The original Borderlands from publisher 2K Games and developer Gearbox Software was released back in October 2009, wowing gamers with a unique cel-shaded cartoony art style, over-the-top enemies, and tons (and tons) of guns. The game successfully married the skill trees and gear-based loot systems from MMOs like World of Warcraft with twitchy cooperative FPS mechanics, providing dozens or hours of entertainment per playthrough.
Still, the game wasn't perfect, with complaints including lacklustre AI and samey weapons feeling like nothing more than vendor trash as you approached the middle of the game and beyond. From a recent Gamescom interview with Gearbox Game Concept Designer Scott Kester, the developer is aware of the limitations of their first title, and if their plans are realized we are in for a treat when Borderlands 2 releases next year.
You will already have seen the brief teaser trailer from a couple days ago, and we also got a taste of new enemies and environments from three juicy new screenshots. Game Rant also scooped on other Borderlands 2 features like upgradeable weapons, dynamic missions, and new playable characters earlier this month–there's a lot to be excited about here for fans of post-apocalyptia and co-operative gaming, but what has this Game Ranter titillated is a now-confirmed feature that was conspicuously missing from Borderlands: dual-wielding.
As a quick side note, unless you were specced heavily for pistols and revolvers, these weapons had little business being in your arsenal in Borderlands. I often found myself wishing I could just fill my other dusty fist with an incendiary repeater or machine pistol to round out that powerful two-shot caustic derringer, but when wielded alone there were almost always better guns for every scenario.
Borderlands 2 is eliminating this problem in a big way by introducing the Gunzerker class, which can dual-wield ANY two guns found in the game (this includes while you're 'down but not out,' which should increase players' chances of killing an enemy and getting a second wind). Apparently, dual-wielding two similar weapon types increases damage per shot, while wielding two different weapon types increases accuracy per shot. No matter how you slice it, Salvador (the gunzerker from the teaser trailer) is going to be one tough customer.
In addition to the new classes, Kester spoke about larger, denser environments, with more reactive and detailed storylines that the player will want to dig in to. We've heard before about enemy redesigns that are taken to new ridiculous levels, but Kester's example from the interview was of an enemy with a midget prisoner strapped to his shield. If the midget is freed by the player during the fight, the player gains a new ally for a short time. Imaginative touches like these could take a franchise that already oozes character and make it feel polished and memorable in ways that Borderlands only hinted at.
In related news, Gearbox's Steve Gibson (Head of Marketing) has revealed that vault hunters playing Borderlands 2 in split-screen co-op will be able to take their party online with them, a feature missing from the original game (though split-screen machines will not also be able to host thanks to technical limitations). The split-screen options have necessitated improved UI for menu management, as well.
Unfortunately, Gearbox is only willing to commit to a release date of "2012", so we could have anywhere from four months to well over a year before we're back on Pandora blasting skags and rakk with our buddies. Either way, we'll keep you posted as more details emerge. We are especially looking forward to more class-related details, since keeping things balanced with Salvador's impressive payload will be difficult.
Did you also wish you could dual-wield in Borderlands? Are there any other gameplay tweaks you are hoping to see in Borderlands 2?
Borderlands 2 will be out next year for PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Mac.