[Guide] Borderlands 2 Basics for New Players

I found that moving to any of the stairs works well for avoiding the laser phases.

Interesting design article, I had no idea the game was doing such shenanigans with us in there! :smiley:

As cracked.com pointed out in one of their articles, the “Bad News” you’re carefully not spoiling was foreshadowed as blatantly as possible earlier in the game. So to me at least it doesn’t have much impact, pretty much “eh, that’s unfortunate, onwards to the next quest!”

Do you think it would be worth a note that the reward for Bearer of Bad News can have elemental damage and might be worth farming for damage type and parts? I didn’t know it could be elemental until my fourth playthrough, so only had the chance to use a fire version fairly briefly in TVHM.

My only comment on the previous parts of the current section is that I thought the goliath tactic for the Slab fight was to only pop the helmet off of one. I’ve read that that’s a good way to get a God-liath, but it hasn’t worked when I’ve tried it (I got the Steam achievement in that goliath vs. spiderant valley out behind Ellie’s place in The Dust). Does it take two enraged goliaths to make sure that one will live long enough to level up and start tearing through the other Slabs?

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A matter of personal preference. I didn’t think about the achievement when I wrote that, just clearing the map effeciently. The trick for the achievement is obviously to weaken anything the hatless goliath is attacking so the goliath doesn’t get killed in the process. I should probably add that in.

On the Scorpio: I don’t know about NVHM so much, and on higher levels I usually have something else anyway. A slag Scorpio is a nice weapon to have, though. I should at least link to the wiki for that so folks can read up on it and make their own call.

Nice guide- congrats on making it… :thumbsup:

Great guide. I do have one question though. Why do you say to never delete a character? Does doing so mess up your profile progress in some way?

No. It’s because you may change your mind later and want to play that character; this way, you don’t have to start all over from the beginning. People often either don’t know, or forget, that you can respec so they delete and start again because they didn’t like the way the character was working out.

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Vault Hunting 101: Borderlands 2 Basics for New Players

Part 6 of your spoiler-free guide to characters, gear, loot, quests, and skills for your first play-through, covering Sawtooth Cauldron to Heroes Pass.

Continuing the Normal Vault Hunter Mode (NVHM) play-through from parts 1-5 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: @Piemanlee, @kuhchung


Sanctuary (6)

As usual, we’ll start with a quick round up of newly unlocked side quests:

  • Dr. Zed (clinic)
    • Monster Mash (Part 1 pf 3) (Lvl. 27): green AR/Grenade (initially)
  • Sam Matthews (! marker in Sanctuary)
  • Marcus (store)
  • Brick (Crimson Raiders HQ)
    • Capture the Flags (lvl.27): green rarity skin

Dr. Zed’s Monster Mash quests are fun, and ultimately unlock an additional repeatable boss in Frostburn Canyon that has a chance to drop the legendary adaptive shield the [color=orange]Neogenator[/color]. You might as well do BFFs since it’s nearby, fast, and gives a decent shield. The [color=steelblue]Evil Smasher[/color] (from Marcus’ quest) was highly prized by some players when the game first came out due to a glitch that made it insanely over-powered. That glitch was patched out a while ago. It’s not bad if you’re short a powerful AR and looking for one, and you can do this quest while continuing the main story. If you’re concerned about over-levelling though, you can easily skip this one. The side quests in The Dust should also now be level 27 as long as you haven’t accepted them.

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Toil and Trouble (1)

Head to The Dust, grab your vehicle of choice from Ellie’s, and head to the map transition to Eridium Blight at the end of a canyon in the far north-west extent of map. Once you’re in the Eridium Blight, boot down the road to the bounty board, Catch-A-Ride and Fast Travel location. It’s a good idea to jump out here and at least check out the bounty board side quests:

  • Marcus:
    • Customer Service (lvl.27): pistol/grenade mod
  • Handsome Jack:
    • To Grandmother’s House We Go (lvl.27): purple rarity skin
    • Kill Yourself (lvl.27): 12 Eridium
  • Mal: (! marker at Ore Chasm map exit)
    • A Real Boy: Clothes Make the Man (lvl.27): sniper/shield

The first of these is a timed driving mission, which I usually hate. This one is pretty easy, though: your choice. The Handsome Jack side quests reveal more about your would-be nemesis and are fairly straight-forward, especially the second one. The last quest is the first of a set which ultimately gives you a chance to quest-farm the blue unique pistol, the [color=steelblue]Fibber[/color]. This pistol comes in a variety of types, making it hard to farm for the exact one you might want, but it is an extremely effective weapon - especially for Gaige when combined with Close Enough.

