[Guide] Borderlands 2 Basics for New Players


(Is this thing on?) #1

Vault Hunting 101: Borderlands 2 Basics for New Players Part 1

Your spoiler-free guide to characters, gear, loot, quests, and skills for your first play-through, covering Windshear Wastes to Sanctuary.

Hello, fellow Vault Hunter! If you’ve just picked up Borderlands 2 for the first time, and especially if you’ve never played any of the other Borderlands games, then this guide is for you. I’ll be taking a couple of brand new characters through the first play-through, known as Normal Vault Hunter Mode (NVHM) as I write this. Hopefully, it will answer many of the questions you have as go through the game with me.

Special thanks to the following for comments and corrections: @Piemanlee, @Worblehat, @Ronnie_Rayburn, @darla, @kuhchung, @Raven_Ghosthawk

Outline:


Which Character Do I Choose?

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: there are no bad characters! Each one is perfectly viable for both solo and co-op play, although they each have their own specialities and skills. Which you enjoy the most will depend somewhat on the type of games you’ve played before, as well as your own personal play-style. Some are better suited to novice gamers than others, though. Here’s a short introduction to each one. Don’t be dismayed if you don’t like the feel of the first character you chose, however: just pick a different one, and maybe come back to the first one after you’ve picked up more of the game.

Axton (soldier) and his awesome turret:

A good choice for a novice player, Axton’s turret can provide a much needed distraction should you run into trouble. Used well, it can also help you make short work of mobs. If you like gun play and explosisions, this may be a good choice for you. You can learn some of Axton’s back-story from the Lost Echoes in the Lynchwood map.

Gaige (mechromancer) and her death-dealing robot:

Gaige was the first expansion character added to the game shortly after launch, and is a good choice for those new to first-person shooters due to specific skills that can help while learning how to aim. Her robot (Deathrap) will leap into the fray and attack whatever is attacking you. This means that sometimes you may end up going in opposite directions, but you can usually tell where he is from the yells and screams. See Gaige’s launch trailer for more, or listen to her pre-launch echoes (log 1, log 2, log 3, and log 4).

Krieg (psycho) and his blitzing buzz-axe:

The second expansion character, Krieg is an enormous gun-wielding, axe-throwing, erupting, rampaging death machine. If you like melee and guns, melee and explosives, or melee and fire, this psycho’s for you. Make sure you watch his back-story video to see inside the lunatic!

Maya (siren) and her phabulous phaselock:

Maya is the elemental death-dealing healer of the group. A fantastic addition to any team for co-op, she can never-the-less easily hold her own on the battlefield in solo play. Maya requires a little more finesse than, say, Axton, but is highly rewarding as you move further through her skill tree. You can learn some of Maya’s back-story from the Lost Echoes in the Wildlife Exploitation Preserve map.

Salvador (gunzerker) - enough said:

Salvador is the in-your-face dual-wielding one-man army of the group. If you like shooting things, and then shooting them even more, this is the short hairy guy for you! Very easy to play and insanely powerful, Salvador also has some melee skills, just in case you didn’t want to shoot things all the time. Oh, and when he’s gunzerking? He’s also regenerating ammo… You can learn some of Salvador’s back-story from the Lost Echoes in the Thousand Cuts map.

Zer0 (assassin), man-thing of mystery:

Zer0 is the sniper-assassin, becoming invisible while deploying a hologram for five seconds so he can move into position to either smite with his sword, or pop off a head-shot. Five seconds may not sound like a long time, but it is often long enough. Zer0 is perhaps the most difficult character to master - especially his melee style - but can be among the most rewarding to play. You can learn some of Zer0’s back-story from the Lost Echoes in the Sawtooth Cauldron map.

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Starting the Story

Following a cut-scene, in which you meet everybody’s favourite character, Claptrap (Warning: results may vary; favourable opinions are not guaranteed) you’ll set off throught the wilds of Windshear Waste. There’s not much here, although there are a few containers you can loot for ammo, cash, or health. Keep your eyes open for anything with a green light on it! Once you get to Claptrap’s place there’ll be another cut-scene, and you’ll get the mission My First Gun (lvl.1), followed by Blindsided (lvl.1). Take a good look around before following your guide, as there’s quite a lot of loot to be had, and you’ll want to fill your health up before heading out again. Open everything!

Before you head out, open up your inventory and take a look through the contents. There are tabs for your mission progress, area map, equipment slots and storage, skills, and something called “Badass Rank” (BAR - more on this later). Note that you can toggle the display order of your weapons storage (LT/L1 and RT/R1 on console). If you’re playing one of the original four vault hunters, you should see an echo (audio) log in your inventory, which provides some back-story on your character. To listen to it, select it and close your inventory.

Once you’re completely done, follow your guide back into the wastes. On your way out, you’ll pass the maps Fast Travel, which will trigger an auto-save. The current maps Fast Travel is where you will spawn after quitting and restarting, and also allows you to switch to any other maps you have discovered. If you check the currently available locations, you will also see the initial locations for all currently installed DLCs. Don’t go there yet, though!

Once back outside, your guide will accidentally-on-purpose bump into a few things: this is a hint that you should pay attention to such objects the next time you see them. He’ll also nag you about keeping up, but don’t feel that you have to: the next game event will trigger when you pass the next way-point (check your mini-map or the game map in your inventory), not when an NPC does so. At some point, you’ll hear a call for help, the battle music will fire up, and you’re ready for your first taste of BL2-style combat (see below and part 2).

Once it’s all over, loot everything before moving on and make sure you reload all your weapons (except Gaige players running an Anarchy build, but we’ll cover that later). Also, well done!

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Combat Basics (1)

Obviously, you’re going to shoot things. There’s some things you should know to make you more effective, however.

  • The cross-hairs tell you more than just where your gun is pointing
    • The wider apart they are, the more inaccurate your shot will be
    • Sprinting reduces accuracy: when you stop running, you’ll see the cross-hairs steadily drawing in
    • Firing reduces accuracy: if you fire a continuous burst, you’ll see the cross-hairs widen as your accuracy falls
    • Short bursts are more accurate, and waste less ammo, than long continuous ones
    • Exception: Hyperion weapons, which actually get more accurate the longer you fire them
  • Don’t stand still! Learn to shoot while moving
    • Standing makes you an easy target; moving sideways while firing (“strafing”) makes you harder to hit
    • You will always move slower backwards; if something is running straight at you, move/jump sideways
    • Running in circles can be a viable strategy; just don’t do it while screaming like a little girl!
  • Aim for the squishy bits!
    • Everything has a critical hit location, such as the head.
    • Hitting crits does more damage than regular shots
    • Some weapons, skills, gear, and perks boost critical hit damage
    • Scoring critical hits means faster kills using less ammo
  • You can zoom in for a better view (LT/L1 on console)
    • Aiming down sights (ADS) makes it easier to land critical hits BUT…
    • ADS considerably slows down both your movement and tracking speed. Zoom in, shoot, zoom out, move.
    • Never. Stand. Still.
  • Behind you!
    • It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, but your mini-map can help: Check it often (just like your mirrors while driving) so you don’t get hit from behind
    • No red dots and no battle music mean you’re done - for now!
    • Although there aren’t too many at this point, watch out for hazards such as cliff edges (falling of the map kills you) and barrels
    • If present, you can take advantage of barrels and fuel tanks to blow up enemies in cover. Or, they can blow you up instead…
  • Out of ammo?
    • If there’s an enemy in your face, switch weapon (Y/triangle or D-Pad on console)
    • If the enemy’s health bar is low, try a melee attack (Press LS/L3 on console)
    • If you’re reloading, duck into cover: some weapons have loooong reload times
    • If you need time, jump/run out of the way!

