Guns of Borderlands

It’s no secret to anyone within earshot of a Borderlands commercial that Gearbox’s “role-playing shooter” has a lot of guns. According to the interwebs, someone out there has calculated that the number is somewhere above seventeen million: yup, you read right: 17,000,000. So maybe Gearbox’s estimation of 87 bazillion really isn’t that far off after all…

Hyperbole aside, there are only seven weapon types (besides grenades); those being repeaters (pistol), revolvers, shotguns, sub-machine guns (SMG), combat rifles, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers. But those are just types of weapons. Each gun type has its own set of attributes that differentiate it from other similar guns. These differences range from simple things like having scope, to clip size, to its material composition, length, weight, and stability. And then, of course, there are secondary attributes to consider as well: elemental damage, ammo regeneration, and bonuses and minuses to reload speed and rate of fire. Not mention all the different manufacturer’s of weapons on the world of Pandora – like Dahl, Vladof, S&S, Maliwan and more.

So, unless you’re really into your stats and charts and mathematical equations, you can assume right along with us that there’s a LOT of guns to be found, and seventeen million plus sounds about right. But what should you be looking for when you’re out in the wide open borderlands of Pandora? Here’s some tips we’ve successfully gleaned while doing our own bit of alien archeology.

First things first, you’ve got to find a weapon type you’re comfortable using over and over again. Personally, I’m not a big fan of revolvers, but I absolutely adore my combat rifles and SMGs. But if it doesn’t have a scope, I hardly give it a second look before selling it back to Marcus’s vending machines.

So, what’s in a good weapon? Well, if it’s a repeater, you’re likely to find plentiful ammunition, but smaller clip sizes; solid accuracy over short distances, but, early on any way, it’s not going to replace Halo 3: ODST’s pistol.

Revolvers tend to have more kick than repeaters, which means more stopping power against foes, and quicker fire rates, but awfully slow reload rates.

Shotguns do what shotguns go best: wide spreading, close-up damage. SMGs are great at medium distance crowd control.

Combat rifles are a good alternative for a sniper rifle at a medium distance. They aren’t going to have the same impact as a sniper round, but when fired in three-round bursts, they do a nice job of depleting a shield to almost nothing.

Sniper rifles can take up to a full second or two to reload between shots, and sometimes a full five seconds when changing clips, but if you’re at the right distance, this shouldn’t matter too much in the long run.

And what more can be said about rocket launchers? They’re big, they’re loud and, best of all, they’re messy (and really spread out of the love). You’ll dish out a lot of pain with one of these in your arsenal, but you’ll be at the receiving end while you’re reloading.

What you will quickly notice is that while you’ll have two weapons in your backpack, say two sniper rifles, and while they’re both designed for long-range combat, you’re going to see a lot of difference between them. This is where the little touches make the biggest differences.

Sticking with our two sniper rifles, let’s say one of them has a standard six-round clip with bolt action, meaning after each shot you have to wait a brief moment while your character snaps back the bolt to load the next round before steadying to make a second shot. Not a big deal, you’re thinking, because all sniper rifles are like this. But are they? When you pull out that second sniper rifle, you notice that that one has a revolver chamber instead of a clip. Maybe it has a smaller number of rounds it can hold – say five – but you’re going to be firing off those five rounds in the time it takes you to fire off two rounds with your bolt action sniper rifle. For a treasure hunter on the run, that’s a BIG difference. But, like with all things in life, there’s a trade off. Whereas with your bolt-action, clip-loading sniper rifle, you’ll be swapping out clips in the matter of two seconds, it might take as many as three to five seconds to reload your revolver-style sniper rifle.

That’s just one difference between two guns. Maybe the revolver-style sniper rifle has a longer stock than the clip-style – even though you’re blasting through rounds in a matter of nano-seconds, your shots are going to be more erratic. But maybe the revolver-style was made by Maliwan, which means it’s made of light-weight composite instead of wood, meaning that although it’s longer, it’s lighter, so it’s easier to control and it lessens the effect of the elongated sniper rifle.

Gearbox definitely gives you the option to read every little detail into every single weapon, but there are only two stats that really matter for each gun: damage and accuracy. And maybe price and resale value, if you live long enough to worry about it. But, as obvious as it seems, if you’ve got two shotguns in your inventory, and one does 50 damage and the other does 150 damage, consider switching over to the latter.

When you pull up your inventory page and head over to the weapons slots, you’ll notice some weapons are bolded. That’s a quick way to make sure you’ve got the most powerful weapons in your hands at all times. Be careful, though, because some weapons are only available at certain level increments. And don’t discount elementally equipped weapons. They usual have lower damage for the bullets that don’t incur elemental damage, but there’s nothing better than watching an enemy burn to death instead of using up all your ammo.

So, we could go on and on, but here are the tips you’re really going to need to survive in Borderlands:

– First things first: as soon as your able, start buying up those upgrades to allow you to carry more ammunition. There’s nothing worse than watching your target’s shield start to recharge because you ran out of ammo.

– If you’re a level five and you pick up a weapon you can’t use until level fifteen, sell it. Chances are very high you’re going to come across a better weapon you can use in the next level or two anyway – and the profit you make will be more than worth it.

– Check if your weapon has elemental damage, or if another weapon in your inventory does. While elemental hit chances are usually low, but when you do get one, you’ll be happy you used it. Corrosive rocket shells, exploding sniper rounds and shocking shotgun spray, oh my!

– Aim for the head. The chance for a critical hit is much higher there than any other part of the body.

– Look for gun variations that have scopes. Sniping is much more fun – and advantageous – in the long run.

– Play to your character’s weapon strength. Check out our in-depth analysis on each character, but here’s the basic idea: big guys like exploding guns; little guys like guns that make your head go pop; soldiers don’t care as long as it’s got ammo; and girls like to make you sizzle, corrode, and detonate.

– If you’re going to trade with someone in co-op, pay attention that they’re not giving you a piece of junk. And if they do, make sure you thank them… with an exploding round to the brain pan.

Good hunting and comment with any variations you’ve added to your personal arsenal.

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