Borderlands 2 hands on PS3 preview: how I learned to love the gun (even more)

Borderlands 2 PS3 preview

Nothing else does guns like Borderlands. Mainly because no other game thinks it’s okay to make a machine gun that fires electric bullets and has a telescopic sight like an 80s VDU. Every weapon you pick up spins the Wheel of WTF? and God only knows what’s going to happen when you pull the trigger.

It’s a procedural system that was introduced in the first game: a series of manufacturers produce guns with certain stats and looks; bullet types add elemental effects like electric or acid modifiers and then there are countless barrels, sights, magazines and so on. Weapons in the game are then created on the fly and completely at random from a mix of these parameters.

“We wanted to expand on that system, create more variety and create more unique looks for the manufactures” explains Kevin Duc, Gearbox’s conceptual artist. My playthrough included things like sniping shotguns (amazing fun), a belt-fed machine gun that fired mini-rockets, the electric gun I mentioned earlier and a cheap POS plastic pistol firing acid bullets that turned out to be the most powerful thing I had.

But Borderlands is also an RPG which adds even more bizarreness to the already weird-ass FPS action. Weirdness like disposable exploding guns. “The Tediore class is our throwaway manufacture,” says Duc. “It looks cheap, like a Bic razor, on the art side. On the design side they wanted it to be throwaway. So how do you make that interesting? How do you make it a positive that you’re going to throw your gun? It has a grenade behavior. The more bullets that are in your clip. the bigger the explosion when you throw it. Mix that with the skill tree so you have a bigger magazine size then the Tediore guns are more powerful.”

Borderlands 2 PS3 previewMy playthrough involved the Gunzerker character called Salvadore. He’s unsurprisingly all about the guns and has the ability to dual wield and ramp up a series of weapon-based stats. New character or not the  the basic action’s changed little since the first game. That’s no bad thing though with a focus on shooting, co-op and looting. Above all the combat’s strong. The guns are clearly ridiculous and all the more brilliant for it, firing crackling energy bolts, cannon-like shotgun blasts or fizzing corrosive green slugs. It’s the kind of game built for circle strafing, a finger locked on the trigger, while laughing manically with your head thrown back. Which I may or may not have done at the preview event.