Get caught up before playing Borderlands 2
Maybe you didnt play Borderlands--or perhaps youve already spent plenty of time ransacking Pandora. But while you were busy blazing through side quests and mindlessly force-feeding bullets to bandits and the local wildlife, you mightve missed some important stuff. Sure, Borderlands story presentation was weak, but that doesnt mean there wasnt a story. Because Borderlands 2 is just a day away from launch, we thought it nigh-time for a reminder as to why we murdered half of Pandoras population for shiny new guns in the first place.
Be warned: There are spoilers for the original Borderlands ahead.
Atlas Corporation hit the mother lode...
Long before anyone turned monsters into mush via Bricks ultra-brutal fists (which well get to later), the Atlas Corporation was busy mining the planet Promethea. See, Atlas was this huge megacorporation that developed all sorts of things, including spaceships and weapons--both of which required lots of resources to manufacture.
While on Promethea, Atlas caught a lucky break and stumbled across a cache of ancient alien technology, which it promptly reverse engineered, bringing the company to the forefront of the weapons biz. Turns out guns that shoot lasers and bolts of electricity were in high demand. Naturally, huge profits followed, and Atlas Corporation became one of the wealthiest companies in existence.
...then colonized Pandora in search of more alien loot
The discovery of alien tech soon incited other mega-businesses to seek fortune on similar frontier planets, in hopes of mimicking Atlas Corporations success. Of course, Atlas already had a taste of the proverbial pie and was hungry for more, and colonized Pandora some 70 years before the events of Borderlands in hopes that lighting would, indeed, strike twice. This Pandora is not to be confused with the James Cameron version, which housed giant blue monkey creatures and the cleverly named element Unobtanium.
During the initial colonization, Atlas built Pandoras infrastructure, constructing all sorts of excavation and research facilities, as well as housing for the droves of colonists that hoped to get in on the supposed riches. Those treasure hunters scoured the planet in search of a rumored cache of alien tech--like the one found on Promethea--which they began to call the Vault. Unfortunately, no one found anything, and living on Pandora kind of sucked because its winter season lasted the equivalent of seven earth years.
Pandoras wildlife gets hostile when the sun comes out
Pandora had been colonized during that aforementioned winter season, and despite the huge number of people that flocked to its ice-laden surface, no one really took the time to analyze the local wildlife.
Now, this was partly due to Atlas eagerness to find the Vault as quickly as possible, but it was also due to the fact that most of Pandoras creatures hibernate during the long winter. So, after that winter ended, you can imagine everyones surprise when flesh-eating Skags started munching on colonists while Rakks swooped down from the heavens and lacerated peoples arms off with razor-sharp talons.
Atlas has a private military group called the Crimson Lance...
Colonists were soon forced to band together and fortify their meager settlements against Pandoras hostile inhabitants. Within a few weeks of the first summer, much of the settler population had been decimated. Atlas Corporation--afraid it would lose the Vault forever--declared martial law over Pandoras biggest city, Sanctuary, and brought in its own privatized military organization, the Crimson Lance.
...who were really big jerks
The soldiers werent kind to Pandoras helpless citizens, looting and pillaging whatever they wanted. Yet the populace endured this abuse in exchange for protection. The Crimson Lance was rather effective at fighting off bandits and deadly creatures alike.
But as time went on, Atlas lost substantial amounts of money to its fruitless investment in finding Pandoras Vault. The company ultimately abandoned Pandora, leaving its lawless and increasingly hostile population behind.
Dahl Corporation tried to find the Vault without Atlas knowing...
With Atlas mostly out of the picture, Dahl Corporation landed on Pandora in hopes of secretly discovering the location of the Vault for itself. Not wanting to stir the hornets nest by pissing off the Crimson Lance (which had remained behind after Atlas departure), Dahl proclaimed to be merely mining Pandora for minerals. Yeah. Sure.
The companys presence brought a resurgence of prosperity to Pandora, as an influx of supplies and personnel revived the planets many desperate settlements. Like Atlas before it, Dahl constructed a bevy of facilities. To do so, it imported tons of slave labor in the form of offworld convicts, who were housed in labor camps during off hours. In addition to building research stations and mining camps, Dahl also constructed a giant city called Haven to serve as its base of operations before beginning covert archaeological digs in search of the Vault.
...and hired Patricia Tannis to do it
Decades after Dahl Corporation began its Vault search, the company hired a noted scientist named Patricia Tannis to assist in the hunt. Tannis discovered that the Vault could only be opened on a specific date, which only occurs once every two hundred years.
Further, she found that the Vault needed to be opened with a key, which was divided into three separate fragments, one of which she recovered. Unfortunately, Atlas Corporation got wind of Dahls findings, and decided to send a huge Crimson Lance unit to Pandora in order to take the key fragment from its owners. By force.
Atlas got mad, and Dahl bailed to escape a military beatdown
Dahl, realizing it didnt have the slightest chance against Atlas superior tech and numbers, decided to leave Pandora and avoid the invasion altogether. In doing so, it abandoned thousands of employees and their families, as well as a ton of mining equipment and facilities.
To make matters worse, the convicts Dahl had shuttled in as slave labor broke out of their labor camps and overran Haven and other settlements while arming themselves with the weapons and equipment left behind. All those bandits youll murder in Borderlands and its sequel? Thats those poor suckers.
Tannis sends an off-world signal requesting assistance
While Haven is under siege by the bandits, many of its occupants salvage what they can and head west to establish another town: New Haven. Or, as youll come to know it, that junkyard where people live in trailers and piles of scrap. During this transition, Tannis loses her Vault key fragment to a bandit lord, and, shortly after New Haven is built, she develops a phobia of leaving her camp. Intent on retrieving all the Vault key fragments from the safety of her makeshift home, she sends out an off-world signal requesting the aid of any adventurers brave enough to risk their lives for riches. Thats where Borderlands four Vault hunters come in.