Borderlands Part 7: The New Vault Hunters

By Shamus Posted Thursday Aug 31, 2017

Filed under: Borderlands 74 comments

In the comments of the previous installment, a lot of people were surprised that I was moving on from the first game so quickly. The series actually evolved quite a bit in the DLC that took place between the games, and to make any sense of the massive change in tone you kind of need to look at the DLC. Specifically, people wanted to know if I was going to talk about The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC.

Yes, I’m going to mention the DLC, although that won’t happen until next week. On the other hand, I’m not going to talk about General Knoxx.

Here’s the thing: I own the General Knoxx DLC. According to Steam achievements I’ve played some of it, but I have not completed it. However, I have no memory of it. I don’t even remember what character I was using when I played it. I kinda forgot that it existed until it came up in the comments. I’ve played Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot and I’ve been through The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned multiple times, but I’ve somehow managed to overlook the most popular DLC.

I’ve moved on to other games since writing this, so this series will need to continue on without covering General Knoxx. It’s fine. I think the other DLC gives us what we need in terms of bridging the gap between the two games. Yes, Knoxx introduces Athena and she’s important later. I’m sure we’ll manage somehow.

Anyway, with the slog of Borderlands 1 behind us it’s time to talk about Borderlands 2. Since this game is so much more character and story focused, let’s start with talking about our new heroes.

The New Team

So the first game started with our characters riding a bus. How can we spice that up in the sequel? Oh! I've got it: TRAIN.
So the first game started with our characters riding a bus. How can we spice that up in the sequel? Oh! I've got it: TRAIN.

Rather than chain the series to the original four characters, Gearbox wisely came up with new classes for people to play in the sequel.

They were even bold enough to break out of the particular character roles they had in the first game. Sure, Axton is a bit like Roland, but the rest of them don’t map neatly to characters from Borderlands 1. Maya is a siren like Lilith, but their powers do totally different things and they have different personalities. The new group of four doesn’t have a pet-based class like Mordecai, or a melee-based class like Brick.

I suppose they do kind of re-use the body types: You’ve got a shapely woman, a ridiculously skinny guy, a normal guy, and a thick guyAlthough the thick guy is super short this time around.. This is done so that each character has a distinctive outline. I can’t fault them for that.

The point is, they had the confidence to do something new rather than getting themselves in a rut, and I really appreciate this. The first game is where you define what properties the new genre can have, but the second game is where you define what properties it must have. If they stuck with the Siren+Soldier+Hunter+Brawler paradigm for the second game, then fans would expect (and possibly demand) they stuck to that pattern forever.

Also, the new game adds a couple of extra DLC characters for people who like to buy their videogames piecemeal. Here’s the new lineup:


You know, after playing for hundreds of hours I don't think I've ever seen a rocket launcher that looked like this.
You know, after playing for hundreds of hours I don't think I've ever seen a rocket launcher that looked like this.

Generally when I hit the special action button it’s because I have one of two problems. Either I’m low on health and about to die, or I’ve just run into something really dangerous (like a big crowd of mooks, a badass, or even a boss) and I want to do a ton of damage to it in a hurry.

Axton’s power does both. Like Roland from the last game, Axton’s power causes a turret to materialize on the fieldThis is called “digi-structing” in the fiction of the world. (No relation to digimon.). Unlike Roland, this turret isn’t a dinky thing with a pointless little wall. Axton’s turret deals respectable damage and can mop up the mooks while you run off to loot the room or whatever it is that you’d rather be doing.

The turret also grabs all aggro, meaning foes will lose interest in attacking Axton and instead pound on his turret. Axton can then shoot them in the back, or if he’s low on health he can go hide and suck his thumb until his shields recharge. The one downside is that while the turret is durable, it’s not invincible and it can be destroyed by foes.

Axton’s got this handsome, devil-may-care kinda thing going that makes me think of Nathan Drake. He’s a good character to play if you’re patient and you hate dying.



Like I said, when I hit the action button I either want my power to save me from dying or do a bunch of murder. Maya doesn’t solve either of these problems for me. She’s a siren like Lilith in the first game, and her power is that she can phaselock one foe and make them float up in the air where they will be harmless for a few seconds. This doesn’t hurt them, and when phaselock ends the foe floats gently back to the ground and resumes trying to kill you.

