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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:41 PM   #1
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Default Rezzed Gameplay Experience. Axton info Updated 8/8/12)

Okay, I went to Rezzed, and played all four toons at level 25, solo and multiplayer. I love bl2. I have no doubt whatsoever that anyone who loved the first one will also love this one. It's just better. and they did it right. It feels right, it looks right, it moves right, in fact it probably smells right. So; don't worry, it has not been changed out of recognition. Where it has been changed, it's for the better. Proviso: What follows are my impressions of the build available today. Some things may change before release. I will discuss the game overall, my impressions of the gameplay for each toon, and what new information I was able to get from the very lovely Dan Cook of 2K. Who is ace. It will be my interpretation and any mistakes or misconceptions are wholly my responsibility. I was using an xbox controller, not the much, much more familiar keyboard and mouse, and this did affect some things for me. Take my mild bitching with a large handfull of salt.

Firstly, It's Beautiful. There's no other way to describe it. Vivid, saturated and crisp. It looks how games should look. I cannot wait to throw this at a beast of a pc. You've seen the footage of Opportunity city. That footage does not do it justice. This area is a multi-levelled urban area that is just crying out for hiding red chests in. There's a lot more use of the vertical axis in this zone. The red chests open in a satisfying way, as expected. The first time i do it it feels like opening a door to an old friend, with a sharp new haircut. The familiarity mixed with the new is thrilling. (Am I gushing? I think am going to gush. I might even squee.)

The gameplay is more strategic- though not massively so- with a much wider variety of enemies onscreen at any one time, interacting and generally making things a bit less straightforward. Yes, you can just run in all guns blazing, and it will just about work, if you spec right, and with decent gear, I guess. Some of the enemies are going to provoke a lot of hatred, though, in a good way. (I'm looking at you,Mr Ion Loader, and your 'ooh, I'm going to shield everything near me and block all your bullets.' Grrrrr) Enemies are much more mobile and reactive to damage. I managed to take out the legs of a loader and see it crawl towards me. Human foes stagger and fall back under impacts, it's delightfully kinetic.

The guns.... oh the guns..... I want all the guns....They are more varied and surprising than I imagined. Some increase accuracy when fired, some fire grenades (for the price of, say, three regular bullets) oh, and the Jacobs horse rifle is the most stunning piece of lethal jewelery ever. Rocket launchers work this time. Oh yes, they really work this time. The disposable tediores were much more fun and effective than i thought they would be, too. I suspected they would be a bit gimmicky, but really, they are excellent.

Grenades are much more exciting and varied, with combinations like the sticky homing incendiary grenade, or the homing shock bouncing betty.... but my favourite was the singularity grenade, which generates a small gravity field, grabbing and throwing your foes into an easily targeted bunch. The tactical opportunities for grenade and weapon synergy are vastly enhanced.

You know what? I am knackered. I drove 370 miles today just for blt. And It was worth every. single. yard. But i gotta sleep. The kids have karate class in the morning, so i have to be up early. There is loads more to come, but tomorrow, okay? sorry to be such a tease.

Oh, one last thing before bed; more Loot chest editions? I wouldn't hold my breath for them. Really.

Additional weapon stuff not covered above that occurred to me, or has been asked whilst i was writng the stuff below:

Rockets launchers, yes, sorry for the vagueness. The hit detection/splash 'soak' problems mentioned by Goth have indeed been sorted, they feel meaty, have crazy names, and can one-hit-kill this time. Oh yes. I did use revolvers, and yeah, fanning the hammer is sweet. I didn't quite get to game-breaking firerates with Jacobs guns, though, but it could happen with practise.

