Thank you for starting this thread! 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! 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.”
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…
(Flying: throwing yourself at the ground and missing)
There’s probably some stuff I still need to clarify on that though (elemental vs. splash). Maybe in the next section, though.
(Flying: throwing yourself at the ground and missing)
Thanks - fixed those things.
(Flying: throwing yourself at the ground and missing)
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.
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)
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.
If you haven’t already, you’ll encounter some more badass enemies here, so we should talk a little more about combat tactics:
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…
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.
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!.
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).
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)
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…
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
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.
One more side quest in Three Horns Divide, and it’s on with the main story again!
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
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:
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Are you going to add all these to the original post or is there a character/length limit
(Flying: throwing yourself at the ground and missing)
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.
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.
Would it be worth putting in there somewhere something about advice on not getting a power level until you’ve played through uvhm at least one time? (I’m pretty sure you guys understand why but new folks may not. A lot of my experience with these requests comes from the handsome collection ps4-xone).
(Flying: throwing yourself at the ground and missing)
I think it’s worth putting in a general comment about power-levelling. The guide is really aimed at the new player going through NVHM with their first character, but that’s probably an even worse time to get power-levelled!
Edit: done, and also completed part 2. Onwards to part 3!
Very nice! A few comments about the most recent section:
You’re missing a ] to close the \color after Catch-A-Ride in the No Vacancy paragraph.
I didn’t find Neither Rain Nor Sleet Nor Skags to be that bad on NVHM. But skipping it is no loss either.
Medical Mystery - for Vault Hunters not named Krieg, there are effectively three entrances. You can geyser up to the rock next to where Doc Mercy appears and fight him alone. Though there’s not much room to maneuver, and he can introduce new players to the existence of transfusion grenades in a rather unpleasant way. I didn’t understand how he was killing me when I was in cover and well outside of grenade blast radius until I checked the wiki afterwards. On the plus side, if one does take him out this way, the spawns for the Blaster part of the quest plus all the guys who are still alive in the main cavern (since you didn’t go in that way and kill everyone) should be enough to finish the quest without further travel.
I share your ambivalence about Assassinate the Assassins. Like many side quests, I did it on my first playthrough and have ignored it ever since.
Thank you for including a note about the Gwen’s Head! I didn’t know that gun existed until my second character was in TVHM, too far along to use it herself by then.
Is Too Close for Missiles to be in part 3? That’s one of my favorite quests in any game ever. But this guide is already incredibly detailed so I completely understand if you need to dial back and start focusing primarily on the main story quests for the rest of it.