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Getting the Level on Levels

At some point during the fight, you may well have Levelled Up. Once you hit level 5, you’ll gain a point for each level that you put into your skill tree to develop your character. For now, just note that your level also determines your base health and melee damage. The same is true of the enemies you face; their level is determined by the level of the map you are in: they can be anywhere from 2 levels below to 2 levels above the map level, and can drop loot that is from 2 levels below to 1 level above.

In NVHM (and TVHM), maps and missions have set initial levels (or a set range of possible levels). The map level is set when you first enter that map; story mission levels are set when you turn in the preceding one, while side quest levels depend on the mission and the map. Certain maps and side quests can level up during NVHM, although most of them don’t.

Mission rewards are always at the level of the mission or quest when it is accepted, and not when it is turned in. The amount of experience points (XP) you get depends on your level relative to the enemies: higher level enemies give more XP; if the same enemy is lower level than you, however, you will get greatly reduced XP.

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My First Boss Fight!

As you continue following your guide, you’ll eventually come to your first boss - a large critter by the name of Knuckledragger. The tactics for this fight aren’t very different from basic combat - keep moving, shoot lots of bullets while aiming for the squishy bit, and keep going until the ridiculously large health bar is gone. Part way through, some additional critters (“adds”) will appear. These are there to provide easier targets to gain a second wind from should the boss knock you into Fight For You Life (FFYL). If you can’t see one immediately, quickly check your minimap for the nearest; you’ll be able to turn and move slowly. Kill something, and gain a revive. Once everything is dead, search for loot, keeping an eye open for any green, blue, purple, or orange light spikes indicating a rare loot drop. You’ll also advance to the next story mission, This Town Ain’t Big Enough (lvl.3)

All enemies in BL2 have a decreasing chance of dropping increasingly rare items, while all bosses (such as Knuckledragger) have a fixed chance of dropping a specific Legendary item. In Knuckledragger’s case, he has a 1 in 10 chance of dropping the Hornet, a very useful legendary corrosive pistol. (For more on random loot generation, see this additional guide.) When they die, bosses release their loot in a lootsplosion, so it can scatter over a fair area. Take your time and search the whole area; don’t worry if you didn’t get the legendary this time, though - you can get Knuckledragger to spawn again any time you feel like trying your luck.

Once you’re done, follow your guide to the map transition. After some dialogue, and completing a task, you can access the map transition to pass through to Southern Shelf and the next part of the story. (Note that this will also save your progress so far.)

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My First Farm!

If you didn’t get the Hornet, you could easily try your luck farming right now: go back immediately through the map transition, and quit-save/restart. You will now spawn inside the Hyperion barge, and Knuckledragger will be right outside; kill him. if you get the drop, great! If not, quit-save/restart and try again until you do. Hopefully, you’ll be successful within 10 tries, but it may take longer - that’s just the way the RNG goes. All bosses are farmable in the same way, but some take longer to get to than others; Knuckledragger is probably one of the fastest farms in the game.

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Southern Shelf and Liar’s Berg

  • Main Story:
    • This Town Ain’t Big Enough (lvl.3)
    • Best Minion Ever (lvl.5)
  • Side quests:
    • Cleaning Up The Berg (lvl.3)
    • Shielded Favours (lvl.3): skin
    • Bad Hair Day (lvl.5): sniper rifle/shotgun
    • Handsome Jack Here (lvl.3): pistol
    • Symbiosis (lvl.5): head (on secondary map Southern Shelf Bay)

This Town Ain’t Big Enough

Once in Southern Shelf, you’ll find yourself on the outskirts of Liar’s Berg, which needs to be cleared of enemies before you might your next main NPC, Sir Alistair Hammerlock. This particular NPC is important because they have a whole series of side quests that unlock at certain points throughout the game. As soon as you’ve finished This Town…, you’ll unlock Cleaning Up The Berg; completing that unlocks Shielded Favours and Bad Hair Day, which may conveniently be done at the same time. Turning those in unlocks Symbiosis, which will take you to a new map area, while killing a specific bandit on your way through the main story will give you a chance to pick up Handsome Jack Here - watch out for something to drop and a ! to appear on your map/minimap.

That may seem like a lot, but I would strongly recommend doing it all on your first play-through partly for the experience, and partly because one or two of the side quest rewards can be very helpful even though they are only Green rarity items. You’ll also pick up a number of customization heads and skins, and plenty of items that you can choose to sell at the local vending machines. You’ll also probably unlock your first Challenges towards your BAR perks.

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Actually, let’s take a look at some of these things in more detail before continuing with the game:

Vending Machines:

There are three types of vending machine in the main game: Marcus’ Munitions Ammo and Gun and Doctor Zed’s Med machines. Activating one pops up a screen similar to your inventory. You can tabe (LB/L2 and RB/R2 on console) between Purchase, Sell, and Buyback tabs. There’s always a special Item of the Day which will change every 20 minutes - these can be quite useful, as they are often Green, Blue or higher rarity items. The Compare button (X/square on console) allows you to quickly compare items for sale with ones in your inventory, and you can change the sort order in both store and inventory easily (RT/R1 and LT/L1 on console.) Vending machines are marked on your map and minimap with a $ sign.

Comparing Weapons:

This seems like a good point to also discuss item rarity and stats. Item rarity goes from white (common) through green (uncommon), blue (rare), purple (very rare), to orange (legendary). (There are three other types, but we’ll meet those later.) The higher the rarity then in general the greater the value and the better the item stats for the same level gear. That doesn’t necessarily make rarer gear better, though, especially if it’s only one rarity higher. Arguably the single best way to compare two items is simply to use them. Deciding what to sell and what to keep, or what’s best for a specific situation, is not always easy though.

When comparing guns (use the “Compare” button in your inventory!) you’ll see little green and red arrows besides the stats. It can be easy to focus just on the base damage (the first stat), but that can be a mistake: fire rate, ammo capacity, and reload speed also make a huge difference to overall performance, and those aren’t the only characteristics. High base damage is no good if you’re spending most of your time reloading the weapon or waiting for the next shot to go off, since that’s time spent NOT damaging your target!

You’ll also notice that certain guns will have a multiplier on the damage statistic (X2, X4 etc.) On shotguns, this reflects the number of pellets per round shot. On pistols and certain assault rifles, however, this is the number of rounds per shot: a X2 modifier means it shoots two bullets at once. For higher multipliers, this comes at the expense of increased ammo consumption, which is also noted on the card.

An added complication is that certain weapons add elemental damage, which can be corrosive, incendiary, shock, slag, or explosive. Elemental weapons have ~20% lower base damage on their card than their non-elemental equivalents, but with the exception of explosive can deal extra damage-over-time (DoT) from the elemental effect (burn, electrocute, etc.) Explosive weapons deal splash damage (as do some elemental weapons), meaning don’t need to score a direct hit to take a target down. In addition, flesh targets (red health bar) are more susceptible to fire damage, armoured (yellow health bar) to acid, while shields (a secondary blue bar above the health bar) are easily stripped by shock damage.

