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.
- Starting Out
- Southern Shelf & Liar’s Berg
- This Town Ain’t Big Enough
- Comparing Guns
- Comparing Shields
- Comparing Grenades
- Badass Rank
- Action Skills (1)
- Best Minion Ever
- Part 2: Sanctuary to Bloodshot Stronghold
- Part 3: Bloodshot Ramparts to End of the Line
- Part 4: End of the Line to Wildlife Exploitation Preserve
- Part 5: Thousand Cuts to Control Core Angel
- Part 6: Sawtooth Cauldron to Heroes Pass
- Part 7: Vault of the Warior and beyond!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.)
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.
- 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)
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.
Actually, let’s take a look at some of these things in more detail before continuing with the game:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
- Main Story:
- The Road to Sanctuary (lvl.6-7)
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.
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.
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!
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…
- 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)
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.
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.