Updated Thu, Sep 27, 2012 by B. de la Durantaye
Borderlands 2 is nothing without its unmatched multiplayer mode. For reals. The game is "okay" if you play alone but it really takes multiplayer to push it into the "great" ranks.
Like the first title, the game tweaks its difficulty based on how many players are participating in the game. I did find, though, that the tweaking could have been twunk a tweak more. I had relatively no difficulty playing single player missions, a little difficulty in some areas playing duo, but once there were 3 or 4 players in the game some of the fights were just downright difficult. With good team play the obstacles can be overcome but there's little room for independence once you've committed to a multiplayer game. The team must work together as no man can stand alone in a multiplayer game (at least, not without being splatted a few times). If all your teammates go down you can only hope that you're in close proximity to each other or that a baddie is close to death because at full health the 4-player mobs aren't easy to take down by one person to get a second wind. (Second wind happens when you are downed but able to finish a kill, which will get you back on your feet). Perhaps even just adding a small spattering of low-hp mobs mixed in with the difficult dudes in high-risk areas could help here.
Joining a multiplayer game or inviting friends to join your game couldn't be easier. The game's menu will display all of your Steam friends who are currently playing so all you need to do is click their name to either invite or request a join. The display will even tell you the levels and missions your friends are working on, so it's easy to pick friends who are close to you in the story or in level. Thankfully the home menu doesn't suffer the disorganization of the in-game menus.
Once invited into a multiplayer game you then have the ability to rejoin that game at any time. Should you see the host of the original game playing, just click their name and join their game. In this method you can drop in and out of games with your friends with much ease, as the game dynamically changes the difficulty of the mobs with the amount of people playing.
Worry not if there is a big gap in levels between you and your friends. Lower levels joining higher level games will catch up quickly in experience and given an hour or two you will all be the same level. This is a huge win as it's near impossible to have all of your friends sharing the same amount of play time.
As pivotal to the game experience as multiplayer is, the game also suffers more of its downsides in multiplayer mode. For instance, the menu system is already difficult, and only gets worse as you complete a multiplayer mission. The player turning in the mission will be able to see the reward immediately but the other players won't even know they received a reward unless the player who turned it in lets them know, or they open their horrific menus and lumber around through the navigation to try to figure out what they just won.
Also of note is that at the time of writing ammo pickups in multiplayer seem to require self-policing. In a single player game the game will simply not allow you to pick up any more ammo if you're already carrying your maximum. The same does not happen in multiplayer. The result is that a lot of ammo ends up wasted as players pick up ammo they don't need, depriving players in the game who do need it. I suspect, however, that this is just a bug as the mechanic works fine in single player.
I wasn't overjoyed when the standard price of PC games went up from $50 to $60 as the games got shorter. But for Borderlands 2, that's not the case. The game takes about 60 hours, give or take, to complete. (For those of you keeping score at home, that means about a buck an hour). But I'm willing to bet most of you won't leave it at that. With four different classes, an addictive and unparalleled multiplayer game, myriads of weapons and upgrades, and the ability to play through multiple times on the same character, the replay value is through the roof.
Spend the $60. Get the game. It's worth it. You can even save a few bucks if you have some friends who want to play by buying the 4-pack priced at $180.
As redundant as shooting baddies over and over again sounds, it really isn't. I haven't found a point yet where this game starts to feel old. In fact, I haven't yet reached a point where the first Borderlands has gotten old or boring. There's just too much to keep you going.
There are thousands upon thousands of weapons to find. There are tons of skins to unlock for your character and vehicles. There is nearly unlimited progression to be done with the Badass Ranks and tokens. There are 4 classes in game and a fifth, the Mechromancer, on its way and each of these classes can be specced in at least 3 different ways, making for over 15 different play styles. There are plenty of easter eggs and collections. (Yes, as you've probably seen elsewhere there is an entire Minecraft area where you break through walls and fight Minecraft monsters).
And best of all, this game will age wonderfully. The art style and accessibility has seen to that. There's more than enough content here to keep you going for months, or even years, depending on your hard-coredness. Plenty to last you until Borderlands 3. If there will be a Borderlands 3. There had better be a Borderlands 3.
There's really only one conclusion to be made with Borderlands 2. Despite its flaws it really is some of the best co-op gaming you're likely to see in recent years. Sure, the menus will get you frustrated, and you may yell at your PC (or your teammates) in some difficult areas, but the overall experience is energetic, entertaining, and addictive. You'll never run out of things to do, you'll constantly be chuckling at the story and dialog, and you'll get a rush-a-minute by finding bigger, newer, badder upgrades.
After playing the game for many hours with some friends, laughing at the one-liners, gawking at the killer weapons, proudly strutting new skin and head unlocks, and firing dual-freakin-rocket- launchers, my hair was disheveled, my glasses askew on my face and it was all I could do to puff out one word: "WOW!"
Yup. For the co-op multiplayer fan Borderlands 2 is a must buy.