The result is a trade off between the base damage of the weapon and the damage that can be potentially done to the target. The game is fairly balanced, in the sense that you can use either elemental or non-elemental and progress just fine, especially in these early stages. As you continue playing, though, you’ll notice that certain skills and gear synergise better with certain elements and weapon types. So try this out when evaluating a weapon: fire off a couple of shots and hit reload. Once the reload animation is done, ADS and see how long it takes for the aim point to settle down. Does it fire fast enough for you? Can you manage the reload? And is it better than a similar item of the same element? As you play more of the game, you’ll start to get a better feel for how the different weapon types and elements function, and you can get more into the parts that make things tick; for now, just have fun shooting things!

Comparing Shields:

A similar situation exsits for shields: there are a variety of types, in multiple rarities, that can also have elemental effects and immunities. Most of the shields you are likely to have found by now are just basic shields with a capacity, recharge rate, and recharge delay: the delay is how long you must go without taking damage before the shield starts recharging, while the rate is hoe quickly it returns to full capacity. Some of the additional types of shield you may encounter are:

  • Absorb - chance to absorb bullets and add them to your ammo
  • Nova - releases a single elemental nova when depleted; must fully recharge
  • Roid - boosts your melee damage whenever fully depleted
  • Spike - deals elemental damage to enemies who melee you when fully charged

Other types of shield can adapt to provide elemental resistance, provide damage reduction, and even boost maximum health. Again, the best advice at this stage is simply to try out whatever you have, and see what works best for you.

Comparing Grenades:

If you’re lucky, you’ll have found at least one grenade mod by now. Don’t worry if you haven’t though - you’re guaranteed to get at least one pretty soon. Grenade mods add elemental damage to your grenades, but also modify stats (base damage, blast radius, and fuse time) and behaviour. Just like weapons and shields, they come in different rarities, including legendary and unique (blue red text items.) Here’s a quick guide to the more common types and variations:

  • Bouncing - bounces in a random path while firing projectiles in all directions
  • MIRV - splits into multiple bomblets which spread and explode
  • Singularity - pulls enemies in before exploding
  • Tesla - creates a shock wall; deals electrical damage to anything in range
  • Transfusion - a form of MIRV that returns health to you
  • Homing - seeks out enemies; may not target the one you want
  • Longbow - teleports to target; ADS before throwing helps you hit your target

There are more types and variants, obviously - check the item card description, and try them out for yourself. @Raven_Ghosthawk has some good additional tips on using grenades in a post below.

Customization Skins and Heads:

Amongst the items you can get as mission rewards, as well as from all loot sources, are heads (for your characters) and skins (for your character and the different vehicles in game.) These are stored in your inventory until you select them there, at which point they are “used” and become available at an appropriate customization station. For character skins and heads, this is the Quick Change stations, one of which is located on most (all?) maps. The one in Liar’s Berg is across a footbridge from the Fast Travel; these are also marked on your map and minimap.

The random loot generator in the game is weighted to give heads and skins for the characters being used. However, you will sometimes get a head or a skin for a different character. You can go ahead and use these (which means they will already be unlocked should you start or load that character). Alternatively, you can sell them for cash at a vendor, or trade them with another player.

Badass Rank and Perks:

If you go to the right-most tab in your inventory, you’ll find your Badass Rank. There is an extensive list of general and map-specific challenges, with up to five tiers for each. Completing a tier earns you a certain number of points; accumulating enough points unlocks your next rank, which gives you a token to spend. When you spend a token, you’re given your choice of five perks chosen at random from a list of fourteen possible character stats (such as Maximum health, Gun damage, etc.) Each rank point assigned provides a small boost to that stat, with the increments decreasing in size as your rank increases. It takes ~150,000 ranks to get 20% in every stat, for example, but additional increments are around 0.1-0.2% at that point.

Some players concentrate their tokens in particular stats (e.g. reload speed, elemental chance and damage) and avoid others (e.g. shield stats) in order to take advantage of specific gear and certain game mechanics. This is not necessary for your very first character in NVHM. My suggestion is: spend them where you like, but don’t concentrate them all in one or two stats. One caveat: once spent, you cannot reassign BAR tokens; you can, however, turn all your BAR stats on and off from the same inventory tab. Finally, you total BAR and stats allocations are stored along with your heads and skins in a single file, and are independent of your game save. This means that your BAR is tied to your profile, and shared across any characters you create.

Action Skills (1)

If you’re up to at least level 6 by this point, you’ll be ready to start building out your character’s skill tree. The first point goes to unlock the action skill itself. Subsequent points can be assigned to skills in successive tiers across three separate “trees”; assigning 5 points in the first tier of a tree unlocks the next in that tree. Looking at Axton, for example, you can see that he has two skills in tier 1 for each of his Guerilla, Gunpowder, and Survival trees. (You can also check out Gaige, Krieg, Maya, Salvador, and Zer0 at the same site.)

It really doesn’t matter where you put your first few points - they don’t even need to be in the same tree. I tend to go with certain skills just to get going, knowing full well that I will respec later on anyway. Don’t feel that you have to do what anyone else does at this stage. That said, here’s some things to think about:

  • Axton: if you’re going to use the turret much, Sentry is a must; Impact and Preparation are also useful.
  • Gaige: if you’re new to FPS, or intend to use the Organized Chaos tree, start with Close Enough; Cooking Up Trouble[/color] and Myelin are also useful early on.
  • Krieg: difficult choices! That said, Pull the Pin can be very satisfying. The Bloodlust tree builds on stacks: causing damage gives you +1 bloodlust stack; stacks decay with time but skills like Blood-filled Guns give you temporary boost based on your current number of stacks. If you’re fighting a mob of enemies, this particular combination means you won’t need to reload quite as often…
  • Maya: the entire first tier is good. If you’re playing co-op, though, invest in Sweet Release early!
  • Salvador: another set of tough choices. Early-game, I like to take Inconceivable, Filled to the Brim, and Hard to Kill
  • Zer0: If you’re going melee initially, I’d suggest C0unter Strike, Killing Bl0w, or Ir0n Hand. For sniper/gunslinger builds, go the other way.

And remember, these are only mild suggestions - try stuff and, if it doesn’t work for you, respec. Now, on with the story…

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Best Minion Ever

Alright, back to the main story quest. Make sure you’ve figured out your gear and loaded up on ammo, and that you have about an hour of free time… Also, if you wren’t able to get a corrosive weapon, a decent Torgue explosive assault rifle or shotgun might well come in handy.

Talk to your guide, and follow him away from Liar’s Berg towards Gateway Harbor. If you rush ahead of him, you can gain some extra experience points by clearing the first two camps twice: your guide will pause periodically to make sure you have “caught up” with him; when you go back and trigger his movement to the next location, the bandits in the camp will immediately respawn. When you clear each area, don’t forget to check for loot - especially large chests hidden in odd corners where you’d easily miss them by rushing through. (If you want to know where everything is, you can check out @CountKarloff’s BL2 Loot Maps, but be warned - SPOILERS BE HERE!)

