Preview: Borderlands 2 (PC)

‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle…’ shrieks the latest trailer of Borderslands 2.

Yesterday, we landed ourselves at the 2K Asia’s office in downtown Singapore and got our hands dirty with the latest preview build of Borderlands 2 (PC version). Updated from the game showcased at E3 earlier in June, the build we played thrust us right into the heart of Sanctuary, one of Borderlands 2’s quest hubs, and unceremoniously introduced us to the lawless jungle that is Pandora reimagined.

Our hands-on demo threw us into the chain quest ‘A Train to Catch’. As a level 25 Gunzerker, we ducked through the haphazardly constructed streets of Sanctuary, in search of the man who would give us our quest.

We found Roland in the second floor of a building tucked away into a corner. Remember him from the first game?

Roland was glad we managed to rescue him from Hyperion, but wanted to get back at antagonist Handsome Jack. We learned that Jack has a more sinister plan for Pandora up his sleeves – which we of course, wouldn’t want to spoil for you here. Suffice to say, Borderlands 2 will have its fair share of plot twists and turns.

We were then sent out of town to touch base with Roland’s man, a certain Mordecai. The idea was for us to hijack a Hyperion train, but we weren’t alone. As the demo wore on, Mordecai would continue to assist us throughout the Tundra via long-range sniping: a godsend in the messy, fast-paced world that is Pandora. But first, we had to wake him.

Armed with an assault rifle, a fire gun and a pistol, we had to set fire on three Varkids – bugs that look like the ones in Starship Troopers – before Mordecai would wake up. The varkids you first encounter are fragile enough; they’re still earthbound in their larval stage. But if you do not kill them fast enough, they morph into quick-growing cocoons from which emerge adult varkids that spit buggy fluids at you. It was an interesting twist to simply battering a creature into submission and running by it. Eventually, the varkids burst into flames, and Mordecai directed us to Tiny Tina, the ‘deadliest thirteen-year-old’ around.

Short of stature but high in manic presence, Tiny Tina ordered us to retrieve badonkadonks – missiles that she would reconstruct for us to use against the train.

The badonkadonk rescue proved the most difficult part of the demo. While the enemies on the ground were easy enough to take down, the flying Buzzards (helicoptors, if you will) proved to be more of a challenge. But nothing a Gunzerker can’t handle with some attrition tactics.

Enemies were easier to take down if you used the correct gun for the situation, as we found out. Spraying the varkids with the assault rifle felt more cumbersome than with pistols, for instance. Conversely, the fire gun provided sadistic satisfaction when taking down humanoid enemies.

Borderlands 2 is shaping up to be quite a star, though we would have liked to have spent more time exploring the other classes. As it was, we only got to try the impressive Gunzerker, and only had a very short run with the Assassin (which according to Aaron, is his favorite character). The game will be familiar to Borderlands fans, with its typical comedy and dark humor, but also with plenty of new improvements (more in-depth character customizations, stronger story plot, and bazillions of guns) that makes Borderlands 2 a proper evolution over its predecessor.

The game is unlikely to alienate those who have not played the first game too. Giving a new casts rather reusing the old characters certainly helped. As one of our PR minders aptly put it, Borderlands 2 is to be “a whole new experience, a whole new game”. Having tried the demo for ourselves, we couldn’t agree more.

Borderlands 2 will be available in Singapore on 21st Sept on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC platforms. Be sure to check out the awesome Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition too.