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Civilization Beyond Earth photo
Civilization Beyond Earth

Civilization: Beyond Earth update is live, makes all my strategies obsolete


Thanks, Xenobama
Dec 08
// Darren Nakamura
A pretty substantial update rolled out for Civilization: Beyond Earth earlier today, addressing some of the issues that the more hardcore Civ fans have had with the title. I took a read through the extensive patch notes and.....
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's second piece of DLC is out December 16


Welcome to the Holodome
Dec 04
// Darren Nakamura
2K Games announced today the second DLC pack for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and as with the first pack, it is commendable in some ways but disappointing in others. In The Holodome Onslaught, Axton and Gaige join the crew in...
Hanger 13 photo
Hanger 13

2K announces new studio Hangar 13, working on a new game


Ominous
Dec 04
// Chris Carter
2K has announced today that they have formed a new game studio called Hangar 13, located at their HQ in Novato, California. It's led by developer Haden Blackman (who began at LucasArts and has worked with DC and Marvel), and ...

Evolve is about more than just monster hunting

Dec 03 // Kyle MacGregor
Ashton, along with his partner in crime, creative director Phil Robb, provided us with the rundown on Hunt anyway. Evolve follows a team of four hunters who endeavor to take down a colossal alien monster. Though, as we soon learned, that's not always the primary objective. Turtle Rock revealed three new game types: Nest, Rescue, and Defend. Nest was by far my favorite of the bunch, as hunters attempt to eliminate a handful of monster eggs before they can hatch unto the world and terrorize its colonists. Of course, the alpha monster will have some say in the matter, doing its damnedest to save the young. Part of that effort may involve hatching one of the eggs prematurely, allowing the alpha to double team the humans alongside a stunted Goliath. It's a delicate balance of risk and reward, enlisting the help of an infant demon, simultaneously increasing your firepower whilst also bringing the enemy one step closer to their goal. The mode also lends itself to new tactical possibilities for the hunters. Typically, it's in your best interest to stick together, as a single human is no match for the monster. But the monster also can't be in several places at once, and the hunters always have the option of splitting up and taking out multiple eggs in concert. I have one word of advice for players keen on employing this strategy, though. Make sure to keep an eye on your surroundings. It really sucks getting gobbled up by a carnivorous plant and have no one around to help. Rescue mode turns the tables on the human team, giving them something to protect. After a group of colonists is attacked and flees into the wilderness, it's up to the hunters to locate, revive and lead the survivors to rescue shuttles. Meanwhile, the hulking monster is trying finish the job. This can lead to some pretty tense moments, trying to target these civilians while four well-armed soldiers harass you from afar, as well as flashes of frustration. Nothing is quite so disheartening as coming up short because one of these goons gets hung up on a piece of scenery. The final mission type we saw, Defend, is something of a retrenched horde mode. There's a massive spaceship looming overhead. It's loaded with civilians, refueling, and preparing to escape. There's one problem, though. Small waves of Goliath minions led by a stage three alpha are headed its way, aiming to take out the generators and make the whole thing explode. It's a spectacle and makes for an intense showdown.  While each of these modes can be played individually, Turtle Rock showed us the game's full array of content via Evacuation, essentially Evolve's take on a campaign. Five players at a time huddled into small, sauna-like rooms, each stuffed to the gills with high-end PC equipment to get our hands on the game. Though there is a narrative woven throughout Evacuation, it's sparse. Taking place on the overrun planet of Shear, colonists have five days to fend off the monsters and get out of dodge. Each day is a mission, the outcome of which impacts the next. Say the monster sabotages a dam, for example. The following stage will be flooded with water full of man-eating eels. Robb told me about another scenario where the hunters win and release "a shit ton of birds" into the atmosphere, making it hard for the monster to maneuver without tipping off folks to its location. It always culminates in a Defend mission, but the journey to that point has the potential to be different. Apparently there are over 800,000 possible combinations of mission types, maps, and environmental effects. Pair that with an expansive roster of twelve characters, each of which with their own unique skills and abilities, and it feels like I've barely scratched the surface -- even after spending several hours with the game. It was difficult to walk away from Turtle Rock Studios and Evolve without positive impressions. The game certainly seems to have a lot of potential, and I can safely say I'm looking forward to its February 10, 2015 release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Should you wish to get a taste of Evacuation mode before then, be sure to check out the open beta, which is coming exclusively to Xbox One in January. 
Evolve preview photo
You can scramble eggs, too!
"Hopefully, nobody has any questions about Hunt," Turtle Rock co-founder Chris Ashton said, his eyes darting around a cloistered room flush with press. "We've been talking about that forever!" Over the past several months, th...

Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve's story trailer makes its monsters look more badass than ever


Introducing Evacuation
Dec 02
// Brett Makedonski
Everything we've seen of Turtle Rock's Evolve thus far has largely been without context -- two points of view ranging from "go kill that giant thing" to "go kill those four little people." This trailer isn't exactly wil...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Catch a jaunty tune (and an elbow to the grill) in this Tales from the Borderlands trailer


Episode One: Zer0 Sum
Nov 25
// Brett Makedonski
Telltale titles and Borderlands are almost polar opposites. One has you constantly making tough, game-altering decisions. The other only asks that you decide between shooting everything and dying. (Hint: you defini...