After clearing areas and checking in with your guide a couple of times, you’ll be ready for the next boss fight at the Wreck of the Ice Sickle - actually, a pair of bosses who each have a chance to drop the legendary Bonus Package MIRV grenade mod. Even if neither of them drop this, you’re still guaranteed to pick up a few other grenade mods as a result of this fight.

Since this guide is supposed to be as spoiler-free as possible, I won’t go into details other than to say that there are a couple of tactical positions you can exploit to make things easier for yourself. You should also have your action skill by now, so use it! Axton’s turret (if placed correctly) and Gaige’s Deathtrap can carry a fair load here. If you die, you’ll respawn near the camp you came through earlier; take the opportunity to scope out the location you have to fight in, and use the terrain and features to your advantage. And remember what we said earlier about elements and enemy types!

After successfully bossing the bosses, you part company with your guide for while. The path you need to follow is pretty clear, though, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to develop your combat skills. Remember, if things get hairy you can always fall back to regroup, reload, and look for ammo and gear; the enemies won’t respawn behind you (unless you take waaaaay to long, or have to quite and restart.) Eventually, you’ll work your way up to the deck of the Soaring Dragon, and the next boss fight. Again, no spoilers, but I will give you a few pointers:

  • Keep off of the deck grills: You. Will. Burn!
  • If all players are dead at the same time, the boss’ health bar resets; try not to die!
  • Many bosses have a sequence to their attacks, in which they go through different phases
  • Examples include a ground-pound, unleashing a powerful nova, and a flying leap melee attack
  • There’s always a distinctive animation (and possibly a call-out) ahead of each phase
  • Some phases give the boss partial or complete immunity; pay attention and don’t waste ammo!
  • This particular boss still has his critical spot during his immunity phase though (if you can see it!)
  • For this fight, explosive and non-elemental weaponry are your best friends
  • If you die, there’s an ammo machine right where you respawn. Just sayin’…

When it’s all said and done, look for the boss’ guaranteed drop: a blue rarity, red text unique fire pistol. Blue uniques like this have a hidden stat hinted at by the red text on the item card, which makes them more powerful than you might think from the numbers alone. Also, you know the drill by now: loot, reload, move on. Once you’ve taken the map transition to Three Horns Divide, you can safely save-quit and take a breather. Congratulations, Vault Hunter!

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Three Horns Divide

  • Main Story:
    • The Road to Sanctuary (lvl.6-7)

The Road to Sanctuary (Part 1)

Welcome back, Vault Hunter! Continuing from the boat in Three Horns Divide, you will get a series of waypoints taking you through the main story to reach Sanctuary. The first of these is an area with some vending machines but, if you’d rather, you can quickly return to Liar’s Berg by taking the map transition on the ship you just sailed in on. It will “ferry” you back to the shoreline below Liar’s Berg, leaving you with just a quick sprint up the hill. You can come back the same way, now that you’ve unlocked Three Horns Divide.

Back to Three Horns, though: Your first stop is a bandit camp called Fishguts Outpost. You can either try to sneak in up the left-hand side, or charge in through the front door. There are two waves of bandits that spawn here, including a badass variety - Nomads - which you should prioritize. Well, unless you see a bandit running towards you with his arm straight up in the air laughing like a maniac: take them out quickly from the legs up (you’ll soon see why!) Fetch the item you need and head back to the vending machines.

Completing this stage of the main story gets you access to your first vehicle at the Catch-A-Ride: note that you have a choice of turret gun or rocket launcher. There’s also a gun on the front of the vehicle, so you can fire both while driving around in solo play. Immediately after you jump the bridge, there’s an area you can loot immediately to the right of where the mission marker is leading. (You’ll come back to the same area during the later side quest In Memoriam.) Either way, continue the mission by driving through Thirty Below, which will give you plenty of chance to practice killing things with your vehicle.

Vehicle 101:

Even if ramming enemies with your vehicle doesn’t kill them out-right, it will stun them long enough for you to either shoot them or run over them a few times. Keep an eye on your vehicle’s health though: if you see flames and smoke, she’s gonna blow! You don’t die with your vehicle, but it does leave you vulnerable. Also, any health boosts from your skill tree are temporarily removed when you enter a vehicle, so you may notice that you are not at full health when you first get out of it.

Tip: Can’t remember where you left your vehicle? Have no fear, your map is here! A vehicle-shaped icon will appear on both the minimap and your main inventory map.

The Road to Sanctuary (Part 2)

Follow the road to Snowbound Crossroads, where you’ll find the Fast Travel station, vending machines, and a Catgh-A-Ride. Take the turn towards the map marker to find Sanctuary, and bandits at the gate! Deal with the bandits, check in at the gate, then mount up and head to your new mission objective in the Marrowfield. On your way through this area to the mext marker, you may well encounter one of the oddball mini-bosses in the game. I say that because, unlike pretty much every other boss with a designated legendary drop, this one is introduced without narration, a story mission, or a side quest. It’s almost like he was supposed to be part of the story somehow, but the writers never quite got around to giving him one. Poor guy - no wonder he seems so angry! If you’re lucky, and he spawns, he may drop you the much sought-after Unkempt Harold Torgue pistol; if you’re really lucky, it’ll be the preferred Double Penetrating variant. This is one of the most powerful handguns in the game, so you don’t really want it yet - it would make things way too easy!

Anyway, keep pushing to the next marker. Once you find the person you’ve been sent to find, continue a little further along the same path to the cluster of buildings tucked away right in the back corner - there’s another chest here. Then double back to your new objective in yet another bandit camp. There are two possible sources for the item you need to retreive, as indicated by two area way-points showing up on your minimap once you get close enough. I find it easier to go left initially, grab the item, and then clear the rest of the camp. Whatever you decide to do, you should absolutely check out the entire camp before heading back to Sanctuary - there’s lots of loot, and part of one challenge to be had here. SPOILER ALERT - here’s another loot map!

Flying Enemies:

By this point, you’ll have encountered at least some flying enemies. They can be a bit of a pain! Axton’s turret can shoot them, Gaige’s robot can zap them (even throgh rock and metal!), and Maya can phaselock them in place, but what about the other characters? First, weapons: a rapid, quick reload pistol, SMG, or shotgun works well. Secondly, terrain: standing with your back to a wall or cliff forces them to only attack from the front, giving you a better chance of hitting them first. If you lose sight of them, check your minimap: those swirling red dots are what you’re looking for.

Anyway, head back to Sanctuary and check in at the gate to unlock the next map…

Back to table of contents


Sanctuary

  • Main Story:
    • Plan B (lvl.7-8)
    • Hunting the Firehawk (lvl.8) (Three Horns/Frostburn Canyon; unlocked by Plan B)
  • Side Quests (1):
    • Claptrap’s Secret Stash
    • Do No Harm (+character intro cut-scenes ahoy!)
    • Rock, Paper, Genocide parts 1-4 (+character intro cut-scene)
  • Side Quests (2):
    • Assassinate the Assassins (lvl.8): pistol/SMG (Southpaw Steam & Power)
    • The Name Game (lvl.8): shotgun/shield (Three Horns Divide, or anywhere with Bullymongs)
    • Medical Mystery (lvl.8) (Three Horns Valley; unlocked by Do No Harm)

Plan B

The main story picks up once you take the map transition into Sanctuary. Note that this is one of the few areas (like Claptrap’s Place) where enemies do not spawn. Simply follow the quest stages/markers, talk to the various NPCs, and perform tasks. Once you enter the town of Sanctuary and approach the garage, you’ll trigger the first of several cut-scenes introducing key NPCs; make sure you talk to each one following the cut-scene, or you’ll keep getting them every time you return to Sanctuary!

