As-I-Play Borderlands 2: Following Directions (Part Three)

by Kristin Bezio

Today’s mission – hunt down Roland’s missing soldier. Shockingly, he’s still alive when I get to him; not shockingly, he dies after about ten seconds of blathering at me about how a Psycho ran off with the power core that I now need to go fetch.

Off I go to fetch. This one was pretty fun, for a fetch quest, all things considered. The camp was close by, I got to use my sniper rifle to pick guys off, I got a new elemental sniper rifle that’s more powerful and sets things on fire, and at the end of it, I actually did get to enter Sanctuary. Huzzah!

Sanctuary is full of weird people who dig through trash and talk to themselves. There’s some teenage girl whose transport crashed who misses movies, a woman named Daisy with flowers in her hat who doesn’t talk to me yet, a lot of people who like my “gear,” a madam in a purple ring-master’s burlesque outfit (which is a little weird for me, since I have a real-life friend who has worn something similar if less revealing, complete with jaunty hat), and a crazy Russian arms-dealer who let me test out all the fun elemental weapons, gave me money and XP, and then told me I could buy them from him. He lied. When I attempted to purchase one of his fun toys (fire, shock, corrosive acid, or this purple stuff called “slag”), all he had were normal boring toys. I guess I just haven’t leveled up enough, but it was actually pretty disappointing.

Overall, Sanctuary is pretty much what one would expect of a weird rebel city on an icy planet being dominated by a cruel corporate jackass.

A couple things bothered me. First, Moxxxi’s. Moxxi (she only has two x’s in her name, unlike in her business’s) is – unsurprisingly, given her name – a madam (see above comments on her outfit). Her “joint” is some sort of cross between a bar and a strip club (there were people there drinking and playing darts, so it wasn’t really a full-fledged strip club, despite her excessive cleavage). It’s not that there was anything particularly raunchy (not much at all, really, aside from Moxxi’s cleavage) about it, but that it just tripped the old “Here we go again” trigger. I haven’t yet found a place with food, but there’s a bar with scantily clad women. And guns. But the guns have practical value.

Second, the shooting range used actual NPCs as targets. Sure, they were excused by the proprietor as “imperialists” working for Handsome Jack and labeled as “Vandals,” but still I felt a little bad about shooting them while they were strapped to a piece of stained plywood. It just seemed a little tasteless.

My objective in Sanctuary is to go talk to the mechanic, Scooter, but I found a couple optional quests from a board (a recording from Roland asking me to go kill an assassin) and from Sir Hammerlock, who happens somehow to have beaten me here (whatever).

I like to do my story quests last. It’s a habit I picked up from the husband while playing Alice many years ago – always go away from the quest arrows first. It’s something I’ve had to modify for Borderlands 2 in general, though – it’s not a good policy for open world games, because everything is away from the quest arrow, which means that you get accidentally caught up in a million other quests that will actually be more doable later in the game. So I do the board quests before plot quests, but I try not to get too off the quest-path when out in Pandora, because I might never come back.

So off I go to Three Horns Valley – which means a quicktravel to the area outside Sanctuary, then go find a new area. I go through the gate, and find myself back in territory that looks much more like Borderlands 1 than 2; the terrain I’ve seen in this game has been winter – snow, whiteness, ice, some water with bergs. Three Horns Valley is the old familiar brown of the first game, complete with scags (spikey acid-spitting dog-things) and scag-piles, instead of bullymongs and bullymong ice piles. It’s like a flashback, a reminder of what the game’s first volume looked like. Of where I as a player – not as a character, because the four options in the second game are different from the first – came from. But there’s also a difference – despite all the brown and dust and scags, it’s snowing. This space is in the process of transforming. I approve.

I continue to the mining facility where the assassins are holed up. I go in. There are boxes to search EVERYWHERE. This is not a good sign. They only give you ammo up the wazoo if things are going to get really ugly, really fast.

And I soon relearn why Borderlands quests should not be done out of order. I am not prepared to do this mission (I theoretically learned this lesson while playing the first game, but clearly it didn’t stick).

One of the things about Borderlands games is that they are open world, but with a more-or-less “recommended” order. This means that certain missions and areas have MUCH more difficult enemies than others, and it really isn’t recommended for a low-level player to go wandering off or taking on missions when there is a nice juicy plot quest for them to play. I should know this. Apparently, I do not.

I need to be several levels higher in order to take out these four assassins (for a bonus – kill the first one with a pistol, the second with a sniper rifle, third with melee, and last with a shotgun). I do okay with the first two, mostly because I’ve practiced with the pistol and rifle and have high quality fire-inducing weaponry. In fact, the sniper rifle assassin is almost too easy. I get overconfident. My melee is okay, but only because I’m a Siren. I’m bad at hitting things in close quarters (you wouldn’t think it’s that hard, but I really do suck at melee combat in games). I die once and come back (thank god the enemies don’t respawn). And my shotgun? It does like 7 damage because I found it in a hole somewhere. U.G.L.Y. I died at least three times. Maybe four. I honestly didn’t count. I did succeed, though. And got some nice new toys, too. Electric shotgun and semiauto, corrosive shield, electric grenade modification. I’ll take it.

And now I’ll go talk to Scooter like a good Siren.

He tells me I’m “like a unicorn.” I think that’s my cue to be done for the night… We’ll have to find out more about my special unique unicorn-like characteristics later.

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