This past weekend, the good folks from Gearbox Software made Borderlands 2 playable at PAX East. To no surprise, the line to play the demo was massive all three days of the Expo, and on the last day of the event I finally got a chance to go hands on. Two of the game’s four classes were available for play, the Siren and the new class, the Gunzerker. I chose to try out the Siren as I enjoyed the class in the first game. Players started out at level 20, and had to fight new creatures on a mission to find a treasure chest. The demo lasted fifteen minutes, and each player was paired with a co-op partner. Four player co-op has been confirmed for Borderlands 2 upon the game’s release but for the purpose of the demo only two player co-op was available.
When I first saw footage of Borderlands 2, I was concerned that the game would be too similar to the first game and would feel more like an expansion rather than a full sequel. From just my fifteen minutes with the demo, this concern has been laid to rest. The game’s graphics are similar to that of the first game, but are obviously improved, and new details have been added to every aspect of the game’s design. One major change from the first game that I noted was that during combat my character would automatically pick up any nearby ammo or money. This made combat slightly easier as I wouldn’t have to worry about searching for ammo and hitting “X” to pick it up while fighting. This new feature makes for a much more streamlined combat experience.
The Siren’s new power in Borderlands 2 is very useful, it lifts an enemy into the air and suspends them in a status-like bubble for several seconds. While in this vulnerable state, players can unload into the enemy, weakening, if not killing them before they can regain consciousness. The enemies showed off in the Borderlands 2 demo consisted of what I assume to be Pandora’s wildlife. One of the new enemies I encountered was a massive four-legged creature with crystal-like growths on each of its legs. Shooting off the crystals revealed a critical weakness, and the crystals can be picked up as money. It’s important to keep shooting those weak spots though, as the crystals will grow back fairly quickly.
I wound up waiting two hours to play the fifteen minute demo, and I do not regret it at all. Borderlands 2 is shaping up to be an amazing game, from what I’ve seen it stands to be better than the first game, which might be one of my most-played games on the Xbox 360. Borderlands releases September 18th, 2012.