I suggest you keep following the main story right through until you complete this quest; this will start your introduction to key features of Sanctuary, namely the Bank Vault and the Black Market. Completing this quest automatically unlocks the next story mission (Hunting the Fireehawk). Before you do that, though, take the time to complete the local side quests, level up, and buy & sell gear.

Sanctuary Side Quests (1):

Time to look around! Head to the various ! markers for quests and introductions from Claptrap (Claptrap’s Stash, Dr. Zed (Do No Harm), and Marcus. This will also acquaint you with Patricia Tannis, who will have quests for you later. Marcus will also show you his “test dummy” during the course of his quest, which is a useful spot to test out gear.

Once you have finished this first set, and thoroughly explored the town, you can pick up the side quest The Name Game (see Sir Hammerlock in Moxxi’s Bar), which can conveniently be done on your way through the next main story mission: Hunting the Firehawk.

Back to table of contents


This guide continues in Part 2, covering Sanctuary to Bloodshot Stronghold


Playthrough 1 Story Route?
Playing Borderlands 2 as an FPS game
Question on Inventory size progression (+ragevent) (solved - thanks)
New to BL2, Choosing a character
Hello New Player here
XP & Skill Levels
New Player - Disabling Enemy Respawn ¿?
Gaige (mechromancer) HELP!
What did you do in TPS during your most recent session?
New player looking for help
What did you do in TPS during your most recent session?
New to bordelands
Need Help On Campaign (Lvl 13 Mechro)
Help with bl2 game
Better shock pistol? (lvl 47)
[Newbie][Normal Mode] I need advices on Krieg Builds for Pseudo-Solo & Coop Plays
Need help with retrieving cloud save character
The Third Annual "UNOFFICIAL" Hunt 2019
How do I stop Overleveling my gear?
Mission Level Chart
I have not received the keys with serials on FB or Twiiter
Newbie : advice?
Second Annual 2018 "UNOFFICIAL" BL2 & TPS Hunt
Xbox 360 - New starter to borderlands 2
What did you do in BL2 during your most recent session?
(The Bearer of Pie and Best user of English) #2

This is gonna be good.


(First-Sword of the Moderators | Discord Hypesquad) #3

Gonna flag for a sticky - this could be (and most likely) will be very useful for anyone who hasn’t played any Bl games before.


(The Bearer of Pie and Best user of English) #4

Couple things I saw

  1. Sal doesn’t really have a melee skill tree he has like 2 melee damage increasing skill. And 2 melee override skills
  2. I like how you added the part about farming but you may want to add a disclaimer about how farming in nvhm or tvhm is unnecessary as your gear will be out leveled quickly

(The Bearer of Pie and Best user of English) #5

[color=orange]Legendary[/orange]
Just found this I know you already know how to.fix this


(No longer caustic!) #6

I’m confident that we’ll stick this as soon as it’s done.


(Is this thing on?) #7

I am not so confident of when it will be done, though!

Can you lend me a monocle, perchance? :wink:


#8

Thank you for starting this thread! :grinning: Just a few comments based on my own experiences as a new(ish) player (not sure I really count as “new” still).

You clarify this later when you talk about Best Minion Ever, but I think it would be worth adding here too. I’d phrase this as something like “When you restart your game, you will always spawn at the last Fast Travel location you passed, or the entrance to the zone if you haven’t reached the Fast Travel location yet. You will NOT spawn at the last New U.”

I don’t think elemental weapons always do have splash, though. Isn’t that the main difference between the Hornet (splash) and Teapot (no splash)? Or the Hellfire (splash) and a regular Maliwan SMG (no splash)?

From a new player perspective, I think splash is a secondary concern anyway, the key point we need to learn is element matching. If a gun has splash too, that’s just an extra bonus.

Hmm. As a new player, I found respawns to happen all the freakin’ time! :smiley: I probably tend to be a more slow and methodical player than most, but then again new players will naturally be much slower than veterans.

I’d suggest rephrasing that as something like “enemies will eventually respawn behind you though, so don’t take too long.”


(Pandora's Industrial Engineer) #9

You’re correct on everything else, I just wanted to say they both have splash. Nice points and phrasing. :acmaffirmative:


#10

Ah, you’re right. I had misremembered Derch’s video about Dahl red text pistols. Upon re-viewing, the distinction was that the Hornet/Teapot do have splash (as you say), and the regular non-red-text Dahl corrosive pistols do not have splash. That’s what I get for posting without double-checking…


(Is this thing on?) #11

There’s probably some stuff I still need to clarify on that though (elemental vs. splash). Maybe in the next section, though.


(Is this thing on?) #12

Thanks - fixed those things.


(Is this thing on?) #13

Vault Hunting 101: Borderlands 2 Basics for New Players Part 2

Your spoiler-free guide to characters, gear, loot, quests, and skills for your first play-through, covering Sanctuary to Bloodshot Ramparts.

Continuing the Normal Vault Hunter Mode (NVHM) play-through from Part 1 of this guide. As before, cyan headings denote missions, while other colours denote main sections, gear and weapons, or skills entries. If you find any errors, parts that are unclear, or just have a question, highlight the relevant bit and hit the “quote reply” button to post a message; I’ll try and respond to everything in a timely manner.

Special thanks to the following for comments and corrections: @Gut0nez, @Worblehat, @khimerakiller

Outline:


Sanctuary

If you didn’t do so already, finish exploring Sanctuary, gear up, stock up, assign any BAR tokens or skill points, and pick up the side quest The Name Game if you haven’t already done so. It’s time to head back out to Three Horns Divide! I’m going to assume that you take the Fast Travel to do so, which means you’ll spawn beside the Catch-A-Ride near Snowbound Crossroads, and a good spot to start The Name Game

Three Horns Divide (2)

  • Main Story:
    • Hunting the Firehawk (lvl.8): class mod
  • Side Quests (2):
    • The Name Game (lvl.8): shotgun/shield

The Name Game

When you have this side quest selected as the active mission, you’ll notice that both a primary and secondary objective show up in the top-right of the HUD (just below the minimap.) If you want to check off both, you’ll need to complete the secondary before completing the primary. In this case, the secondary objective applies to the side quest as a whole. It’s pretty easy to complete the secondary straight away though: the area immediately facing you always spawns a few Bullymongs, while the remainder can be found directly behind you by going through the Catch-A-Ride. To complete the primary objective (searching Bullymong piles), you’ll actually need to hit the normal selection button (X/square on console) rather than melee, though.

The remainder of this side quest is pretty straight forward. I’d recommend getting a vehicle, as you may need to explore a bit to find enough Bullymongs to complete the quest. When it comes to shooting their projectiles out of the air, good bets are either your vehicles turret gun, or a high fire-rate, short reload time pistol, SMG, or AR. Once completed, either head back to Sanctuary, or switch to the main story quest and drive towards the map marker. Drive over the bridge, then fight your way through the Marrowfields bandit camp to the map transition for Frostburn Canyon.