If you decide to do any of these quests now, it’s worth completing the current stage of the main story first. Just along the road from the bounty board you’ll see a large gate on the right with a turret up top beside it. Drive up to the gate and go through when it opens, then follow the road down hill to Bruiseboulder Quarry. Watch out for a very large bullymong called [color=orangered]King Mong[/color] on your right; this is a repeatable boss with a chance to drop the legendary rocket launcher, the [color=orange]Badaboom[/color]. Continue along the road to the bridge with a turret on it to trigger an event and dialogue from Mordecai and Brick. You’ll need to go back the way you came, but you can turn off along the way and go up to the ! marker to collect the first part of A Real Boy; this will take you to some of the locations you’ll also need to hit for the other side quests and to advance the main story.

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Eridium Blight

I’m going to assume that you’ll pick up and complete A Real Boy, To Grandmother’s House and Kill Yourself to complete while getting to the next main story location, as these are easily done now. First off, to find Mal turn around from the blocked bridge to the Arid Badlands and head west along the road. You’ll see a dirt path leading up into the cliffs, where the ! quest marker is in the Human Dwelling Place. Talk to Mal to start that quest, then head back to the road and turn north up the hill to the first large gate you encountered on this map.

A Real Boy (1):

Drive up to and pass through the gate back to the northern half of Eridium Blight. Turn right and head east along the road to the curve and over the next bridge (also with a turret beside it). Continue straight ahead between the purple-fume-spewing cone and a rock pile marking the edge of the map. Head towards the bandit camp with the Catch-A-Ride, passing the map transition to Sawtooth Cauldron on your right. Once cleared, continue on across the girder bridge and pull up by the New-U save point. Pass through the narrow gateway across the footbridge and enter Mount Hellsfont. You’ll find the items you need by clearing the bandit camp that’s on your left.

Kill Yourself:

Head back down the hill but go left instead of right; you’ll see a ladder going up to Lover’s Leap, but check inside shack before completing this side quest! Yeah, it really is that stupid, and makes no sense form a story point-of-view, but it’s easy eridium. You’ll respawn right beside your vehicle; head back the way you came and stop off at the bounty board for your reward.

A Real Boy (2):

Return to Mal for your choice of sniper rifle or shield, and pick up part 2 (Face Time). Head back to the gate between the two halves of the map. If you look up at the tower before you go through, you’ll notice a glowing switch - shoot this to unlock a secret area on the other side of the gate.

If you drive straight across the road and immediately turn right and drive around the large rock, you’ll see an opening underneath the road that leads to Infested Grotto. This is one of the easily missed areas that you’ll need to discover for the map explorer achievement/trophy. You know what to do. (Also, that “Infested” means “Proceed with caution”…)

To get to the next side quest objective, there are a couple of routes. If you already completed the main story through Sawtooth Cauldron (see below), you should be able to go west along the main road and turn north across the bridge with the drop-section to the western-most way-point; otherwise, you’ll need to turn east and head back to the camp near the Sawtooth Cauldron map transition.

Assuming the second option, go to the eastern-most way-point for the first item, then continue on to the New-U save point you stopped at in part 1. Grab the second item from Mount Hellsfont, then head back to your vehicle and keep going across the lava flow; bear left up the hill, then drop down another metal deck to reach the western-most way-point and clear the Slagma Vapor Extraction camp to get the third item. Continue south up the hill and double-back into the Slagma Refinery for the fourth item. Make sure you stop before the last building on the right and do not park on the metal deck overlooking the lava flow below you (unless you enjoy watching wonky game textures at work!) There’s a footpath up to the right of the last building to the fifth item.

