We’re a few days away from Gearbox’s massive Borderlands 2, and now would be a good time to start clearing your calendar for its release. If its predecessor is any indication, we’re in for a skag-shooting, loot-grabbing co-op adventure that can easily result in 100+ hour playtimes. Almost one year ago, we revealed the game’s existence on our September cover. Since then, we’ve talked to Randy Pitchford about the game, detailed Pandora’s variety of weapon manufacturers, shown off concept art, detailed the origins of the series, and played it firsthand at PAX East and E3. You’d think we’d be experiencing Borderlands 2 overload at this point, but we’re still chomping at the bit for its impending release. To get you up to speed, we’ve put together a primer for this bigger and better sequel.

Playable Characters:

Axton (Soldier Class)

Special Ability: Scorpio Turret 2.0

Taking over Roland’s class from the first game, the soldier Axton inherits the Scorpio turret as his special ability. Depending on whether you choose the Guerrilla, Gunpowder, or Survival skill trees, you can alter it in numerous ways. You can add extra guns to the turret, allow it to be teleported rather than thrown, and enable it to stick to walls and ceilings. If you’re looking for even more firepower, you can eventually gain access to a second turret that can be deployed along with the first. We expect Axton to be an extremely helpful component for teams, as his versatile turret(s) distract enemies and simultaneously damage them.

Maya (Siren Class)

Special Ability: Phaselock

While Axton’s ability is similar to Roland’s from the first game, Maya’s is considerably different than Lilith’s. Whereas the latter darted around Pandora with her Phasewalk ability, Maya's skill is called Phaselock. On its own, this ability locks enemies in a floating bubble that prevents them from attacking. If you’re looking to make it a more useful tool, you’ll want to travel down the Harmony, Motion, and Cataclysm skill trees. By spending skill points on the ability, you can eventually make it pull enemies towards you, explode upon expiration, slam foes to the ground, or cause them to change allegiance and fight for you. We can just imagine how much trouble an enemy will be in if they’re Phaselocked while one (or two) of Axton’s turrets are currently on the battlefield.

Coming up next: The other new characters of Borderlands 2...