We got a chance to catch up with 2K at PAX East 2014 to preview Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel; you'll find my hands-off demo impressions below.
The demo took us to a moon where all of the inhabitants are Australian; I imagine the banter will be stimulating. The moon environment is a clear-cut example of how Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel emphasizes elemental effects for weapons and environments more than ever. Looser gravity makes for some entertaining bounds across the map, but it doesn’t stop there. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel introduces Oz Kits, packs that assist with survival in the environment; in the demo, the Oz Kit featured an oxygen pack that gave us a mask (you know, to breathe… in space), and also used the oxygen for multiple purposes such as -- wait for it -- jet-packing. There were a couple of moments when the player had to jetpack between large rocks, but the Oz Kit and subsequent physics work in reverse, too. So when I’m hovering above an enemy, I can press the crouch button and initiate a “ground pound” that will stun the enemy temporarily. Oz Kits can also use the same elements for other purposes, like deploying an oxygen bubble (small radius of air that surrounds the player) to keep your character breathing while engaging in combat.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel also introduces new elemental weapon abilities. This demo showed the capabilities of the cryo element. Blast an enemy enough times and he’ll freeze, allowing the player to finish him off by shooting him into shattering, icy shards. This new Borderlands has also expanded its non-weapon abilities that play a larger role in the gameplay as players level up. Demo character Athena had unlocked the ability to wield a handheld shield that bears resemblance to the one in Titanfall. It absorbs damage from the enemy’s attacks and then can be thrown like Mjolnir to inflict that same damage to the enemy. I even got to see the shield targeting multiple enemies in one attack, triggering a chain of gory slices across the screen.
As part of the announcement, 2k revealed that the playable characters have been drafted from the first two games. Perhaps the biggest news from this is that players will finally get a peek of the Borderlands universe through the eye of Claptrap, the diminutive, lovable robot. I didn’t get to see what that looked like, but I was thrilled when the demonstrator was incapacitated and miraculously rescued by Claptrap.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel comes on the heels of several Borderlands 2 DLC packs and times well with studios investing more in the new consoles. It’s as colorful, smooth, and explosive as ever while introducing new mechanics and abilities that, from the looks of it, will fit quite well into the series. We’ll keep you posted once we see more from 2k Games’ latest comical sci-fi shooter.
- Nick "stuBEEF" Pinkerton.