Earlier today, during a visit to 2K Games' impressive meeting area at the 2008 Games Convention in Leipzig, we had an opportunity to take in a demo of Borderlands with Randy Pitchford and other representatives from Gearbox Software. As it turned out, the demo was almost identical to the one that we saw at the E3 Media & Business Summit, but that doesn't mean we didn't get to see anything that was different.
Described as an RPS (role-playing shooter) by Pitchford, Borderlands is a promising sci-fi action game in which you can play as a soldier, a hunter, or a siren. It's not clear exactly what impact your choice of class will have on the game, but it's clear that each class will have strengths and weaknesses that can be negated to some extent by teaming up with other classes in co-op play. We also learned today that the soldier is the only class that won't have to worry about ammunition because his variant of the game's "digital backpack" (you can pull physical items out of it, but the only thing you need to carry around is data) can generate ammo at any time.
As you progress through the game and your character levels up, you'll have the opportunity to learn new skills. You'll become more proficient with weapon types automatically as you use them, but you can augment those proficiencies with skills that enable faster reload times, improved shield recovery, and the like.
If you're at all familiar with Borderlands, you'll know that one of the game's most unique features is the system that it uses to generate weapon drops. There are purportedly well over 500,000 different firearms to find in the game already, and that number will almost certainly increase by the time it's finished. What you might not know, though, is that while that number no doubt sounds overwhelming, it's actually pretty easy to figure out if a weapon is worth keeping or not at a glance when you find it. That's because not only are the numerous attributes of each weapon boiled down to just a handful of key stats that appear onscreen as you move toward the weapon, but also because the appearance of a weapon can tell you a lot about it. For example, guns with longer barrels are more accurate and colors are used to show a weapon's special properties (incendiary, corrosive, or lightning rounds). Both the ammo magazines and scopes are also clearly visible.
Perhaps the coolest thing that we saw during our Borderlands demo, regardless of the fact that it sounds simple and it might not be news to you, is the "seat exchange" system that you can use to swap places with other players when you're at the controls of a vehicle in a co-op game. The vehicle that we saw during our demo could've been straight out of a Mad Max movie and had a position for a rooftop gunner, as well as the driver. The animation that played out as the two decided to swap seats was really slick, and we'll be surprised if other games don't incorporate similar systems in the future. You could argue that Mario Kart: Double Dash did it first, of course, but the best weapons in that game were brightly colored shells.
So there you have it, Borderlands is looking really promising and, take our word for it, it's nothing like Mario Kart: Double Dash. We look forward to bringing you more amazing insights into Gearbox Software's upcoming shooter in the weeks and months ahead.