Gamescom 2011: Borderlands 2 First-Look Preview

Gearbox is hardly taking the easy route with its next off-the-wall hybrid of first-person shooter and role-playing game.

If Borderlands is an example of how far an original concept and a terrific sense of humor can take a game, then Borderlands 2 is what happens when the developer takes a step back and realizes that those two qualities aren't everything. In fact, listening to Gearbox vice president Steve Gibson, you can't help but feel tempted to remind him that Borderlands was actually a pretty great game. "We had no weapons in Borderlands 2 for about six months while we gutted the weapon system and replaced the whole thing," says Gibson. "But we felt like we could do a lot better. We thought the AI system could be a lot better. We felt like the quest system could be a lot better. We felt like the vehicle system could be a lot better." We're sensing a theme here.

Gearbox's laundry list of improvements starts with the gameworld itself. While Pandora was a visually striking place with delightfully absurd inhabitants, the whole place lacked any sort of greater context. Why are you there? Do people actually live in this place apart from those enemies? According to Gibson, "This time around we've actually put the writer of Borderlands in the same room as the lead designer of Borderlands. We're connecting the world and the story and your quests all together now. We're trying to weave a much more intricate tale."

Specifics on said tale are hard to come by right now, but here's hoping it's as endearingly ridiculous as the rest of Borderlands 2. This is a game where one boss fight has you up against a heavily armored enemy who has tied a vulgar midget to the front of his riot shield. This is a game where suicide bomber robots come charging at you with reckless abandon, dragging their torsos around if they were lucky enough to lose only their legs. And did we mention the disposable guns? Instead of reloading them, you just throw the empty ones at your enemies for no other reason than, well, why not? (Even stranger, the next disposable gun just appears in your hand as if out of nowhere.)

Yet it's not all silliness and absurdity. Gearbox promises a wholesale overhaul to the way enemies behave in combat. You'll find enemies who are more keenly aware of their surroundings and chances of survival, jumping up to higher ledges to flank you, dodge out of the way of gunfire, or slink off behind cover and back toward safety when they're critically injured. "Enemies are actually going to work together, call plays, and take more advantage of the environment," says Gibson. At least, the smart ones will do that. The psychos, everyone's favorite raving lunatics from the first game, still operate with a mantra that Gibson describes as, "Wow that's a gun! I want my face in front of it."

Getting around from quest to quest looks to be easier thanks to reworked vehicle physics. Gibson promises that your car of choice will no longer freak out when it clips the slightest rock, reacting more smoothly to bumps along the road while adding more variance to the previously zero-sum game of trying to run over enemies. (It was either you killed them dead, or they stopped your car.) Speaking of navigation, Gibson also boasts that views of the gameworld from high-up vantage points are now "geographically correct" rather than a faked skybox, meaning that you can now spot someplace you'd like to go and simply head in that direction until you get there.

The one quest we were shown served to explain what Gearbox is trying to do differently with some of the mission designs. In this case, you're out to rescue a friend of yours who is being held hostage at the top of a dam by the evil Hyperion corporation. As it turns out, that friend is actually Roland from the first game--there's a new cast of characters, while the original cast return as non-player characters--and he's being held by a floaty jet engine robot monster called the W4R-D3N. Said robot monster proceeds to lead you on a chase along the dam, where you have to deal with groups of incoming enemies, some of whom are called in as reinforcements from Hyperion's base on the moon. Why? Because why wouldn't the evil corporation you're fighting be able to call in airdrops from the moon? You can dual-wield ridiculously powerful and exotic guns. It's all about keeping a level playing field.

The point is, Gearbox wants to make quests more about being self-contained adventures and less about being sent off on yet another fetch quest. We could continue to go on about areas that Gibson wants to improve, but suffice it to say that the team at Gearbox isn't resting on its laurels for Borderlands 2. Now we're just eager to play the thing and see how it feels, and whether some of the user interface improvements Gibson promised feel like major upgrades. But we like what we've seen so far, that's for sure.

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121 comments
maf17
maf17

Damn straight. This guy was spot-on. I could never understand why everyone thought Borderlands was such a great game when the weapons were pathetic, the quests were repetitive & boring and the environments so restricted for waht was supposed to be an open-world game.The vehicles were fun but there was nowhere to drive them to. It sounds like Gibson has recognised exactly what was wrong and hopefully all those errors will be fixed in B2. Then it will be one helluva game..

