Tag Archives: Borderlands 2

2017 Game Review Haiku, #30 – Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 1 “Zer0 Sum”

2017-gd-games-completed-tales-from-the-borderlands-zer0-sum

Vault key deal goes south
For Rhys, Fiona, and friends
Zer0 loves haikus

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

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Ten mimic treasure chests I passionately hate

gd mimic treasure chests post

Treasure chests are difficult to resist. They come in all shapes and sizes, more times than not offering the potential for greatness–gold, armor, weapons, whatever. Most people don’t leave behind rotten vegetables in their fancy treasure boxes, and so you are more or less guaranteed to walk away a richer player. Unless that treasure chest is actually a mimic in disguise, and then you’re thrown for a loop, battling with what once held your dreams of a new item or chunk of change to make a down payment on that fancy, street-side abode back in the hub city.

I passionately hate mimics.

Real quick, some history. Mimics took shape back in the good ol’ days of pen and paper roleplaying, which I enjoy from time to time, but I’m more visual despite having a decent enough imagination, preferring Talisman or Descent. Mimics are a type of fictional monster, initially birthed in Dungeons & Dragons. They are portrayed as being able to change their shape to disguise themselves as an inanimate objects, most commonly as treasure chests. Mimics also have a powerful adhesive that holds fast to whatever touches them, allowing the mimic to beat the creature with its powerful pseudopods. That latter characteristic did not seem to follow over with mimics as they transitioned into videogame enemy fodder.

Over my years of gaming, I’ve crossed paths with a number of mimics, all of which I passionately hate. This is a list of some. Forward, with the disgust!

Mimic-ffix

Here is a mimic treasure chest from Final Fantasy IX that I passionately hate.

319928-dq8_cannibox

Here is a mimic treasure chest from Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, called a cannibox and originally introduced in Dragon Quest III, that I passionately hate.

rogue galaxy mimic chest capture

Here is a mimic treasure chest from Rogue Galaxy that I passionately hate. Look at that nasty blue tongue.

rogue legacy intro-4

Here are mimic treasure chests from Rogue Legacy that I passionately hate.

cc 140px-Big_boxer

Here is a mimic treasure chest from Chrono Cross that wants to punch me. I passionately hate it.

wild arms 3 mimic 69-34

Here is a mimic treasure chest from Wild Arms 3 that I passionately hate.

dark cloud king mimic

Here is a mimic treasure chest from Dark Cloud that I passionately hate.

mimic legend of grimrock 2

Here is a mimic treasure chest with a lot of teeth from Legend of Grimrock 2 that I passionately hate.

Mimic Borderlands 2

Here is a level 60 killer mimic treasure chest from Borderlands 2 that I passionately hate. Shoot it in the glowing green part.

suikoden 1 mimic chest slot man

Lastly, here is a mimic treasure chest from the original Suikoden, affectionately called a slot man, that I passionately hate.

Have I missed any key mimics from some of your favorite roleplaying games? If so, let me know in the comments below. During my search, I came across a few screenshots of mimics in the Dark Souls series, which I’ve not yet played and am now feeling less inclined to deal with, but maybe they aren’t too tough to battle. Ha, that’s a joke. From what I understand, they are brutal.

Turns out, with videogames, you can go home again

assassin's creed 2 back to acre gd

I’m not one hundred percent sure who the “they” is, but they often say you can’t go home again. It’s a phrase I think about a lot, with plans to eventually draw a short little comic involving children, forest monsters, and cranky parents about the notion. At 31, with my life going through unexpectedly grand changes and my head occasionally thinking the worst of worst thoughts (a taste), all I truly desire is to go home. For comfort, for repose. My home now, meaning the one where I eat and sleep and sigh and take pictures of my cats, is characteristically cold and full of empty rooms. No, the home I’m talking about is the one I grew up in, the red-bricked, two-story structure that sat square in the middle of a T-cross section in a small, neighborly town. From my bedroom window there, I saw all kinds of traffic: vehicle, foot, animal, love.

