Did you miss GamesBeat Summit 2021? Watch on-demand here!
Welcome to GamesBeat’s Borderlands 2 game guide, where we’ll show you how to exploit Gearbox Software’s latest and greatest to your heart’s content. You can use this game’s design and loopholes in a lot of ways to trick out your characters and make Borderlands 2 your B, so let’s get to it!
All about the Golden Key and chest
Before you start, you should know how the Golden Key and Golden Chest work. If you pre-ordered the game or signed up for the Gearbox Shift club, you likely have at least one of these keys (they do not drop in-game). Each key can be used to open the Golden Chest in Sanctuary, Borderlands 2’s city hub. You’ll reach this area within 3-5 hours after starting the game, and can then access it anytime.
The Golden Key can only be used once, on one character, and then it’s gone forever. Furthermore, the weapon inside the chest scales to your level, so you need to decide if you want a decent weapon now or a super-badass weapon later. Lots of people seem to want to wait until level 50 to open the chest for the best possible results, but the majority of comments I’ve seen are from people who accidentally opened the chest and wasted their key without knowing it. To make sure you don’t do that, here’s what the chest looks like:
Quick and easy Badass tokens
As with the first Borderlands, the sequel has tons of in-game challenges that you can now complete for Badass Rank. Earn enough Badass Rank and you’ll get a token that allows you to permanently increase a bonus stat across all of your characters.
Some of these challenges can take multiple playthroughs to finish across dozens of hours, while some of the specific challenges can be pretty difficult for a number of reasons.
Most challenges have five levels, with a higher goal at each level (10 sniper kills, 100, 500, and so on). The higher the challenge level you complete, the more Badass Rank you gain and the more points you unlock for a total of 166 points per challenge:
- Challenge Level 1: 1 Badass Rank
- Challenge Level 2: 5 Badass Rank
- Challenge Level 3: 10 Badass Rank
- Challenge Level 4: 50 Badass Rank
- Challenge Level 5: 100 Badass Rank
However, you can knock out a few challenges early on with a little game exploitation and get a lot of tokens well before the game’s designers intended for you to have just one.
First up is trading. You must complete 50 trades with another player to finish level five of the “Psst, Hey Buddy…” challenge. You can do this at the very beginning of the game and receive sizable permanent stat boost thanks to the 15-plus tokens you’ll receive, all in a matter of minutes.
To initiate a trade, hold B for a second while facing a nearby player. That player holds B to accept the trade and then you’ll both enter the trade interface. To expedite the process, both players select “Trade” and you’re done. You don’t even have to trade anything.
Trade 49 more times and you’re done. The beauty of this is that both players complete the challenges at the same time, unlike the Duel challenge (see below).
BONUS: Badass tokens and the permanent stat increases you get for them are saved across all your characters, but challenges are not. That means, if you were so inclined, you could keep creating new characters, max the trading challenge (among others) out in a couple of minutes, and repeat for tons of Badass Rank and tokens.
To complete all the levels for the Duel challenge, you need to win 50 duels. However, like with trading, you can do this quickly at the beginning of the game. First, both players should remove their shield (if they have one). Now whenever you lose a duel, you’ll only have a sliver of health remaining. Then initiate a duel with a second player by using melee attacks against each other.
Once the duel begins, melee the other player and you’ll defeat them in a single swipe. Repeat until you’ve hit 50 wins. If you want to be nice, you can then take 50 losses so your friend can get their wins, too.
Note that winning a duel doesn’t technically count as a “kill,” so you can’t grind any of the kill challenges this way, and shooting the other player is just a waste of ammo. It’s best to get these done as fast as possible and move on.
Whenever a fellow player is downed, you may hold X to revive him if you’re feeling generous. Of course, the game has a challenge for this (“This Is No Time for Lazy!”), but it would take forever through normal play (especially if your team doesn’t suck).
Since you can’t take damage from falling, you can’t repeatedly jump to your doom and have your friends waiting for you at the bottom. Instead, you can only down yourself with grenades (slow and costly) or Tediore weapons, which are chucked instead of being reloaded and explode on impact.
As soon as you get a Tediore weapon, remove your shield and stand in a corner with your friend next to you (Borderlands 2 has no friendly fire, so he won’t receive damage). Now shoot once and then hit reload to throw the gun and down yourself from the explosion. Your friend will revive you, and you can repeat the process for both players until everyone has the challenge maxed.
Free legit rare items (no exploit)
There is a non-player character in Sanctuary named Michael Mamaril. He is named after a Borderlands fan who passed away, and he even has his own achievement. Every time you find and speak with him, he’ll hand you a rare item (blue or better). That’s it, no strings attached. You can return to Sanctuary as many times as you want for a sizable number of free weapons, but Michael will move around constantly within the city. Once you learn all of his go-to spots, you can quickly hunt him down. Don’t forget to check in Moxxi’s bar by the jukebox and in Roland’s hideout near the stairs.
Update: This special NPC only appears frequently during Act 1, before a special event affects Sanctuary. So if you want to pump him for infinite rare loot, do it before progressing the story beyond that point.
The dupe trick is back. I’m pretty surprised this was left over from the first Borderlands, as it gives players the capability to quickly and massively derail the design of the game, but here it is.
To create an identical copy of any gun or item, simply drop it. Have the other player pick it up (to be safe) and then you dashboard out (press the Xbox button on your controller and then Y). This will send you back to the dashboard without saving your game.
Now re-enter the game and both you and the other player will have a copy of the gun you dropped. Make sure you don’t accidentally trigger an auto-save before dashboarding (it’s best to just stand still during the process and make sure no other players are running around killing stuff or doing quests).