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum

Nov 25 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 25, 2014 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Any who have played a Telltale game in the past few years will find few surprises here. Play is split into sections of walking around and examining the surroundings, making dialogue choices that sometimes have profound effects on the path of the narrative, and navigating interactive cutscenes through quick-time events. That said, Tales from the Borderlands includes a few new lore-appropriate features. Rhys, one of the two protagonists, is in management at Hyperion. Three years after the fall of Handsome Jack, he has schmoozed his way into the upper echelon of the corporation. In doing so, he has access to advanced technology that grants him special abilities. His left eye is a cybernetic Echo Eye that can be used to scan objects for additional information, which often contains funny descriptions. His right arm is entirely robotic, and can be used to communicate with his friends or call down a custom combat Loader bot when the situation gets hairy.  Fiona, the other main character, is a Pandoran scam artist. Without a large company's assets at her disposal, she instead relies on her wit and the power of cold, hard cash. Having money on hand opens up additional narrative options through purchases or bribery. In contrast to the core titles in the series, money is a finite resource here; if it is spent early, it will not be available for potential use later on. This type of quandary also comes up with Fiona's hidden pistol: It has one bullet in it and the choice of whether to use it or not at any given point is not an obvious one. [embed]283779:56317:0[/embed] The narrative moves back and forth between Rhys and Fiona, who form a fragile alliance toward a common goal. The two get separated occasionally, each sent to experience a different set of simultaneous events. When the two come together, it has an almost Tarantino-esque feel, where the player gets to see the same scene play out through another viewpoint and with additional context to frame it. Part of that effect stems from the fact that the story is being told through flashback by the two not-quite-trustworthy characters. There are points when one or the other is obviously embellishing the story, which brings up the question of whether they are stretching the truth in other, less obvious instances. One slight disappointment with the storytelling is the illusion of choice it sometimes helps to create. In one sequence, the player is asked to describe what "the most important part" of the story is, and a handful of very different choices are made available. Though it initially seems like this choice could drive the story in one of a few hugely different directions, it turns out that all of those choices happen and it is only a matter of which the character emphasizes. That said, the overall narrative is fantastic. Despite the shift in focus from gunplay to wordplay, the events that unfold are sufficiently exciting, violent, and absurd to fit into the Borderlands universe. If anything, the tone of Tales is a little less wacky than that of Borderlands 2. There is still the over-the-top depiction of a lawless land, but a back alley stabbing in Tales feels heavier and more real than a bandit dissolving from a corrosive shotgun blast in previous games in the franchise. The writing does a superb job of capturing the dark comedy of the Borderlands universe. There are probably as many "laugh out loud" moments in Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum as there are in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, which is impressive because the latter is about ten times longer than the former. And some of those moments are not just snorts or chuckles, but actual sustained laughter. This might be the funniest Borderlands game to date, and it is at least the densest in that sense. The downside to Telltale's focus on crafting a great story is that it seems like classic adventure gameplay takes a backseat here more than ever. Exploration sections are cut short before the player can finish scouring an area and the only things close to being puzzles are Rhys's decision on how to spec his Loader companion for an impending battle and a simple memory exercise for Fiona. The Telltale Tool engine might be showing its age with other new releases, but it shows off Borderlands' signature comic book style well. Pandora is every bit as bright and colorful as a desert wasteland can be, and it looks great despite the low polygon count. Aside from the disappointing lack of puzzles and limit on exploration, Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum is excellent. Where the first episodes of other Telltale series can start off slowly, Tales maintains high energy throughout. Its consistently funny writing and duo of unreliable narrator protagonists set the stage for a great overarching story, and it feels very much like it belongs in the Borderlands franchise. If the rest of the season maintains this level of quality, Tales from the Borderlands will be up there in history with the other great recent Telltale adventures. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Telltale Borderlands photo
Two tales worth telling
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] When Tales ...

Irrational photo
Irrational

Irrational's hiring again almost a year after 'winding down'


Who wants to work with Ken?
Nov 24
// Brett Makedonski
In February, Ken Levine (bio)shocked the gaming world by announcing that Irrational Games was shutting down. Well, sort of. The plan was to lay off the majority of the staff, and continue forward as a small group dedicated to...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's Jack the Doppelganger is too sexy for his shirt


But he leaves it on anyway
Nov 11
// Darren Nakamura
I frown on the idea that additional Vault Hunters are being offered for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's season pass in place of story DLC (rather than in addition to it, as Gaige the Mechromancer and Krieg the Psycho were in B...
WWE 2K15 photo
WWE 2K15

Yes! Yes! Yes! This is how WWE 2K15 rocks arenas


Daniel Bryan, The Usos, and Corey Graves
Nov 04
// Brett Makedonski
Nothing gets a crowd going quite like their favorite wrestler's music hitting. 2K put a lot of work into realistically recreating entrance routines in WWE 2K15, and this video shows off the developers' efforts. Whether it's ...

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel illustrates the danger of nebulous season passes

Nov 03 // Darren Nakamura
To be clear, I was never one to complain about how Gearbox handled Borderlands 2's season pass. Where many would rail against the developer for producing content that was not included in the season pass (or even the Game of the Year Edition), I always saw it from a more measured viewpoint. Borderlands 2's season pass promised four pieces of story-based downloadable content, and it delivered four pieces of story-based downloadable content along with a bonus level cap increase that those without a season pass had to purchase separately. I bought it in good will before the game came out, and I felt like I got my money's worth. The fact that Gearbox continued to produce content for Borderlands 2 after the season pass had run its course never phased me. People wanted more stuff to do on Pandora, and were willing to pay for those experiences. The extra characters and Headhunter packs were far from essential to the experience, and they were never stated to be included in the season pass to begin with. As an informed consumer, I did not feel cheated. However, there were those who did feel cheated, and that might have contributed to this current mishandling. Many in the Borderlands community complained that BL2's season pass/Game of the Year Edition did not include all of the post-release content, and according to Gearbox Product Manager Chris Faylor, this move is an "[attempt] to address that." So now, instead of four story-based DLC packs that are included in The Pre-Sequel's season pass, along with other pieces of downloadable content that are available for additional fees, it sounds like the total amount of content is being reduced in order for it all to be included in the season pass. Worse yet, if we take the official Borderlands blog post's words literally, we can expect "another character, a level cap upgrade, a new campaign, and more," which lays down a particularly dismal tentative DLC schedule. Where previous games in the series featured four additional story packs, are we really meant to expect only one this time? Looking back at the Pre-Sequel season pass announcement, it is not that 2K lied or even blatantly misrepresented what players should expect in the season pass. So little information is there that the developers have quite a bit of leeway with it. Even on the official blog post, there is never any mention of what type of DLC is planned. The only information given are the phrases "new characters," "new challenges," "new missions," and "new experiences," which in hindsight are incredibly vague. All that is concretely stated is that there would be a season pass, that it would include four undefined pieces of content, and that buying the season pass would cost less than buying all four pieces individually. The problem here is one of expectation. Borderlands featured four pieces of downloadable content, and all four were story-based additions that included new areas to explore, new enemies to fight, and new missions to take on. Borderlands 2 continued that tradition with its four main DLC packs, along with a bevy of other content. I am certain that I am not alone in having made the assumption that the four add-on packs promised in The Pre-Sequel's season pass would follow that same pattern. I do not mean to belittle the amount of work that must be necessary in the design, balance, and playtesting of an entirely new character or even something like Borderlands 2's Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (Playthrough 3). I do not doubt that the teams behind those additions feel that they put a lot of effort into producing something worth selling for ten bucks, and I do not begrudge them for it. However, while those add-ons may require comparable amounts of work, the value of those additions for the consumer is much lower than that of the traditional story packs. So even though no promises are technically being broken, and 2K plans to deliver four digital additions to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for the price of three through the season pass, I cannot blame any who bought it for feeling cheated. The content fits the requirements laid out, but the value is not there. Even if the plans were to change from here onward and the season pass ends up including one new Vault Hunter and three story DLCs, the value of the pass over purchasing content piecemeal hinges on the quality of all three packs, and the series does not have a perfect track record on that front. Even for somebody who did not purchase the season pass, this news is disheartening. With a shorter base campaign and the possibility of only one story-based DLC pack, the lifespan of this game looks to be much smaller than those of its predecessors. It's like walking into a shipping container expecting a pizza party, only to find that the pizza is a hologram and the shipping container is about to be shot out of a cannon at the moon. In the months after Borderlands 2's release, there have been many in the community expressing extreme disappointment when it comes to the handling of post-release content. However, for those who complain that there exists content not included in the season pass, the intended solution was never to reduce the total amount of content in order for it to fit. Though it might have been an attempt to appease disgruntled fans, Jack's Doppelganger as DLC #1 for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has only bred more contempt in the community.
Borderlands DLC opinion photo
Glad I skipped this one
Over the weekend, details came out of PAX Australia regarding the first downloadable Vault Hunter for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. At first, it looked to me like a commendable gesture for a series that receives a lot of criti...

Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Jack's doppelganger in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel will fight using digital clones


Just like Handsome Jack does in Borderlands 2
Nov 01
// Darren Nakamura
2K announced at PAX Prime that one of Jack's look-alike bodyguards would be the first DLC Vault Hunter for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, but information past that was scant. Pieces of his back story can be found via semi-hidde...
Evolve alpha photo
Evolve alpha

Hunt's off: Evolve alpha postponed on PS4


That's unfortunate
Oct 31
// Brett Makedonski
Bad news for monster hunters on PlayStation 4. The Evolve Big Alpha event has been postponed. The good news is that now your weekend is suddenly free again. Turtle Rock Studios posted an update on the Evolve site to...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Here are the details of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's Bloody Harvest Celebration


Lots of exploding pumpkins, basically
Oct 31
// Darren Nakamura
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's free, limited-time mini event Bloody Harvest Celebration just launched a couple hours ago. The teaser image has several pumpkin-flavored pieces of art, but little extra information. I jumped into...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's free Halloween content is live right now


Bloody Harvest, now on Elpis
Oct 30
// Darren Nakamura
Last year, Borderlands 2 kicked off its Headhunter series of DLC with T.K. Baha's Bloody Harvest, a Halloween-themed mini-expansion that had players meeting up with zombie T.K. Baha and shooting a lot of pumpkins. It looks li...
Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve's always different, and you'll see that in the Big Alpha


Almost endless possibilities
Oct 28
// Brett Makedonski
Back in May, I wrote a handy preview about how Turtle Rock Studios is striving for infinite replayability with Evolve. This interview with the developers has them going into detail in their own words about how tweaking almos...

Very Quick Tips: Civilization: Beyond Earth

Oct 23 // Darren Nakamura
General tips: When exploring uncharted territory, take movement one hex at a time. Explorers get two movement points per turn, and it is smart to keep one banked in case your unit walks into an ambush (see above). Aliens are more aggressive to those near Alien Nests, or to those who attack other aliens. Stay away from them with non-combat units (especially Colonists). If possible, place your capital on a coastal hex. Creating connections between your capital and your others cities affords a nice energy bonus. Land connections must be built by Worker units as roads, but sea connections are automatically put in place between two coastal cities. Coastal cities will also have more options for trade routes later. Consider all aspects of geography when placing a new city. Mountains and canyons are nearly worthless with respect to production, but make a city more defensible from attack. Some advanced units can traverse canyons, so they are not as effective as mountains in that regard. Buildings: Build at least one of each building, even if you don't think you need it. The mission system will often augment the ability of buildings after one has been constructed, so they can gain semi-hidden abilities. For instance, the Repair Facility (required technology: Engineering) gives a minor production bonus to land units, but can also be modified to increase orbital coverage after one is built. Early on, the Trade Depot (required technology: Pioneering) is one of the most important buildings to increase energy, science, food, and/or production output. Later, the Autoplant (required technology: Robotics) can be upgraded to increase the number of trade routes a city can hold. Fill up those trade routes early and reap huge benefits over the course of the game. On that note, the Ultrasonic Fence (required technology: Ecology) is a crucial building, because it can be upgraded so that trade units are never attacked by aliens. Build one as soon as possible specifically for this ability, and others only where necessary for its standard ability. Resources: There are six strategic resources, but only half are visible on the map in the beginning. The Chemistry technology reveals Petroleum, the Engineering technology reveals Titanium, and the Geophysics technology reveals Geothermal. Gaining some or all of these technologies before building a second city can help in making a better placement decision. The other three strategic resources, Firaxite, Floatstone, and Xenomass, are immediately visible, but respectively require the Robotics technology, the Terraforming technology, and the Alien Sciences technology in order to use them. All of the more powerful units are only available after specializing in an Affinity, so it is smart to decide early on which Affinity to follow. In general, Firaxite corresponds to the Supremacy Affinity, Floatstone corresponds to the Purity Affinity, and Xenomass corresponds to the Harmony Affinity. Use nearby resources to help make the decision. Alien Nests always appear on tiles with Xenomass, and as a corollary, Xenomass can always be found under Alien Nests. If you need access to Xenomass, then you may have to do some bug hunting. Diplomacy: You can often get away with one non-aggressive act against each other civilization by just apologizing. These acts include: completing expeditions near enemy borders, placing orbital units near enemy territory, and having a spy caught in an enemy city. The AI will often suggest ludicrous trades and offer favors in return. These favors are typically only worth about 100 energy or a strategic resource when you call them in. If another civilization gets to a choice city spot before you can settle there, it is possible to gain it without going to war. Open up a deal, put the city on the table, and ask what it would cost. The price can be high in strategic resources, but early in the game those don't matter much, so it might even be effectively cheap.  Combat: Siege Worms are formidable, but it can be worthwhile to kill one. A mission early on tasks you with killing a Siege Worm, and its rewards are fairly lucrative. If one hangs out near your cities for too long, you can kill it with ten city bombardments without risking any units. The reward for killing the first Siege Worm is not adjusted for inflation, so if you wait until you have better equipped combat units, it is not as impactful. Air units work under a modified rock-paper-scissors mechanism. Strikes are ranged attacks against ground units and must be ordered each time. Intercepts will target air units ordered to Strike within range. Sweeps act like Strikes, but instead check for any Intercepts in the area. It is always safest to begin with a Sweep before trying a Strike, but that is often a wasted action. Cities can hold up to three air units at a time. Before being upgraded, a Carrier can only hold one air unit. 
Beyond Earth guide photo
Help for going above and beyond
Civilization: Beyond Earth is fantastic, but even though it does a lot through tutorial popups, missions, and the Civilopedia to help new players, it can still be daunting. With several new systems in place, even series veter...

Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth

Oct 23 // Darren Nakamura
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth (Linux, Mac, Windows [reviewed])Developer: Firaxis GamesPublisher: 2K GamesReleased: October 24, 2014MSRP: $49.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Civilization veterans will be immediately familiar with most of the systems in place here, as they mimic those in Civilization V closely. Players found cities, within which they manage production, food, energy, culture, science, and health. In the international arena, there is diplomacy, trade, exploration, espionage, and war. Everything is interconnected in some way, and success comes to those who find the proper balance of it all. The interplay between all of the different systems and resources is complex. While the series has made positive strides with tutorial popups and the exhaustive Civilopedia it is still dense and a little inaccessible for new players. Some information is difficult to find but through trial and error. It is easy to know what Civilization is about, but it takes dedication to really know Civilization. Fortunately, getting to know Civilization is inherently rewarding. Finding interesting synergies between technologies and powers makes the player feel smart. Forming plans and seeing them through to fruition is intensely satisfying, and it is largely responsible for the series' notorious addictive quality. All of that is present in Beyond Earth. [embed]281963:55814:0[/embed] The most touted new feature in Beyond Earth is the Affinity system. Previously, unique units were tied to specific factions, but here they are dependent on a faction's level in one of three Affinities: Purity, Supremacy, and Harmony. Each Affinity represents a fundamentally different philosophy for how humanity should interact with the alien world. Purity followers believe that humans are special and should change the new world to be more Earth-like. Supremacy followers believe that humans should be cybernetically augmented in order to respond to environmental hazards. Harmony followers believe that humans must biologically adapt and become more like the indigenous life in order to survive. The Affinities are level-based and the choice is always open to increase any of the three through technological advances and mission rewards. It is generally smart to specialize in one Affinity, since the more powerful units require a minimum level, but it is possible to maintain a broad approach and take a little of each. The choice between Affinities sets the trajectory for the narrative of Beyond Earth. Though it is easily ignored for any who get into this strictly for the gameplay, the story is emphasized more strongly here than any any previous title in the series. It always starts the same: Humans wrecked Earth and have to find a new place to live. Which Affinity is focused on (if any) determines which victory condition is most easily attained, and each victory ends the story in a different place than the others. Another new tweak to the systems is in the Virtues. Breaking from Civilization V's system and instead following the same philosophy behind Affinities, none of the Virtues are mutually exclusive. Each time a new Virtue is earned, players may choose to develop down one of four trees: Might (military power), Prosperity (food), Knowledge (science and culture), and Industry (energy and production). There are benefits for generalizing as well as for specializing, and no one strategy is clearly better than another. One completely new aspect of Beyond Earth is the orbital layer. Set above the normal ground-level action, there is a hex grid layer representing the position of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. These orbital units can have various effects over areas, including increasing output of affected tiles, improving combat prowess for units underneath, or attacking from relative safety with a planet-carving laser. Placing an orbital unit near another civilization is not considered an outright act of war, though most will not take kindly to it. One memory I will keep for a long time involved General Kozlov placing a tactical support satellite near my borders, so I retaliated with an orbital laser in range of three of his cities, just waiting to be fired if he should misstep. It was the sort of cold war stuff that is often absent in games like this. The technology system received a substantial overhaul in more ways than one. Naturally, the science-fiction setting demands the imagination of new technologies. Those found in Beyond Earth range from currently existent (titanium mining) to really "out there" (constructing a giant flower that allows a neural connection between all humans and the living planet), though most are based firmly in plausible ideas for future technology. The most obvious change to the technology system is that it is set up as a radial web, expanding outward from a central point. The choice is available to set up a strong base of general knowledge, to make a beeline for any of the furthest techs, or to do anything in between. Most Affinity gains occur through researching specific technologies, so the tech web is also the arena that has the greatest effect on how a given civilization approaches the new world and how it plans to seek victory. There are five victory conditions: one for each of the three Affinities, one reliant on non-Affinity technologies, and the standard "destroy all the other civilizations" victory. Purity is attached to The Promised Land victory, which seeks to settle Earthlings who stayed behind on the new planet. Supremacy is attached to the Emancipation victory, whose goal is to return to Earth and demonstrate the power of cybernetics. Harmony is attached to the Transcendence victory, which aims to meld minds with the planet itself. Contact is the Affinity-agnostic victory; it involves building a beacon to communicate with an intelligent alien race. Narratively, each victory represents its corresponding philosophy well. The three Affinities approach the world with entirely different ideas, and their stories have appropriately different endings. However, the biggest failing of Civilization: Beyond Earth is that four of the five victory conditions feel too similar to one another from a gameplay perspective. Though the narrative reasoning varies, the basic framework for The Promised Land, Emancipation, and Transcendence is as follows: Research the required technologies, level up the corresponding Affinity to 13, build a planetary wonder, then defend it for approximately 30 turns. Contact largely follows the same path but without the minimum Affinity requirement. What happens after a planetary wonder is built varies between victory conditions, but not enough to make the individual experiences feel unique. From a balance perspective, it is easy to see why Beyond Earth adheres to this formula. It ensures a similar timeline regardless of path and it gives opponents clear warning that a player is nearing the end, allowing last-ditch efforts to race for another victory or topple the leader. For a series known for having multiple paths to victory, and especially for a narrative emphasizing just how divergent the ideologies within it are to one another, it is disappointing how similar each win condition is. There is no cultural, economic, or peace victory. There are only what amount to four science victories and a military victory. That said, the journey to get to the end does have a different feel depending on which Affinity is followed. The unique units bestowed to each Affinity interact with the environment differently and the benefits afforded allow for varied play styles. Where Purity and Supremacy fight against the planet's toxic miasma, Harmony learns to harness its power. Where Supremacy and Harmony benefit from leaving alien life alone, Purity gains combat bonuses against it. Where Purity and Harmony are geographically limited, Supremacy leverages its superior engineering in order to easily spread its influence across the map. Following the orbital escalation with General Kozlov described a ways above, he eventually did attack. After beating back his forces and teasing a peace treaty out of him, I dropped several tiles worth of miasma on his cities, just as a reminder for what happens when one messes with the African Union. He was cleaning it up for years, choking on it the whole time. Classic. In a separate encounter, Hutama of the Polystralians made note of my relative military weakness and, fueled by avarice and envy, broke our neighborly trade relationship in hopes of coming out a few cities richer. Although I was outgunned, he grossly underestimated the severe tactical disadvantage the local canyons and mountains put him at, and his forces were sunk to the bottom of the ocean before they could make landfall. That all highlights one of Civilization's greatest strengths: It provides the framework for totally awesome stuff to happen and lasting memories to be formed. Beyond Earth excels in that virtue with its new additions. Aesthetically, Beyond Earth really nails it. The three different planetary biomes add visual variety, and the rich colors pop. The palette features a lot of teal, pink, and purple, which conveys the idea of an alien world well. The soundtrack is appropriately grandiose during the climaxes and subdued during the lulls. Upon a dastardly betrayal or the completion of a planetary wonder, sweeping string pieces evoke a feeling that history is being made. In all, Beyond Earth is excellent. It maintains the secret sauce that the series is known for while adding setting-appropriate systems that change the gameplay up in interesting ways. Orbital units are inherently cool and add depth to international encounters. The narrative is thoughtful and important without being too preachy. Affinities show that the team put a lot of effort into considering how differing viewpoints may tackle the challenge of founding an alien world, as well as the consequences of those actions. If only there were more variety in the structure of the victory conditions between divergent philosophies, Civilization: Beyond Earth would be a perfect game. Even with that dissonance, it is damn close. The Civilization pedigree holds a lot of weight after all these years, and Beyond Earth more than lives up to its name.
Beyond Earth review photo
Stellar
"Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet." That is really all Firaxis and 2K needed to say to get people excited for the next entry in the long-running turn-based strategy series. There is a fair amount of new ...

