Just a note before the main post, but on Saturday, October 20th, I am going to be participating in the Extra Life gaming marathon, in support of The Children’s Hospital & Research Center of Oakland. The basic premise is that I play games for 24-hours straight, raise some money, and donate it to help out sick kids. I’m taking suggestions for games to play, and will be splitting time streaming my exploits with Liore on the Machiavelli’s Cat Twitch.tv channel. Please take the time to look over my donation page, and even if you don’t want to support financially, come hang out on Saturday.
So I finally finished the main story of Borderlands 2 last night, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. It took me a little while to figure out which class I wanted to play – so long, in fact, that the Mechromancer DLC came out and I was still futzing around with characters enough to try out out. And it stuck! So I’ve played through the entirety of Playthrough 1 (and done the large majority of side missions) as the self-styled and pig-tailed “greatest engineer in the world!” Deathtrap and Gaige wandered the barren wastelands of Pandora, fighting off skags and robots and crazed psychopaths (and rakks – which can all die in a fire like so many did before them) on our way to a final confrontation with Handsome Jack.
I have to say, the game was really fun. I played through in a mixture of solo and multiplayer, which the game makes exceptionally easy to do – join a friend’s game (or they drop in on yours), and everything gets a bit harder and smarter; drop out and everything gets a bit weaker. The quests generally align themselves, and although there is some weirdness there (like potentially being able to see story stuff slightly out of order), it mostly works – and better than it did in the original. Loot is abundant and varied – they’ve done an awesome job of making sure that each weapon manufacturer (I believe there are 7 or 8) feel fairly different from each other. There’s still some crossover – so you can find decent elemental weapons that are non-Maliwan branded – but in general, each one is reasonably identifiable and different. Certain types of guns also have different projectiles – I’ve found rocket/grenade launching machine guns, a gun that shoots slower-moving lightning orbs, and one that has invisible acid projectiles with a delay on them. Basically, it’s a loot-driven game, and the loot is really fun to sort through. Which is good, because you spend a lot of time doing just that.
But WHY am I killing everything that moves?
There’s sort of this fundamental question that runs through games and seems fairly important. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Borderlands 2 seems to respond (quite directly sometimes) “Umm.. because you’re a badass?” The writing is pretty awesome in the game, and certainly pokes fun at itself. Everything is taken to the extreme, and that’s awesome. But the main story this time around is at least a little more interesting. The vast majority of the characters from the first game make some sort of appearance, and you start to develop an interest in the crazy-ass people that live on Pandora.
I felt like the main storyline turned out better than it had in the first game, which is good, because I wasn’t sold on it in the first game. I felt a lot more personal drive to take the next step, and by the time that I got to the final confrontation, I really fucking hated the bad guy. And not on a “this guy wants to do some terrible stuff” level, but in a personal “my god, that guy is an asshole” way. Which is great! I think it must be really hard to walk the line between good character development and telling jokes, but I felt like Gearbox really succeeded here.
Plus, the game looks gorgeous again, and that always helps. I look forward to getting through the second playthrough, and doing the side quests that I skipped, and killing the not-Crawmerax enemy, and getting all the achievements, and yes, even playing the DLCs. The first of which comes out next week in a “TOO SOON” sort of way that I’m not sure I’m entirely happy about. But it did push me to a) get through the storyline before it showed up and b) do some ass-on-couch version of training for Extra Life next weekend.