The lights are on
The Borderlands series has always been built on a foundation of chaos, thanks to its cast of crazy characters and locations, and an endless stream of overpowered guns and equipment. 2K Australia is literally taking the insanity to new heights with its new low-gravity adventure that takes place entirely on the moon. Game Informer editors and (Borderlands veterans) Bryan Vore and Jeff Marchiafava discuss what they think of the latest changes and additions.Jeff: So, Bryan, we’ve played a ton of Borderlands together, including the entire campaign of the original game and all of its DLC, plus a bunch of Borderlands 2. We only got about a half an hour with Pre-Sequel, but it immediately felt like old times. What were the first thoughts that went through your head when you started playing? Bryan: Well, the first thing I saw was the big, fat skill tree with 25 free points to invest for Athena, the gladiator character. I always stare at those forever and agonize over my upgrades, but this time I had to just jam them in. I wanted to play around with her Aspis special weapon so I went nuts in that category. I guess my first thought was stressful, but once the game fired up that all went away immediately. What did you invest in with your character?Jeff: I played as Wilhelm, and invested in his drone ability. Basically I just chose the first skill tree and tried to make my way to the bottom of the branch. Getting accustomed to the weapons my character had was also a bit rough – I didn’t want to obsess over fire rates or damage points, so I just cycling through my guns and firing them off randomly. It seemed like they loaded us up with some overpowered weaponry, because every gun seemed awesome.Once we got into the action though, it seemed like the biggest change was the gravity. What did you think of playing on the moon?Bryan: Agreed on the guns. I pretty much stuck with this freeze laser gun that took off a lot of damage and stuck people in place at times. I think the wild jumps on the moon are a great time. You can stay on the move while airborne, dodging gunfire and melee attacks, and blast guys in the head. I flew over guys and did the new buttstomp down on them a whole lot.Jeff: The buttstomp is by far my new favorite move. I also liked how far you can jump – I spent most of the first two games trying to bunny hop my way up onto roofs and ledges, and The Pre-Sequel really embraces the verticality and hidden-away chests of the previous games. However, I didn’t even realize that you could use your oxygen supply to change your direction while in mid-air.Bryan: Before I played the game I was skeptical of the oxygen mechanic. I didn’t want to worry about constantly refilling my reserves, but it doesn’t drain too quickly unless you’re constantly double jumping. There seem to be recharge stations everywhere (which also refill health and shields) and most of times when you go inside you get all your air back.Jeff: I also thought the oxygen mechanic would be a hindrance, and at first it was – probably because I didn’t realize I was using it every time I did a buttstomp or held the button in while jumping. But even when I was out of reserves, it didn’t seem like you could die; your health just dropped down to a sliver, and like you said it almost instantly replenished when you enter an oxygen vent or indoor area. All in all I think it could be an interesting mechanic layered on top of the low gravity and normal combat. However, I am a little wary about the setting – do you think being on the moon for an entire game will get old? Bryan: That’s a good question. The environment we saw was cool (a mix of gray craters and metal base structures), but it’s what I would expect for a game set on the moon. It could be problematic if the whole world looks this way. It’s not like you could do wintry mountains, dry deserts, and green forests without an atmosphere. However, the end gave me hope for some variety. We made it to a lava lake and then hit a switch that made a frozen bridge across the surface.Jeff: Yeah, I share the same concerns. The first Borderlands was criticized for basically being one giant, brown desert, and Gearbox really responded to that and changed up the environments and color pallette for Borderlands 2. I’m a little worried that The Pre-Sequel will turn out to be one big gray planet, but the lava lake and ice bridge was cool, even if it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. What did you think of the enemies?Bryan: I liked all the wild guys in space suits with an obvious helmet keeping them alive. It was super satisfying to target those glass globes and pop them with my gun. Wasn’t there some kind of four-legged big dog thing too that chased us around?Jeff: Yeah, there was one type of strange ice beast. Not only was it huge, but when you shot it, it shattered into smaller beastlings as well. The psycho enemies were no pushovers either; I ran into a number of guys who had explosive weaponry, and they also take advantage of the low gravity to bound around on the planet’s surface while shooting at you. So what did you think of Athena’s special ability?Bryan: The Aspis is a unique change of pace for me. I’ve always gone for the turret character. This thing works like a traditional shield that Athena holds up with her arm. It’s partially transparent so you can still see what you’re shooting at with the gun in your other hand. At any point, you can press the cancel button and she’ll throw it out like a deadly discus (or wait for the special meter to run out). After I leveled up during combat, I was able to buy the top skill, which allows the flying shield to ricochet off of up to four enemies like Captain America. What about Wilhelm?Jeff: I upgraded a pair of drones, one of which boosted my shields, while the other attacked enemies. I wish I would’ve had more time to adequately investigate what the skill augmentations did, but basically anytime I pressed the left shoulder button, I couldn’t count on a droid to blow the crap out of whatever was causing me trouble. Wilhelm seemed pretty cool, though I think I’d want to check out the other characters before committing to play as him. So, any final thoughts about what we played?Bryan: I think we should play this together when it comes out! I’m open to sticking with Athena, but I’m curious to see more on the other characters’ skills.Jeff: Yeah, even though it might not be Borderlands 3, it still seems like there’s a lot of content to chew on, and 2K Australia seems intent on adding new elements without forsaking what has made the series so popular with players. I wish it was coming out for new-gen consoles, but I wasn’t planning on packing up my 360 yet anyway. I’m more than happy to return to the world of Borderlands – or its moon, as the case may be.
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