Yesterday I posted the first thirty minutes of my first hour playing Borderlands. Today I'm posting the second thirty minutes.
If you missed yesterday's part one, then read it here before coming back.
00:31 - Night had fallen by the time I had made to the bandit camp, partly because time moves fairly quickly and partly because I got distracted looting another skag nest. I've now equipped myself with two pistols after ditching the SMG: the scoped Swatter is my sniping weapon while the Double Repeater may lack the zoom and accuracy but its double damage bonus is very effective at close range. 00:33 - There are eight bandits in the camp, the largest encounter I've faced thus far. I use the corrugated iron fences as cover—but of course so do they. I crouch behind the walls until I can hear a bandit reload, then pop up and plug him with a headshot or two. Unlike earlier, I manage to make use of the exploding barrel conveniently located in the middle of the camp. It's a good fight, but these guys are just low-level fodder really, and I prevail fairly comfortably. 00:36 - Back in Fyrestone I turn in my quest and find that Zed wants to introduce me to his friend, an old coot called TK Baha who lives up in a little farm just east of the bandit camp. I run into a trio of wandering bandits on the way there and have to adjust my tactics to cope with their shields. Taking a leaf from the Halo playbook, I switch back to my SMG to deplete their shields then to the Swatter for an now-unarmoured headshot. It seems to work well. 00:38 - TK's been having some problems with skags too. They've stolen his food supplies and he wants them back. This involves heading out to a large plain home to about four skag nests, killing them all, including a tougher breed of skag (the welk), and returning with the food. They key here is to only attract the attention of one nest at a time to avoid being overwhelmed...which of course I fail to do and find myself strafing and backtracking furiously as I'm surrounded by yelping mutant pig-things.
00:42 - Handing over the food to TK nets me enough experience to reach Level 5 and, with it, my first look at the skill tree. It's structured the same for all four characters: the first skill is mandatory, then it splits into three sub-classes, each of which has two further branches for a total of 22 skills per character. Plus, each skill has a certain number of ranks as well that improve its effectiveness. My mandatory initial skill is Phasewalk, which lets me turn invisible and move really fast. Sounds useful. 00:44 - TK tells me about this guy, Nine-Toes, who is basically the gang leader of all these bandits infested this part of the world. He reckons I should go after him. He also recommends I go grab some grenades from Marcus, the weapons vendor in Fyrestone. I like the sound of grenades and heed his advice. 00:46 - On the way I pass back through a skag nest I'd previously cleaned out, only to find the critters had respawned. they go down much easier now that I've levelled up. Also, just outside Fyrestone, where I'd previously encountered those three shield-wearing bandits, I run into more trouble. This time, though, it's from two psycho midgets, as they're called—these little axe-wielding monkey creatures who just run at me screaming. My character actually laughs as I fill them full of lead. 00:48 - In town again, I can now access Marcus' shop across the street from Zed's. Marcus ain't home, but his weapon and grenade vending machines are fully operational. I am now the proud owner of three grenades, the maximum number I can carry at this level. Sadly, my dreams of also being the owner of the TEK12 Burning SMG (with its "chance to light enemies on fire") are dashed through, well, not having enough money. Do I go and grind to get enough? Or do I proceed with my quest?
00:51 - Reluctantly I decide to press on with my quest, saving you from hearing me describe how I killed some respawning bandits over and over again. Leaving Fyrestone once more, the very first skag nest I cleared out (remember that?) has respawned its inhabitants, while also those three bandits appear to be back patrolling along the road to the west. I tap LB and activate my phasewalk ability, rendering me invisible and, with the speed boost, I'm able to run nearly all the way to TK's farm without attracting any attention. 00:54 - Now suitably prepared to tackle Nine-Toes, TK's gives me directions to the gang leader's base camp. It's off to the northeast, up in the mountains, behind a boarded up pass. I thank him and make way there, through another couple of skag nests—easily butchered with my Double Repeater—and eventually arrive at the gate. 00:58 - Much of Borderlands is an open world, but select areas are fenced off behind loading screens, akin to an instance in an MMO. TK has rigged some explosives in case he ever wanted to get into Nine-Toes' hideout, so I trigger them and head through the newly-renovated entrance.
So, the big question is… Do I want to keep playing beyond the first hour?
I do. To be honest, I've cheated here a little, since I did play beyond this point at the press event 2K held last week. I know what happens when you face Nine-Toes and I know how much I enjoyed that extra play time. What I'm keen to see is how much co-op adds to the experience and how varied the combat becomes as you face new enemies and diversify your skills.
What I've experienced so far feels like a really solid combination of shooter and stat-and-loot-based role-playing. I'm not sure there's much here for the story-driven role-player, but despite that the world Gearbox has created has a distinct atmosphere that's easy to lose yourself in.
If you need to scratch that "find more cool stuff" itch, then Borderlands delivers.