Back to table of contents for part 1 or part 2


Combat Basics (2)

If you haven’t already, you’ll encounter some more badass enemies here, so we should talk a little more about combat tactics:

  • Pyro Nomads
    • These guys have an elemental resistance (which you may be able to guess!) Any time you see the word RESIST pop up while shooting an enemy, you’ll know you should probably switch to a different elemental weapon. If you can get behind these guys, a couple of shots can blow up their back-packs…
  • Badass Nomads
    • These guys hide behind a large, spiked shield, making it hard to take them down. There’s a small notch they fire around, which you can hit (if you’re really good.) A better strategy is to use anything that deals explosive or other splash damage, which can get around the shield. If they’re near a barrel, shoot it! They’ll periodically throw up their arms, exposing themselves (no, not like that!) to your bullets.
  • Goliaths (5 levels)
    • These guys are mentioned in some of the hints that show up during load times. If you land a head-shot, it knocks their head off. You have a few moments of animation in which to take them down or they evolve into a higher level version. They can do this up to five times. The value of loot dropped, as well as their health and damage scale with level, so that can be bad, but there’s an interesting side effect that can work to your advantage…

I’ll also come back to something I mentioned in part 1: these enemies will occasionally charge-melee you which, depending on your relative levels, can easily knock you into FFYL. It’s tempting to just start back-pedalling while shooting, but you can not out-run them this way. You can, however, buy yourself some space by jumping backwards, provided that there are no obstacles (walls, cliffs, stairs…) behind you. The other workable strategies are to: (1) hit them with a grenade or explosive shot (stuns them momentarily and breaks the attack); or (2) run sideways in a circle. Option two works well in tight spaces.

Back to table of contents for part 1 or part 2


Frostburn Canyon

Hunting The Firehawk

You enter the map near the Fast Travel and vending machines. Follow the screaming around to the right (!) You can either keep to the right and head down into the lower part of the Incinerator Camp, or pass between the rocks, around the end of the fence, and into the upper portion. You will find plenty of bandits of all flavours, and lots of loot. Note that some spawns only occur when you pass certain points or enter certain buildings, so be on your toes! I usually end up making two or three trips back to the vending machines before continuing. You can also fast travel to and from Sanctuary if you want to stash gear or hit the other vendors.

Once you’ve cleared and looted the Incinerator Camp, head towards the marker at the cave entrance. (Look carefully beside the save point right in the entrance…) Start heading through the cave system (keep to the right at the first fork) following the markers and looting as you go. Also, new enemy types which you may remember if you played Borderlands 1 - Spiderants! You’ll work your way up some flights of metal stairs until you come out in a narrow canyon, and eventually arrive at the Ashmouth Camp. There’s a lot to do and see here, so take your time. Also, plenty of nomads, pyro nomads, and goliaths to play with, along with some carefully hidden loot chests.

Once you’ve done it all, head on into the Lair of the Firehawk, being careful to avoid the traps and NOT fall into the crevasse. (Did you notice the black scorch marks? No? Bet you will next time!) You’ll eventually reach an area with a couple of vending machines: this is a good time to pause and do some trading. Once you’re ready, continue into the main lair across the bridge towards some pretty badass looking Bruisers to trigger the cut-scene and find out that the Firehawk is really Ha! Bet you thought I was going to tell you!.

After some dialogue and interactions, you’ll be into a fairly intense fight, in which you will be somewhat aided by the Firehawk. I say, “Somewhat”, because the Firehawk is a bit of a kill-stealer: not the end of the world, unless you were just about to second-wind off that particular enemy… There are a few ammo chests in the area if you run low. You can beat a retreat back to the vending machines but be warned: the psychos will follow you back there, where they will spawn-camp you should you die. Just remember the tactics mentioned above, and you should be ok. Just don’t accidentally jump off the edge of one of the platforms or the bridge!

Once you hand this mission in, the main story advances to A Dam Fine Rescue (lvl.12) and you’re ready to head out back to the Fast Travel and head back to Sanctuary. This also unlocks the side quests Cult Following: Eternal Flame (lvl.8, four parts) and In Memoriam (lvl.11), both of which can be obtained from The Firehawk!.

Back to table of contents for part 1 or part 2


Eridium and Upgrades

You will have already purchased at least one item from Crazy Earl in the Black Market in Sanctuary. You’ll probably have (or soon will have) enough eridium to purchase additional storage deck upgrades (SDUs) to increase the ammount of ammo you can carry, as well as extra storage in you inventory and the bank vault.

A few important notes:

  • Purchasing ammo SDUs also adds that type of ammo into your storage, so don’t stock up on ammo first!
  • The Backpack SDUs add three slots each; this is the one in the “item of the day” position
  • The Bank SDUs only add two slots each; this is the one in the same list as the ammo SDUs

Different tiers of SDU cost increasing amounts of eridium, as you might expect: White = 4; Green = 8; Blue = 12; Purple = 16; and Orange = 20. The UVHM expansions added additional tiers costing even more eridium. The maximum number of backpack slots you can get is 39 (in addition to your final total of 4 weapons and 4 equipment slots).

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Comparing Class Mods

Class mods (also called COMs for “Class Optimization Module” in Borderlands 1) are an equipment item that provide static boosts to player statistics. That is, the boosts are persistent while the class mod is equipped, and do not require a kill to activate. This includes things like maximum health, shield stats, accuracy, etc., but may also include health or ammo regeneration (either individual or team!), or boosts to the performance of specific weapon types.

Further, green and higher rarity class mods will apply additional skill points to specific skills within the characters skill tree. As a result, it is possible to get more than the apparent maximum number of points in any skill (up to a maximum of 11/5 in the case of high level blue rarity class mods.) Class mods in NVHM will add fewer points than those obtained in the other modes. The number of skills that get boosted depends on the rarity:

  • White (common) - no skills boosted (stats only)
  • Green (uncommon) - one skill boosted (plus stats)
  • Blue (rare) - two skills boosted (plus stats)
  • Purple (very rare) - three skills boosted (plus stats)
  • Orange (legendary) - four to six skills boosted (plus stats)

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Action Skills (2):

By now you should be closing in on level 11. If you put 5 points into the same skill tree, this means you will be able to start looking at the second tier skills. (Reminder: Axton, Gaige, Krieg, Maya, Salvador, and Zer0.) Whether you do so with your next skill point, or after selecting a few more first tier skills, now is a good time to talk a little more about skills and builds:

  • Axton: while Laser Sight looks great on paper, it turns out to not work that well. You’ll get more out of spending your skill points elsewhere.
  • Gaige: Buck Up is ok, but sometimes Deathtrap will try to recharge your shields while you are in FFYL instead of killing something for you; The Stare is OK in NVHM, but doesn’t scale well later on.
  • Krieg: Only take Bloody Revival if you intend to concentrate on AR weapons. Early on, I’d go more with the assumption that you will use whatever are the best weapons you have at the time.
  • Maya: Even if you are playing co-op, I’d suggest starting Wreck before Restoration; I’d personally take Immolate over Helios, but it probably doens’t matter too much in NVHM.
  • Salvador: again, personal preference, but I’d suggest All I Need Is One over I’m Your Huckleberry, and Last Longer over All In The Reflexes
  • Zer0: Be Like Water encourages a very fluid play-style for hybrid gun-melee builds but isn’t as much use if you’re focussing solely on sniper or melee; Ambush and Grim will work on any build.

