Borderlands 2 is a tough game. More so than I recall the first title from Gearbox's new hybrid first-person shooter/RPG baby. But it's also an incredibly large game, with plenty of side quests, challenges and achievements to burn through.
So as someone who has finished the game and a lot of what it has to offer, I thought I'd lend a hand with a few beginner's tips. Here's what I've got:
1. Have friends
Sorry, recluses. Borderlands 2 is really built for the cooperative experience. Big battles can be a drag, sometimes seemingly impossible, when you solo them.
Each playable character has something unique to contribute, too. The siren suspends enemies in the air, the commando drops turrets, the assassin can go invisible, the gunzerker can dual wield for maximum death dealage. Altogether the four vault hunters are a cohesive team. You'd be remiss to not experience the game with three others. Remiss, and often dead. Very, very often. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Set aside lots of time for those main story missions
You can organise your quest list by main/side missions. This will give you an idea of which might be the lengthiest ones for you to complete.
Some battles have taken me a long time to finish, even with friends. So if you suspect you're about to go on an epic journey to kill that one dude that the other person wanted you to kill, you might want to be sure you have the next hour or so free to do so.
You can't stop mid-quest. Saving and quitting the game will leave you off at that first checkpoint. I made my way all through a bandit camp, reached the boss, and then had to call it a night because it was 1AM and I had work the next day. If you've got a busy schedule, it's something to be mindful of. If it's the weekend and you're in for a marathon and screw it, then feel free to not worry about this tip. I've definitely been there.
3. If you don't have friends, choose your class wisely
OK, OK recluses. I've heard your groans. If you really must solo this game, I might suggest the commando. His turret is mighty helpful in a tight spot, and its kills can even get you second wind when you're on the ground fighting for your life.
Though he's certainly not my favourite. I'm partial to characters with a flair for magic-like abilities, and the sirens have always been so sexy in Borderlands. I played as Maya, and I wouldn't blame you for choosing her.
The assassin, Zer0, is also a good choice. His action ability makes him swift, and literally invisible. He can set up a decoy to distract enemies. There's nothing wrong with that.
The gunzerker is a brute and can deal massive damage. He's a good second choice if you're dead set on soloing the sequel, specifically because he regenerates ammunition (and health!) while his action ability is activated.
4. Plan out your skill tree, but don't be afraid to respect
There's a nifty little tool for you to build up your character before you hit the game. Don't get stuck building out one tree branch before you realise, "Dammit, I really want Maya's phaselock ability to deal corrosive, slag and shock damage!" Some trees start off with useful skills, but others will grow into even more useful skills. It's important to look ahead to see which tree overall suits you best.
But even if you do get stuck wanting another route, you can pay to respect your character.
And [small spoilers] you'll get a chance to redo them for free once you unlock new game plus [done with small spoilers].
Each tree will really impact the way you use your character, so definitely get intimate with how each one works.
5. Try out multiple classes
Speaking of classes, don't limit your Borderlands 2 experience to just one. The game plays entirely differently with a new character.
I got so much life out of Borderlands 1, and part of that was to do with experimenting with other classes. I never would have realised just how much I loved Mordecai if I had never played as him. I love sniping, sure, but Bloodwing was a whole other joy I couldn't really appreciate until I played through with that class.
Every character has its benefits. And you know you're going to want another excuse to play.
6. Play loooooooooots of side quests
Don't be in a hurry to get through the main storyline. I know I sometimes get excited to see the story pan out, but it's well worth stretching the experience out for as long as you can.
The story is great. Much better than the first game's, thanks to the addition of new writer Anthony Burch. But the side stories are just as great, and the missions that go along with them finally have that diversity the franchise needed.
They're all fun, and they'll let you explore more of both the planet Pandora itself, as well as its inhabitants, history and culture.
Playing through side quests will also boost your level up, making you tougher for the boss battles to come. I roughed the last boss at around level 27, but I'd really suggest going at it with a higher levelled character, especially if you'll be tackling the game alone.
7. Look for those fancy elemental weapons
There's nothing more satisfying than dropping multiple enemies down to low health, just to watch corrosive acid eat away at the remainder of their health bar. Elemental weapons give you strength, as well as speed. Using a fire-breathing shotgun and others will give you a better handle on crowd control, allowing you to move more quickly on to next threats.
Your instinct might be to look for the gun with the least sway and most damage, but elemental weapons are Borderlands 2's most powerful creations.
Plus, certain enemies are really tough to take down unless you have that magic elemental touch that attacks at their Achilles' heel. Mechs, for instance, can be taken down much easier with corrosive weapons. Varkids — bug-like creatures — hate fire. Get the right combination and you're golden.
8. Take your own vehicle
Part of the beauty of Borderlands is riding around the desert (or other, new environments in the sequel) in a badass vehicle with tons of ammunition.
I know, I know. The vehicles are specifically outfitted for players to join in together. And maybe you don't drive or navigate well, or maybe you can't lock onto targets with a rocket launcher well. In your case, you could probably benefit from having a friend in your car manning the wheel or the gun seat.
But in my case, and I'm sure in many of your cases, you'll want to drive and shoot at things like crazy. Unlimited ammunition and no cooldowns?! Of course I want to do both. Although, if you're playing with three others you'll have to split between the max two-car load-out. Still better than everyone cramming into one four-seater.
With multiple vehicles, you also have greater manpower. So, maybe, take your own vehicle.
9. Spend eridium to max out your gun clips
Ammunition can be tough to come by in Pandora, at least compared to how much of it you're using. There aren't always a decent amount of vendors selling the stuff, or enemies dropping it. Though they do ironically drop lots of money.
You can use the purple currency of eridium at the black market in the game's hub city of Sanctuary to increase your clip capacity. You can also use it to get more room in your bank, but I left that upgrade for last. I much rather be well-equipped on the battlefield, and I didn't find myself stashing too many things early on unless they were too high level for me just then.
10. There's this thing called tokens
Borderlands 2 doesn't do a great job of explaining it to you, but the game has challenges — much like the first one did — that can be redeemed for bonus stats. Challenges include things like killing X amount of skags or opening X amount of loot chests.
The more you complete, the more tokens you get. Tokens can be spent on upgrades to your stats, including gun accuracy, melee damage, shield capacity, maximum health, etc. They're incredibly useful, but by the time I realised they were a thing I had already racked up enough to spend the next 5 minutes allocating them.
Some of these tips might not fit for how you play, but I think all of them are worth considering. I'm sure you'll all come up with your own tips as well, so please feel free to share them.
And happy vault hunting!