One of the biggest games on the floor that people are standing in line to see is the sequel to the 4-player co-op futuristic first person shooter lootfest, Borderlands 2. When you have a game that is about as fun of a mutliplayer experience as you can get, where do you evolve from there? What are they changing about the game?
A Billion More Guns:
Gearbox is still pushing out procedurally generated firearms by the truckload, only looking to be more distinctive between weapons manufacturers. Where before, weapons manufacturer were generally interchangable. Now, weapons designed by the Bandits are salvaged together nuts and bolts that hold a ridiculous amount of ammunition, where the Vladof line of guns is all based around gatling gun style spinning barrels.
Have a bagful of somewhat useless weapons in your inventory? Not so useless now that you can throw them as exploding projectile weapons, which do explosive damage based on how much ammunition they have left.
A Cast of Familiar Characters:
While the demo showed us Salvador the “Gunzerker” (the evolution of the original Borderlands “berserker” class) and the new Siren, Maya, the old cast of characters like Roland the soldier are now non-playable characters who play a large role in the main storyline. Borderlands 2 takes place five years after the original; how have the original four treasure hunters fared over the years? As promised by the demo team, the writing team was locked in the same room with the game development team to deliver a more interesting and integrated storyline, as opposed to it being an afterthought as it was in the first game. Strangely absent…where was my dancing Claptrap?
That F%cking Hurt!
Improved enemy damage models. Remember hatchet wielding psychos that would charge you mercilessly? You shoot them and have a chance to stagger them. Take them to half heatlh, and they go from suicidal sprint to start limping towards you. Regular enemies who have been injured will now look for cover and retreat if things get nasty.
I’m Coming For You!
Improved enemy intelligence. If you see a gaggle of enemies on a floor below you, they will start scrambling up the sides and make somewhat super human jumps as opposed to all funnelling at the stairs for easy slaughter. One of the creatures shown was a Bullymong, which seemed like a type of arctic ape, which ran over, grabbed the players vehicle and threw it at him. Enemy boss creatures are no longer just something you grind a bunch of ammunition into; now bosses will have helpers based on the number of players you’re playing with that heal them ,deflect attacks, directly attack the players, etc, forcing the team to think more tactically about the battle as opposed to “shoot that guy in the head a lot”.
“You Are Too High A Level For This Mission”
One of the largest hurdles of the multiplayer game was when you and a team of friends would play for two hours. Then Billy would have to go grocery shopping with his wife, and next thing you knew, you were 10 levels ahead of him, and you couldn’t really have a great time playing with someone that underpowered. According to the demo team, thanks to a complicated series of behind-the-scenes mechanics involving magic, they’ve helped increase the levels that you can play with your friends. Increased spawns, increased enemy health, and a variety of variables that they wouldn’t/couldn’t go into specific detail about means that just because you’re a few levels higher than your friend doesn’t mean you can’t play with him anymore.
It’s still early, it was an unplayable 10 minute demo, and don’t expect to see Borderlands 2 before summer 2012, but it looks like they may be doing a great job improving on the original magic that Borderlands had.