The idea of returning somewhere can be both physical and mental. I physically want to go back into that house and sit on my childhood bedroom’s floor, my back against the wall just under the windowsill, the same way I’d sit for hours either on the phone with my high school girlfriend or killing time by playing the guitar and scribbling down mopey song lyrics. This is something my body is calling out for, a hunger pain. I also mentally want that time back, that feeling of safeness and irresponsibility, even if I rarely acted on it, and those voices, the sounds from below. It can’t really be replicated, at least not when it is constructed entirely around emotions and personal experiences, but going back, if I’m to believe A Separate Peace, can be healing.

Turns out, videogames occasionally make a good effort at bringing the player back “home.” I was recently taken aback by this, and the feeling it gave has been stuck in me, just under my skin, for a couple months now, itching to be scratched. I thought I’d write a bit about it, as well as some other games that have attempted to bring things full circle over the years.

Let it be said, and let it be said in red lettering, there be major spoilers ahead for the majority of the listed games. Read at your own risk.

Assassin’s Creed II

Let’s start with the game that gave me this blog post topic to begin with. Again, I’m coming to Assassin’s Creed II late, having only played the bread parts to this meat sandwich of stabbiness. Anyways, after completing some assassination missions and then training in a current day warehouse with Lucy, something goes wonky, and you find yourself back in Acre, the setting for the first game in Ubisoft’s now long-winded series. Not only have you returned to where it all started, you also are in control of Altair, not Ezio. Your mission is to follow a figure running away from you, and that includes climbing up a tall tower and seeing the city for all it is.

I had a moment of hesitation, believing this to be a dream sequence, the sort that you watch unfold, but take no part in. Eventually, I strode ahead, and it was business as usual, but tingling surfaced as I jogged past people from another game, another time period. I wouldn’t say I recognized anyone or any building in particular, but the feeling remained nonetheless–I’ve been here before. Strangely, if I had popped in the game disc for Assassin’s Creed, I might not have felt the same way, and I guess that says something about sleight of hand, of transportation.

Borderlands 2

The ramshackle town of Fyrestone in the original Borderlands is where it all started for your choice of vault hunter. You return there in Borderlands 2 to find it a changed place. Handsome Jack, everyone’s favorite man to hate, has turned Fyrestone into a slag-soaked junkyard since Hyperion moved into the area. At his orders, the town was renamed to Jackville and preserved to mock the original Vault Hunters, although robots were also sent in to kill any remaining inhabitants. The layout remains very much the same, but it’s darker, drearier, and, most importantly, more dangerous.

You don’t approach Fyrestone the same way you did in the first game, only realizing where you are once you are in the main area where you used to shop for shields and new guns and turn in missions on the job board. It certainly took me by surprise, but I didn’t have much time to stand around in awe as angry robots began to occupy my attention.

Suikoden II

Oops, I already wrote about this moment.

BioShock Infinite

It’s a short, but powerful moment. At the very end of BioShock Infinite, Booker finds himself in Rapture, the underwater utopia-gone-to-Hell from the original game in the series. Having recently replayed the game over the Christmas holidays, the moment did not feel as impactful as it first did, but when you don’t know it’s coming, it packs a doozy. There’s not much to explore or see while in Rapture a second time–it is, after all, just another doorway, and the game is over at this point, so no more combat to be had–but after spending a solid number of hours in the clouds, knowing you are deep underwater, in an oh-so-similar world once more is a thrill.

Chrono Cross

Okay. I’m stretching it here with Chrono Cross, considering it all happens within the same game, but visiting the same location in different, alternate timelines still does give off a nostalgic tingle. Like, it’s both the same and changed, a feeling of being out of place somewhere deeply familiar. There’s Home World, and there’s Another World. I love it. Plus, just before you go off to fight the Time Devourer, you do stumble across the Ghost Children, which are the ghosts of Crono, Marle, and Lucca from Chrono Trigger, so it’s a blast from the past, though a bit somber.

Got any other examples of returning to locations from previous games? If so, shout ’em out in the comments below. These were all I could think of and have actually experienced thus far, but there’s gotta be more. I can’t be the only one that wants to go home again.

