Borderlands 2 Review

Borderlands 2 has a little something for everyone. Skills allocation for RPG fans, shooting for FPS fans, and insane loot for every fan. It also features unique mechanics not featured in other FPS or RPGs. This is a massive game, and Gearbox correctly answered a problem many of its peers fail to even address: How do you improve on a critically acclaimed, massively successfully and beloved game enough to make it fresh for the first round of fans whom played it for hundred hours? Not only did they solve the problem, they shot it into a million pieces and looted the rewards from the corpse.

If you’re not familiar with this game then there really only is a single word you need to know to decide if you’re going to enjoy it or not: loot. Loot, loot, loot, loot, glorious loot. The first game was entirely based on he loot aspect. There was virtually no storyline in the game, it all almost seemed like an excuse to give you a reason. A reason to shoot everyone and find more loot. This is one of the many, many things Gearbox improved upon from the original.

Loot is not the only thing this game has going for it, but it is certainly one of their most in-depth mechanics. According to Gearbox, Borderlands features over 87 bazillion guns! That might not be entirely accurate, but it sure feels like it playing through. Similar to the color system in the Diablo series, the equipment you can find in the game varies in rarity by different colors. White is the most common, green is getting better, blue means it’s probably going to be replacing your gun, purple means holy shit, hang on to this, and gold means ultimate godly-in-some-way gun. All gold guns come with red text, red text meaning there is a special effect on the gun that may or may not be listed. This can be anything from bullets that arch, to bullets that heal you when they hit enemies, and even to guns regenerating ammo. Gold guns aren’t the only guns that will have red text, they’re just guaranteed to have it when you find them. You can look at the rarity scheme and the red text, and just going by that begin to understand the absurd amount of variability that comes in this game. Play the games for hundreds of hours and you’re never going to come across the same gun twice.

Color rarity isn’t a new aspect in Borderlands 2, but that doesn’t mean it’s a copy of the original title. Gearbox has added four entirely new classes with all new skills to this game. They are also promising the release of a fifth character very soon. Not only did they create all new skills unique to the type of characters given to them, the classes have more skills in total than the previous game did. There were 21 skills per character in the first game and 30 in the sequel. As with the original game there is also the ability to pay a small fee for the ability to reallocate your skills. I feel like every RPG should have this because I always mess my build up in the beginning, or maybe the game takes an expected turn later and I need to re-evaluate my strategy.

Borderlands 2 is also full of unique enemies to keep the world varied as you move around the huge expanse of areas. Whereas most FPS’ have a standard type of enemy, such as human or alien, and a few different forms, Borderlands 2 has many different creatures. These range from people, to robots, to ape-like alien creatures with four arms, to flying mini-jets, helicopters, and bat…things. There are also a surprising number of environments that range from snowy mountains desert expanses to help stir things up a bit. If the number of different enemies doesn’t appeal to you, after countless hours having to run through brown and brown and brown and human after boring human through a bunch of samey shooters, the different enemies and environments are a good refresher for the genre.

Guns aren’t the only thing you can collect in this game. There are also different heads and skins you can find to customize your character even more. You’ll start out with a few at the beginning of the game, and receive even more through quests and drops. Often they are also sold in weapon shops, and I didn’t actually realize they had specific class names attached to them as well. I bought a couple and couldn’t actually figure out why they weren’t showing up in the customization page. I don’t really see the need for class differentiation on the skin mods. It just becomes aggravating when I find a skin or head mod I can’t actually equip. Several times we killed a certain monster on the hunt for a skin mod, and I still haven’t found it for my lead class.

There were many small changes to the overall game that just made it look a lot better. Everything was tweaked to look brighter and more vibrant, even the zooms and elemental effects look almost new. When I first demod this game up at PAX, I was blown away by these smaller aesthetic changes. The first Borderlands game runs on this generation of consoles and still looks good, but Borderlands 2 just looks a lot better. I was very impressed at the length they went to just improve everything.

Though not everything has been improved. Guns now show less information regarding how they fire. They no longer show the stability a gun has when aiming or the weapon zoom. Most of the zooms are about the same for each gun, and if it is less or more that is stated on the gun instead of just a base stat to compare with other weapons. I’m sure this was to make more room for gun stats and red text, but I would have preferred them enlarging the weapon box instead of taking away more customization. Somehow with them making room for more information they still often manage to leave off crucial information on the gun, such as eating two bullets in one shot and effectively halving the ammo capacity.