A few comments on the above. First, you’ll notice that a number of the second tier skills are kill skills; that is, they activate when you kill an enemy, and give you a temporary boost to certain stats. You can tell when these have activated because a gold icon will light up above or below your XP bar.

Second, one of the things to consider in selecting skills is how they synergise with your equipment, your preferred play-style, and the other skills you choose. Good synergy means getting the most out of your skill points. Finally, if you look at the skill guides for each character, you’ll often see some skills marked as “sub-par” or “bad”. This typically reflects the fact that the damage dealt by the skills doesn’t scale well in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (UVHM); they may well work fine in NVHM, though. Back to the story…

Back to table of contents for part 1 or part 2


Cult Following (Four Parts)

Before we move on to the next map, there is one more side quest in Frostburn Canyon worth completing: Cult Following. There are four parts to this, each having it’s own reward. The final part yields the legendary shield, the Flame of the Firehawk When depeleted, this shield fires repeated incendiary novas until it starts recharging. I would recommend completing this quest now, just because the shield will get you through some critical missions fairly soon. In TVHM or UVHM, though, I’d save it until you had completed the story and reached max level. You can still do parts 1 to 3 at this stage; if you want to save the shield for later, though, be very careful to NOT accept part 4 after turning in part 3.

If you didn’t already pick this mission up, talk to the Firehawk, then head back to Frostburn Canyon and speak to Incinerator Clayton just outside the Incinerator Camp.

Part 1 - Eternal Flame: this is easily done in the top level of the incinerator camp Incinerator Camp, provided that you’re careful and don’t go rushing all the way in. Remember that enemies that are shielded or resist fire damage can have their health whittled down using non-elemental weapons first; just finish them off with a fire weapon (Maliwan pistols and SMGs are good for this mission.) Report back to Incinerator Clayton to turn in and collect part 2.

Part 2 - False Idols: head back towards the Fast Travel but keep to the far right and head up slope. Fight your way through the camp, then continue on down the hill to kill the false idol. You’ll want to use explosive weapons and grenades if you have them. Note that this repeatable boss has a chance to drop the legendary incendiary SMG, the Hellfire. You can either had back the way you came, or continue across the ice shelf: rounding the corner will reveal two paths - the nearer leads to a set of metal stairs and a series of camps that run along the cliffs above the Incinerator Camp, while the farther cave entrance actually takes you back into the cave system you ran through for the Firehawk mission. I take both routes :smile:

Part 3 - Lighting the Match: this takes you back to Southern Shelf; take the Fast Travel to Liar’s Berg and then run down through Gateway Harbor and the Wreck of the Ice Sickle (Boom’n’Bewm) all the way up to the Soaring Dragon (Captain Flynt). This should be easier since you will be 1 or 2 levels above most of the enemies, but don’t take things for granted! After killing Captain Flynt again, give Matchstick what he wants and head back. A quick return can be had by jumping down from the upper deck to the camp, running through to the Ice Sickle, jumping over its side in turn, and hoofing it across the ice back to Liar’s Berg.

Part 4: The Enkindling: The totems you need to ignite are located (1) right beside you at Incinerator Clayton; (2) up in the Blisterpuss Camp (on the way to Scorch); and (3) down in the Incinerator Camp near the cave entrance. After igniting them, take the same route as for the Firehawk mission to Ashmouth Camp. Clear all the baddies out, talk to Incinerator Clayton, then follow directions as the end of the mission unfolds. Once everything is done, return to Sanctuary, turn in to the Firehawk, and pick up In Memoriam.

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Three Horns Divide (3)

One more side quest in Three Horns Divide, and it’s on with the main story again!

In Memoriam

Peel right immediately out of the Three Horns Divide Catch-A-Ride and follow road. Look for a path on the left up through cliff just before bridge you took to the Frostburn Canyon exit. Kill the spy, a repeatable boss by the name of Boll who can drop the legendary grenade mod, the Fastball. You’ll need to retrieve his echo logs: The first is close by just outside Boll’s camp (look up for a glowy green bit); the second is just off Snowbound Crossroads (again, look for a gren glowy thing to activate); the last is at the far end of Thirty Below (see part 1). Go to Sanctuary to collect your reward, then head back out to resume the story. To continue, you’ll need to move on to Three Horns Valley

Back to table of contents for part 1 or part 2


Three Horns Valley

There are two map transitions from Three Horns Divide to Three Horns Valley, both on the west side of the map. The easiest route is to peel left immediately out of the Three Horns Divide Catch-A-Ride and head to the marker. Note that both exits are connected by a tunnel, though, so it really doesn’t matter which you go. Once in the valley, you’ll be able to tackle a number of additional side-quests:

  • Main Story:
    • A Dam Fine Rescue (lvl.12): eridium
  • Side Quests (4):
    • No Vacancy (lvl.8): skin
    • Medical Mystery (lvl.8, 2 parts): E-tech pistol
    • Assassinate the Assassins (lvl.8) (Southpaw Steam & Power): pistol/SMG and chance for various uniques/SMG
    • Neither Rain Nor Sleet Nor Skags (lvl.8): AR/grenade

Assuming you went through the nearest (northern) exit, you’ll enter Three Horns Valley facing the dam which constitutes the Bloodshot Stronghold. You’ll also notice another side quest marker (!) on the map, between you and your target and a little off to the right. You’ll need to take this quest in order to enable the map’s Fast Travel, as well as power up a set of vending machines and another Catch-A-Ride.


No Vacancy

Pick up the echo log from the bulletin board, and listen to the message. Scooter will suggest you get things powered up; simply follow his directions then head out to the various locations marked on your map. It doesn’t matter which order you do them in. I like to go back to the entrance and grab the last one first; although it’s pretty easy at this point, on higher modes you may end up losing your vehicle, and there’s a working Catch-A-Ride right by the map transition should you need it. You’ll end up driving through multiple skag areas along the way: remember that you can stun them by running over them!

Note that the most southerly pump is located in The Frostsprings, near both Doc Mercy’s lair and Southpaw Steam & Power (the locations for the other two side-quests you picked up in Sanctuary). Once you’ve got all the parts, head back to the Happy Pig Motel and get things powered up! Once you turn this side-quest in, you’ll immediately be offered another - “Neither Rain Nor Sleet Nor Skags”. This is one of only a couple of side quests that I never take in any mode. It’s a mission against the clock, and I find this particular one extremely annoying. If you want to do it, you’re on your own! I’m going to suggest that you complete Medical Mystery for Doctor Zed next. You should buy/trade at the Happy Pig vending machines first, though.

Back to table of contents for part 1 or part 2


Medical Mystery

There are two primary entrances to Doc Mercy’s lair (officially known as Shock Fossil Cavern); either one is fine, but I usually take the one already mentioned near The Frostsprings.

