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Borderlands 2

Two years ago, I wrote an article entitled "What Borderlands 2 needs to do to keep me satisfied." I adored the first Borderlands, but it also built up a few expectations in my mind for what developer Gearbox had to do for the then-theoretical follow-up.

Now I’ve put over 100 hours into that very-real sequel. So did Gearbox come through on everything — or anything —  I asked for? Here's a point-for-point comparison of 2010 suggestions to 2012 realities.


Borderlands 1 suggestion from 2010: Player appearance customization

" "It’s something we all begged for. It’s something unfeasible for Gearbox to do right now. But it’s something just too important not to include in a sequel. Changing the color of my hair and the stripe on my shirt won't cut it in Borderlands 2."

Borderlands 2 grade: C+

Customizable (and unlockable) heads and skins hit pretty close to what I wanted. It would’ve been nicer to have some costume options instead of just changing the color of your clothes. But at least now players aren’t all simple palette swaps of one another.

Borderlands 1 suggestion from 2010: At least one more class

"My favorite part of Borderlands? Truly different paths that can achieve the same goal. Berserkers go in guns blazing, sirens tactically daze enemies, and snipers pick off baddies from a distance. And if you tried to play a sniper like a berserker … fail. Keep the current class system (hell, make them even more specialized if you want), but throw us a new class or two. Maybe an Eridian that specializes in alien weaponry?"

Borderlands 2 grade: A+

I got even more than I asked for. The skill trees feel even more specialized and classes have more varied uses. Class mods now balance out a player’s abilities or specialize them even further. Plus, we’re getting a fifth class in an upcoming downloadable package. All in all, Gearbox went above and beyond in this category.

Borderlands 1 suggestion from 2010: More raid bosses

"When gamers make it to the end-game, they’ll look for the most efficient way to get the best loot. Crawmerax was awesome, as my countless runs with Michael Rousseau’s can surely attest. But when it becomes the only thing to do, it leaves gamers bored. Having one or two more raid-able, equally  loot-worthy bosses could extend Borderlands 2's life significantly. Perhaps give each boss a tendency to drop certain categories of items (such as a boss that tends to drop high-level revolvers, or one that drops shields).

Borderlands 2 grade: A

Pretty spot on, Gearbox. Bosses each have their own special item drops. Want the awesome Combustion Hellfire SMG? Keep fighting Scorch in Frostburn Canyon. And we have multiple raid-worthy bosses for end-game players, so we don't have to grind the same final boss over and over again.

Borderlands 1 suggestion from 2010: Better storage and trading

"I’m glad the Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot DLC included a bank, but it really should’ve been there from the start. Make sure the next bank can hold all the legendary weapons you use in the game; collectors like me became pretty frustrated when we couldn't hang on to a complete set. Also, a more secure trading system would be a welcome addition to help settle loot disputes."

Borderlands 2 grade: B+

While Borderlands 2 has fewer slots to store your stuff (for now), the added closet shared by all your characters means that, technically, you could have an infinite amount of storage if you jump through the right hoops. It’s definitely smarter storage. Now we just need more of it.

And the new loot-trading system works exactly the way players wanted. Even better, using duels as a way of "winning" disputed loot is an elegant system to settle any disagreements … though it does skew towards higher-level players built for one-on-one combat.

Borderlands 1 suggestion from 2010: Expand the story, but keep it out of the spotlight

"While I actually enjoyed the story of Borderlands, it relied way too much on reading menus. With a bigger budget, Borderlands 2 can certainly step up the voice work and do a better job of keeping gamers in the action instead of scanning text on a screen. But even though I want to know about Pandora and the rest of the Borderlands universe, that’s not the main reason I play the game. Keep the focus on the shooting and we’ll be golden."

Borderlands 2 grade: A

Just about right. It’s not Shakespeare, but the story  received a massive overhaul from the first game. My only real issue: The incidental dialogue often drowns out the story dialogue, resulting in my missing a few lines. Then I go shoot more things.

I wouldn't call Borderlands 2 a perfect game, but it does exactly what a sequel should: make you remember why you loved the first game while improving upon the initial experience. I’m pleased to say that I’m completely satisfied with Gearbox’s effort. Now I just need more people to play with!

Overall Borderlands 2 grade: A-

Add Chal00pacabra on Xbox Live, and let’s get to grinding!