Excalibastard photo
Excalibastard

I picked up the Excalibastard in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel


Kind of unfair, since I had a head start
Oct 17
// Darren Nakamura
There has been a bit of talk about an interesting legendary weapon in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel that is in plain sight, but unavailable at first. Excalibastard is stuck in a stone in the area Stanton's Liver, and only those...
Civilization Beyond Earth photo
Civilization Beyond Earth

The intro cinematic for Civilization: Beyond Earth is actually pretty touching


Showing off the narrative backdrop for leaving Earth
Oct 15
// Darren Nakamura
I have been working on a review for the upcoming sci-fi strategy game Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, and one of the things I could not wait to talk about is the introductory cinematic. It seems silly, but for a seri...
Dibs on DLC Character #1 photo
Dibs on DLC Character #1

You fools! I have dibs on [DLC Character #1] in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!


Because the best things in life aren't free
Oct 13
// mrandydixon
Fools. You poor, poor, poor, poor fools. It's almost as if you don't even like winning at life. I mean, I guess there's nothing wrong with choosing Athena, Claptrap, Nisha, or Wilhelm as your go-to character in Borderlands: T...
Borderlands screens photo
Borderlands screens

Here are more than 200 Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel screenshots


Perhaps I went a little overboard-erlands
Oct 13
// Darren Nakamura
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel comes out tomorrow, and you can read a 3,000-word review on what I think about it right here on Destructoid if you would like. However, since a picture is worth a thousand words, this post is basic...

Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Oct 13 // Darren Nakamura
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, Xbox 360)Developers: 2K Australia, Gearbox SoftwarePublisher: 2K GamesReleased: October 14, 2014MSRP: $59.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit There is a symmetry to be appreciated in The Pre-Sequel's in-between feeling, given that it is chronologically set between the first two games. Specifically, it is set after the events of The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, but before Claptrap's New Robot Revolution, the third and fourth pieces of downloadable content for Borderlands, respectively. Taking place largely on Pandora's moon Elpis, the first regressive parallel to the original title in the series reveals itself: the moon is largely made up of desolate gray-blue rock dotted with industrial complexes. In the same way that our first adventure to Pandora spent entirely too much time in vast brown deserts, the first half of the romp across Elpis occurs in areas that are indistinct from one another. Getting lost is easy at first, even with the minimap and its waypoints. Eventually, the story works its way back to Helios, the Hyperion space station, and the environments become a bit more diverse. Even with the additional biomes found on Helios, the number of different looking areas to explore pales in comparison to Borderlands 2's tundra, temperate, desert, tropical, industrial, civilized, volcanic, and other environments. [embed]281294:55659:0[/embed] Other small oversights pop up in the level design here and there. Expansive areas meant to be traversed in a moon buggy lack vehicle stations at every entrance, sometimes causing the player to have to trek on foot when backtracking or if the rover is destroyed. There are natural progression blockers that are not completely functional once the requirement has been met. Specifically, there is a gap early on that can only be jumped in a vehicle, but even with four wheels and a rocket booster, I found myself falling into the lava chasm beneath the ruined bridge about half the time. Some of the smaller areas have no Fast Travel station, an annoyance compounded by side missions that require returning multiple times. On top of that, not every area has vending machines near the entrance, which makes dumping junk loot a bit of a pain when visiting the offending locales. One area in particular (Stanton's Liver) has everything going against it: unmemorable environmental art design, no Fast Travel, no vending machines, and several optional missions pointing toward it. Generally, these are minor quibbles regarding the level design. A lot of the time, traversing the environments is made easy through circuitous layouts and the new freedom afforded by the low gravity of Elpis and the Vault Hunters' ability to double jump. Other times this freedom is a double-edged sword, where the new ability allow for more verticality, but highlight the need for a more thoroughly upgraded map. It now shows whether enemies are above or below the player, but still represents only two dimensions, despite that a lot of the areas now make extensive use of the z-axis. Indeed, one of the most touted new features of fighting on Elpis as opposed to Pandora is the use of the moon's lower gravity. On paper, it does not seem like a big deal, but it surprised me to find out just how much it affects gameplay. In addition to being able to jump higher, the double jump allows for a lot of aerial control, and the new Gravity Slam move is both satisfying and useful. The double jump functionality is a lot deeper than it initially seems. Depending on when the second jump is activated, it can be put toward additional jump height, additional jump distance, increased traversal speed, or increased maneuverability. The slam damages nearby enemies, typically with an elemental effect, but one of the key features of it is that it does not interrupt other abilities like activating an Action Skill or reloading. This opens up the viability of a lot of weapons that were previously too cumbersome to use regularly. Weapons with long or frequent reloads like Jakobs shotguns or Scav (The Pre-Sequel's version of Bandit) rocket launchers can now be used more frequently, with firing punctuated by crowd-controlling slams. For instance, my Enforcer currently wields a Jakobs Quad -- a shotgun with huge damage, high ammunition expenditure, and frequent reloads. Most battles I get into are frenetic affairs, where I summon Wolf and Saint, double jump toward an enemy, slam to stun him, fire two shots into his face, mentally change targets, and double jump toward that one while reloading. It all happens quickly, and it is incredibly satisfying. Speaking strictly about combat, this is the most fun the series has ever been, and it owes most of that to the low gravity and corresponding abilities. In fact, the low gravity combat is so fun that I became noticeably irritated when the story takes the Vault Hunters back to Helios, where there is more standard, Pandora-like gravity. It is not that the standard combat is bad, it is just that the moon combat is so good. To expound a bit on the story, it opens in Sanctuary as it floats among the clouds. Clearly taking place after the events of Borderlands 2, Athena is forced to tell the story of the time she helped Handsome Jack years before. The playable portion of The Pre-Sequel is all told as Athena's flashback, regardless of which of the four available Vault Hunters is in play. What Athena describes is meeting Jack, a middle management Hyperion employee who saves her life and eventually the lives of countless people living on Elpis. Players get to see firsthand why Jack considers himself a hero, and they get to watch his slow decline into depravity, and his eventual transformation into Handsome Jack, the man wearing the mask. It is an interesting arc to watch, although it is still difficult to be sympathetic toward Jack's character through most of the story. The logical and moral leaps he makes, even when fueled largely by self-defense and paranoia, are still the product of a deeply disturbed individual. Even so, The Pre-Sequel does a great job of showing exactly why Handsome Jack despises bandits as much as he does, and it ends in a way that highlights the moral ambiguity of Borderlands as a whole. Without spoiling too much, the ending upset me initially. I felt betrayed, and I felt like it would not have and should not have happened like it did. Upon further reflection, I realize that while it caused me to see a character in a different light than I previously had, it perfectly encapsulates a major theme in the series. The bad guys are at least a little bit good and the good guys are at least a little bit bad. Sometimes it is difficult to tell which is which. There is one extra thing regarding the story that more serious players will appreciate. For the first time, there is a believable narrative explanation for the second playthrough, True Vault Hunter Mode. There is additional dialogue to go with it, so players have more incentive to go through the higher level content. It is a small thing, but it is a welcome touch. I would have really appreciated a slightly different or expanded ending for those who make it all the way through twice, and the narrative would have allowed for it, but that is not the case. At about 25 hours to get through the campaign once, The Pre-Sequel runs shorter than Borderlands 2, but provides a good amount of entertainment. On the downside, the plot left open a few points that I was expecting to be addressed. Clearly, Athena is alive and in Pandora's vicinity between the point of her introduction in The Secret Armory and some indeterminate point after the events of Borderlands 2, so she lives through the Pre-Sequel, but the story never gives an explicit explanation on her whereabouts during Handsome Jack's tenure as CEO of Hyperion. Considering she was there to witness his insidious rise to power, there should be a good narrative reason that she would not help to bring him down. The Eridian race is also a bit of a mystery. They are present on Pandora during Borderlands, present on Elpis during The Pre-Sequel, but absent during Borderlands 2, and fans are left to continue speculating on the reason. In fact, the story presented here even fuels the fire of speculation by introducing more variables to the question of why they cannot be found later in the timeline. The writing as a whole maintains the classic Borderlands charm, though it does seem a little less wacky than that found in Borderlands 2, again striking a balance between the two previous titles. A few familiar faces show up; most current characters have a least small speaking roles. There are several new characters as well: the eastern European Nurse Nina, the not-quite-as-annoying-as-Tiny-Tina child Pickle, and my favorite new character Janey Springs. Springs is one of many denizens of Elpis, most of whom are the Australians to Pandora's Americans. She is immediately endearing, and has some of the best lines in the game. There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, and overall the writing is smart and snappy. There are no Internet memes, except for one easily missed reference to an old Destructoid mantra that 99.9% of players will gloss over without a second thought. There are a number of shout-outs to other works of fiction, including Star Wars and Pokémon. One of the best new developments for the writing in Borderlands was the decision to have the Vault Hunters participate in conversations, giving each one more personality, and offering a non-gameplay reason to play through with multiple characters. This is especially important through Jack's campaign to save Elpis, as each character will react differently to his methods and evolving morality. Although Athena is my girl, the morally bankrupt sadist Nisha has some of the most hilarious retorts and insults. Weapons received a major overhaul between Borderlands and Borderlands 2; comparatively, the differences here seem slight, but their consequences reach further than it may initially appear. Slag weapons do not exist yet, since the first vault was only recently opened and the engineers are just beginning to study it. In its place is the cryo element, which slows enemies, damages them over time, and can eventually freeze them solid to be shattered into hundreds of shards. Lasers also appear as a separate weapon type, rather than being reserved for the relatively rare E-Tech weaponry found on Pandora. There are several different flavors of laser weapons, including Ghostbusters-style streams, Star Wars-esque blasters, and powerful railguns. Most useful is that laser weapons generally have low recoil and good hip fire accuracy. This pairs extremely well with the aforementioned low gravity combat. It is common to double jump across a pit and headshot an enemy with a railgun from the hip in the process, and it feels totally rad to do it. Where combat in Borderlands was like Call of Duty in a lot of ways, the fighting in The Pre-Sequel feels more akin to Halo. One other welcome addition to the loot system is the Grinder, which turns out to be a double entendre of sorts. By feeding it three items of the same rarity level, it has a chance to spit out an item with a higher rarity. Any three items can be fed in, but best results seem to come from matching equipment. For instance, grinding three common pistols will usually result in an uncommon pistol. I found myself keeping various weapons that I had no intention of using, because they would go well in the Grinder and return something I may want. With enough of a collection, several common weapons can be combined to eventually produce a rare item. Sadly, rare items cannot be used to create legendary items. The Grinder can feel random at times, and I wish there were more structure to it. Feeding it three Jakobs sniper rifles can produce a Maliwan sniper rifle, or feeding it three incendiary lasers can result in a cryo laser. It seems weapon type is the only attribute conserved in the grinding process. The Grinder also functions through a sort of recipe system, but there is no in-game method for tracking which recipes have been tried, what worked, and what did not. The Grinder is a great idea to deal with all the unwanted loot in Borderlands, but it could have been taken the extra mile to function well without outside support. Of course, some of the most fun in Borderlands comes with multiplayer, and The Pre-Sequel has made some strides to make this even more interesting. While each of the four Vault Hunters can be built to play solo, Athena, Wilhelm, and Claptrap have skills that benefit the whole team in unusual ways. Now, a well-formed group of four can be much greater than the sum of its parts. An obvious example of this is that many of Claptrap's Action Packages will affect the entire team, but a more subtle effect emerges when playing with Athena. As the group's shieldbearer, I acted as the tank, soaking up incoming damage that would have otherwise gone toward glass cannon Nisha. Although previous games have had similar abilities (Salvador could draw aggro and buff his defense), the character diversity and focus on team abilities allow for the potential to be more tactical than ever before. A lot of the best multiplayer moments have come from raid boss fights. Introduced to the series in the General Knoxx DLC, they have required some of the most intensive team interactions, and Gearbox learned a lot about making interesting raids over the course of the Borderlands 2 DLC schedule. 2K Australia has a lot to learn on that front, because the raid boss included in the core game is just a disappointing retread of the final boss fight, except that it has more health and deals more damage. Another arena in which The Pre-Sequel falls short of its predecessor is in general polish. A lot of common, benign bugs can be found, like enemies clipping through environment geometry (see above) or shields that glitch such that they recharge immediately and infinitely, rendering the player effectively invincible until restarting. I ran into a few more off-putting bugs over the 60 hours I spent playing. The most egregious resulted in one of my characters not being able to progress the story, just one area before the final boss fight. 2K has assured Destructoid that this particular bug has been isolated and addressed in a day one patch, so retail versions will be free from it. Regardless, it was heartbreaking to put 40 hours into one character only to be stopped just short of completion. At least two missions show up in the menu, but point toward the wrong location to accept the mission. One even points toward an area that the player might not have even found before, existing as an ever-present missed connection, with no guidance on how to actually take it on. In Borderlands 2, side missions were generally discovered organically, placed in the main path where they could not be missed. Here, many side missions require backtracking just to take them on, and that is backtracking that the player would not do naturally. Otherwise, there are issues with form and functionality that do not technically qualify as bugs. For instance, Wilhelm has a skill that sets up a healing aura around a point on the map, but that aura is denoted by a perfectly horizontal circle on the ground, centered at one point on the surface. In areas where the terrain is not completely flat (i.e. most of them), part of the circle is hidden from view. Other areas feature terrain that hides it entirely. In case it is not already obvious, I love the Borderlands series. I have followed it since its debut in 2009, and I have put hundreds of hours into using bullets to make numbers pop out of bad guys, digging into the lore, and hanging out with friends. Loving the series means knowing just how good it can be, and it means always measuring it against those high standards. 2K Australia nailed the combat with The Pre-Sequel. It is fast, fresh, and more tactically interesting than ever before. The writing hits the right notes, although the overarching plot is not quite as emotionally powerful as other entries have been. For many, that is enough to be a great experience. I had a lot of fun playing through, and I anticipate I will keep playing for months as more friends obtain copies. Despite that glowing praise, I am torn, because I also recognize that it is far from perfect. The environmental art direction gets dull too quickly, the level design is lacking in basic conveniences, and a general sloppiness is present when looking closely. Some of the cool new features like multi-leveled areas and combining weapons could have been enhanced further if the user interface and systems had been updated to play to those strengths. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a solid entry to the series, but I hope that the development team takes some of the failings to heart and delivers excellence in the future.
Borderlands review photo
If it ain't broke...
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, one of the writers for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] "If it ain't ...