This can be good for getting that one superawesome shotgun or relic your friend ninja-looted from you, or for repeatedly selling expensive items for lots of cash.
Level up from 1 to 15 in about 20 minutes
Already beat the game (twice) and want to expedite the process of starting a new character? Hopefully you took along a friend for the ride, because he can now help you rapidly level up a brand-new character.
Simply join his game on True Vault Hunter Mode (aka Playthrough 2). Your newborn character will be completely worthless, but anytime your friend completes a mission, the XP reward will rocket you up several levels at a time. If your friend just started True Vault Hunter Mode, you’ll reach level 5 just for grabbing the gun out of the container after Claptrap loses his eye.
Easy and early Eridium (max out your backpack ASAP!)
Once you reach Sanctuary (shortly after completing the Prologue), you can gamble on two slot machines at Mad Moxxi’s bar.
The further you are in the game, the more expensive it is to pull the levers. But the items you may randomly win also scale with your level. And it’s the Eridium you want early on, and if you used the cash or item duping tricks above to get a fat wallet, you can play the slots until your heart explodes.
The slots have three different Eridium payouts, and once you have enough, you can take them to the shady Black Market dealer a few steps away from Moxxi’s and upgrade your ammo capacity or backpack slots.
I highly recommend maxing out your backpack slots first, as this will allow you to carry much more loot. Nothing’s worse than finding lots of chests on a mission or killing a boss and not being able to pick anything up, even if you plan to sell it all (which you will — 95 percent of random drops are worse than your current inventory, in my experience).
For reference, I maxed my backpack before anything else while my friend did not, and I finished the game with a legitimate $100,000 and he only had $15,000. That was all from selling loot I picked up while doing missions.
Black Market expansions get increasingly more expensive:
- Level 1: 4 Eridium
- Level 2: 8 Eridium
- Level 3: 12 Eridium
- Level 4: 16 Eridium
- Level MAX: 20 Eridium
BONUS: If you purchase 20 upgrades using Eridium, you’ll max out the “Whaddaya Buyin?” challenge for another 166 Badass Rank.
Slot machine payouts
Aside from Eridium, Mad Moxxi’s slot machines are a decent source of weaponry and customization skins, depending on your luck.
- x3 Bandits: Live grenade (Run!)
- x3 7s: Customization skin
- x3 Cherries: Green weapon
- x3 Legs: Blue weapon
- x3 Marcus: Purple weapon
- x3 Borderlands logo: Orange weapon (legendary!)
- x3 Eridium Bar (1): 4 Eridium
- x3 Eridium Bars (2): 8 Eridium
- x3 Eridium Stack (3): 16 Eridium (!!!!)
Note that the slots give specific customization skins, so once you’ve gotten a handful, you have them all from this source and can sell or trade the rest.
REMEMBER: It gets much more expensive to play slots later in the game, so if you’re going for Eridium, do it early on.
Defeat the final boss (and others) without getting attacked
Like in the original, many of Borderlands 2’s boss encounters happen in secluded arenas that require the player to drop down into them before the fight starts. However, once the fight has been activated, other players (or even the first player after respawning) can stand outside the arena and attack the bosses with little to fear in regards to personal safety.
For example, others can easily snipe the final boss of the game (you’ll know it when you see it, just after Heroes Pass) from outside the boss arena. In fact, this is the easiest boss to use this trick on. Before going down the steps to the boss, you’ll find a construction platform with a sign that says “Hard hat required.” Jump up on the platform or go higher on the rocks behind it, and you should be able to hit the top of the boss with almost any weapon. You can also move to the left of the boss stairs and jump up on some rocks to have a full-body view of the boss, who is still a sitting duck. This only works when he’s in one of three locations within the arena, though.
It will take a bit of time and a lot of ammo, but luckily there’s an ammo vendor five steps away. It’s a cheap-ass tactic, but when you’re holding $200,000 in cash, dying gets expensive.
Another example is Captain Flynt, the game’s first real boss. You may not be able to snipe him from outside the arena (he’s not that hard anyway), but you can eventually lure him over to the arena entrance for some grenade or turret lovin’. And so on.
Miss Moxxi’s rare weapons
There is an achievement for tipping Moxxi $10,000. However, if you give her a little extra, she’ll reward you back with a rare SMG called Miss Moxxi’s Good Touch. That will cost you about $15,000 total, but to really get the good stuff, you can give her even more for an even better elemental SMG, Miss Moxxi’s Bad Touch. Some people are saying $30,000 is the magic number, but I slowly tipped her a thousand bucks at a time and she just stood there and stared at me all the way up to $50,000. Then she finally forked over her “favorite weapon.”
If you don’t like what you get you can always dashboard out to regain your money, but the guns will always be the same (though they do scale to your level/difficulty).
Find the secret Minecraft area and items!
Last but certainly not least is Gearbox’s sizable nod to Minecraft. Once you reach the Caustic Caverns, you can make your way to some Minecraft-esque pixelated blocks. Tear your way through these to reach a couple of Creepers and kill them for rare Minecraft customization options for your character. Is there no end to Minecraft madness?!
Check out the video below for a walkthrough (provided by Gamefront).
If this guide helped you, feel free to check out our other game guides.
GamesBeatGamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. How will you do that? Membership includes access to:
- Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
- The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
- Networking opportunities
- Special members-only interviews, chats, and "open office" events with GamesBeat staff
- Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
- And maybe even a fun prize or two
- Introductions to like-minded parties