Tag Archives: Pandora

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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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…

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.

Experience gun selection and skags old skool style with The Border Lands

If you’re like me–or, even more terrifyingly, if you are me–then you’re pretty stoked about Borderlands 2 coming out next month. Yeah, yeah…even the whole “girlfriend mode” scandal isn’t enough to throw me off, and I’ve been recently re-soaking myself in all things Pandora-related with some further time in Borderlands, finally dinging Level 61 with my soldier on Playthrough 2 and mentally preparing myself to take on Crawmerax the Invincible…soonish.

Until then, there’s The Border Lands. It’s a “demake” of the game. Not sure who made it specifically or if it is even associated with Gearbox or 2K Games. Seems like it though. Here are some descriptive words from everyone’s favorite dancing robot:

Borderlands wasn’t always the slick, handsome bastard of a game it is today! Go old skool and play the 1989 16-bit original to see how it all began. I can’t believe how young I look!

And it is all that. You pick your character–Salvador, Maya, Zero, or Axton–and then you’re dumped into a screen to shoot enemies. All the classics are there, like skags, rakks, and those annoying screamers that charge at you with a bomb in hand. Even bosses, clearly marked with a flashing skull. In order to proceed to the next level, you must kill all enemies. Some drop loot crates, which let you pick from two new guns, each with their own abilities and shortcomings. Anything with decent range is highly recommended, as the enemies get on you fast, and you can’t move away quick enough. It really is the Borderlands experience in bite-size format. Or is that bit-size? Thank you, thank you. Try the fish.

So, it’s something to do and has a nice style to it, with great sound effects and easily recognizable sprites. Try and beat my high score of $19,720. My only complaints are as follows: 1) you can’t change the direction you’re aiming when firing a gun, you have to wait until you run out of ammo or stop firing altogether and then change positions and 2) some serious slowdown happens once eight or more enemies get on screen. Otherwise, neat-o.

Oh, and the music that plays on the main menu for The Border Lands is quite nice. I mean, I should know, considering I’ve had it in the background on a loop while writing this blog post for y’all. Can’t pinpoint if it comes from the original game or the upcoming one or if it’s a new piece altogether, but either way, it fits just fine. Enjoy, vault hunters.

Borderlands 2, a treasure hunter’s wishlist

Not surprisingly, Borderlands 2 has been officially confirmed. That’s cool. Looks like a possible April 2012 release window, which is also cool as I’m still plugging away at the original Borderlands and have plenty to do there. Mainly trying to find slices of pizzas, panties, and fish in bags, as well as creep towards level 69. Once most of that is done, I’ll definitely be done with the game as I am not interested in replaying it for like a third time with a brand new character class or anything. So a new Borderlands game sounds just about right.

And here’s a quote from Gearbox about the newest entry in the series:

“Combining invention and evolution, Borderlands 2 features all-new characters, skills, environments, enemies, weapons and equipment, which come together in an ambitiously crafted story. Players will reveal secrets, and escalate mysteries of the Borderlands universe as they adventure across the unexplored new areas of Pandora.”

Looks like we’re back on Pandora. I kind of felt like most of the planet had been explored, but I’m sure they’ll come up with truly new locations. I’m excited for this, but I do have some wishes. They seem sound in my head, but you might not agree. I’m sure all many want is just more shooting, shooting, shooting, and weapons with a thousand and four different stats. I get that. I’d like that…and more. Here’s my wishlist for Borderlands 2!

Character customization

In Borderlands, there were four classes: soldier, hunter, siren, and berserker. I’ve only played at length with the soldier, Roland, but I did give the other three a sporting chance. Meh. Once you have your class and increase in levels, you’ll gain skill points, which allow you to customization your character’s skill tree and how he or she plays more effectively. What you can’t tweak is what they look like, other than changing armor colors. I guess this isn’t a huge deal as you don’t often actually see your dude unless they are getting in or out of a vehicle, but it definitely doesn’t give you the impression that your treasure hunter is any more special than somebody else’s.

Stronger story

There’s so much potential in the Borderlands universe for a great story, and alas, the first game did not do the best job telling one. It had fantastically cool characters, but it lacked a conclusion and a true goal. I mean, if the Vault was supposed to house all this crazy treasure, why did we not get to loot it at the very end? Hmm? The quests and sidequests featured some great lore, but I suspect many gamers didn’t spend a lot of time reading and scrolling down to finish reading. I think some actually dialogue between characters could help strengthen the story, really immerse the player, and maybe even offer some choices in how things play out.

Storage space

I know Gearbox added some kind of storage bin with one of the DLCs (not one I have), but this element should have been implemented from the get-go. If you’re going to have an astronomical 17,750,000 weapons, please give us a place to store all our favorites. It became frustrating to have to either drop or sell gear simply to keep space open for more loot. A lot of times, I wouldn’t even get a chance to try out most of these weapons before giving them the axe.

LESS DRIVING

I hated the driving in Borderlands. Hate, hate, hate, hated it.

Varied multiplayer modes

Okay, the online multiplayer bug has finally bit me. I’d like to see more online interaction for the Borderlands franchise other than co-op. Not just deathmatch things, but maybe online challenge modes or something even wackier. Imagine an online mode where players would be dropped into a randomly generated map, given a time  limit, and instructed to kill as many skags as possible. At the same time, another player is also on the map trying to do the same thing. You may kill each other as well to slow progress/steal skag kills. This I want.

This is just a few tidbits, but I’ll wait until more details about Borderlands 2 are revealed. Until then, Gearbox…please deliver!