Team Gouki went to PAX Prime in Seattle and got the scoop on Borderlands 2 from Gearbox Software. Read on for info from the demo, and watch the video interview with art director Jeramy Cooke.
Borderlands 2 was our number one game going into PAX. I've personally put 500 hours into the first game according to Raptr. (I've also got 100% of the acheivements!) It was hard to wait for the last day of the convention for our appointment with Gearbox, but it was worth it.
We entered the Borderlands 2 theater, adorned with art of the gunzerker and new monsters on the walls, I noticed the game was being demoed on the PC. We were introduced to Steve Gibson who proceded to give the presentation.
The first thing I noticed when they started playing the game was the addition of a minimap in the upper right corner. No more jumping into the menu to figure out where you are! It's a small touch to be sure, but it can make the game so much more enjoyable. The player then paused the game to show us the new streamlined menus. They look a whole lot better and are much narrower to fit into the split screen mode (so it looks, for now, like split screen will be vertical again). We got to see some of the Gunzerker's skill tree. You still need to be level 5 just to get your action skill and start the tree. This demo started off at level 4.
As the Gunzerker moved forward he was attacked by 2 Bullymongs, a new artic ape like creature with four arms. The Bullymongs will attack directly, or stand back and throw rocks or other pieces of the environment at you (including cars according to Steve, but we didn't see that). After picking up a "Tediore disposable gun" the player showed us how, instead of reloading a Tediore, you simply throw it away and watch it explode as a copy respawns in your hands. The explosion can be made bigger at the expense of ammo if you throw it down before the clip is empty. This was super effective against the bullymongs.
As the Gunzerker chased down his objective, a hostage you may recognize, we got to see our first bandits. The new enemy AI is a great improvement over the first Borderlands. Gone are the days where you just get some high ground and pick off the helpless saps. Now the bandits will chase you to the high ground, climbing and jumping along with you, jumping over low walls and generally not giving you any room to rest. This should help give BL2 a bit more of the challenge factor that it needs. The bandit animation has been beefed up as well; they stagger backwards realistically when shot, loose limbs if hit in the right spot, and eventually fall over dead (assuming you don't explode them of course). The animation looks great even at this early stage. The hostage, okay it was Roland the soldier class from the first game, was trapped by a mech called W4R-D3N which was moving slowly through the level and being protected by mechs. As the first round of mechs died off, the warden would shoot fireworks to signal for help and more mechs would drop in from the giant Hyperion H in the sky. As saving Roland was the objective, the waypoint moved as the warden traveled the level, showing us that mission objectives were no longer static in Borderlands 2.
The gunzerker class is a re-imagining of the bezerker (Brick) from the first game. Instead of punching things as his action skill, the gunzerker instead pulls out a second weapon which could have some awesome combined elemental effects with the right weapons. He can use ANY weapons in dual wield mode, so two rocket launchers or a minigun with a sniper. Even without knowing what the other classes action skills are, this one looks like a winner.
There's a new siren in the game too. She joined the fight about halfway through the demo to show us the drop-in/drop-out co-op that made Borderlands so successful was still in place. Gearbox would not reveal what her action skill was, only that it was definitely NOT phasewalk. (They also assured us it was "Mysterious and Powerful").
During a short driving section where we saw the new bandit truck, Steve told us that the driving mechanics had been completely re-worked so that you wouldn't get stuck on a small rock anymore. Huge smiley face there! The vehicles also don't stop when they hit an enemy that they don't insta-kill anymore, instead the skag (in this case) flew up and over the hood as he was run down by the bandit truck. Sweet...
If you're wondering if the humor is back, well I'm happy to report that this is definitely a Borderlands game. From badguys with midgets strapped to their shields to mechs named "EXP-Loader" that self destruct (get it?). The demo brought back lots of memories of seeing the original game for the first time. (Before anyone asks, we did NOT see any claptraps.)
After the demo, we had a chance to talk to Jeramy Cooke, art director for Borderlands 2. Here's the full interview.
While we confirmed that a bank will be in BL2, it was hinted during the panel later that this might be a shared bank, allowing you to move weapons and items between your saves. Personally, I'm really hoping for this!
Borderlands 2 releases sometime in 2012 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC (a Mac version will be released as well, and Gearbox are trying to make that simultaneous with the other three, but can't say for sure yet).