Friday, 20 July 2012


Each of the four new characters in Borderlands 2 leans on the archetypes set up by their previous counterparts. For those who played the first game, Salvador felt most like brutish big guy Brick. He's heavyset and never afraid to drop fist bombs when push comes to shove, but he also packs a new card up his sleeves: the ability to temporarily wield a pair of guns when combat gets a little too hot. The extra firepower comes with a cooldown, so you won't be constantly riddling prey with akimbo machine guns, but when you do, you forgo weapon sights to fire from the hip. With two effective elemental weapons equipped, targets tended to die pretty quickly at our hands. Just the way we like it.
Both of our characters came pre-played to level 20 and packing one of three different weapon loadouts. We were presented with a handful of skill points waiting to be spent, and doing so gave us the chance to customise our own areas of priorities for expertise. Like in the first game, three skill trees are available, but rather than spend an initial point for your class-specific special ability (Lilith's phasewalk, Brick's berserk, and so on) before drilling down further, this time your first point is spent directly in your tree of choice. The Brawn tree is all about optimising your special attack, with the "come at me bro" skill allowing you to taunt in gunzerker mode to return you to full health. Taunting attracts the current target's hate, making it useful for taking on a group tanking role, or wrestling danger away from another member of your crew. Using it doesn't spell imminent death, however, as activating it also rewards you with a buff that helps mitigate damage--presumably long enough for someone else to throw you a heal, pass on the aggro, or put down the target. Brawn isn't solely about punching things either, and the early tiers also pump up your chance at landing critical strikes, as well as increasing your effectiveness with certain weapon types, such as pistols.
The Rampage tree offers the "keep firing" (Spaceballs reference?) talent that speeds up your rate of fire in line with the speed at which you tap the triggers on the controller. Faster presses result in faster shooting, and when it's used with gunzerking double weapons, you'll chew through bullets at a rate of knots and provide enemies a free session of lead acupuncture in the process. "Inconceivable" and "5 shots of 6" were our standout abilities in the Rampage tree. The former granted a coin toss for each shot fired not to consume a round, while the latter was a maximum 25 percent chance to add an extra round of ammunition to the chamber when blasting away. Used together, they give you a chance to stand your ground and shoot with only minimal concern for running out of bullets. Gearbox devs on hand at the event even told of experiences during testing where players had fired 40-second bursts of chain gun weapons without needing to reload, simply by getting lucky with the perks.
Gun Lust is the third and final tree and offers extra health early, but upgrades your things that go bang a few tiers down. "No kill like overkill" adds a damage multiplier to your next shot fired after killing an enemy, giving you an instant leg up on your next victim, and will be invaluable for speeding things up when mowing down groups of poorly armoured, low-hit-point enemies.

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