To Grandmother’s House:

If you’re also doing this mission, head back out of the Slagma Refinery and continue up to the left to Grandma’s House. You’ll have to do the final approach on foot; keep your eyes peeled! The actual entrance to the house is around the back. This side quest raises deep questions, like “Grandma, what big biceps you have” and “Is this a buzz-axe I see before me?” Once you’re done here, you can either go back to the bounty board or finish off A Real Boy: Face Time. If the drop-bridge is down, you can cross there; otherwise, just drive down into the Slag Scar and up the other side beside the drop-bridge back to the main east-west road.

A Real Boy (3):

Return to Mal for your choice of shotgun or SMG, and pick up part 3 (Human). You don’t need to go anywhere for this bit, but do watch out for the barrels. If you’re going to quest-farm the [color=steelblue]Fibber[/color], head into Ore Chasm and return before turning in the mission and save-quit/restart. This way, you can see what version of the [color=steelblue]Fibber[/color] you get when you turn in the mission, quit out without saving if it’s not what you want, then restart at the same spot.

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Toil and Trouble (2): Sawtooth Cauldron

You enter the map near the Fast Travel and a couple of vending machines. About half-way into first village you’ll see a ramp up to the roof of a hut on your right; go up and drop down to Sawtooth Stills right in front of the cave entrance to Smoking Guano Grotto. You can take either the long or short way around this square area; just watch out for the drop into lava in the middle! The fastest way is immediately to the right. There is a New-U save point tucked in to the corner just before the the elevator, where you will also find vending machines; don’t press the elevator call button until you are ready, as you will immediately be in the thick of it. You’ll need to keep going in the same direction anyway, and activating the elevator triggers a pretty intense mob, so I suggest you press ahead.

Keep going counter-clockwise around then up the stairs to the corner opposite the elevator, then turn right up and out to Main Street Reservoir. Fight through the threshers to the village on the far side, and work your way up to Cramfist’s Foundry. There’ll be some turrets up above you to the left, and bandits in the area immediately in front of you. Work your way up the stairs on the left to the upper plateau. Lots of buzzards and bandits here, plus two more turrets on top of the building to your right as you emerge from the staircase. Once done with the mission objective, go back down the stairs to the lower plateau, and head straight across to the conveyor belt heading back into Smoking Guano Grotto. You’ll need to take down Mortar, a repeatable boss who has a chance to drop the legendary [color=orange]Pandemic[/color] corrosive grenade mod. This guy moves fast and likes to jump around a lot; either keep your distance, or close in and hit as hard as possible (e.g. Rockets!). Ascend to The Buzzard Nest! Take down the bandits and buzzards - work each quarter and use the available cover while reloading.

Head back towards the elevator and check your main map: you’ll see a small round blacked-out circle. Jump off the platform on the corner nearest this to discover an otherwise impossible-to-get-to location below. Loot then jump down again back into Main Street reservoir and return to Smoking Guano Grotto. Run straight across and out to Sawtooth Stills. If you want to pick up the other mission on this map, you’ll need to fight your way to the path on the far right (north-east corner) that goes up through the cliffs to get the echo at the ! marker. Note that once you complete the first stage, this unlocks The Lost Treasure (lvl.27), which provides the e-tech unique pistol [color=magenta]The Dahlminator[/color].

Make your way across the floor of the camp (from east to west) and take the stair cases back up to a path heading up hill towards the very first camp you encountered (directly below The Buzzard Nest.) You’ll spawn more buzzards and bandits, but you can now fight your way back to the starting point and take the map transition back to Eridium Blight. Grab a vehicle from the nearby Catch-A-Ride and make your way back to the south side of the map and the bridge to the Arid Nexus - Boneyard map transition.

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Arid Nexus Boneyard

When you arrive, jump out of your vehicle and use the communications post to turn the mission in. This advances the main story to Data Mining and unlocks the side-quest This Just In which I recommend you take now.

This Just In

Take the Fast Travel back to Sanctuary and accept the side quest from Mordecai both for the eridium and for the chance to get the legendary amp shield, the [color=orange]Bee[/color] from the propagantastic host of the Hyperion radio broadcasts. The Hyperion Truth Network is just across from the Catch-A-Ride and Fast Travel in the Arid Nexus - Boneyard. Note that Hunter Hellquist is another repeatable boss: just ignore the colour of the elevator call switch whenever you come back. Make sure you hand this side quest in during the current story mission, or you’ll have to wait until the end to do so.

