After all the screenshot leaks and naughty pre-announced announcement that sent Gearbox's Randy Pitchford’s head into a spin, Borderlands 2 has finally been unveiled at Gamescom. About damn time.
The demo kicks off in an arctic tundra as snow flakes gently land on the screen and melt downwards. We immediately notice the graphical polish of the surrounding icy wastelands but there's no time for standing around in admiration, because no sooner has the Gunzerker - an evolution of Borderlands’ Berzerker - stepped forward than he's set upon by an Arctic Bullymong.
This white gorilla thing isn't messing about either as it sprints over to parked jeep and flings it - knocking the character high into the air. We're told that the AI of the enemies has been much improved from the original - as is demonstrated by this powerful beast as he strafes gunfire, looking for higher ground to perform huge splash like a WWE superstar. No worries though as there's enough ammo in the clip to eff this frosty son of bitch up.
Borderlands 2 comes with a rejigged weapon system, which consists of far more individuality for the guns including the way each one looks different to each other. The main difference in the original was mainly down to the ammunition that you were packing but Gearbox are focusing on delivering far more recognisable guns to wield so you know exactly what you're grabbing on the battlefields.
One of these unique guns is the Tediore manufactured rifles. Sure they look like your bog-standard assault rifle on the surface, but if you fling the weapon at an enemy it will act as a powerful frag grenade and blow that sucker up. The more ammo you still have in the clip the bigger the bang. Clever, eh? Brilliantly, you'll instantly be replenished with a fresh rifle.
Above: 2K hasn't provided any Gamescom screenshots yet, so here are some of the leaked ones
As the demo continues, the Gunzerker dives into a new jeep, which will be able to carry three other people at a time to ensure that your online buddies have room to hitch a ride. You'll also be able to play two-player splitscreen online too. The drive runs outside of the arctic zone and into a more industrial area with mining equipment pumping as if to give off the feeling that this new place is populated with more than just enemies.
The vehicle is used to plough through some Skags to show off the new ragdoll physics that are in Borderlands 2. One of them comically flips onto the hood of the jeep and gets carried around for a few seconds. You can also clip enemies and they'll fall over and struggle to get back to their feet, which is ultimately more satisfying than the unrealistic feeling of driving through cardboard cut-outs last time.
We're then given another showing of this finely tuned AI as the Gunzerker sets about a group of Psychos. Sure, they're mostly cannon fodder and basically sprinted into a hail of bullets, but they also tried to flank and work together to attack. The best bit is when a marauder is clipped with a few bullets and he's screaming “Ow! Ow! Ow!” as he tries to scuttle away to find cover. Foes can now be knocked and slowed down with bullets, which gives you some precious seconds to escape if need be.
One new, purely cosmetic feature that we think is ace is the way that Borderlands 2 breaks into a dramatic comic book style cutscene to announce that you're about to face a big-ass boss. Just as it does when a Nomad Torturer enters the mix. He has a massive shield to protect himself, erm, with a Psycho Midget strapped to it to provide a further insurance on his life. If you take out the chain that's holding the little guy in place then he'll cheer his freedom by whipping out a blade and trying to take out the much larger Nomad. He doesn't stand a chance but this is the perfect time to flank and kill the Nomad Torturer yourself. BOSH!
As is in vogue with many game demos at Gamescom this year, we're given a view of Borderlands 2's world from up on high. We're told that anything you can see, you'll be able to walk too. Sweet. Although, it will still come at loading screen price just as it did in the original.
The final part of the demo we're shown is involves an assault on an industrial estate. Marauders are the first to be despatched with, via a sexy new three-barrelled minigun (there will also be two, four and even ten barrel variations). Then a bunch of loader robots turn up for a slice of the action, but thanks to deadeye accuracy the Gunzerker takes out the arms of these things, leaving them basically redundant. If you take out a leg then they'll crawl towards you like Arnie in the original Terminator before he has his head crushed. The difference with some robot classes is that some of them have surveyors attached to them. These are essentially drones, which can repair on the fly, so then you have a decision to make - is your ammo powerful enough to take out, say, a big Badass WAR Loader, or do you need to blast his helpers first?
All the action peaks with a full on assault with marauders, robots and then bigger robots entering for a war as you attempt to rescue Roland from the original game. Oh, and what's that in the distance? Oh, it's just the moon... with a huge space station attached that's launching down moon robots. Amazing scenes.
From what we can tell via our eyes, Borderlands 2 appears to be far tighter in terms of gameplay than the first game. Everything is happening for a reason and you’re constantly rewarded with upgrades and new weapons as you go. The punch of each weapon rattled the demo room as if someone was firing a high-powered gun just next to your head, and the way that enemies react to being hit in different body parts just adds a much needed level of realism to the action. Oh, and did we mention you can dual wield guns now? Machine gun in one hand and a pistol in the other FTW! Borderlands 2 is probably the best game we've seen all show, and we can't wait to get hands on with it soon.
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