Borderlands 2 level cap will increase, but at a price

borderlands 2 level cap increase

Well, it’s finally happening. The level cap in Borderlands 2 is set to increase from 50 to 61 on April 2, 2013. Woo, yay, and exploding buckets of confetti! Well, no, maybe not all of that. This has process has taken longer than many Vault Hunters first imagined and hoped for, as this change required re-balancing, re-tuning, and re-testing the entire game, according to Gearbox Software. Granted, I don’t remember how long after the original Borderlands came out that we got a level cap increase, but I do remember this much: it was free.

That’s right. You’ll be able to gain more levels past 50, but you will have to chalk up $4.99, unless you have already purchased the Season Pass, which I have not based on the lackluster second and third DLC packs. Phooey on that, and phooey on me. Granted, you get more than just the level cap increase with this purchase, as powerful new “Ancient” E-Tech relics and rare Pearlscent-grade weapons will now be found within the Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (more on that in a sec). Pearlscent-colored weapons are originally from Borderlands though I never found one back then.

At this point into Borderlands 2, I don’t really play as much as I did during its initial months out, especially when I had some friends online also playing, like Lee Bretschneider and Thomas Rothlisberger. My specifically specced Siren has been capped at 50 for awhile now, and I’ve been lucky enough to find and trade for some amazing legendary guns like the Rapid Infinity through friends and farming. Even got a (now nerfed) Bee shield all on my own. Anyways, I’ve felt pretty over her at this point since there’s no more room to grow, and I have been tinkering with an Assassin character (somewhere around LV 25), but it’s not how I like to play. So I’d love a chance to get back and see my Siren enhance her abilities and get even crazier weapons and take down bandits in the upper 50s.

Now, alongside this paid level cap DLC, Gearbox is patching Borderlands 2 with some free additions. Here’s the list they’ve come up with:

  • Adds new items to the Black Market:
    • One additional ammo upgrade for each ammo type, at 50 Eridium each.
    • Two more backpack storage space upgrades, at 50 and 100 Eridium respectively.
    • Two more bank storage space upgrades, at 50 and 100 Eridium, respectively.
  • Increases the maximum amount of Eridium players can hold from 99 to 500.
  • Adds a new playthrough balanced for top-tier play: Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode.
  • Various bug fixes.

Hmm. So, Gearbox is giving us a free third playthrough, but for most Vault Hunters, by that point you’re probably capped or near the cap. And so this is their way of nearly forcing you to buy the paid level increase; otherwise, there’s no point to UVHM. I do like that I’ll be able to expand my bank and backpack a bit more though increased Eridium doesn’t matter to me as I never go after those raid bosses. I beat Terramorphous the Invincible once, and that was good enough.

I don’t know. I’m rather conflicted over this. Five bucks to continue strengthening and playing with a character I love? Sure, it’s not a high cost whatsoever. It just feels rather undermining. Ugh. We’ll see. Chances are high I’ll get this, though maybe not just yet, as the fourth DLC won’t hit until the end of June, and a lot of my continuing on with Borderlands 2 depends on what that is and how it changes things for good.

Taking down Terramorphous the Invincible one tentacle at a time

beat terramorphous for the first time

I’ve always been a little sad knowing that I’d never be able to take down Crawmerax the Invincible from the original Borderlands by myself, as well as the fact that we’re now long ahead of that game and chances are highly unlikely I’d ever get a sizable group together to raid it for the rarest weapons on Pandora. Evidently, there was a way to glitch the thing through protective terrain, but that strategy has since been nerfed or just isn’t consistently reliable. I remember trying to take him on once with my Commando and the fight not lasting very long. Also, I doubt I can ever go back to the original Borderlands now that I’ve come to appreciate the enhancements made in Borderlands 2.

