Jessica Nickelsen steps beyond the wasteland to see what Borderlands 2 might offer when it arrives later this year.
Borderlands 2 moves out of the wild wastelands, where hillbillies and skags ruled supreme, and into a far more insidious environment than its predecessor placed you in.
It's set about five years after the final events of Borderlands, and Handsome Jack, the CEO of Hyperion company, has created a "city of opportunity" where he can exert even more of his influence over the hapless residents, and turn Pandora into his ideal world.
Matt Charles, producer of Borderlands 2 at Gearbox said some people complained that the story in Borderlands was "hard to find".
He said "countless" side missions have been created that will give players the opportunity to learn more about Pandora and the characters.
There are four new characters, and each bring new abilities and combat tactics to the game. It's worth noting that each of the four original characters return as NPCs that your new character can interact with.
In addition to Axton, I also got a close look at Zero, the assassin, as played by my co-op partner. We worked our way through a mission that involved destroying statues of the Handsome Man inside his city.
Axton brought a bit of a ranged approach, with a special ability that allowed him to hurl a grenade-like object a few metres away that then assembled itself into a defense tower, spraying bullets at the enemy. Zero, on the other hand, was able to go into stealth mode and make critical strikes on the enemy that way. It was a good combo, that generally brought down the enemy - a combination of heavy mechs and human thugs - pretty quickly.
As well as the new characters, there are new guns, gear, and creatures. Even though the game is still in development, Matt tells me that the number of creatures wanting to kill you is up into the triple digits already. And with 17 million gun variations available in Borderlands (which has actually got a Guinness world record for something like "most guns in a video game"), this new game isn't about to scrimp on that fare either - though the final tally hasn't been set yet.
There's also a new elemental damage type, known as Eridium, or 'slag'. Apparently, this new element was released when the last vault was opened, and it's rather handy as, when combined with a weapon or attack, it can amplify all subsequent damage against the target. Matt says this works brilliantly in co-op, where you might have a ranged character with a slag-infused gun, setting up enemies for a right royal pummeling by the other player.
Borderlands 2 looks to be filled with loads of new content, gameplay and story, while keeping all of the character that made the original so appealing. It's due for release on September 21st.