Garnog
Garnog

I am so looking forward to this...

Muskeljens
Muskeljens

I just don't understand! I keep throwing my credit card and cash on the screen but nothing is happening?!

Big_Stew52
Big_Stew52

wow this is so sweet, drops enemies from the moon,new characters and well this is just guna be awesome. pure awesome

believe_truth
believe_truth

This is so exciting! I had absolutely no qualms with Borderlands on 360. It was a perfect game, I had a ton of fun playing multiple playthroughs. Even my gf at the time liked watching it. It grabbed you right from the get go. The atmosphere was the only thing that got stale after a while, kinda drab, but the DLC was remarkable as well. For all I loved it, I would easily be happy with a new game in the same engine (new areas, characters, maybe cut down or eliminate load times), but this looks like.... Wow! If they don't frig up the formula from the first game, I vow to give it many hours of my life again! The graphical update looks slick as sh#t, new scenery is fantastic, exactly what it needed(although the desert added to the desolate mood, wouldn't have been the same without it), and the new characters/weapons/enemies I've seen so far are the icing on the cake. I'm looking forward to this... A lot. LLBL!

VaultHunter505
VaultHunter505

This game is going to be sick! When i played the first game, i immediately liked it for its hilarious comments, rpg elements, out of control enemies, and ***kicking guns. The moment I found out about the second one, I rushed over to my local Gamestop and told my good friend who works there that there NEEDED to be a copy with my name on it the day it came out. In other words, I reserved it. I loved Borderlands so much, I came across a few bosses that pissed me off, but I never rage-quited, even when I was cussing and really considering throwing my controller at the wall, I always pulled through and kept playing. Really hoping 2 will be even better.

Osma7
Osma7

Really enjoyed the first one, and was looking forward to the second playthrough for even bigger guns. I knew the ending was going to be anti-c, but i figured "who cares, i know its coming it wont be that bad." It was worse. Haven't played past the shock caves on second playthrough because i didn't want to have to deal with that horrible ending with even worse monsters to deal with. Just hope the ending is better this time, maybe with some story as well.

9tailjeza
9tailjeza

first of all, we've gotta remind them that... the first game was great! sure, once you got down to complaints about it you could write a shopping list, but don't scrap all of it...

phantom_blade66
phantom_blade66

@aman579 No, watch the interview. He says you can dual wield any guns you want. Sniper with repeater, double rocket launchers, machine gun and shot gun, etc

aman579
aman579

but to dual wield guns wont u need to have two of the same guns, which could be hard with the rare guns

sasukemaynard
sasukemaynard

Looks awesome! Hope they don't take the funny jokes and easter eggs out! "

packers91
packers91

crawmerax the invincible is the vault

xbx_36
xbx_36

2012???? its the end of te world...........

ZzMurdererzZ
ZzMurdererzZ

Thanks Shaun McInnis as always it was funny and full of stuff I wanted to hear

TruthSerum808
TruthSerum808

Right now I'm cautiously optimistic. Let's just hope they don't take all of the graphical and gameplay changes a little TOO far and ruin a good thing.

CrossFire312
CrossFire312

I'm still upset that I didn't get anything from the Vault. :P

Mfman14
Mfman14

i can't wait frankly the game play in borderlands was so good i didn't care that it lacked a story nothing like getting with your friends and killing things. This is a preorder for me.

armedvigilante
armedvigilante

@ragnar320 I know i couldn't believe it like i already had 1.5 mil and good guns (i think i only used one pistol that i got from that fight) and no big cutscene really i just stared at my tv wondering if that really just happened haha. well atleast the second playthrough was fun (co op wise)

seed7alfa
seed7alfa

please show the playable characters.the midget dude is hilarious.