I got the robot because you were too slowbot: I have dibs on Claptrap

Oct 12 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]282061:55846:0[/embed] He's a literal killing machine Borderlands is all about shootin' and lootin'. There's a lot of the latter, but even more of the former. Seriously, there's so much stuff in that game that wants to murder you! Protectin' yo' neck is priority numero uno, because nobody likes a co-op partner that constantly needs reviving. Who better to put behind a metallic vessel of death than a machine that was systematically engineered to kill everything in sight? Okay, maybe that wasn't in Claptrap's original design docs, but that's a firmware patch that probably rolled out at some point. Claptrap's such a badass that I bet he even auto-updated. When it's a matter of life and death, I'm going to opt for the little guy who allows no room for human error. That's because he's not human. He's an infallible harbinger of pain that'll kill with wit and lead. Also, he can't die, because (again) he's not people. He's probably just temporarily out-of-commission or something. That's all theoretical, because I don't anticipate that ever happening. Wow, you may not have dibs on Claptrap, but you're damn lucky I'm even entertaining the idea of bringing you along on our journey, Captain Coattail Rider. No oxygen? No problemo The Pre-Sequel is all about moons and low gravity. Moon jumping sounds like a ton of fun (as long as it isn't in Destiny)! It comes with one drawback, though -- you only have a limited amount of oxygen. WAIT! Let me rephrase that. It comes with one drawback for all you worthless human plebes, because Claptrap doesn't need oxygen. Claptrap doesn't have robolungs, so there's no need for air. Maybe oil, but that's a completely different issue. That's right -- I get all the benefits of carelessly jumping a million feet in the sky as often as I want, and you're tethered to a constant concern over your oxygen gauge. Maybe I'll moon jump on your stupid dead body after you've suffocated. Seriously though, if you love oxygen so much, why don't you marry it? You probably think there's only one thing better, and you're right. But, I'm playing as him because I've got dibs, sucka. Skills for kills, Agent My little Fragtrap looks innocent enough, but that's because you've only seen him in family photos where he had to be on his best behavior. Really, dude's a badass and he has the skills to back it up. His VaultHunter.EXE ability unleashes a random palatable smorgasbord of skills and buffs. There's no telling what's going to happen, but most of the time, it's going to be good. Sometimes it'll be abilities from previous playable characters in other Borderlands games. That's so awesome that it's not even fair anymore. Oh yeah, and as capstone options, Claptrap can turn into the likes of a disco ball or a pirate ship. The disco ball shoots out every type of elemental damage in an area-of-effect attack. That's right, enemies just got hit with fire, corrosion, funk, and more. Are you beginning to see why I called dibs on Claptrap? You might as well snap your disc in half; I just ruined the game for you. Your character is boring Unarguably, the most hilarious moments in past Borderlands games belonged to Claptrap. Do you think that's going to change here? The other three characters are described as "The Gladiator," "The Lawbringer," and "The Enforcer." YAWN. While everyone else listens to their character drone on about god knows what boring topic, I'll be treated to unique, comedic dialogue that no one else can hear. It's going to be great -- just Claptrap and me sharing these moments. That giggling in the microphone? Disregard that; it's just a side-effect of playing as a superior character. You wouldn't know, would you? 
Dibs on Claptrap photo
SucksToBeYou.EXE
It's really not all that long until Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel comes out, and you've already made a grave mistake. You didn't call dibs on Claptrap. Know how I know that? Because I'm writing this post right now. If you ...