So you’ve got six guys running at you, and your power gives you the ability to make one of them slightly late to the murder party. I never found that particularly satisfying to use. The one time where this power might be useful is against bosses, but phaselock doesn’t work on bosses. It just takes off a tiny chunk of their health without impeding their actions in any way.

About halfway through the game you’ll gain access to an ability to have the phaselocked guy act like a mook magnet, drawing all of the nearby mooks into a giant ball. That helps, but it still doesn’t hurt them or heal you. You can fix this by using the right weapon loadout to take advantage of the way guys bunch up, but the point stands that her power is a little less immediately useful compared to the others. You’ll need to wait a little longer and work a little harder before her power can really solve your problems. (Or if you’re playing with friends, invest in the skills to make her a healer instead. They’re actually kind of overpowered if you like playing in support roles.)

Maya was raised by a bunch of crazy monks that wanted to control her power. She got wise to their manipulation and killed the lot of them. Being raised by monks, she’s got this cool stoic vibe to her personality.



I don’t have much to say on this character, since I haven’t really played a lot of him. Sal is called the “Gunzerker”, and his special ability is that he uses two weapons at the same time – regardless of size. If one of the guns runs out of bullets, that arm just lowers the gun out of frame until it’s reloaded. If you’re the kind of person who needs an explanation for how someone can reload a sniper rifle with one hand while shooting a rocket launcher in the other hand, then you are probably not the sort of person who will enjoy Gunzerking.

If you spend your points right and can kill dudes fast enough, then your power will come off of cooldown just as the duration of gunzerking runs out, meaning you can almost gunzerk forever.

In terms of personality, he fits neatly into the “enthusiastic hedonistic berzerker” archetype.

Based on what other players have told me, he’s the most broken of the classes and the easiest to play at high levelsNot that anything at high levels is particularly “easy”..


This guy is trying so hard to be cool that he becomes a massive dork but the dorkiness wraps around and makes him cool again.
This guy is trying so hard to be cool that he becomes a massive dork but the dorkiness wraps around and makes him cool again.

Imagine if you asked a 12 year old kid to design the “coolest mercenary” character they could think of. And then imagine you implemented that design without a hint of irony. You’d probably get Zer0. He’s kind of like another riff on the Ax Cop joke.

He’s an alienHe’s only got 4 fingers on each hand. ninja in black armor, with a glowing sword, who can turn invisible and then backstab dudes for huge damage. He’s got this super-serious delivery he uses to say things like, “You just activated my trap card!” as he turns invisible.


Gaige, and Deathtrap her pet robot.
Gaige, and Deathtrap her pet robot.

Gaige is a character designed to make the game accessible to people who aren’t into shooters. I think that’s really important for this series. Anecdotally, there seem to be a lot of people from the Sims / Adventure Games / Animal Crossing area of gaming who will look at the macho blood-soaked screaming of your typical shooter and have no desire to play. But then they see the madcap, colorful, joke-y world of Borderlands and think it looks kind of interesting. Then they see their shooter-oriented friends playing it and think it might be fun to join them. Those of us who have played shooters for years often underestimate just how steep and frustrating the learning curve can be for adults coming to the genre late in life.

The trick is: How do you make a character “accessible” for a newbie to play and feel useful that isn’t ridiculously overpowered and broken in the hands of a typical player? I can’t say for sure how well this solution worked for a newbie, but I thought it was a really interesting attempt.

Her gimmickTo be clear, what I’m talking about here is the suggested / advertised / expected character build. It’s possible to do a few different things with the character that don’t involve Anarchy. is that every time she kills a guy, she gains a unit of this stuff called “Anarchy”. The higher this number gets, the more damage she does. At the same time, her accuracy will degrade. After she gets 400 units of Anarchy (the maximum) every bullet will do 7× as much damage, but guns will be so inaccurate that the weapon will have approximately the same output distribution as a lawn sprinklerAfter some experimenting, it seems like bullets are constrained so that, at maximum anarchy, they just have to land somewhere in your field of view. So you’ll never get so inaccurate that you shoot sideways or backwards. This does mean that looking down sights or through a scope will help your accuracy..

