The main menu screen doubles as a lobby system. It's also pretty cool in motion.
As I said before, I played as a Gunzerker with my wife. My reckless gameplay was complemented by her measured pace. Sure, she had to revive me all the time, but I prefer to look at it as if I’m giving her “bonus objectives.” Her Commando’s Sabre Turret was an asset in every fire fight, basically adding another player to the battle. The Gunzerker’s dual wielding skill supplied much need aggro and concentrated firepower. The silly, at time overzealous banter between characters is back, and just as ridiculous. I lost it every time Axton asked Salvador, “Do you work out?” when my wife revived me. Borderlands 2 is a phenomenal couples game. (Non-couples will enjoy it, too!)
As you would expect, whenever an additional player entered the game the enemies would become noticeably more difficult. Their levels increased and they became more aggressive and harder to kill. More Badass enemy variants would also spawn in, and these monsters need immediate attention or else our whole party would have been wiped out.
When Nick joined the fray the pacing changed. He used his Siren’s Phaselock to control the flow of battle. The Phaselock dimensionally freezes an enemy, lifting it into the air and casting it in a purple aura. Whenever I saw a locked enemy I instantly focused my fire on them, because an enemy killed while in a locked state would drop health orbs for everyone in the party. They’re like a giant purple pinata full of life candy. When a fourth player joined, the battlefield became a symphony of chaos, gunfire, revivals, explosions, and death screams.
Each character has specific skills in their tree that aids in co-op, such as the Commando's Phalanx Shield, the Assassin’s Death Mark, the Gunzerker’s Come At Me Bro, and the Siren’s Sweet Release. Each of these skills are beneficial to other players and add a little something to the co-op synergy. Players will gain the most benefits from a variety of stackable class mods that can affect team stats like accuracy and critical hit damage.
This screen cap pretty much sums up our sessions. I'm being revived by my wife while her turret attacks Nick's Phaselocked enemy. I provide bonus objectives and moral support.
The enemies, be they human, human-ish, robot, or beastly, are much more crafty in this new version of Pandora. They flank your position, take cover behind shielded enemies, and throw grenades. Lots and lots of grenades. Most creatures can lob or spit a projectile at you, so be ready to change cover often. Creatures also feature injury animations, staggering and limping when their health bar is low. Some will even mutate into a deadlier version if they’re not finished quickly. There is also an increased visual variety of the enemy types. Yes, you’ll still see numbers and the red word “Critical” pour off their bodies and heads as you punish them. Everything feels much more alive - until you kill it.
After the corrosive mists had cleared, the shockwaves had subsided, and the fiery gibs had settled, we would all collect the spoils of war. Loot, XP, and currency was saved to each character profile. Story progress was also saved, so long as each player had already progressed to that point in the campaign in their own game. For more details, see our Co-Op FAQ.
You should be feeling some intense co-op love right now.
If you're familiar with Borderlands you’ll have no problem selecting missions, comparing loot, and leveling up your character. An easy “sort” function will allow you to ignore the missions you don’t want to track, and Claptrap has never, ever told us “new missions are available” at a particular Bounty Board. The menus even work well in split screen, whether you use vertical or horizontal alignment. You can magically switch screen alignment in-game. It’s beautiful!
Borderlands 2 is still all about the epic loot and the ridiculously stacking skill trees. You can visually inspect each incredible firearm with a click of the thumbstick. The early guns aren’t too impressive, but by level 20 you’ll have some really outrageous weapons. Fire, shock, corrosive, and explosive effects are all back, and now there’s a new element called “slag.” It is nasty. Discovering the right combination of firepower, elements, skill trees, and character mods is all part of the fun. If a mod adds points to a particular stat that increases it past the five point cap, it will be reflected in the skill tree. So yes, you’ll see six, seven, and eight “out of fives” in your skill tree, and it will tell you what item is giving you the power bonus. Gearbox has added a Bank and Stash system. This allows players to store weapons and trade between their own characters, as well as other players.