Data Mining

From the Arid Nexus Boneyard Fast Travel, take a vehicle to the designated spot. You’ll then need to take a tour of various sites around the map where you’ll need to operate a couple of valves. Some of these are in buildings at ground level while one is deep underground. You will, of course, be attacked by Hyperion personal and robots every step of the way, but there are also Hyperion red gun chests in most locations which you should find and check out.

When you’re done at the third location, head towards the marker. Steer to the right of the wind turbine and the large rock pile; you should see a metal ramp ahead of you. Boost up the ramp and you should hit the very large glowing target. Jump out of your vehicle and head on up inside the pipe to the Transmix Regulator Station. Take note of the pit of death immediately in front of you as you come out of the pipe, and work your way to around the shaft to the left to get to the ladder out.

You’ll be attacked pretty much as soon as you emerge from the opening. You can either stay below the overhead decking and go around the building at ground level, or go up and around the deck. Either way, your next marker is around the corner through several waves of Hyperion’s finest. Oh, there may be rakk as well. Hit the map transition to the Arid Nexus - Badlands. You’ll find yourself in an area that looks both familiar and totally different if you played the original Borderlands. You’ll spawn in right beside the Fast Travel for the map. Unfortunately, using the Fast Travel straight away before triggering one of the other map save points means you’ll have to re-enter via the pipeline when you want to come back.

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Arid Nexus - Badlands

If you played the original Borderlands, this map will look very familiar, yet different - it’s like coming home only to find that your Mom has redecorated your room and is renting it out to strangers through AirBnB. If you’ve not experienced BL1, why have you not played such an awesome game already? There are some Dr. Zed lost echoes which, if you’ve played BL1 are fun to collect in order:

  • Go left and around the corner from the Fast Travel to TK Baha’s House. The first echo is in one of the outside sheds.
  • Head north-east towards the large light column and pick up the second echo from a barrel on your way. (You can optionally pick up the recording at the ! along the way to start Hungry Like a Skag.)
  • Enter Fyrestone and fight your way through to the water tower in the centre of town; head up the ramp for echo number three.
  • Continue north-east towards the mission marker until you reach a gate on the far side of Fyrestone. Make immediately for the red and white building straight across from you and grab echo number four from the container.
  • Deke around the south side of the building, make a series of jumps (railing > side roof > main roof) and find the red Dahl chest. Look straight back towards Fyrestone: locate the watch tower with the sparking panel in the town on the far side of the elevated roadway and shoot the panel (use a scoped weapon!) Jump down and immediately head back into town to Dr. Zed’s place for another chest and the final echo.

Note that doing this will trigger at least one New-U save point which should unlock the map’s Fast Travel station. Failing that, dying and respawning also does the trick :frowning:

While you’re in Fyrestone, check the bounty board for another side quest full of original Borderlands references, Uncle Teddy (lvl.28). The quest reward is the [color=steelblue]Lady Fist[/color], a unique pistol available in various elements with an astounding critical hit damage bonus; make sure you turn this mission in at the bounty board for this reward! A second side quest, Get to Know Jack (lvl.28), reveals more of the current back-story.

When you’re ready, head back out of Fyrestone and make straight towards the map marker. There will be a moonshot sound, and a massive loader - the repeatable boss Saturn will land on the road above you. This behemoth will stomp you if you allow it within range, and has a turret on one side. It’s most devastating attack, however, is probably the hoard of homing cruise-missiles it periodically launches at you. These can be shot down as they fly straight at you with something like a shotgun or SMG, but you don’t want to be caught out in the open while reloading. There are several strategies that players have used successfully:

  • Retreat to the Fyrestone gate and use the walls and pillars there for cover; pop out between salvos to fire off the most powerful corrosive weapons you have. There is an extensive wall that runs underneath the roadway you can traverse. Watch out for splash damage from the missiles, though.
  • Use the roadway pillars and small structures dotted around for cover; pop out, fire off as many rounds as possible, then head for cover before the next missile swarm heads your way.
  • Use the read-and-white building for cover, and kite Saturn from one end to the other. Stay as close to the building as possible while you run around during the missile swarms to avoid splash damage or a direct hit.

