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Borderlands 2

May 20, 2013

Dear Reader,

All my waiting finally paid off.  Bordlerlands 2 was about 13.50 this past week, and I snatched it up.  I kept waiting to hear the police coming to arrest me, because at that price I stole this thing.

I had heard a lot of buzz around the “bee” shield when the game first launched, partly from one of my buddies, Kaleedity, who’s a frequent commentator here.  I went to ask him what that precisely meant.  Apparently there was some very over-powered feature that allowed an item to power up all your shots.  No thanks, though; I don’t like things that make the game to easy.

And too easy it was not.  Perhaps from playing Warframe, where you’re virtual gods, my buddy and I were dying rather frequently at the start of the game.  Unlike Warframe, Borderlands 2 requires some actual care and strategy.  I strongly suspect that says a lot about the free to play model; that when you’re asking people to just keep playing in hopes of them spending money, you have to make the game super easy.  Having been blasting our way with ease through that, my buddy and I had to do a skill check to bring ourselves into alignment with the new system.

I played the Siren, since I almost always play ninja characters and wanted to do something different this time.  My buddy picked Commando.  We both went first with some healing talents, since we were struggling a little, but we quickly scaled down our “frontal assault” mentality and ramped up our “take care” strategy.

The game so far is as fun as the first, though the first was a surprise to us so we may actually have liked it more.  The awe, in other words, is gone, but this is still a very solid game, unlike some MMOs that have come along trying to recapture that feeling (Wizardry Online, for example).

In other news, I’m working through the lower level jumping puzzles in Guild Wars 2.  It’s amazing how many I missed my first run through some of the low-level areas.  I consider myself to have a pretty sharp eye, and I’m good and looking at design to figure out what developers were thinking and, thus, hiding from the players.  I found a lot of the Datacrons in SW:toR just by looking for places to climb.  I’m usually the one to spot things in team games (though my wife found 3 things I didn’t on the first board of Magicka, so day-mn!).  The fact that I walked RIGHT PAST 3 puzzles in Caledon forest shocked me.

So yes, I’m looking up where the puzzles are, but I’ve worked my way through all of them without a guide, though the 4th jumping puzzle in Caledon took me 3 days to do since I kept failing at a jump near the end and falling to my death.  I like that aspect of the game, and it translates well to Borderlands, where there are many hidden areas with special weapon or mod chests hidden up above to find as rewards.

I also won my second game of Endless Space.  I’ve lost 3 and won 2 now; I could easily plow through another science win, but I’m trying different approaches.  I got a “diplomacy” win (the victory I’d lost 2 of 3 times to) in my most recent game; apparently you get it just for being at peace long enough.  I was easily set up for a cultural or supremacy win, though, as I was dominating the galaxy in both those aspects, too.

At any rate, it’s going to be a long summer with a lot of gameplay in front of us, so I look forward to sharing it with you!

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and playing)

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. kaleedity permalink*
    May 20, 2013 11:40 am

    Borderlands 2 is very samey, it has a few inventory annoyances (minor quality of life things, mind you), and it has a hard-to-wrap-your-head-around mechanic in second wind that kind of drives everything in the difficulty design. Somehow, it manages to make the whole thing consistently fun.

    There’s also a lot of things outside of the player’s notice, like

    —All players of all levels have an innate cooldown-like-ability that goes off if you take a massive amount of damage. Instead of immediately going into second wind, you survive with no shields and 5% health. It has a one or more minute cooldown and is completely abstracted from the player.
    —Many guns’ abilities are not reported that well. Most “Bonus elemental” damage weapons don’t do any bonus damage outside of the burning/corroded/shock damage caused by the DoT on the weapon. Torgue explosive rifles/pistols/shotguns (the ones that are really annoying to shoot because they shoot slow moving bullets) often fire a specific kind of projectile that does its listed weapon damage twice in a single shot — damaging once for impact and once for being near the tiny explosion. This makes Torgue weapons super powerful if you don’t mind the slow projectile.
    —:Slag debuffed enemies take 4x damage in UVHM (“Hell difficulty”). Previous difficulties have it cause 2x damage.
    —Weapon types have hidden innate crit damage bonuses; sniper rifles crit for more than 2x damage for anyone using them.
    —Melee can reset the reload on weapons (just like I complained about in BL1!) but it’s much less abusable than the previous version. That is, you can melee if your UI ammo shows your magazine as reloaded and you’ll finish the reload animation faster. Slightly faster.
    —A lot of the explanation of mechanics in talents is omitted. For instance, take Krieg’s penultimate talent in the Mania tree — Silence the Voices. It grants a huge melee damage bonus for permanently dealing with having a ~1/8th chance of hitting yourself instead of swinging a melee attack. If it dealt myself my actual melee damage, it would oneshot me for ten times my health. Fortunately, it only hits you for 1/8th of your max health in damage regardless of how hard you hit your enemies.

    I was challenged to catch up to a coworker this weekend and hit 46 on Krieg. I could probably write a good bit on why Assassination Zer0 (set up for melee) is designed infinitely worse as a melee character than any flavor of Krieg, but that’s gonna have to be for another time.

  2. Samus permalink
    May 20, 2013 2:09 pm

    I really like Borderlands 2, but one of my biggest complaints is the severe lack of balance between weapons. At one point, I upgraded my 500 damage weapon to one dealing 1400 damage per shot. They were both green quality, only 2 levels difference, and no major differences in other factors (like shot delay, magazine size, etc.). Yet I am suddenly doing basically triple the damage I was before picking it up.

    So you can imagine how this makes the game difficulty very erratic. Early game difficulty problems are basically due to the fact that you haven’t picked up an overpowered weapon yet.

    This also has an interesting (and annoying) side effect that you essentially don’t get to choose what weapon type to use. Want to focus on using rifles? Too bad, this pistol does 3 times as much damage. Use that or be gimped.

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