The big procs are more obvious, I think. I'm pretty sure I heard a 'kerwhoomph' as I lit up an engineer. On reflection, it could possibly have been a big proc coinciding with a Fire Loader nearby, but I thought I'd mention it. I could be mistaken, The battles did get gloriously chaotic at times. You remember the bug nests near the dev chest at underpass? that kind of relentless chaos, where your screen is full of elemental effects and you're getting kicked around, happened a few times and it was goooooood. The elemental impact effects seem a little toned down from the Oozing Discharge footage, (or maybe they make more sense when playing compared to seeing someone else's screen.) no problems with them at all. They do add to the 'ohshitohshitohshitohshit' feeling.

The menu and vendors (which incidentally are basically the same as in Borderlands, they even look the same in this build, and yes, Marcus still sells Item of the day) interface is very slick, with menus swapping around nicely and it's clear, clean, and uncluttered. I remember an interview with the HUD artist, I think they did a brilliant job here. It's unobtrusive, lets you do what you need to do, and get back in the game quickly. It's a huge improvement over the original. The trippy death/respawn tunnel is still in, and any of the old crew will know what a fan I was of the old one... I'm not disappointed here, either. It's more colourful, with different tints each time it happens. Could watch it all day.

Iirc, there is a beta build that has full support for kb+m, that was not available here, but may well be at future events.

Okay. On with more toon stuff:

I'll get this out of the way. In all honesty, I struggled with Zero. Not because there's anything wrong with him, but that he was the first one I played... and as I have mentioned elsewhere, I don't xbox. I play exclusively on PC, with mouse and keyboard, and the only time I use a gamepad is for the odd adventure game, and it is an old saitek model, nothing like the silky smooth loveliness made by microsoft. I was getting used to used to the controls, working the buttons out, and generally staggering around in the game like a drunken donkey. I was also peaking on the excitement of actually playing borderlands 2!!!!!! so I also didn't take as much in as I'm sure you all would have liked.
As you already know, a lot of his skills relate to the switch from Ranged to Melee attacks. To be frank, I was just far too cack-handed at this stage to even attempt to hit a crit-zone properly, let alone co-ordinate acquiring melee targets directly after shooting so do not feel qualified to form any real judgement on how well this works. Please feel free to rage and hate on me for this, I feel I let you all down a bit. Sorry. The action timer is very short, but the animation of the decoy is excellent as it draws aggro. From first person, you see your weapon go transparent, with a rippling effect very similar to the 'Predator' cloaking effect. Which is to say that it is very lovely. Most of my impressions of the game posted above are from the Zero playthrough, I really wasn't paying very good attention as I was not sure when the joy would end. As it turned out, I could conceivably have played as Zero again, but, -and I make no apologies here- I was having the most fun with Axton and Maya. I'm telling you, I was really quite giddy with excitement. It was like meeting, oh i don't know, Batman. If that happened IRL i wouldn't be able to describe in detail about his belt buckle, but could only babble about awesomeness. I'm amazed that I can write anything this coherent at all.

Gosh. Dual-wielding changes everything. Hitting the AS button means you draw your leftygun. (I'm declaring a new nomenclature here, btw, leftygun and rightygun.) The button previously bound to scope now becomes the 'fire leftygun' button. Pounding the triggers like a loon produces some startling results. I'm shooting two guns. That's like, almost twice as many as you could shoot in Borderlands! Obviously, I find this a very unnatural action, being so used to m+kb, (If you're tired of hearing about how rubbish I am with all things xbox, by all means, please buy me one.) so again, it takes some getting used to, but eventually I do....

And it's like unleashing hell. Once I work out (through luck rather than judgement) how to set up my equipment so that the two guns I want are rightygun and leftygun, It's hilarious. I'm pretty sure that with some practice, and the right gear and build, and a plentiful supply of things to butcher, it will be possible to keep the kills chained into one huge extended dual-wielding frenzy. For minutes at a time. To the tune of 'Hall of the Mountain King'. More than any other toon, Sally typifies everything that is at the core of Borderlands.