You’ll need to mow down a bunch of bandits first; watch out for barrels and fuel tanks, and use them to your advantage! Once you’ve cleared the red dots, approach the map marker with caution: there’s plenty of ammo here should you need it, but once you start climbing the stairs Doc Mercy will appear. He’s basically a badass nomad with one of those metal shields (like the ones in Frostburn Canyon, except he also has a shield (blue bar above health bar), and a bunch more health. If you should die (like I did writing this because I shot an explosive round directly into a wall), you’ll likely respawn at the Happy Pig; if you were travelling by vehicle, just go to the Catch-A-Ride and choose Teleport to Vehicle directly to save time. Note that Doc Mercy is a repeatable boss who has a chance to drop the legendary repeating pistol, the Infinity.

Medical Mystery: X-Com-municate

Examining the fallen Doctor’s corpse turns in the mission and starts part 2, which introduces you to the wonders of E-tech weapons. These weapons are treated as a separate category of equal rarity to purple gear, but have some interesting and unique properties. Open your inventory, select the weapon you’ve just been given by accepting the mission, equip it into one of your weapon slots, and pause to read the item card. You’ll notice that (1) it’s a type of Blaster (most all e-tech assault rifles are called blasters); (2) it consumes 2 ammo per shot; (3) it has a very large magazine; but (4) it is a very long reload time. This makes it somewhat annoying to use (and more so on higher modes as the weapon damage doesn’t scale well.) The key thing to remember is that the killing blow has to be from this (or another e-tech) weapon; you can damage them with any weapon first.

To make things more effecient, make sure you are not wearing a spike or nova shield, and avoid depolying your turret (Axton) or robot (Gaige). To avoid taking too much melee dmage during the long reload time, you can jump over enemies attacking you and run away! You’ll almost certainly run out of targets in Shock Fossil Cavern but, if you came via The Frostsprings, the power plant is just outside and there are a bunch more in the exterior portion of the plant. If you run out of ammo (quite likely, unless you play Salvador), head back to the Happy Pig to reload; the bandits near the motel should also respawn by now. Finally, there’s a whole village of them west of the cluster of steam pumps you visited earlier, at Split Skull Bay (where the mail deliver side quest takes place). Once you’ve filled your quota, either detour to Sanctuary via the Happy Pig fast travel, or press on…

Back to table of contents for part 1 or part 2


E-Tech Weapons

As mentioned above, E-tech weapons are very rare drops found throughout the game. While they can be non-elemental (like the mission weapon in X-Com-municate they are more likely to be either acid, fire, shock, or slag. Some missions also have blue unique e-tech weapons as rewards or boss drops. If you find an e-tech weapon, it’s worth taking it to the shooting range at Marcus Munitions to test out, since they have unique firing patterns and behaviours. Most important to note is the sticky, delayed detonation characteristic of the pistols (spikers and darts) and some shotguns (splatguns). The plasma casters are particular favourites for many players due to both their splash damage and damage over time (DoT).


Assassinate the Assassins

Take the Fast Travel to Three Horns Valley, and grab a vehicle to Southpaw Steam & Power. Clear the outer compound, then head inside to access the map transition. Once inside, you’ll find the map Fast Travel and a couple of vending machines. The map itself is essential a large square, with a series of gates that only unlock once you’ve killed each assassin.

As you work your way through the map, watch for Jack’ audio - let it play before continuing if you don’t want to miss anything. There are MANY barrels in this map! The optional mission objectives to kill each assassin with a specific weapon (pistol, sniper, melee, and shotgun) can be tricky, but remember that only the final shot needs to be from the designated weapon. All four assassins (Wot, Oney, Reeth, and Rouf) have a chance to drop the legendary SMG, the Emperor, or their designated blue unique weapons. Using the optional mission objective weapon doesn’t affect their drop chance for either weapon. Once you completed the mission and handed it in, the assassins are repeatable, although the map - and the level of the drops - remains locked in NVHM.

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The Dust (1)

  • Main Story:
    • A Dam Fine Rescue
  • Side Quests (2):
    • Positive Self Image (lvl.13-30) See note
    • Too Close for Missiles (lvl.13-30) See note

Back in business! Take a vehicle to the Bloodshot Stronghold gate in Three Horns Valley, and follow instructions: Honk your horn, pull back, and wait for your cue. Go through the adjacent map transitiontransition The Dust, and make for Ellie’s Garage. More spiderants! More Buzzards! Monster Trucks! When you find the garage, there will be an introductory cut-scene, and then you can talk to Ellie.

Talk to Ellie, and follow quest directions. There are three main areas for bandit technical, marked by area way points on your map. Since they are on a respawn timer, you may want to save-quit/restart if they don’t appear. Remember that you can both boost and brake your vehicle, which can be helpful when chasing the bandit technicals. Once you get all the parts, return to Ellie to unlock both the bandit technical in the Catch-A-Ride and the optional side-quest Positive Self Image (this yields a blue rarity relic which won’t be useful for a while.) Get a bandit technical, and head back to the Bloodshot Stronghold gate. Honk, go in, clear the bandits, and kill yet another giant badass nomad. Enter the map transition to unlock Bloodshot Stronghold in the Fast Travel. The next part of the story is pretty lengthy, so now is a good time to head to Sanctuary and hit the vendors, bank, and black market for upgrades.

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Continues in Part 3: Bloodshot Ramparts to End of the Line


(The Bearer of Pie and Best user of English) #14

Are you going to add all these to the original post or is there a character/length limit


(Is this thing on?) #15

I’ve been debating that, and actually asked the mods for their opinions. The problem is that, for the entire run through to the end of NVHM it would end up as one monster of a post, and no-one I’ve talked to knows if Discourse does indeed have a limit for individual posts. The other thing is that finding the spot you need to edit gets harder the longer the post is.

One other practical consideration: it’s really hard to write this without including significant spoilers about characters and, as a consequence, the story line. To reduce that, I figure making a set of separate posts means no-one is going to read all the way through before even starting the game!

This actually applies to fight tactics too, which I’ve been giving some consideration to. I don’t want to tell people how to complete each fight since (a) they might prefer to figure it out themselves and (b) there are probably more ways to do so than I know about. But for folks who do get stuck, it would be nice to link to descriptions in the spoilers section. If you’re interested, that’s something that a bunch of people could collaborate on easily, so we could probably do that once our current projects are completed.


(The Bearer of Pie and Best user of English) #16

If you do need other peoples help in a specific section/s than I would be happy to help. Also yeah I get what your saying this post would be massive but heck I have 1500+ hours in the game and I’m still reading the whole thing, also spoilers could be a problem I guess.


(I ate the skag that ate my homework) #17

First of all… Great job! Been thinking about doing something like this for a while now, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as good as this. Glad you beat me to it! :smiley:

This simply HAS TO BE PINNED!

Not on Krieg or Gaige.


(Influencer Guy) pinned #18

(Influencer Guy) #19

PINNED! Nice work, @VaultHunter101!


(Is this thing on?) #20

Thanks - will update tonight. I do have links to the release trailers and Krieg’s short. I should probably add a link to the Gaige pre-release echoes too - anyone know of a good collection?

Hey, @JoeKGBX: Any discussion at GBX about making equivalent videos for the original four, as a game anniversary thing? Because that would be totally awesome…