Of those, the last is my personal favourite. Once you’ve defeated Saturn, nip back to Fyrestone to restock on ammo, then head to the end of the roadway and take the large elevator platform up. Make sure you trigger the New-U save point on the opposite side of the roadway when you come off the elevator. Head along the roadway, taking out the loaders as you go. A badass constructor will drop in at the other end, right outside the building that is your target. This will have turrets on its legs, so shoot those off first while it still has the orange shield protecting its eye.

You’ll have to deal with a few soldiers and robots in the entrance to the Hyperion Information Stockade, then fight your way up to the top floor. Once you’ve dispatched of this first wave, you can climb a ladder to the very top for a red chest, then drop back down to the map marker to the mission objective. As soon as you pick up the mission item, you’ll have to fight off another wave of robots, including two more constructors. If you’re right in front of one of the two balconies on the top floor, their missile barrage and laser beams will quickly bring you down, so use what cover there is wisely. Once all is done, you can either finish up the map side quests, or head straight on back to Sanctuary.

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The Talon of God

Turning in Data Mining advances the main story to The Talon of God. You’ll have the option to talk to many key characters, who will all offer you blue rarity items. Once you talk to Claptrap, though, it will be time to head back to Eridium Blight and find the canyon leading to Heroes Pass.

Drive through the gate dividing the northern and soutern parts of Eridium Blight and head up to the right (watch out for King Mong!. You’ll reach a narrow gate where you’ll have to jump out, then run up and talk to Claptrap. You’ll need to survive multiple waves of Hyerpion robots while Claptrap tries to open the door; make good use of all the cover, and keep moving! Eventually, Claptrap will succeed and you’ll be ready to pass through the map transition to Heroes Pass; wait until Claptrap has exhausted his dialoge, though - it’s pretty good!

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Heroes Pass

Run up the stairs to find the Fast Travel and vending machines. When you’re ready, head in to the obvious entrance to the Guardian Slag Heap. Watch out for cloaked Hyperion soldiers, lots of robots, and numerous barrels, as these are all out to get you. Don’t be afraid to pull back and regroup from time to time should you need to. You’ll need to jump across a gap to get to the Emergency Supply Cache. Fight your way down and across the bridge through several waves of reinforcements. It is possible to take out the turrets on top of the pillars either side of the large force-field protecting Drift Mouth Access, but you’ll need a fairly high damage output sniper rifle or similar. Don’t let the apparent shields over the turrets fool you: just hit each one with as much corrosive damage as possible.

Immediately inside Drift Mouth Access, another constructor will drop in on a roof above and to your right. There’s a Hyperion supply crate you can take cover in directly in front of it; pop out to shoot it in the eye, and deke back inside to avoid missile barrages and reload. Once it’s down, continue fighting your way forward. You’ll get a brief respite at the next New-U save point (where you can see a sign on a building saying “Emergency Supply Cache”) but, once you press on to the next open terrace and bridge you’ll be under attack from the opposite side of the ravine. Depending on how you’re feeling, you can either run down and tackle this wave head-on, or you can stay on the terrace and take each one out from range. Chew through enough reinforcements, and another badass constructor will spawn in at the far end of the pass, protecting the exit to the Vault of the Warrior.

As you move forwards, you’ll come to the head of a ramp down with line of road barriers across the top. If you stand far enough back behind this, the missiles from the constructor can’t hit you, but you can step sideways to get shots off between salvoes; watch out for loaders coming at you both up the ramp and from the side, as well as the inevitable surveyors. You can also run back to the terrace and shoot from there, using the buildings for cover. Once this is down, push forwards through the final waves of reinforcements to the end of the pass.

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To be concluded in Part 7: Vault of the Warrior


You’re missing a closing color tag here.


I was initially missing quite a few more, but I caught those ones when I dropped the text into the edit box!

Oh I know how easy it is to miss tags. :dukewhistle:

Paging @Gulfwulf, @Piemanlee, @Worblehat, @Carlton_Slayer, @anon13808724, @khimerakiller:

I’m almost done with the guide! I’ve added a bit to Part 4, fixed some stuff in Part 5, and I’m now almost all the way through Part 6. Please let me know if you see anything else that needs fixing, that’s too spoilery, or requires clarification. I’ve also got a few things I’m trying to figure out that I’d appreciate your thoughts on:

  1. The side quests in The Dust and Lynchwood (along with certain other select ones) do level up multiple times as long as you don’t accept them. What I’m trying to figure out is whether they do that every time you gain a level, or whether they are updated only after a save-quit/restart. Any idea?

