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StriderHoang avatar 4:48 PM on 09.26.2012  (server time)
Strider's Borderlands journal #1: Shoot it dead, please

Remember when everyone said Zer0 looked so cool? How it would be awesome to disappear and stab your enemies in the back like a ninja?

Well I don't know about you, but everyone including me is playing the Commando.

For a little under two days now, I've been traveling the Borderlands alone, with friends, and with strangers with two characters: the Commando and the Assassin. While the Commando is very vanilla, it's very easy to solo and support with an auto turret covered your back. Meanwhile, with the Assassin's deadly Deception ability, I've been one-shotting enemies by waiting until the last possible second to use his absurdly boosted melee attack with the help of a melee boosting gun and healthy investment in his Bloodshed skill.

A lot of you guys probably don't want to deal with randoms and neither do I. Whenever I get the chance, BL2's handy friend tracking menu let's jump in on my friends' games easily. So far, SuperMonk4Ever has always had a character near my level to jump in with and every so often Andy Dixon was online with his Gunzerker. Wrench and Stahl even reunited our old N7 squad to take on Pandora together. But sometimes, I just start playing late at night in Southern California and nobody will be on. Sometimes you get lucky and play with likeminded individuals. I've even friended these new companions. Sometimes though, you get unpredictable stooges where the only explaination I can come up with is that they're trolling. For example, you can't fast travel or move to a new area if someone's in their menu. I can understand checking your inventory quickly then getting the notification at which you hurry things up a bit to be polite. After all, you can check when the next area loads. But how can you stay in the menu for nearly 10 minutes?

He must be trolling.

Sometimes, there are plenty of Assassins. Sometimes, there are an excess of Commandos. Still I plenty prefer BL2 in a group, friends or strangers, regardless of class not just because things are tougher and more enjoyable. Loot is better in co-op to justify the added enemy strength.

On one of my first nights with the game, I joined a game with Andy and Monk and plowed our way through one of the initial story missions in Frostburn cavern. Enemies were plenty tough to face down our posse of three and lucky me, my favorite fire gun was next to useless as some of the toughest enemies were pyros dressed appropriately for the job. Every now and then, Loot Goliaths would show up carrying humongous equipment chests on their backs with the brawn and guns to match. Lesson number one from that night: if Goliath is in their name, don't shoot their head.

Someone shot the Goliath's head off, which drove it into a unkillable beserker rage. With it's level nearly matching our own but tougher with a party of three, it was easily one of the most intimidating enemies I've ever encountered in any game. Imagine a headless Hulk charging at you with a huge backpack full of goodies. Now imagine him getting stronger with every enemy he killed rather than how angry he got. Yes, this Loot Goliath managed to level up twice counting the initial leveling (the related achievement does not, so you technically need Goliaths to "level" five times).

The best part? What are you supposed to do when this pain train charges you? He charged me, so my only reaction was, "Fuck this shit. Peace out!"

I turned around and sprinted for dear life. I had hoped Andy and Monk would shoot him but since he had so much health a time, I thought that'd take too long. So I ran into the nearest cave full of bandits and spiderants.

I ended up running back outside when the bandits or spiderants ended up fighting amongst themselves or got killed by the Goliath.

Long story short, after a lot of kiting up and down stairs, the loot he dropped didn't justify the effort needed to kill him. Hey, that's Borderlands 2 for you.

A few days of soloing and exploring later, Dtoid's old N7 squad of Wrenchfarm, Stahlbrand, and Striderhoang reunite to take on Handsome Jack at his Wildlife Exploitation Preserve. Wrench has no love for side quests nor Claptrap, so we decide to power through as much story mission as we can stomach and get through the game already! And we sure do power through he initial area of the preserve. Loaders are no match for the N7 crew! Until we drop into the Wildlife Preserve proper where we get our asses handed to us by a Badass Corrosive Skag. It was so tough, we were convinced we were under leveled for the mission. We only survived because the Skag would continue aggroing the person it downed, leading to somewhat easy revives.

Once I managed to get in ZombiePlatypus' game, with his own levle 26 Commando. There's quite a disparity between my Commando and his but luckily he was interested in finishing up quests that were light in combat and more into the flavor of Pandora. Actually, without any communication by mic at all, we managed to complete a particularly dastardly delivery quest with the help of some foresight and independent thinking. Dr. Zed wanted us to collect 5 separate body parts for medical use spread across the landscape with the only way of completing it in 2 minutes being to drive BL2's touchy vehicles. After coming close the first time, we get it the second time as I drive ahead to where the quest items spawn to pick them up early. I picked up two items ahead of schedule while Platypus picked up the three more conventional marks and delivered it all. Luckily, as long as someone picks up a quest item, the game believes everyone to have that quest item for the purposes of a delivery. How's that for exploits? And all without even speaking a word to each other.

So far, my Commando has gone down the Survival tree with the intent of upgrading to the Phalanx Shield for makeshift cover. After using the respec a few times, I've forgone the extra health upgrades in favor of pure shield protection from Preparation, hopefully to synergize with Willing from the Guerrilla tree for a stupidly effective shield. All that's left is to ponder the big question: do I want one turret with two guns that shoot slag bullets, or two separate turrets while carrying a slag gun? Though all in all, my Commando is about being the last one standing with a turret to back me up when my friends get downed. Even if I get downed, my turret will help me get back up. My original plan was to have two turrets with shields and rocket pods, but slag is such a useful effect, I might just settle for one turret with two guns and a rocket pod while doing slag damage. Slag is supposed to be downright necessary in True Vault Hunter Mode, the new game+.

I'm still halfway through the story missions, not to mention I have a level 19 Assassin that's focused on melee and a level 10 Siren that's focused on support. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled on Friday Night Fights on the 360 to get in on all these shenanigans.

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