I played Roland in two-player LAN in support of my fiance, (who played Lilith) in Borderlands. Axton, whilst superficially the same (some skills are the same, in fact, Impact, and to my great delight, METAL STORM are present and correct, whilst others are tweaked a little, but to huge effect. You will like the new Grit. Others are renamed.) taken as a whole, however, Axton has more emphasis on surviving or reducing damage taken than on supporting others. Another big difference is the turret. If I tell you that one of the top-tier skills has the subtext "Impotent and Obsolete? Hardly" you might begin to suspect that Axton has better toys than Roland. And he has. He really has. I didn't have enough skill points to get to these skills to see the fallout, but I cannot wait. There's a nice interplay between shield and health, such as a skill that gives health regen when on full shields, or extra weapon damage on shield depletion, and stuff like that. I've been asked to not spoil too much, so I don't want to say much more. The keyword is synergy, though. It's like taking Roland deeper into the heart of War. We will be able to turn Axton into a finely tuned killing machine. Or something dramatic like that.
Throwing out the turret in the game is very effective. There are many tactical applications in the skilltree, but it will also just kill stuff really well, too! There's the usual cooldown modifiers, in fact iirc, all toons can do this somehow. Oh, and I want to see the chopper squad actually getting their hands dirty with a load of Axtons and turrets. We will rain death upon our foes. (Cue stern marching music)

Ah, Maya. Lovely, lovely Maya. I was not much of a Lillith fan, and was expecting to not like Maya much. I was wrong. Wrong-diddle-wrong-diddle-wrong-wrong-wrong. I have never been more etc. She feels terrifically tough. The Phaselock clench is exhilarating, far more so that I could believe possible from a simple animation. (BIG props to whoever was responsible for that.) It's highly tactical, and timely and careful use will sway entire battles, I guarantee. Maya feels very different for other reasons; without a win button phasewalk you have to change the way you play this siren. I'm considering playing her with my partner, in a support role, which I really had not considered before. But I'm very keen indeed to play her again. I don't think she'll be the same dps monster as her predecessor, but I'm actually okay with that.

Questions with Dan Cook:
As soon as I got into the BLT area of Rezzed, I asked if anyone from gearbox was around- there wasn't (I understand that Adamf was having trouble getting flights home due to the amount of weather, if you're reading this matey, I hope you managed it!) but was introduced to Dan Cook from 2K. He knows his borderlands. He is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and up front about what he knows, what he doesn't know, and, most annoyingly for us, what he knows about but cannot say. I like him a lot, he's a real ambassador for 2K. I want to express my gratitude to Dan, (and the other 2K staff. Great work lads!) for making things run so smoothly and for being kind enough to take the time to listen patiently to my rather scattershot questions. He answers every question very fully, intelligently, and thoughtfully. I know it is his job to promote and 'sell' borderlands 2, but at no time do I feel like anything is being 'spun' or 'marketed'. It's very refreshing and enjoyable to talk to someone else who shares a love for Bl. I do hate him a bit, obv, coz he has played borderlands 2 and gets paid for it, but manage to swallow my ragejuice long enough to try and get some info from him. Here's what I can pass on.

Modding: Is a known and well comprehended problem, but Gearbox and 2k are approaching the issue very carefully. It really isn't as simple as 'banning the modders', they have to work out the impact of any strategy on the game as a whole, and deliver on anything they announce, without breaking the game or getting into legal discussions about denying access online. Imagine a day one filter that screws up and blocks online play for a sizable number of people. That's a massive risk, which if it happened, would have a huge impact on gbx and 2ks credibilty. So; no word on that, other than yes, it's taken seriously, and yes, it's complicated. I would say that no server-side saves essentially limits what they can do in real terms.

Editor: Unlikely, not in initial release because it takes time to package for players to use when they could be using it to you know, make games. Theoretically Possible but unlikely DLC.

Random Areas: same as above, really. Theoretically possible, cannot be excluded as a possibilty.

