Gamers have a tendency to exaggerate; in the heat of discussing a game, it’s common to hear someone claim that this RPG features endless upgrade combinations, or that FPS has a million different guns to choose from. Such statements are not meant to be taken literally, but are rather a sign of the speaker’s excitement about an upcoming game. After playing a preview build of Borderlands, it’s safe to say we’re excited about it, and if we told you the game had a million guns you could buy, sell, and eviscerate bad guys with, it would still be inaccurate; according to Gearbox’s President Randy Pitchford, the last weapon count for the game was 17,750,000, a number far greater than any development team on the planet could create by hand. And while we don’t know yet how big Borderlands will be (the preview build was just a small chunk of the overall world) it was chock full of Mad Max-like bandits, badass alien beasties (some literally named Badass, an enemy rank in Borderlands), and demented psycho midgets.  If that sounds insane, that’s Borderlands.

There are a lot of other interesting features that we could tell you about the game, information that has been slowly revealed and endlessly regurgitated during the game’s development cycle.  All you really need to know about Borderlands (besides that humongous, procedurally generated arsenal) is that it’s an open-world FPS/RPG hybrid that Pitchford hopes is as addictive and engrossing as Diablo or World of Warcraft. It looks like the Gearbox team might have met their goal too – there’s so much to do that we had set two of our editors loose on the game. Here are our first impressions.

Impressions from Dan Ryckert, Associate Editor:

It's hard to sum up the Borderlands experience briefly, but the shortest way is probably "four player co-op Fallout 3 with more of a focus on gunplay." It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, and it doesn't exactly do the game justice. Borderlands certainly isn't a Fallout 3 clone, but it does have some of that same post-apocalyptic Road Warrior feel that worked so well in Bethesda's RPG.

Randy Pitchford and his team at Gearbox have done a great job of making the weapons the star of the show, and there's literally millions of them. Obviously, this is done through combinations of many interchangeable elements, but you'll frequently find new weapons that give you that "I need to go try this right now," feeling. I was certainly pleased the first time I picked up an SMG and realized it inflicted fire damage on enemies. I was even more pleased when I filled a "Midget Psycho" up with bullets from said SMG that caused him to burst into flames. As you progress, you'll unlock more room in your backpack and earn more quick-select slots, allowing you to carry a versatile arsenal with you across the wasteland. At most times, I kept a shotgun, a machine gun (or SMG), and a sniper rifle in my quick-select, ensuring that I could adapt to most any combat situation.

Cooperative play is bound to be a huge hit upon the game's release, and it's handled better than virtually any other team multiplayer experience I've seen. Your character, his/her level, and your entire inventory can easily travel in and out of your friend's games, and you're free to leave at any time without disrupting their play experience. If I log onto Xbox Live and my friend says he needs help with a mission, I can instantly appear, help out by blasting everything in sight with some rockets, and then leave the play session.