I also do quite like the addition of the Badass ranking, but I don’t like its execution. I miss leveling up guns based on how often I used them. I wish they could have used kind of a combination of both, rewarding me based on my gun usage but also giving me bonuses regarding how many challenged I completed- especially considering the miniscule reward bonuses received. I’m sure this is because they are shared between characters and it’s meant to be a reward once you have leveled many characters up, but I don’t feel as powerful or as if I’m improving substantially in my gun usage as I did in the last game.

Another disappointing aspect is that we still don’t share all loot. Cash is shared between users, but ammo and equipment is first come, first serve. I love scouring the area for hidden chests and echo recordings, but playing with strangers online usually prevents me from doing so because they’ll snatch up every item they find if I’m not right behind them the entire time. Because of that I only play couch co-op with people I can physically assault if they steal my loot, rather than using the broken dueling system in Borderlands 2. If every-time someone looted a weapon or mod every player in the party received a weapon or mod,very similar to how Diablo III does this, it would certainly¬† persuade me to play with strangers more often.

“Why is it broken?” you ask, your naive but ever-so-adorable question lingering in the air.¬† Yes Gearbox, why is it broken? You had this exact same problem in the last game. Some of the classes are able to auto-kill dueling opponents with their skill. In the last game it was Mordecai with Bloodwing; sending it out and swooping from the sky the bird would one-hit-kill the other player every time in his later levels. In this game it’s Maya. For some reason her Phaselock ability will win the duel every single time. Hit that skill button and bam, you get the gun/gratification you desired. It takes away the entire point of dueling if you don’t even, you know, duel. I’m not sure if disabling the skills in dueling would fix this problem, but it would certainly make it just a bit more fair.It really is a shame considering the seamless ability to drop in and out of other players games. Gearbox worked very hard to make the multiplayer work, including their addition of the ability to play splitscreen co-op with a couch buddy while still playing with your online friends at the same time. When you get a full team of players you know and trust the multiplayer is a great experience, and definitely the best way to play the game.

Borderlands 2 has great writing that will keep you entertained throughout the entire game- even the side missions have humor and bits of story. Rarely do I feel like my missions are collect and come back, then collect and come back, forever in a never ending cycle. The quest givers will often interact with you during the entirety of the quest, making them interesting until the end. Many quest lines also offer multiple rewards to choose from. Sometimes other characters will intercept echo recording to offer you a different reward if you instead decide to give them the items. This means New Game Plus’ can be even more interesting with the promise of different rewards to finishing the same quests, with a different ending to boot.

The story has vastly improved from the previous game. Characters have been fleshed out and given feeling. Finally it feels as if people in the world actually care about something, and they’re not all mindless drones that are more akin to rocks than people. NPC’s will also move about the environment, seemingly living out a life they never had before. The villain in this game- Handsome Jack, you will hate him. Maybe you think, “it’s just a game, I dont have feelings, nothing in a game can make me feel it’s not real!” I said maybe. But you will hate Handsome Jack. He is the biggest jackass, he is supposed to be the biggest jackass, and Gearbox did a great job making you know that and feel that. Nothing like this happened in the first game where the story was more a side thought than anything else. The story is definitely one of the most improved aspects in the sequel, and I was certainly not disappointed. There are only a few problems with it as most of the games treat Sirens as all-powerful being, but no one seems to care about you if you’re playing as Maya- despite also being a Siren. It’s hinted at Jack thought you were somewhat important in Echo logs, but this was only hinted at briefly through unmarked echo logs scattered in an unspecified location.

There are a few annoying bugs that pop up here and there, but that goes without saying in a large game like this. None that we have experienced so far have been game breaking, and most of them were more funny than harmful. From getting stuck in walls, Moxxi promising us a gun after an absurd amount of tips but never handing it over, pitch-black enemies crawling out of walls (terrifying), Borderlands 2 had its share of glitches.

Other than some very small problems, Borderlands 2 continues to be a fantastic game in the FPS and RPG franchise. With shooters not being my go-to genre Borderlands 2 is still easily one of my favorite games with its quirks and addictive elements. I poured hundred of hours into the first game, and I plan to pour hundreds of hours into this one as well. I can’t wait for the Mechromancer to be released so I have a new class to collect all new equipment and customizable skins for, and all new skills to learn. The first Borderlands game also had an excellent track record for DLC, so that’s another thing to look forward to. In a world of 6 hour campaigns and no replay value, Borderlands¬† 2 is a refreshing experience for all who will try.



  • Loot as far as the eye can see
  • Great multiplayer
  • Refreshing gameplay through gun variations
  • Tons of customization through skill trees, characters, and mods
  • Vast, colorful world
  • Quirky characters


  • Not sharing loot
  • Can’t replay echo recordings
  • Undeserved deaths due to sheer amount of suicide enemies

[xrr rating=9/10]
9 out of 10

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