Borderlands 2 preview: Realism + dual-wielding + more weapons = unfathomable levels of excitement

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. 

August 18, 2011



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  • TheTrooper424 - August 23, 2011 10:47 a.m.

  • Y2Ken - August 23, 2011 5:27 a.m.

    I'm still playing Borderlands to this day. In fact I think my love of it was once discussed on TRUK when I told them I owned the PS3 and 360 versions and was accused of being a 2K employee by Nathan. What I didn't mention at the time was that I actually bought my 360 specifically to play Borderlands with some friends I convinced to get it at the start of this year. It's just that damn good. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and play some right now.
  • trojan12 - August 19, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    To say I'm not looking forward to Borderlands 2 would be lying... I am hoping they come up with a better system of organizing the many, many weapons in both inventory and storage (took forever to order my inventory in Borderlands)
  • valiki - August 19, 2011 4:10 p.m.

    to this day i am still playing Borderlands...the only game that i have actually downloader the add-ons (except for the arena one)...have one character at max level and two other ones...i like the comedic tone they took in hte DLC versus the "serious" main line story...i mean why couldnt i put a bullet in the chick at the end instead of being robbed of that chance by whatever the heck that thing was :-)
  • AwesomeMan - August 19, 2011 4:08 p.m.

    I've played through the first Borderlands like a million times...I'm just terrified at what this game is going to do to my life...terrified but oh so excited...GET YOU ONE!
  • Yeager1122 - August 19, 2011 3:56 p.m.

    Man this sounds awsome to bad we have to wait a year for it.
  • NightCrawler_358 - August 19, 2011 12:49 p.m.

    Looks great! I'm glad all the screens and trailers they're showing show off new landscapes and weather. I was tired of the same old dry desert.
  • JeffersonTrachea - August 19, 2011 6:39 a.m.

    I'm very interested in what Mordecai & Lillith's equivalents will turn out like. I sorta hated playing Brick, & Roland.
  • ObliqueZombie - August 19, 2011 3:28 a.m.

    This looks gorgeous! It surpasses the original Borderlands in almost every aspect, and all I've seen of it have been a couple screens, a short teaser, and a few words. In other words: I sense a 9 or 10 for this game, and endless more hours of co-op fun.
  • avantguardian - August 19, 2011 2:03 a.m.

    one thing i don't understand is how much i've heard/read that people "hate" borderlands. its like hating the beatles or something. it might not be your thing, but, c'mon. all i can really ask for outside of what's been revealed is a more SP friendly sniper class. mordecai got his ass handed to him far more more than what was enjoyable at times. you could read a book while roland's turrets just chewed the shit out of everything if you leveled it up. turret > little useless bird. p.s. i like that three people have used "how duke turned out" verbatim. that just made me laugh for some reason.
  • SirNinja - August 19, 2011 1:22 a.m.

    @Manguy17 Gearbox had very very little to do with how Duke turned out. They (and Triptych) just finished what 3D Realms had already mostly completed, so that the game could finally be done once and for all. I still maintain the DNF boxart should have had the 3D Realms logo instead of Gearbox's logo. All it does is tarnish Gearbox's name.
  • soccerclownking - August 19, 2011 1:05 a.m.

    Also, love the fauxhawk on the Gunzerker
  • soccerclownking - August 19, 2011 1:03 a.m.

    This is awesome. Every complaint I had with the first one seems to be answered in the second. I'll just add it to the list of games that I need right now
  • Danman6280 - August 19, 2011 12:42 a.m.

    I just remembered that some guns were elemental. This article also mentioned miniguns. Does this mean acidic or, gasp, explosive miniguns!
  • ShadowReaper666 - August 18, 2011 11:03 p.m.

    Borderlands was amazing and one of my top 5 all time favourite game, so I literally can't wait for this. Also I hope there is still a character like Lilith she was my favourite.
  • jackthemenace - August 18, 2011 9:53 p.m.

    @Doctalen- I agree, but I'm more interested in Mordecai's evolution. The new guns sound awesome to me. Never been into dual-wielding, but the fact that each gun is now going to be (at least fairly) unique is massive. I've been playing it today, and It really started to dawn on me that guns aren't much different besides clip fire and rates of fire. The new physics sound good too- It's got good physics!- and I'm hoping with new AI, they'll be able to add in things like silencers and light levels to create decent stealth elements as well? Because the only thing I'd love more than Borderlands would be Metal Gear Borderlands. Note to self: pitch Metal Gear Borderlands.
  • e1337prodigy - August 18, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    Duel wield ftw
  • QWERTYCommander - August 18, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    @Manguy17 Are you really blaming Gearbox for how Duke turned out? All they did was pick up Triptych so they could just get the damn game finished.
  • Turboash - August 18, 2011 6:57 p.m.

    It shows him aiming at 2 different targets at the same time... how the hell is that going to work?
  • sutrebla15 - August 18, 2011 5:23 p.m.

    Is that supposed to be Brick with hair?