AJAM1
AJAM1

I enjoyed my time with borderlands and especially the co-op feature, but there was always something missing..hopefully they can create the same great game with a little more this time around

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

This title will be great. Wish they would show more material.

ragnar320
ragnar320

@armedvigilante dude tell me about that was one of the most anti climatic ending ever all you get is more money and not some really cool guns and shields and stuff like that just 250k when you probally already have a kickass weapon loadout by the end of the game

slaigo7
slaigo7

The disposable guns reminded me of the spitting ability in Dead Rising. Can't decide on which one is more ridiculously funny...

armedvigilante
armedvigilante

guardian angel"quickly quickly u HAVE to get to the vault and get its SUPER AMAZING TREASURE before it closessss" you "ahhh giant purple octopus!!!!" guardian angel "nice job im proud that u killed the giant purple octopus. oh and btw the vault closed but go to patricia and get a quarter million for beating the game and yes incase u were wondering that is nothing compared to what was in the vault" as long as the fix that mess and clean the game up a bit this game will be great

cboyuno
cboyuno

@mackh123 I won't argue. For the same reason I'm going to have fun playing Gears of War 3 after years of playing the first 2.

booty56
booty56

I'm happy they are coming out with a sequal to Borderlands, and when I tell my buddy he will ji** in his pants (literally)

Scisor50
Scisor50

It did piss me off seeing how Pandora had basically no townies, excluding the one in New Haven. Let's hope it feels more live now.

beanz777
beanz777

I can't wait. One of the highlights of 2012 definitely!

BaTaNN
BaTaNN

This will be a great game !!!!!!!

CONV1KT
CONV1KT

@theartist111 in the new game informer magazine they said that they knew the 1st one had a bad storyline and they focused on borderlands 2's story the most out of anything

theartist111
theartist111

Why hasn't anyone brought up the fact that the 1st borderlands had virtually no storyline i hope this one has something that get's me through the go here, go there, find 10 of these things. i wanna push for the next plot scene no just a yeah i lvl up........again.

Black_Adder_
Black_Adder_

Borderlands wasn't bad for an easy platinum and it was fun till the final boss when I really was like "wtf!?! That's all?" and lost my interest in the game (good thing it didn't take much time to get platinum after finishing the 1st playthrough). But if they truly will even have some sense in Borderlands 2 then maybe I will try it out because I liked the "terrific sense of humor".

alert0
alert0

Too much change is scary. Cash-in sequels are frustrating. I can't make up my mind.

noru18
noru18

A big fat old guy? But I want to play a slim cute aerobatic boy.

lil_luz_10
lil_luz_10

Duel-wielding weapons, more melee weapons, more LIFE to the environment/characters, more/deeper class leveling, and please, please, please don't use gamespy for MP, make it compatible with steam

v8kid87
v8kid87

I loved the first game and an improved one is definitely on my radar! follow follow follow :D !

kickblocker
kickblocker

so pumped for this, bought the first a long time ago but didnt really get into it until a week or so ago. can't stop playing it now, about 25% through my 2nd playthrough

zerospecterpunk
zerospecterpunk

When I first heard they were making Borderlands 2, there was almost no excitement, but a LOT of frustration because I expected they were making a sequel just for the point of making a sequel..... but after reading the GI article and this, I'm more excited and hopeful. It definitely looks like they're actually putting a lot more work into this game than I expected, and it even looks like more work than was put into the first game.

Harv3y
Harv3y

i hope they make the difficulty a bit more linear. im a casual gamer so getting slaughtered over and over again is about as fun as having teeth pulled

itchyflop
itchyflop

i enjoyed the first for its quirkiness and originality

Manhasted
Manhasted

The character looks bad-ass and fits the Borderlands profile...but is there any news on multiple character selection like the first one?

cboyuno
cboyuno

Right now, looking at this game...it feels like I just ate 5 pieces of cake and now I'm looking at another piece and thinking..."if I take another bite I'm gonna puke". I feel like I'm full of Borderlands. This upcoming year is gonna have amazing RPG's like Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2. Not to mention Skyrim and Rage. I just can't imagine playing this again.

Kyrylo
Kyrylo

Sounds good to me. If they learn from their mistake with Duke Nukem, that game will be awesome. Hope the humor will still be so damn good as in the first one.

Berkut666
Berkut666

I just hope that their "laundry list" of things they want to improve doesnt spoil Borderlands and make it another bland modern FPS game.

DITHRICH
DITHRICH

i wonder if they will replace the old classes with similar ones who has better skills unlike the some usless skills that where in the original...

dawil123
dawil123

Im glad they acknowledged some of the minor flaws with the original game such as the frustrating vehicle clipping with seemingly smooth ground from time to time, I'm so excited

dv_mrkn
dv_mrkn

icy screenshot looks pretty nice! i'm a fan of the first part and i'm gonna get the second too!

ziproy
ziproy

If this game isn't good this will probably be the end of Gearbox after that Duke Nukem fiasco. Here's hoping they don't screw up