forum Posts: 219
Comment #20 by Jagerboy
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 10:12:24 AM
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Fuck. Yes.
Can't wait, this game is going consume hundreds & hundreds of hours of my life.

Forum Posts: 1694
Comment #21 by Jack Frost
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 11:10:26 AM
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I just hope they allow you enough levels to completely fill out the skill tree this time.

Plus, I think those new graphics look pretty damn slick...

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #22 by Killa12
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 11:57:15 AM
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I will be buying this

Forum Posts: 1635
Comment #23 by HugTheBear
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 12:26:28 PM
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This is my GoTY. Can't wait.

Forum Posts: 19
Comment #24 by wickedclowns95
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 12:33:43 PM
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Cool skill selection screen, can't wait for this!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #25 by starstrike
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 01:01:30 PM
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A lot of those Siren abilities sound like biotic powers from ME.

Forum Posts: 107
Comment #26 by Darth Bambrox
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 01:41:27 PM
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Borederlands 1 goes down as one of my fav games of all time, had many hours of solo/co-op fun in pandora so Ihave very high hopes for this game, lets just hope the same sort of satirical comedy is involved in vast amounts :)

Forum Posts: 107
Comment #27 by Darth Bambrox
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 01:43:49 PM
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*Borderlands* wtb edit button!

Forum Posts: 2291
Comment #28 by Xerofox
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 01:47:43 PM
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96,5% more Wubb, Wubb for sure, can't wait for this game. Will be awesome in 4 player co-op again. Too bad my precious Mordecai/Bloodwing isn't there no more.

Forum Posts: 124
Comment #29 by CenozoicZombie
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 04:47:18 PM
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Any news on Borderlands 2 is good news! This is a def buy. First one was an all-around great experience.

Forum Posts: 136
Comment #30 by Spliter Rifle
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 05:04:17 PM
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I just creamed...

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #31 by ChaosBadger77
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 06:05:54 PM
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i cannot wait for this game, going to have to dig the first one out now to get tuned up ready :)

Forum Posts: 7
Comment #32 by seto kaiba
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 08:14:44 PM
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cant wait!!!

Forum Posts: 258
Comment #33 by secretkaos187
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 08:20:41 PM
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hope they fix the damn collision detection in this game!!! I am looking forward to this game!!!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #34 by Murdoc Leonhart
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 10:02:20 PM
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Everyone knows the hunter class is the best... I said it. I cant wait to play as Zero and ninja cut everyone to pieces. Also why doesnt my gamercard show up next to my post?

Forum Posts: 41
Comment #35 by MasterGazelle
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 03:24:35 AM
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The first one was a game that kept you playing even after completion. Can you say Crawmerax? Hopefully this one will too

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #36 by annonomys
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 08:45:27 AM
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i just hope theres gonna be another guy like the soldier and the dlc's are gonna be just as good as the first one except for the underdome that was too time consuming

Forum Posts: 537
Comment #37 by xRelentlessx
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 01:42:31 PM
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Don't want to wait until September, Now please!!

Forum Posts: 47
Comment #38 by NWH SHAGSTETR
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 07:21:58 PM
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Forum Posts: 84
Comment #39 by A7X x Shadow
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 08:42:37 PM
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As long as Claptraps and the awesome humor are in the game, I'm getting it. Graphics are just another detail, although I did get lost a lot with those same-colored mountains strewn about everywhere.

Forum Posts: 16
Comment #40 by MattCannell91
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 05:47:20 AM
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I can't wait for this!

Just as long as Gearbox promise no more Mad Moxxy-esq DLC!

Forum Posts: 53
Comment #41 by JT Gregory
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 06:07:26 AM
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i want it now =(

Forum Posts: 35
Comment #42 by casademorte
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 03:08:07 PM
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I can't wait for this, but as a couple of you have said already, Please no Underdome type dlc. That was possibly the worst dlc I have ever played. Thank goodness for infinite shields and modded guns.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #43 by vSeeKeRv
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 03:58:45 PM
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Forum Posts: 12521
Comment #44 by Spanish Assault
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 04:49:28 PM
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this is one of the few games I'm looking forward to buying.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #45 by michaelused
Saturday, April 07, 2012 @ 05:24:58 PM
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God I wish this game came out sooner than it does haha I cannot wait to play it!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #46 by Dom 4ZA Blues
Saturday, April 07, 2012 @ 05:47:11 PM
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In the immortal words of Scooter, "Smokin' Jesus Titty Cinammon!" I loved the first game so much and this one looks even better! Roll on September!!!

Forum Posts: 125
Comment #47 by Jesuit007
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 10:50:02 AM
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I wonder how much extra content comes with the Mechromancer. I'll be pre-ordering for sure, but I'm still curious. Hopefully she's not just a re-skin.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #48 by Phenux
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 03:17:47 PM
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I hope they dont throw Dlc at our heads like crazy, if so i will just buy the goty edition

Forum Posts: 27
Comment #49 by shadowfeeder
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 06:29:45 PM
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I enjoyed the first one, but thought it got repetitive fast, hoping the second one will remedy this.

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #50 by Velpro Shoes
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 06:34:41 PM
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Definate pre-order.

1 Unique gun (for everyone individually).
A few gold guns.
An xp gain boost.
A whole nother class.

All added to a game that we all know we are all gunna get anyway!

Forum Posts: 62
Comment #51 by detrainer2
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 @ 03:24:44 AM
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borderlands 1 was soooooo waaauuuwww:O:O:O
I can't wait:) I'm the first who buy the game!!

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #52 by brokenpowerglide
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 @ 11:49:52 AM
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A great game with a couple terrible DLC packs *cough* Underdome *cough*. Hopefully they stay away from that a little or at least allow saving throughout longer tournaments.

Forum Posts: 633
Comment #53 by Samigi
Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 10:27:12 AM
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Wub Wub

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #54 by XAntietamX
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 03:02:09 PM
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Shut up and take me money!

Forum Posts: 48
Comment #55 by RydiaFromFF2
Saturday, April 14, 2012 @ 11:36:18 PM
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I just hope they bring the ability to refight bosses on this one... I wanted to fight the Vault Keeper and few others more then once but after they was dead, it kind of stagnated.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #56 by krispytuna88
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 @ 02:02:49 AM
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cant wait the first one was awesome!!!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #57 by Lampie
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 @ 01:02:36 PM
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This is a releaseday buy for sure. Loved the first one, looking forward to loot and shoot once more.

Forum Posts: 14
Comment #58 by Fellanubis1986
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 @ 08:41:00 PM
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Can't frickin wait for this game!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #59 by MCZ Dragon
Saturday, April 21, 2012 @ 10:06:52 PM
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Can't frickin wait for this game!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #60 by CaliK2
Sunday, April 22, 2012 @ 01:25:52 PM
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Assassin CLASS!!! FTW

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #61 by Healedfiend13
Monday, April 23, 2012 @ 11:46:56 AM
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The first one was amazing and it looks like this one will be too.

Forum Posts: 48
Comment #62 by darky the hun
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 @ 09:09:11 AM
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@8 Well, we only saw 1 confirmed siren (Lilith), and the general is rumored to be the other one. Even if they are in single digit numbers, whe only meet 2 during the course of the game, so...

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #63 by lustpuppet
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 01:20:09 PM
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This is the class I've been most excited about.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #64 by Seridak
Saturday, May 26, 2012 @ 05:59:09 AM
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so stoked

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Game Info
Gearbox Software
2K Games


US September 18, 2012
Europe September 21, 2012

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