That said, I’m pleased with what we (hellomightydog, Burger2862, and myself) accomplished last night, taking down Terramorphous the Invincible. No, really, we did. We worked together, fired a lot of bullets, respawned a bunch, hid behind rocks, and hooted and hollered when the big ol’ baddie fell and swooped off the cliff’s edge. Disappointing loot aside (only one Legendary dropped and nobody really wanted it), this was the real reward:

borderlands 2 thresher thrashed ach
Thresher Thrashed (30G): Defeated Terramorphous the Invincible

It was not easy. It took about an hour, and the most frustrating part was that we got Terramorphous down to one-fourth health, but then I ran out of ammo and had to leave my perfect hiding spot to grab some more, quickly dying at the same time everyone else did, giving Terramorphous full health in one sad gulp. So we went at it again, this time with me using a newly acquired LV 50 Infinity (never runs out of ammo); I stayed in one spot and never not held down the trigger button. At one point towards the end of the fight, my finger began going numb.

Using the rock hiding spot glitch, the fight isn’t too challenging so long as your other team members keep the beast busy and distracted, but there are a few moments where it can get real hairy. If all other team members die, Terramorphous will eventually make its way over to me and find a manner to hit me behind the rock. So, it’s important to keep shooting it. Also, shoot the tentacles, but try to leave a few with very little help for Second Winds. And be prepared to fight off a few miscellaneous tentacles after you take Terramorphous down; we were checking out the lame loot when, out of nowhere, a couple tentacles began damaging us. As if.

Other than that, yeeeeah. We did it. One raid boss in the bag. Maybe Hyperius the Invincible is up next? Ha. Maybe…

2012 Game Review Haiku, #30 – Borderlands 2, Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty DLC

Pirate-themed desert
Home to back-stabbing captain
Anti-climatic

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Borderlands 2’s True Vault Hunter Mode is truly challenging

I beat Borderlands 2 a couple weeks back, finished up a few other sidequests I left hanging before taking on the Warrior,  and then even started over with a new character. I boosted Gaige the Mechromancer up to Level 5, just enough to see her robot in action. She seems like fun, but I couldn’t simply forget about my Siren. Not after all we’d been through. Not after I finally figured out how to spec her skill tree to my style of playing, which is based around stealing large amounts of health back and keeping enemies at bay with Phaselock to suffer from corrosive, burn, and slag damage.

And so I selected her to journey once more across Pandora in what the Gearbox folks have dubbed True Vault Hunter Mode. Basically, it’s New Game+ with some alterations. Most of those ramp up the difficulty, but with great challenges comes great rewards. Unfortunately, sometimes three Super Badass Maniacs stand in the way, and for the solo player, that’s just death–over and over and over again. You start the game over completely, but get to keep your level, weapons, equipment, skins, and Badass ranks. Enemies are scaled to your level the first time you enter  an area, which means I was taking on Bullymongs ranging from LV 35 to 37 right from the start, and all it takes is one leap-hit from them to deplete a shield. Yeah, I was mostly getting by on Second Winds for those first few encounters.

The original Borderlands had this feature as well, and it was great for speeding up the leveling process. My Soldier got to Level 61 speedily thanks to playing storyline missions a second time on a raised difficulty, but I really don’t remember them being nearly impossible to do. Tough, sure. But not like what Borderlands 2 has been throwing at my Level 35 Siren now. Well, except for some missions in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC. Those Badass Crimson Lance Shock Troopers were tough buggers.

So, in short, it’s tough. Really tough, especially for solo players. And from some over-read Internet grumbling, I am not looking forward to running into any of the following by myself: Rabid Stalkers, Blood Varkids, Badass Wormhole Threshers, and Badass Constructors. This might be a case of where I swap between playthrough 1 and 2 to level up though that’s a much slower way to advance. And besides, all the best gear is in playthrough 2, especially as you creep closer to the current level cap of 50. Though the first DLC for Borderlands 2 looks somewhat uninteresting story-wise and mission-wise, it might be just what I need to level up a few levels quickly. We’ll see. But either way, all Vault Hunters should take this post as a healthy dose of warning: playthrough 2 is no joke. If you’d like to help me get through it, I’ll be crawling along the ground, fighting for my life, a Super Badass Maniac standing over me. Approach at your own discretion…