Despite beating the original game several times and being well-versed at shooters, we didn’t complete the Borderlands 2 preview at E3 2012. And it wasn’t because it was too difficult or because it was broken or glitchy – it was because we played co-op with our boss - and we're not sure we made a great team (Editor’s note: There were some issues with this article's tone, so I went in and fixed them up to give better context... jerk).
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The area we played in the demo was apparently an optional side-mission near the middle of the game. We were being ordered by the world's last remaining Claptrap – who thinks that he’s actually the main character of Borderlands 2 – to destroy statues of antagonist Handsome Jack, an egomaniac who placed several gold, bulletproof effigies to himself around the city. We picked the new Gunzerker class (Editor’s note: That didn’t make for a great co-op partner, apparently) which came equipped with a number of interesting weapons, including an ornate-but-powerful shotgun, several types of laser rifles, and a few traditional assault weapons. At any point during play, we could tap a button to use the Gunzerker’s special ability: dual wielding. This, mixed with the game’s already robust and insane number of weapons, made for some incredibly possibilities (Editor’s note: Not that it made a big difference), where we’d be able to shoot a large shotgun and a machinegun independently.
And so we set off, attempting to take down “the man” by destroying his well-guarded, nearly indestructible statues. Before we could do that, though, we needed to gain the ability to take down the durable figures (Editor’s note: How about we bash your head into it?), and the only reasonable solution was eliciting the help of a nearby powerful floating robot. We worked our way towards it, fighting an assortment of humanoid enemies, robots, and turrets. All of the enemies had a a distinct personality to them - complete with little nuances, like unique animations and weapon choice - that made them interesting and engaging to blow up.
The combat felt tight, unencumbered by the RPG equations going on beneath the hood (Editor’s note: But nearly crippled by poor teamwork of ONE player), and even though we’d get taken down from time to time, the improvement’s to the “down but not out” death system (being able to crawl around while we try to kill an enemy for an instant revive) helped us soldier on (Editor’s note: Sure, it wasn’t the actual soldier that resurrected you like, ten times, right?).
Every so often, we’d escort the robot to a statue, and defend it (Editor’s note: One of us would, at least) as it carved through the metal hunk of vanity. As we toppled the statues, Handsome Jack would chime in, chastising us for our offense with hilarious dialog that reminded us of Scott Pilgrim’s Gideon Graves – he wasn’t outwardly mean or aggressive, but addressed us in such a smarmy, holier-than-thou tone that we couldn’t help but get enraged (Editor’s note: Oh, that’s the excuse, is it?) as we shot up his guards. With Handsome Jack chattering in one ear, and our downed co-op partner screaming for a resurrection in the other (Editor’s note: Wow, way to shift the blame), we failed to notice the statue-cutter robot’s health dipping. And dipping. And dipping some more.
And… then it died. We were so ashamed.
The demo was over. We were told later that we were meant to get to some big, awesome boss, but it never came, because we failed to work together (Editor’s note: Or one player failed to be a team player while the other did his job). Even so, we genuinely enjoyed the demo – Handsome Jack’s dialog had us laughing (Editor’s note: Through our scowls), and the gunplay was extremely satisfying. Though we’re upset we didn’t get to the boss, we’re excited to get back into the game and try it again (Editor’s note: With a DIFFERENT co-op partner) when it releases on September 18, 2012.