Dibs on Nisha photo
Dibs on Nisha

To all you would-be Borderlands cowboys and cowgirls, I have dibs on Nisha


Shoot the flesh, whip the wounds
Oct 12
// Abel Girmay
"Behind every great man is a great woman." Screw that, says Nisha. While Handsome Jack is sitting in a climate-controlled bunker, cowering from the awesome might of the Vault Hunters and bandit gangs, Nisha fights her enemies...

To any Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel players out there: I have dibs on Athena

Oct 11 // Darren Nakamura
She has a sword. When the bullets run out but the fight is still on, melee attacks become crucial. Sure, smacking somebody with the butt of a gun is practical, and cracking a whip across someone's face is showy, but you know what is terrifying? About two feet of bloody, sharpened steel. Athena is a trained assassin, so she knows how to use her Xiphos blade. In fact, she has an entire skill tree dedicated to causing pain with it. If that isn't enough, there is a skill that allows her to apply a unique status effect to enemies: she can make them bleed. You might be content with burning, electrocution, corrosion, and freezing, but I will have those and the ability to cause exsanguination. Also, later on, when an bleeding enemy dies, he explodes. She has a shield. What is the peanut butter to a sword's chocolate? That's right, it's a shield. Athena's Kinetic Aspis is not just a regular old "protect you from damage" shield though. It protects her and her friends from damage, then sends that damage back to the enemies twofold. Also, it explodes. Up to five times in one throw. Mister Torgue would totally approve of Athena's arsenal. In addition to the fact that throwing an explosive shield is rad on its own, the Kinetic Aspis is the most different action skill from any previous Borderlands game. Wilhelm's Wolf and Saint drones act a lot like Gaige's Deathtrap, Nisha's capability for raw gun damage output is comparable to Salvador's Gunzerking ability, and Claptrap literally just copies other Vault Hunters' abilities with his VaultHunter.EXE. With Athena, the focus can be shifted from damage output to damage protection. With this, interesting interactions emerge during cooperative games. Instead of a group of four lone wolves fighting near each other in the same manner that they would when fighting alone, the Kinetic Aspis assigns Athena the specific role as a defender, allowing her teammates to specialize further in other abilities. Athena is a great friend to fight alongside. In fact... She is the most important teammate to have. Yes, my Kinetic Aspis can protect you from taking damage, and you should be very grateful about that alone. But that's only a small part of why Athena is the best. Tara touched on it when she called dibs on Maya, but the ability to revive a teammate instantly at range, as opposed to having to be nearby and spending precious seconds in a vulnerable state, ranges between very helpful and utterly crucial. Athena's "Clear!" ability is similar to Maya's "Res," except that it can affect multiple teammates at once. Imagine three other Vault Hunters, lying in pain at the feet of a raid boss, largely due to their own hubris and poor judgment (because they left Athena's motherly protective embrace), only to be mass resurrected by the wise shieldbearer. Considering the Borderlands series' focus on high level, post-game content, "Clear!" will absolutely be the single most important skill for any serious group looking to take on raids. Sure, Claptrap has a skill tree devoted to buffing teammates, and Wilhelm has some skills spread around that do the same, but none of those hold a candle to Athena's ability to keep her friends in the fight, especially against bosses where death would lock them out of it. You can thank me now, since I have dibs on Athena. She doesn't end up dead. Probably. Look at that picture. That's Nisha: a total badass who strangles puppies, at least until Salvador and company come along to wreck her day in Borderlands 2. Then, she's just a dead body that flopped onto the ground in the most absurd position. She joins Wilhelm, who is killed even earlier under Handsome Jack's reign. Claptrap? His entire product line was obliterated before Borderlands 2 even begins. But Athena? We don't know what she did after the fall of Atlas. We don't know where she was when the events of Borderlands 2 were occurring. Her story is completely open-ended. She has the most space for growth, change, betrayal, sadness, and ultimate victory. Her story is innately more interesting because we don't already know how it ends. Assuming Borderlands 3 eventually comes into existence, Athena will probably be there. It is entirely possible that she dies in the events of the Pre-Sequel, which could explain why she is absent throughout Borderlands 2. Even if that is the case, finding that out is still more exciting than knowing how it ends right from the start. But that's probably not the case, because Athena is the best, and the best can't die. Probably. She has a functioning moral compass. Nisha strangles puppies. Wilhelm shows no mercy if the price is high enough. Claptrap just does what he is programmed to do. Athena actually knows right from wrong as she is impaling Scavengers and exploding dangerous creatures. Sure, an assassin's job description is technically "kill for money," and that kind of makes her like Wilhelm, whose job as a mercenary is also precisely to "kill for money," but Wilhelm's motivation is the promise of lavish riches. Athena needs money to feed herself. She is basically like Aladdin, except that she canonically snaps people's necks sometimes. Where Nisha is lawful evil, Wilhelm is neutral evil, and Claptrap is chaotic neutral, Athena is the only truly moral character as a chaotic good. I would even say that she is not just chaotic good, she is chaotic best. Because she is the best. Dibs, by the way. Dibs on Athena. Seriously, dibs.
Dibs on Athena photo
Sorry, she's mine
Two years ago, Chris, Tara, Conrad, and Andy each called dibs on a Vault Hunter for Borderlands 2 before I ever could, and so I was never able to play it. All I could do was sit there looking at my copy, wishing I had ca...

Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

The final 'making of' video for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel looks at 'Weapons and Beyond'


Guns, guns, guns!
Oct 09
// Darren Nakamura
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel comes out next week, and 2K Games has now released the final episode of the four-part series behind the scenes at Gearbox and 2K Australia. Episodes One (To the Moon), Two (From Pandora to th...
Evolve photo
Evolve

That other Evolve alpha is coming Halloween weekend


October 30th through November 2nd
Oct 09
// Chris Carter
The hype for Evolve has died down for a bit. After tons of magazine covers, headline stories, previews, and hype for the alpha, we saw quite a lot of the game -- but ever since the delay, all has been quiet on the 2K fro...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Ten minutes of Claptrap ruining everything in this Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel video


No, I will not high five you
Oct 03
// Darren Nakamura
Back when I spent way too much time playing with the Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel interactive skill trees, I admitted that I was not really sure what to do with Claptrap's highly random play style. This video shows off some o...






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