  2. What would be your top recommendations to go in a “What’s Next?” section for after Vault of the Warrior? I think the general consensus is “don’t do all the DLCs”, and was considering suggesting Scarlett and Hammerlock before (or during the start of) TVHM. That said, if you’re already level 30 maybe only one of those is appropriate. Anything else you’d add?

Thanks in advance!

I’ll reread them tomorrow. I know I’m not a new player but these guides are really good.

Under The Fridge:

I would mention the rat bastards and how they’ll steal your money.

Under Combat Basics (4) - Crystalisks:

“any character can do this, but it’s easiest with Zer0”

Under Combat Basics (5) - Stalkers and Threshers:

I believe rabids have a smaller tail than the other stalkers. I don’t know if this translates to a smaller critical hit box though.

Zero can see them while cloaked when Decepti0n is active.

Pyro Threshers are resistant to fire damage. I’d recommend NE or explosive against them.

Loot Midgets can pop out of stalker goo.

Looks good so far, VH. I’ll read over the rest of part four later.

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For the Gluttonous Thresher fight another tip is that you can lure the thresher back to the same location you fought the constructor and use the cover of the stacked boxes- indeed, there’s just enough of a space there that you can use SR to attack both it and the constructor before that (you might want to make it clear that you shouldn’t try to use a fire weapon on a pyro thesher :wink:)…

Doing The Good, the Bad and the Mordecai also unlocks Gettle and Mobley, allowing you to farm a pretty decent AR and the second best SR in the game IMO- newbies might want to know that…

Tip- You can get the first Tannis journal w/o walking out onto the beams (this is the ECHO located on the bridge). Just open the money containers on the table in front of the shack and hold down the button to suck up the cash and you’ll suck up the ECHO from the other side of the wall as well. And there’s a red chest hanging right below that, which took me quite a few play thrus to even notice…

have to get ready to go to work, will add more later- looks good though so far! :thumbsup:


Ooooooo… I really wish I’d known this before! Can’t count the number of times I’ve either missed the jump or got pulled down by a wormhole thresher and ended up down a few $$$$ in the process.

I’m a bit confused by this part. Missiles from the vault?

Editing fail, obviously. Will fix tonight. :blembarrass:

Ok I was worried I’d missed something in an area I’ve been to hunderdes of times

I honestly have no idea. Never payed much attention to that.

The only thing I do after completing normal mode is unlock the Snowman and farm him a couple of times for better on level gear to start TVHM with. You can’t do it too much though, as you can get severely overleveled just by killing him over and over. Then, after completing TVHM, unlocking the Snowman is also the first thing I do in UVHM, just so I have a place to go if I need to upgrade my gear, although I usually don’t need to do it much during the playthrough. I can’t think of anything else that I’d do, so I think the best answer to “what to do after killing the Warrior in normal mode?” would really be “start TVHM”.

I’m gonna carefully re-read the guide throughout the next couple of days. If I remember anything else worth adding or have any suggestions, I’ll post them. But it looks pretty good as of now.

Will you compile the whole thing somewhere for downloading? Also, there are still broken color tags and a few grammatical errors (I would be willing help out with editing, but doing it on the forums is way too painful) but amazing work.

From my experience on NVHM and TVHM, the quests level up when the story line progresses to a point where you cross back through the area or an additional side quest is offered for the area. For example, when the Bane mission comes up, the dust gets leveled up to the story line level. The same happens with caustic caverns when the dahl treasure quest opens up from Sawtooth. Caustic Caverns and Lynchwood appear to increase per level towards the end of the game (around the time you hit the badlands) and increases level as the story increases from there on out (not all missions, but most do). I have only noticed this recently through the newer toons I have been working on, but with the dust, I spent a lot of time farming for Gwen’s Heads with Maya while leveling up through all modes. It has been a while, but the quests do update except for Clan War. That seems to stay the same.

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