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Published on August 29th, 2011 | by Deejay Knight, Editor/Founder

Borderlands 2: PAX Demo Impressions

As Penny Arcade Expo 2011 winds down and people start to make their way back to their homes (myself included), one of the things that carry on with us is reminiscing about the awesome games we’ve seen during the expo. One of the games that carries on for me, as in 2009, has “Borderlands” in its title.

(Enter Age and Refresh to play)

It’s awesome when a company takes feedback from it’s users to make their product better, and Gearbox has done exactly this. They saw what we gamers didn’t like, they took those things to the lab and worked them into something better. Driving, for instance, is due to be better because they overhauled the driving system. They even have four-passenger vehicles, so co-op transportation will be quite a bit easier.

The sequel to the 2009 RPG/Shooter hybrid seems to have taken all the great things that people liked in the original and bumped them up to eleven in the sequel. First things first, the most awesome addition to the world of Pandora is a bit of color. That’s not to say that the desert landscape is gone though. For the desert to completely disappear from the second game would be ridiculous, but one of the first things pointed out and seen during the demo is the fact that there’s more color.

There’s actually green in some environments. Gearbox wanted to add in a more obvious change between territories, and it’s a lot more noticeable now.


Weapons haven’t been forgotten about, either. There were millions of combinations and they’re carrying that tradition over as well. New weapons manufacturers have sprung up in Pandora, including Bandits. Seriously, the Bandits have their own weapon brand now, and in suitable fashion, they’re all MacGyver’ed together using whatever’s on hand. One of the weapons used in the demo used a bolt and a nut for the iron sights.

Yes, I’m being serious here.


Enemies are still as over-the top as ever, and there have been additions to them as well. We saw multiple Arctic Bullymong in the demo, which is a very ape-like creature that hangs out in the frozen tundra. Being massive, they’ll pick up and chuck boulders and ice chunks at you. They’re very agile as well, hanging from icy stalagtites and attacking the player with leaping charges.

The Bullymong was also the first example of the “wounded” state that enemies now have. It may get you to feel a little worse for your enemies to see the them crawling away from you, attempting to get to cover (the AI was also given a nice upgrade from the original), but a swift shot will end their misery and have you off and feeling as chipper as ever.

Considering the Bullymong we saw in the demo are “Arctic” Bullymong, I don’t think it’d be too much of a stretch to see other types of Bullymong pop up in the game. That’d be a nice way to continue on with making areas feel different, but tying them together nonetheless, but that’s just a theory.

From here on out, my impressions include a bit of spoilers if you’re trying to stay story free, so just to be safe, if you don’t want them you might want to stop right… here.


We didn’t get a ton of story info, but I got enough to give you a few notes on it. First, there will be new player characters, but the characters from the original factor into the story very highly. Second, weapons manufacturer Hyperion factors highly into the new game. They’ve become the most powerful company on Pandora, and they aren’t afraid to show it. The story mission we watched had a skirmish between the Bandits, Hyperion’s powerful robots and your controlled character. At the center of this little soiree was our good friend Roland. Hyperion wants him for one reason or another, so they’ve imprisoned him in The Warden – one of their more powerful robots.

Watching the interactions between the enemies gives you a good sense of how much they truly hate each other. Hyperion’s robot minions maim & crush the downed Bandits and have ways of interacting with one another that were a spectacle to watch. Some of Hyperion’s Badass robots (yes, the Badasses have returned) will signal for help when they’re injured, prompting small repair bots to come in and repair them, while also adding another level of difficulty to the game. When you get the bigger enemies into a bind, they’ll call for the big guns. From the moon.

Yes, in true evil corporation fashion, Hyperion has staked claim of the moon. Not satisfied with just owning it, they’ve given it a “Death Star” makeover. There are weapons on it that you can watch get fired – from the moon – and rain down on both your character and the bandits. Once you’ve broken down The Warden far enough, he does what any self-respecting villainous evil genius wishes he could do. He freaking builds a massive robot in seconds with what? Lasers, of course.

That’s about where the demo ended, but all that really did was whet my appetite for more. Don’t be surprised to see me playing more Borderlands in anticipation of the second in the series, even though that might be awhile…

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About the Author

Deejay has been a gamer since the Atari 2600, has wrestled–and defeated–alligators with only his toes, and once aligned all the planets in the Solar System by uttering the words "Coo Coo Ka-Choo". In his sleep. He currently bides his time behind the scenes here at, streaming at and teaching.

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