Borderlands 2 Review

Gearbox was a company only truly known for working on Half-Life. That all changed in 2009 when they blew everyone's minds with their instant hit, Borderlands. Did the sequel stand up to the hype?

Gearbox was a company only truly known for working on Half-Life. That all changed in 2009 when they blew everyone’s minds with their instant hit, Borderlands. Now, 3 years later, they have finally let us get ours hands on Borderlands 2. The game promised to be bigger, better, and more badass, not to mention that it would cause us to joy puke our faces off. However, did the game stand up to the hype around it?

The game takes place a while after the first game, the original crew has split up and Handsome Jack has taken credit for opening the Vault. In doing so, he became basically a dictator on Pandora and quickly started changing everything. The new Vault Hunters work alongside the last remaining Claptrap and the four from the first game to take down the tyrant that is Handsome Jack. You run into great characters throughout your journey, both new and old, and even one that was originally only in promo material (Heyoo!).

The gameplay is very similar to the first game but with some great additions. Each characters has their own personal development trees that affect gameplay along with the “bazillions” of guns throughout the game. Gearbox was able to, in my mind, successfully create no need for mods since the weapons can do such ridiculous stuff now. Hell, I had a grenade mod that homed, drew enemies in, exploded into 10 more grenades and did corrosive damaged. Not to mention the fact that there are even assault rifles that shoot of rockets and grenades as well.

On top of the increased variety in guns, vehicles have also received some love. The vehicles control much nicer than in Borderlands and there is more variety in colors. You can also unlock more colors by finding paint jobs throughout the game. They have also brought in a new vehicle, the Bandit Tactical, which features either a saw blade gun or explosive barrel launcher; the car also can fit 4 players within it.

Gun-wise, each manufacturer has made their guns much more recognizable. Maliwan weapons have many curves, the new Bandit weapons are thrown together it seems, and Jakobs are wooden. There are also Torgue guns which always do explosion damage and have racecar-esque paintjobs. My favorite change is with the Tediore guns; they will now be thrown and explode anytime you reload them. Be wary, though, as if there are any bullets left in the clip upon reload, they are lost. A great thing is that any bullets lost in the reload, will actually make the explosion more damaging, though.

The new HUD and menus are very welcomed. Hoping in and out of games is much more streamlined and the in-game menus are nice as well. Everything is much more polished in the menus now and, interestingly enough you can see a floating screen in front of players that are in their menus. They have also added in a trade system, which is nice, along with a way to transfer items between your own characters.


Each character has their very own development paths. They still have 3 different trees they can develop but this time they expanded the trees much more than in the first game. My personal favorite character is Maya, the Siren, with her overpowered Phaselock ability. I say its overpowered because where the other abilities are very helpful, Phaselock can completely immobilize an enemy allowing your teammates to destroy them. Needless to say, you definitely will want to have a Siren on your team as they are great medics along with the above mentioned Phaselock ability. All of the other abilities have great perks as well like the Turret can rip through foes, Zer0 can deceive enemies like there’s no tomorrow and the Gunzerker is just an all around badass.

Character customization has been changed as well. No longer do you choose two colors that are barely noticeable. Now, you unlock more and more heads and skins for your characters as you progress through the game. The changes are much more noticeable now and the options are plentiful. I even had my Siren look kind of like Rogue from X-Men at one point.

A great, somewhat new addition to the game is Badass Rank. Badass Rank is gained by completing challenges throughout the game. The challenges are much more inspired this time around it seems, which is great. Whenever you level up your Badass Rank, you gain Badass Token which can be used to increase the stats of your characters. The great thing about the Badass Rank is that it is across all characters, but your challenges are separate on each character. This becomes very helpful when you start a secondary character and can already have them somewhat buffed up from your Badass Rank.

One thing that I really appreciated in Borderlands 2 is the new locations and environments. You start out in the snow but across the course of the game you traverse jungle-ish areas, corrosive caves, deserts and more. This serves to give a nice fresh feel to each area as no location feels too much like another, which was a big downfall of Borderlands. There is also an area that you visit that will make fans feel right at home.

Along with the new environments, there are also a lot of new enemies. The Bullymongs are almost like Goro from Mortal Kombat fused with the Abominable Snowman and will mess you up pretty fast. There are also Varkids which are flying bugs that are a tad annoying. Crystalisks are big, hunking creatures covered in crystal that can net you bookoos of cash when you take them down. Lastly, Threshers are a mix between squid and Graboid from Tremors. Threshers are one of the most annoying enemies to me  and can take you down so easily if a Wormhole Thresher makes an appearance. Of course skags are back and all of the above mentioned enemies, along with the skags, have multiple different versions of them.

Along with new monsters, there are also new bandits. Nomads carry around shields and love to use elemental guns. Goliaths are huge bandits with helmeted heads. If the Goliath’s helmet is shot off, he goes into a rage mode and can level up multiple times all the way to GOD-Liath, which will beat the living crap out of you if you happen to catch his eye. There are also a few other more minor enemies.

Borderlands 2 will keep you occupied for hours on end. There are tons of sidequests to do that are much more involved now, no longer is every mission just run here and kill this. Along with that, the main quest missions are very fun and you truly care about the story in this game. In Borderlands 1, the story was very average but Borderlands 2’s story will keep you wanting to press on after every mission. Also, once you beat the game, you can play True Vault Hunters Mode which is kind of like Playthrough 2/New Game +.

Borderlands 2 is truly the “perfect sequel.” Gearbox took where Borderlands was weak, and it made it strong, and they took where Borderlands excelled and made those parts even better. The new characters are tons of fun to use and all the new additions are very much welcomed. The story is much better this time around and having the original Vault Hunters so deeply involved in it was a great decision as it gave them more depth as characters. If Borderlands was testing the waters, Borderlands 2 was a swan dive in. If you are even remotely considering buying this game, do yourself a favor and go ahead and buy it.

  • The story is much better this time around
  • New enemies and environments
  • Tons of content
  • A great cast, both new and old

  • Phaselock is a bit overpowered
  • A few bugs here and there
  • Very difficult at parts, even with a full group

Score: 5/5

Second Opinion

Erik Rodriguez:

Borderlands 2 does exactly what a sequel is supposed to do, improve almost every aspect of it’s predecessor. Borderlands 2 features better story, better environments, better talent trees, better visuals, better humor, and is an overall bigger more ambitious title. While it is highly addicting, I didn’t find myself glued to it as much as the first. Borderlands 2 manages to come up short in it’s loot department seeing as there are  gazillions of guns, most of them have slight differences and a vast majority of the weapons you find are awful and only a few really stand out. Borderlands 2 also comes short with it’s quests, it feels like there aren’t as many as it’s predecessor and that’s really what kept me going for most of the first one. Overall, it’s what a sequel should be and is an absolute romp, if you’re in it for the loot stick to Torchlight 2 or Diablo 3, but for humor and great co-op fun Borderlands 2 is the way to go.

Score: 5/5

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About Nick Gearhart

Nick is the Co-Owner of Empty Life Bar and a former writer for Game Play Today. Nick can never say no to the challenge of a newly released JRPG. No matter the quality he'll trudge through it. Twitter: