Everything We Know About Borderlands 2

by Dan Ryckert on Sep 14, 2012 at 10:56 AM

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...

Salvador (Gunzerker Class)

Special Ability: Gunzerking

Our September 2011 cover boy isn’t one for subtlety. His Gunzerker special ability allows him to dual wield any weapons in his inventory and go into a rage that would make Rambo blush. If you feel like getting especially uncouth with the scum of Pandora, you can invest in the “Come at me, Bro!” skill. Once he’s equipped with it, he begins his rampage by flipping his enemies dual middle-fingers, sending them into a rage. Their anger won’t get them far, however, as Salvadore will have full health and boosted defenses while this ability is running. If you want to cause even more carnage, you can increase the ability’s duration, reduce its cooldown, or allow it to be used while you're downed. This class won’t be for fans of sniping or cautious defense, as the large majority of his upgrades focus on pure firepower.

Zer0 (Assassin Class)

Special Ability: Deception

Considering Zer0 is a sweet robot ninja assassin, we’re expecting to see plenty of Borderlands fans picking him right out of the gate. Luckily, he’s got plenty of substance to back up his bad-ass look. His Deception skill allows him to disappear, leaving enemies distracted by a hologram. While they’re wasting their time going after his doppleganger, Zer0 can resurface in an ideal sniping spot or move in close for some deadly melee attacks. Upgrades allow his decoy to explode when it expires, grant extra melee damage for some up-close stealthy kills, or increase the odds of a critical hit when attacking from the sides or back. With his mix of long-range accuracy and deadly melee attacks, this assassin is one of the most unique Borderlands classes we’ve seen.

Coming up next: More allies and enemies you may run into on Pandora...

Other Characters:

Handsome Jack

Borderlands 2’s new antagonist has assumed control of the Hyperion corporation, taken credit for the vault hunters’ work in the first game, and erected statues of himself across Pandora. His menacing orbital base is omnipresent, and capable of beaming enemies down to the planet’s surface. Considering his face appears to be attached to his head via metal hinges, we wonder if his true appearance is as handsome as his name implies.


After the events of Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution, Handsome Jack ordered a genocide of the lovable machine’s kind. We got our first glimpse of him in Borderlands 2 during our E3 demo, which saw Claptrap ordering the playable characters around. Our little buddy views himself as the hero this time around, and the players as his sidekicks. While communicating with us over the intercom, Claptrap led us on a quest to destroy several of Handsome Jack’s statues. Starting a revolution with petty vandalism may not be the most effective way to bring down a dictator, but the player classes are certainly packing enough firepower to handle themselves when the real battles go down.

Vault Hunters

Fans of the original four vault hunters shouldn’t fret, as they’ll all be a part of the sequel. While they won’t be playable, Gearbox plans to explore their personalities a bit more this time around. On our cover trip, the team explained that they didn’t want the vault hunters to speak too much so that players could immerse themselves in their characters as much as possible. Now that these old favorites are just along for the ride, we’ll be hearing plenty more from them. In our playable demos, we’ve led an assault to free Roland from Constructors and gone on a search for Mordecai’s missing hawk Bloodwing. Lilith and Brick are also back, although we’ve yet to see what role they’ll be playing in the story.

Coming up next: A look at more of the improvements of Borderlands...

Leveling Up

If you thought the first Borderlands offered a wide variety of ways to build your character, you haven’t seen anything yet. In addition to the millions of guns, you’re now able to customize your character in more ways than ever before. Take a look at the image above. As you’re assigning skill points to the Gunzerker’s skill tree, you’ll have 32 abilities and perks to choose between. Compare that to the Berserker from the first game, which featured 21 entries on the skill tree. There’s also a new way you can personalize your class that wasn’t in the original...

Character Customization

At PAX East, Gearbox announced that it would be introducing a brand new form of loot in Borderlands 2. On top of tons of weapons, shields, and relics, players can collect new gear, costume pieces, and custom heads for their characters. Completing missions and challenges rewards players with these new wardrobe accessories, which are purely cosmetic. Owners of the original Borderlands will be gifted an exclusive head and skin if a save file is present on their console.



New outfits weren't the only Borderlands 2 announcement at PAX East, as Gearbox also teased their first bit of DLC for the game. A new class known as the Mechromancer will become available at an unspecified point after the game's release, and is free for pre-order customers (others have to buy the class separately). Little is known about her at this time outside of the concept art above and the fact that she controls a large robot known as D374-TP (Deathtrap).

Coming up next: A breakdown of the Borderlands 2 special edition packages...

Special Editions

Borderlands has quickly built a hardcore fan base, and these players can receive tons of bonus content if they're willing to spring for special editions of the sequel. Three tiers of special editions will be available when the game launches:

Premiere Club (standard price, with pre-order)

  • Gearbox Gun Pack
  • Golden Key (unlocks a rare in-game item in the Golden Sanctuary Loot Chest)
  • Vault Hunter's Relic (boosts your gear-hunting fortune)
  • Mechromancer character class

Deluxe Vault Hunter's Collectors Edition ($99.99)

  • Marcus Kincaid bobblehead
  • Inside the Vault: The Art & Design of Borderlands 2 book
  • Sticker set
  • Map of Pandora
  • Download code for digital comic
  • Unspecified bonus DLC

Ultimate Loot Chest: Limited Edition ($149.99)

  • Everything from the Deluxe Vault Hunter's Collectors Edition
  • Replica loot chest
  • Steel book case
  • Creatures of Pandora ID chart
  • Lithograph postcard set
  • Field notes from Sir Hammerlock
  • Cloth map of Pandora
  • Numbered certificate of authenticity

Coming up next: Exclusive videos and trailers of Borderlands 2...

Borderlands 2 is going to be a massive game, and is sure to be one of the most talked-about titles of the holiday season. In just over a month, players can finally dive into Gearbox's ambitious return to Pandora. While you're waiting, you can learn even more about the game through this collection of trailers and Game Informer exclusive content: