Tag Archives: Borderlands

Over the weekend, I played Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for free and found it to be okay

I don’t normally partake in many “free game weekends,” usually because I am too busy with other stuff to find the time to start something new, but also because I don’t like the pressure it puts upon me to hurry up and see as much content before this thing goes away in two days. That said, this past weekend, you could play Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for free as a promotion to up some pre-orders for the forthcoming Borderlands 3, and I decided to jump in. I’ve already played a skag-ton of Borderlands 2, but I never got to try the other one when it came out a few years back.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel begins some time after Borderlands 2 and Episode 3 of the subsequent game Tales from the Borderlands, on the flying city of Sanctuary, where the three former Vault Hunters Lilith, Brick, and Mordecai interrogate the ex-Atlas assassin Athena after having captured her from the Atlas Domes. Athena recounts her story, starting after the death of General Knoxx, when she received an offer to go find a Vault on Pandora’s moon, Elpis, from a Hyperion programmer named Jack. She joins fellow Vault Hunters Claptrap, Nisha, Wilhelm, Timothy (a doppelganger of Jack), and Aurelia on a spaceship headed for the Hyperion moon base Helios. On the way, they are ambushed by the Lost Legion, an army of Dahl soldiers led by Colonel Tungsteena Zarpedon, and crash-land onto the moon base. After meeting up with Jack, they attempt to use Helios’ defense system, but realizes there is a jamming signal coming from Elpis. They attempt to escape, but they are stopped by Zarpedon, along with a mysterious alien-like warrior. Jack sends the Vault Hunters to Elpis via a moonshot rocket.

It’s perfectly fine. To me, it mostly comes across as just another entry in the series, and you could play any of them and have basically the same experience of killing monsters and discovering a thousand different guns, shields, and grenades to equip. The only difference from one to another is really how the Vault Hunters play, and for this one I went with Athena. She’s a gladiator, first seen as an NPC in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC. She uses her Kinetic Aspis shield to block enemy attacks and can return the damage collected by her shield by throwing it at an enemy. I followed the Phalanx tree for upgrades, which focuses on combat support and improves the offensive and defensive capabilities of the Aspis.

Here’s the thing I disliked most about Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel–the oxygen meter. See, most of the gameplay takes place on a moon or in outer space somewhere, and so, instead of just giving every Vault Hunter a spacesuit you must now pay attention to an oxygen meter. Run out of it, and your health begins to deplete. There are certain areas that refill your oxygen, but it just becomes a pain and one thing extra to monitor along with your shield and health bars. Plus, if you want to use a jump boost or ground pound move, it depletes the oxygen meter too. I’m not a fan of it and often found myself relaxing more once inside a building and not having to worry about it.

I’m now left with the choice to purchase Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and keep playing…or just wait for Borderlands 3 to come out. I think I’ll do the latter. Besides, I still have stuff to do in Borderlands 2 if I want a little more action.

Ascend the tower of guns with the power of guns

tower of guns early impressions

I do not believe I’m passionate enough about Tower of Guns just yet to confirm whether or not I already have a copy on Steam thanks to some bundle or giveaway, but it matters not for PlayStation Plus subscribers get it for free this month. On both PS3 and PS4, I believe. Incidentally, I keep mistyping it as Tower of Funs more times than I’d like to admit. In between prepping for East Coast Comic Con this weekend, I’ve run the tower a handful of times, improving with each go.

What is Tower of Guns, you ask? And you don’t mean metaphorically? Well, it is a single-player first-person shooter with rogue-like elements developed by Terrible Posture Games. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Let me see if I can come up with something better. It’s a bit like Borderlands meets The Binding of Isaac, with each enemy-filled room randomly generated and a par time set for the entire level. You can perform specific tasks while you play to unlock new perks or guns, as well as collect experience point orbs to level up your currently equipped weapon. Oh, and it’s also quite a lot of fun, more than I expected when dipping my hairy toe in.

Strangely, there’s a story, but one could completely ignore it or even turn it off in the options, which I’ve not actually done yet. It’s pretty easy to not pay attention to. It’s also immensely difficult to pay attention to at other times. Basically, as you move from room to room, some dialogue boxes will appear on the screen, but nothing anyone says seems to be important, and some of it comes across as randomized. The fourth wall will break, with you occasionally addressed as gamer, which I was not a fan of, as that word continues to sour in my mind thanks to the atrocities of GamerGate supporters. Your goal is to get as far as you can, ideally to the end, the tippy top, in a single run. You will first have to survive a number of standard enemy-filled rooms and then battle a boss before moving on to the next tier of the tower.

Tower of Guns is both a fast and short game, with the strategy for just about every enemy you encounter being shooting while strafing. A few bosses will require some extra planning, especially the finaler boss, who I could not take down on my first try. The difficulty, which can be raised or lowered via pick-ups and perks, really stems more from the level design. Some rooms are shockingly dull–imagine just four walls, maybe a staircase, and little to no decorations–while other rooms have teleporting pads and high platforms to maneuver around, plus a bunch of flying tanks and turrets shooting at you non-stop. You never know what you’re going to get once you shoot a door to open it Metroid-style.

