Borderlands 2 Trusts Your Intelligence «

The original Borderlands remains upon my ever-growing video game pile of shame. I like first-person shooters, I like RPGs, and I like cooperative play; I have no doubt that I’d enjoy a game that combines all three concepts into one. Alas, the stark reality of working in the gaming press is that, despite the fact that you think our job consists of nothing but playing games all the time, we rarely have enough time for the games we need to play for work and none for the ones we’d like to play just for our own enjoyment.

And so, I approached a recent hands-on demo of Borderlands sequel (which surprisingly enough is named, simply, Borderlands 2) from a position of unfamiliarity. My first course of action was to simply acclimate myself to the play mechanics; being designed for co-op play first and foremost, its rules work a little differently than your typical FPS. That meant taking it slowly, sticking to cover, retreating when overwhelmed, and searching every inch of ground for weapons and items to collect. Mission prompts and waypoints helpfully indicated the direction of my primary objective, but I cheerfully ignored them in favor of simply seeing what I could find at my own pace.

After about 15 minutes of wandering through areas situated in the opposite direction of the mission marker, a 2K representative had seen enough. “The mission marker is over here,” he said, pointing to the mini-map as I foraged through a disused industrial structure. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“OK…,” I mumbled, and continued rummaging. My efforts were rewarded with a pistol sporting a larger clip and faster rate of fire (but weaker impact damage) than the one I had equipped; after that, I set off through a shallow ravine running alongside the cliff I was supposed to be climbing. The rep shrugged and left me to my own devices, presumably harrumphing to himself about my incompetence.

Later, I mentioned this incident to Borderlands 2 creative director Paul Hellquist, and he shook his head in mild irritation.

“He was wrong,” Hellquist told me. “The whole point of Borderlands 2 is that you can play it any way you want.” And that was when I decided that I’m into this game.


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