Borderlands 2 PS3 preview: “This is the best team that Gearbox has ever mustered”
“We’re pretty focused on ensuring the game stays fun,” says Borderlands 2’s senior producer Sean Reardon. “A lot of other games will get into immersion and realism, and those are cool too. But we want you to laugh and have a good time; a game shouldn’t be a chore.” It’s hard to argue with that philosophy, and it was in full effect for the first game.
Despite a huge world to explore, spending time in Pandora never felt like a slog. For Borderlands 2, Gearbox is stepping that up a notch: “Our gear has had a massive level-up,” continues Reardon. “Usually huge swathes of ambition have to be scrapped in the process of turning an idea into a real thing, but [here], it’s more a matter of degrees. This is easily the best team that Gearbox has ever mustered to produce a game.”
The emphasis for this sequel is on evolution, not revolution – and the co-op features that worked so well the first time around are promised to get serious attention. Gearbox isn’t showing its hand with the exact multiplayer details just yet, but with the mechanic set so sweetly in place from number one, it’s positioned itself well to deliver again.
One thing it is happy to talk about, though, is how the world of Pandora’s shaping up. It’s still highly stylised, impressively expansive, and crammed full of more guns than a Kentucky Walmart. Reardon elaborates on what to expect in Pandora 2.0: “The world itself is much more alive, while still giving you a sense of being in a barren wasteland. Our game also hits a much broader range of environments – [it] isn’t just brown! Expect to see a lot more variety, colour and life. It’ll be a totally new experience on Pandora.”
As with the original, Gearbox is calling this a role-playing shooter, and no role-playing experience is complete without a compelling narrative and a rag-tag band of loveable sociopaths. Character wasn’t top of the agenda in the first outing, but it’s one of the many things Borderlands 2 aims to improve, says Reardon: “They’ve all come to Pandora for different reasons, and all find themselves awaiting execution by [chief baddie] Handsome Jack at the game’s start. Their personalities are also extremely varied – while the Siren is a much more serene, meditative character, for instance, the Gunzerker screams everything at the top of his lungs.” And who doesn’t love to sit next to that guy on the bus? Expect more shooting and looting than ever before.