Now, I’ve run into two walls so far. Not literally, though there are plenty of walls in this game. First, the game froze on a loading screen, though I think it might’ve been more my cat Timmy’s fault, since he knocked the controller out of my hand as Tower of Guns was loading the next area, forcing it to lock up. This was extremely unfortunate as I was on my ninth run and doing really well in terms of health and progress and taking down bosses–and all that was nonexistent when I loaded the game back up. Secondly, for a bullet hell-themed game, some of the rooms where the bullets are plentiful and hellish cause the frame rate to drop immensely, stuttering away at an unplayable clip. You’d think with the less-than-taxing art style and new hardware that this sort of issue wouldn’t ever pop up, but it does.

I’m definitely going to keep at Tower of Guns until I unlock the majority of the guns and perks, but unlike other rogue-likes, such as Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac, this one doesn’t feel like it’s going to last forever. Eventually the repetition will outweigh the randomness, and the tower will crumble, but not before I’ve wrung every bit of fun from it. Until then, may you always start each run with the ability to triple jump.

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…

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…

2012 Game Review Haiku, #27 – Borderlands 2

Vault Hunters wanted
Handsome Jack wants ’em all dead
Same story, new guns

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.

Back to Pandora in Borderlands 2

Alas, because I have a day-job and get sleepy right around 11:55, I did not make it to the midnight release of Borderlands 2 at my local GameStop, the one where I pre-ordered from. So, I went after work, which only made the day seem longer, and got lightly berated by the employee behind the counter. He said, and I quote, “Looks like you’re about 20 levels behind everyone now.” Couldn’t deny it, but that’s okay–I’ve got the weekend to catch up with the world, but it really doesn’t matter too much considering I am going at it solo instead of co-operatively.

Borderlands 2, from what I’ve experienced so far, is more Borderlands. Hence the Internet absolutely nailing it by dubbing Gearbox’s latest bonerfart… Morderlands 2. I fully support the name and will continue to do so until the game turns itself upside-down and shows me something truly original. As is, it’s more of the same, which is a conflicting emotion, as I absolutely loved–with a few caveats–the original title. Heck, I was still playing that thang all the way up to only a few weeks ago, quitting at Level 61 with no chance of slaying Crawmerax the Invincible on my own. And more of the same thing should never be a problem, especially when it fixes a few of those previously highlighted caveats, but one does have to wonder if this sequel’s entire focus was on fixing the bad and keeping everything else the same instead of enhancing it tenfold.

Anyways, in Borderlands 2, you get to control one of four new characters who are following in the footsteps of the original foursome. It’s five years after the anti-climatic events of the original game, with a man named Handsome Jack trying to steal the fame and glory, claiming he’s the one who originally opened the Vault. Besides taking over the Hyperion Corporation and proclaiming himself the Dictator of Pandora, he also left you out in the snowy landscape to die. Thankfully, you didn’t die, and you’re out for revenge, as well as to complete numerous side quests.

As Borderlands 2 came closer to release, something inside me changed. I flipped. I went from soldier to siren. In the original game, I played only as Roland the Soldier, using his turret to both deal damage and heal me immensely. Okay, okay–I tried the other three classes long enough to get their specific Achievements, but that was it. But I was perusing the online skill trees for the new characters, and something about Phaselocking seemed like a lot of fun. So, I’m Maya, and I’m learning how to play a little differently, as I always relied on a tossed turret to save the day. Now I need to Phaselock tough enemies, kill them fast, and regen health until my power refreshes. Pistols and SMGs are my mainstays currently.

Things I’m loving about Borderlands 2 right now are how dynamic and fluid the mission log updates itself on your HUD, with completed objectives being checked off and swooshed out of the way for whatever comes next. Picking up ammo and money automatically is pure genius and should have been there from the get go, but it doesn’t seem to always work. Comparing weapons is easier, but still not perfect for me and can be a little confusing managing one’s inventory at times. Also, once you get to Sanctuary, you get a bank (previously only added in via DLC) to store weapons you aren’t ready to sell.

Hit Level 10 recently while helping the Firehawk out of a bad situation. Got three holdable weapon slots unlocked, as well as extra room in the backpack. It’s all following in the same path as the original game, more or less. And here are a few Achievements unlocked so far that I dig:


New in Town (20G): Completed the mission “Plan B”


Better Than You Were (10G): Reached level 10


Phased and Confused (20G): Phaselocked 100 enemies


Tribute to a Vault Hunter (15G): Got an item from Michael Mamaril

That final Achievement listed above has a really sad, but touching story to it, making me appreciate just how much Gearbox, as a company, appreciates us, the gamers. You can learn more about Michael’s story here.

Okay. Those are my early impressions, and I’m sure I’ll be back for mid impressions and late impressions at some point. It’s that whole “one more quest” aspect that can’t keep me away despite it all being so familiar.