Level Cap and Skillpoints: Is going to be last thing set in stone before release, as it's the easiest way of changing difficulty as levels=skillpoints, and numbers of skillpoints determine difficulty, basically. Lots more playtesting will enable them to set it just right, not to hard at the start, and not too easy during endgame. We also discuss how some skills from the first game seemed to decline in usefulness towards endgame, such as Aid station, and whether this will return in BLT. He tells me that he's not really a hardcore number-cruncher, so some people will want to be able to squeeze every last drop of efficiency out of the skilltrees, and there is potential for that for those who do. Having looked at the trees, I'm reasonably confident about it. Mind you, I'm not that obsessed with dps efficiency either, so we'll see. Also, the skilltrees are not finalised.

Level Balancing in MP: We talk about how the problems of a high level character in a game with low levels like loss of fun and expolits. Again, it's not an easy thing to sort out, and various options are being tested. I'm not going to go into detail (to avoid Massive Wild Speculation On Uncertain Specifics) but if it can be sorted, I'm assured it will be.

Loot Chest Edition: Basically, NO MORE. He has to qualify his words, of course, and this is the only area where i sense that there is a specific company line to follow. 2k have as much as admitted that they misjudged demand, but that it doesn't change anything. They were intended to be limited, precious, and special collectors items to be treasured by those lucky enough to get one. Not 'readily available but just cost more'. They also can't risk making a load more, because they could then be left with a load of stuff they can't shift. I think this more than anything determined the amount made. If they overestimate demand, they lose out. They cost a lot of money, too. It's hard to tell who will actually shell out the money come delivery time. I mention that a replica -empty- chest would probably go like hot cakes (I saw someone suggest this on th eforum somewhere, and I'm sorry but do not recall who) and he says that they would be a good item for the gearbox store.

The Big Reveal: hasn't happened yet. Soon. He assures me that from what he has learned of me by our chat, I will love it. I trust him.

Shift: Dan has no specific info on this, it's entirely in the hands of gearbox. What he does know is that the data from the labs did go towards the dev team having much more detailed information about what we actually do in the game, which enabled them to put in more of what we like. Judging from my time in Pandora, it worked.

Given my imperfect recall, I'd appreciate any gbx peeps, if they happen to be reading this, to correct or at least notify me of any errors. Just tell me where i'm hallucinating, and i can at least remove any PH-generated nonsense. Ta.

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Last edited by Psychichazard; August 7th, 2012 at 05:05 PM.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: Rezzed Gameplay Experience.

Awesome. Thanx PH! Get some sleep brother. Go squee yourself to sleep
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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: Rezzed Gameplay Experience.

Great read and can't wait to see what you have to add to it tomorrow. You deserve to sleep among the kings tonight! Thanks for all the info!
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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rezzed Gameplay Experience.

Great read PH. I'm even more excited now to get my hands on BL2. Rest up and thank you so much for the recon

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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:54 PM   #5
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Nice thread. Thanks for writing.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: Rezzed Gameplay Experience.

"Firstly, It's Beautiful. There's no other way to describe it. Vivid, saturated and crisp. It looks how games should look. I cannot wait to throw this at a beast of a pc."

I have a feeling my gts 250 just isn't gonna cut it come september. Time to start saving.

Edit: Also, thank you very much for the write up.

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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: Rezzed Gameplay Experience.

i shall reiterate:

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Old July 7th, 2012, 07:01 PM   #8
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Please, Read the Forum Rules.

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Old July 7th, 2012, 07:07 PM   #9
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sleep tight... dont let the bed bugs bite
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Old July 7th, 2012, 07:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: Rezzed Gameplay Experience.

Those new grenade mods sound amazing. I feel like having someone confirm from first hand experience how amazing this game validates everything I have heard Gearbox promise. Nothing against GB but some companies hype their game so much and it just flops and I am honestly glad to see that BL2 isn't going to be one of those games.

Also, thanks for taking the time to write all of that, was definitely worth the read.
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Oh, am I ranting about the loot system again? Must be because it is total balls.
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