E3 2014 Impressions: Borderlands The Pre-SequelFiled inside: News
You can see some of the new enemies rocking the same Oz kits that you have, represented by a bulbous shield covering the head. Headshots out here count for considerably more than a traditional damage boost, shattering the shield causes your foes to violently vent their oxygen, leaving them immobile and extremely exposed.
There are other ways to expose your enemies to more pain, as well. An entire new element has been added to the game, bringing the total to six. New cryo-elemental guns can slow or freeze enemies in place, even allowing you to shatter them in procedurally beautiful glory.
A whole weapon category has also been added: lasers. I’m particularly excited about this new weapon type because of the huge diversity it adds to the game. Where before each manufacturer’s guns held special characteristics across most (if not all) their weapon types, lasers differentiate per maker, Dahl lasers might project a constant beam, while a Vladof might shoot numerous bolts.
These differentiated environments also present themselves in many of the aesthetic elements in the game, as well, to nice effect. Your sprint animation becomes noticeably more drawn out as your character takes wide bounding strides in the low gravity. Containers opened have their contents strewn about, soaring through the air. You can even pop a container in low gravity, turn on one of those mobile atmospheric bubbles, and watch collectibles fall to the ground, or have containers suddenly begin behaving normally.
Our demo only featured two of the characters from the game, Wilhelm and Athena, but I was luckily able to run through it twice to check them both out.
Wilhelm is a major bruiser with skills that really let you make sure you’re constantly pouring pain into your enemies. People that recall their first encounter with Wilhelm in Borderlands 2 will remember the hulking robot. Pre-Sequel lets you see this come to fruition as your various skills start adding these cybernetic bits as you go down the skill tree.
Wilhelm’s action skill throws out two support drones, Wolf and Saint, to provide covering fire and deal damage to enemies. My build focused more on the man himself, boosting damage, giving me a melee override skill that unleashed an explosive (somewhat) ranged punch that blew enemies in one fell swoop. Another gamechanger added leg implants that let Wilhelm fire his weapons while sprinting, also removing the accuracy penalty that comes from sprinting.
Athena exemplifies the concept of the gladiator, with plenty of abilities to soup up her melee abilities, and an action skill that brings up a damage-absorbing shield that can be thrown to discharge consumed damage onto enemies. Eventually I worked my way to an ability that made Athena’s melee cause bleeding wounds on enemies that continued to damage foes for long periods of time. Eventually, other skills start providing benefits based on the number of enemies currently bleeding at any given time. Eventually, the final skills of that particular tree modifies melee to allow for a super-fast charge with impressive range and greatly increased damage.
I did notice that the skill trees have been largely reworked. The mid-level gamechangers now stand alone, and are almost always directly followed by another single-point major skill, allowing for a larger jump in ability in the middle ranges of the game.
I caught one other mysterious component of the game that will have to remain mostly a mystery. In lieu of dropped eridium, I found many of my foes dropping “Moonstone”, a currency that spoke about not only purchasing upgrades but obtaining weapons that bore a special name, perhaps the new replacement for E-tech weapons? We won’t know until later this year.
The game itself, however, has left a few gamers jaded. It’s tough to know what the game really represents: is it a fully-formed game on its own, or glorified DLC? Considering the amount of effort that has gone in to implementing these new equipment systems and environmental effects, I completely doubt there is any way this could have been implemented as DLC, it certainly has to be its own game. Given the large amount of DLC that was released for Borderlands 2, it feels odd to think that a full game of its own could have been put together in a short period of time, which does make the game seem like it’s likely to house a shorter campaign, or fewer things to do.
Similarly, there haven’t been any major engine upgrades or visual changes to speak of, the game looks just like Borderlands 2, of that there can be no doubt. The demo in no way gives any indicator of the overall length of the game, so we’ll have to withhold judgment on that front. Wait for the price tag announcement, then we’ll be able to figure out what to think there.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel will be releasing on October 14th this year for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC, with no MSRP yet announced.