We didn’t really plan on what to talk about, but we were sure that there was enough to talk about with Borderlands the Pre-Sequel that we could both write a post about it! So yesterday Holly wrote her first impressions, and I was going to add mine today.
We’ve talked about it before, and more recently, but we do really love the Borderlands games. At first look: ridiculous. But then you see that they are split-screen cooperative, which is a dying breed in console gaming. Then you see that it is an RPG – a treasure-hunting, random-loot-generating, skill-tree-having, Diablo-style RPG. And I love those!
And while it is a shooter, and a somewhat violent one at that, with cell-shaded graphics and completely unrealistic villains and situations, you’re not in the thick of it quite like you are in the really hyper-real shooters these days. The developers also love their community – coming out with a constant stream of substantial DLC (we’ve already bought the Season Pass for this one!), and using social media to distribute unlockables to everyone. And they decided with this game to stay on the “older” generation of consoles, rather than move on to the new ones – because that’s where their fan base was.
So that’s why I was excited for the game… what have I taken away from it, other than what Holly’s already described?
We Love The Moon (part 2)
As Holly said, we love the moon. It instantly makes for a different gameplay experience even while keeping you in the same world you were before. A couple of things I want to talk about that the moon, and its low-atmosphere, low-gravity existence: treasure hunting and combat.
Treasure Hunting – In Space!
You have to think about everything now in three dimensions. And while it’s always been true that they hide things really well in the Borderlands games – including adding little in-game achievements for finding hidden secrets in Borderlands 2 – it’s never been more true than in this game.
Before, we would have to look around and see if there were parts of the landscape – roofs, ledges, doors – that could be reached. Now, the answer is that yes, they can be reached – but how, and from where? With a good enough jump, you can get just about anywhere; and climbing up buildings or terrain features, you can get really high up. To what point and purpose?
We keep finding things when we go exploring, and they’ve done a good job of continuing to reward exploration. But it’s hard now. You have to hunt with a purpose. Because as you’re out there, seeing if you can climb a cliff or get on a roof, your oxygen (Oz) is depleting. And as you boost your jumps, it’s depleting rapidly.
We’ve often had to turn and run from climbing and exploring expeditions, because our oxygen was out. Then it’s a matter of figuring out if there’s a better or faster way up. It’s making us pay attention to the world they have built even more than before.
And we keep finding those treasure boxes.
Holly talked about how the low gravity, and the ability to slam the ground (BUTT SLAM), has changed combat for us as the players. However, we’re not alone.
It’s changed combat for the baddies, too.
Yep, they are jumping, boosting, slamming, and flying all over the place. There are guys with honest-to-goodness rocket packs, just hovering around, shooting you. We find ourselves constantly losing track of enemies, getting hit from behind or above all the time, and it has generally made combat even more chaotic.
However, they’ve given the characters some solid tools to deal with this. I am playing Athena, the Gladiator, and her skill lets her pull up a shield and be completely invincible from front attacks. I do a lot of backing up and looking up to make this more useful, but it’s a solid way to deal with the chaos! Unfortunately, the enemies also seem wise to it: they don’t tend to shoot at me a lot.
Holly is playing Nisha, the Lawbringer, and her skill puts her into an almost carnival-shooting mode, where it auto-aims at the enemies, and lets her fire away. More often than not, what she’s using this for is just to find where the heck we’re being shot at from!
There was a whole controversy that sprung up around Borderlands 2 about “girlfriend mode,” about a skill tree that made the character fairly hard to kill and made shooting a lot easier. Now, here are whole characters designed around these ideas. And guess what? Having these skills does not mean we don’t die!
Not when you have enemies coming at you from 360 degrees!
While shooting lasers is apparently not a way to be friends with Mr. Torgue, they are the main new weapon type in the game. I had thought, in hearing there would be lasers, that they would function like an element in the game – like fire, shock, corrosion, and the new cryo.
But no! They are their own gun type!
Complete with their own ammo, made by multiple manufacturers, and complete with different types of elements (though not EXPLOSIONS), lasers are their own thing.
So why am I devoting time to them? It’s a gun. A gun I can’t seem to put down.
I am loving them. They function a lot of different ways – some are like sci-fi rayguns, some are like rail guns, and some are like laser shotguns! Some you want to keep firing continuously as a beam, and the corrosive ones like that make you look like a Ghostbuster.
I have caught myself at times using only laser weapons, which is bad when you start running out of ammo! But they’re proving to be so good as the Gladiator – I can’t aim while holding up my shield, but shooting a laser shotgun, or continuously firing a laser beam of death, makes up for that just fine.
And the Tediore ones? Yep, exploding on reload is very helpful with my shield up!
There are so many more observations, great and small, to be made for this game. In a vacuum, enemies don’t catch fire! There are a ton of atmosphere generators, and you can turn them on at a distance by shooting them with electricity! There are lots of small, logical sorts of elements of the game, and of the new parts in particular, that have made getting into it really intuitive.
But I’ll close on one final, ridiculous Lovecraftian note.
The freaking Shugguraths.