Four things you need to know about Borderlands

Borderlands’ concept is easy to get excited about: take first-person shooting, add role-playing elements, customizable vehicles and potentially millions of weapons, and our brains could very well hemorrhage. We recently had a chance to stop the bleeding by playing a bit of the game’s single-player and co-op modes, an experience that revealed four important facts - one for each of the game’s playable classes - about the wildly ambitious Borderlands.

Wall-E is your guide (sort of)

Most of the quests we completed in the single-player campaign were guided by Claptrap, a little Wall-E-inspired robot with a voice eerily similar to that of the guide droid from Star Tours. At first, we worried that being followed by a tutorial-bot would be obtrusive and annoying, but the little guy surprised us by being a mildly entertaining source of comic relief. However, when we switched over to co-op and were boosted up to level 20 (from our initial level-one character), our robot friend was gone. Maybe there’s a heavy, tear-inducing, Aerith-style death in store for Claptrap? Probably not, but it’s clear that you leave this guy behind at some point.

Single-player and multiplayer are seamlessly linked

All of Borderlands’ different play modes – single-player, co-op and versus – are set within the same vast, monster-infested wasteland on the planet Pandora. This means you can play by yourself, and then have up to three other friends jump in and out with their own characters at any moment. Whether you quest together is up to you, but if you’re feeling competitive, Pandora also has a few arenas where you can meet up for player-vs-player battles. We don’t yet know how many different game types these will offer (although hopefully there’ll be more than just deathmatches), but with only four players battling at a time, arena fights will probably take a backseat to questing and grinding for loot.

There are four unique characters to play as

Four characters to play means four different classes: Brick the tank/berserker, Lilith the assassin/siren, Mordecai the hunter/sniper, and Roland the soldier/engineer. And yes, you could potentially have four of the same character in a single game. Each character has three different skill trees, and each has a unique ability (triggered by pressing LB in the 360 version we played). Playing as Brick, for example, enables you to trigger a berserker ability in which he ditches his gun, puts up his fists and longs for the taste of blood. The screen turns red and Brick becomes harder to take down, maniacally laughing while you massacre enemies.

Other abilities include a “phasewalk” that enables Lilith to sneak around and execute enemies, a shield turret for Roland, and a pet bloodwing bird of prey for Mordecai. All of these abilities have cooldown times, but are meant to be used frequently on the battlefield.

There's plenty of stuff to collect

Borderlands generates its weapons on the fly, randomly combining parts, ammo types, schematics and manufacturer preferences to potentially create millions of weapons. However, among the millions, there’s bound to be plenty of, well, garbage. Borderlands combats this with a detailed pop-up window that hovers above each item to help you decide if you actually want to pick it up.

In addition to munitions, money and healing items, Pandora’s wasteland is also filled with alien artifacts to discover. Details on these are scarce so far, but given that the game takes a lot of its cues from Diablo, they’ll probably be something along the lines of that game’s rare and powerful “unique” artifacts. 

Our time with Borderlands was brief, considering how deep the game felt. We left the session with an aftertaste of Crackdown, Call of Duty and Fallout 3 in our proverbial mouths, tinged with an art style that fell somewhere between Valkyria Chronicles and long-forgotten shooter XIII. Borderlands feels fresh, and there’s still a lot to learn about the game, which will hopefully make its scheduled release date of Oct. 20.

If you're looking for more information on Borderlands, check out GamesRadar's Charlie Barratt interview the president of Gearbox (developer of Borderlands), Randy Pitchford:

July 30, 2009

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  • exyankee76 - August 24, 2009 2:29 a.m.

    I really want to play this game. It looks and sounds good
  • mentalityljs - August 21, 2009 2:04 a.m.

    @sockhead: I too wish more games supported cross platform co-op! However, then Microsoft wouldn't get their money by raping every XBOX customer for their subscription to LIVE!
  • Wonderwolf - August 19, 2009 11:31 a.m.

    I'm going to buy it no matter what. It's cool there's over 500.000 guns. So I think you'll never have a problem to kill somebody... :D
  • cart00n - August 6, 2009 10:38 p.m.

    Personally, I hope this game gets delayed till next year - cause I can't afford it NEXT year. Also, when I first saw the teaser for this game 2 years ago, I thought, eh, COULD be cool. The story sounded cool, but the art direction didn't really seem all that inspired. This latest trailer, however, it's one of my favorite trailers ever. The art direction is unique, the contrast between the "hand-drawn", French-"Heavy Metal"-styled characters and vehicles against the almost realistic yet still colorful, blasted-earth backgrounds is truly beautiful to behold. If Brutal Legend wasn't already my game purchase for October, Borderlands would definitely be getting my money on the day of its release. The only way I'll be buying this one is if I put it off till next year, unless I can Goozex it, first. Oh, and by the way, all this negative talk about the artwork reminds me of all the whining people did over the direction The Wind Waker took, and look how wonderfully awesome THAT game was...
  • solsunforge - August 2, 2009 5:11 a.m.

    For your information saying first in a preview is like having sex with your best friends retarded sister. It may feel good but it doesnt count. Also I will make it my mission to get first as many times as i can in order not to say first on purpose and then the guy after me can say first and look like a asshole. Also this game looks like it will be good but maybe a niche audience type thing. recaptcha : doctor kobe
  • OddWoN ER - July 31, 2009 11:48 p.m.

    also.. why not classes vs characters? i mean just have 4 four general classes without the names and such. oh well, too bad the unicorn cant exist...
  • OddWoN ER - July 31, 2009 11:38 p.m.

    not gonna lie... not a fan of the art style... i'll liked the realistic look of it before the change.... damn it... please do something about it so i can love the game! why does the new developer always changed something that didnt need to be!
  • Belial808 - July 31, 2009 5:39 p.m.

    THis...Game...looks...AWESOME! (But I wonder if they'll give you the option to switch to a third-person perspective?)
  • Dexsus - July 31, 2009 3:41 p.m.

    One thing this is missing, I would have really liked to create my own character instead of being forced between pre-sets. If it had that then this game would have been perfect to me.
  • Ninja-KiLLR - July 31, 2009 3:04 p.m.

    im still on considering it.
  • Selectedpayload - July 31, 2009 10:33 a.m.

    Mass Effect did something similar with the weapons on a smaller scale. Although they werent generated on the fly, you had the differenet manufacturers with different stats and effects. Some were slightly better than others and there was a lot of trash too to vender which made up a lot of cash. As for graphics, I think that this style looks nice but the reason for the change my be to save a little space since the 360 version is now on 4 DVDs. ReCaptcha: frozen july (sounds right in UK)
  • TeragRunner - July 31, 2009 5:45 a.m.

    This game looks awesome. The only thing is that the "millions of guns" claim is going to fall painfully flat. I'm sure a lot of them will good but no doubt the majority will me mediocre or just plain shit.
  • Eureka - July 31, 2009 12:38 a.m.

    Now, I'm still getting this game, but the art style just kills it. I'm sorry, I just can't take this game seriously when every human looks like there on roids or hasn't eaten in months. I wasn't actually going to get this until I saw the new trailer, and the game looked pretty fun. But its a shame there's only FOUR characters to play as, along with having to choose a certain character if you want a certain class, because I don't want to play as any of those characters. And while the game sure does look fun, whenever I'm playing it, the art style will always be nagging at me. ... I really wonder why the ever thought of changing it. It looked much better before. But that's just my opinion, I'm sure some people like the new style.
  • mentalityljs - August 14, 2009 2:53 a.m.

    Fear Effect, TF2, Killer7, Twilight Princess, Okami, No More Heroes, ALL were cel-shaded, most of them were mature, and ALL were great games. I fear not for our upcoming adventure!
  • venomman01 - August 12, 2009 1:40 a.m.

    PLEASE GOD NO MULTI PLAYER VEHICLES. Vehicles are sooooo gay. just the tanks made me stop playing world at war.
  • sockhead - August 10, 2009 3:13 a.m.

    I've got it preordered too, my main thing I hope they put into this game is cross system co-op. I'm a PC player, but i have friends who want this game also, and only have a 360 or PS3. The main thing I'm worried about is that it's done by 2K games also, and they may slip on the advertising to promote Bioshock 2
  • falloutbro - August 9, 2009 6:27 p.m.

    this is the only game ive ever saved up to bye and to the person who said he doesnt like the cartoony look youre wrong the point of the game is not looks and plus so you have to go with the characters looks ok big woop you can just equip some sweet armor and be like shot me lol so yes i cant wait to get this game ive already pre ordered it and i get it the first day it comes out YES!
  • JohnnyMaverik - August 7, 2009 4:07 a.m.

    Could be an incredible game, but it could also be a bit dissapointing. I like what I've read but there are still niggling thoughts going through my mind as to how on earth they can pull this all together properly. Still one of the most promising games coming out this year though (pre-2010 i mean).
  • Frexerik - August 6, 2009 10:46 p.m.

    Okay, after reading the article/preview i thought "cool" i want that game, but seeing the art style completly ruined it for me, the cartoony look, and the "criticle hit" etc popping up just looks horrible. no thanks! i want more realism in my games.. also the interview was hilarious, the developer was really enthusiastic about his game and talking really fast, while charlie just looked like he was falling asleep!
  • sklorbit - August 6, 2009 1:13 a.m.

    this game could be the surprise hit of the year! i dont know how well it will sell next to modern warfare 2, uncharted 2, halo 3 odst and more however