The twist: If you reload before your weapon goes dry, you lose all Anarchy. In a strange way, this actually makes her kind of challenging for experienced players, since you’re likely used to reflexively reloading at opportune moments. For the first few hours of playing Gaige I seriously considered re-binding my reload key because I kept throwing away my stacks of Anarchy just as things were getting interesting.

That's an awful lot of fine print for an ability designed for newbies. I'd love to hear from someone new to shooters who tried this. Was it playable? Was it overwhelming? Was it fun?
That's an awful lot of fine print for an ability designed for newbies. I'd love to hear from someone new to shooters who tried this. Was it playable? Was it overwhelming? Was it fun?

Alone, Anarchy is already pretty powerful. But then you can put points into another skill called “Close Enough”, which gives bullets a random chance to ricochet off walls and hit bad guys. Ricochet shots do half damage, but still. Once Close Enough is maxed out, half of all missed shots can still find a targetAlthough bullets won’t bend or anything. If a bullet strikes a spot where it doesn’t have a straight line to a bad guy, it’ll just hit another wall and die..

You can run the numbers to see how overpowered this is. Even if you aim at a wall, half of your bullets will still hit the bad guys, and every one of them will do 3.5× damage. I guess the downside is that you don’t get to choose who gets hit, so you can’t focus guys down. Still, if you use an SMG or a shotgunEvery pellet from the shotgun counts as a bullet. then you can spray a lot of damage in a big hurry. And hey, if you need to take down one particular guy you could always AIM AT HIM to encourage the bullets to hit home. A lot of them will miss, sure. But the ones that do land will be doing 7× damage.

I played this way for a while. It’s actually kind of amusing and more interesting than I expected. Instead of aiming, I found myself thinking about reflection angles all the time so I could shoot around corners or put bullets into places where they could ONLY hit the one guy I was trying to take down. I also found myself drawn to a really suicidal playstyle where I’d run up and engage tough foes at point-blank range so I could take advantage of the full 7x damage bonus.

Half the bullets that miss come back to do half damage? Even without Anarchy, that's really powerful.
Half the bullets that miss come back to do half damage? Even without Anarchy, that's really powerful.

Oh, and if all of that isn’t overpowered enough, none of that is her action skill. That’s just her passive abilities. Her action skill lets her summon Deathtrap, her robot sidekick. Deathtrap is kind of like Axton’s turret in that it can damage enemies while also getting everyone’s attention so you can recover. Unlike Axton’s turret, Deathtrap can fly around, refill your shields, he lasts way longer, and he’s almost indestructible.

So yeah. A little overpowered.

I guess she’s supposed to be a schoolgirl, and she’s got this over-the-top mad engineer thing going with her personality. I really applaud attempts to bring new people into a tough genre like this. With Gaige, someone can be new to shooters and still meaningfully contribute to the fight.

My one gripe with Gaige is that she was a DLC character and she costs ten bucks. I know this is just how things work these days, but I still hate it.


*incoherent screaming about blood and fire*
*incoherent screaming about blood and fire*

I like Krieg. His introduction movie / trailer is pretty good. His thing is that he’s a high-functioning psycho. He’s the product of some evil experiment gone horribly wrong, which made him strong, savage, and completely mad. A lot of his powers are built around the idea of enduring pain. He deals more damage when his shield is down, or he’s on fire, or his health is low.

I know above I said the new characters weren’t just recycled versions of their predecessors, but Krieg’s special ability is a melee-based rampage, very much like Brick from the first game.

He’s a psycho, so his personality is pretty one-note. While his trailer makes for good cinema, none of that particular humor appears in the game. He just shouts psycho-ish stuff.

Again, Krieg is a DLC character, and even five years after release he’s still $10. That seems like a lot for a single character.



[1] Although the thick guy is super short this time around.

[2] This is called “digi-structing” in the fiction of the world. (No relation to digimon.)

[3] Not that anything at high levels is particularly “easy”.

[4] He’s only got 4 fingers on each hand.

[5] To be clear, what I’m talking about here is the suggested / advertised / expected character build. It’s possible to do a few different things with the character that don’t involve Anarchy.

[6] After some experimenting, it seems like bullets are constrained so that, at maximum anarchy, they just have to land somewhere in your field of view. So you’ll never get so inaccurate that you shoot sideways or backwards. This does mean that looking down sights or through a scope will help your accuracy.

[7] Although bullets won’t bend or anything. If a bullet strikes a spot where it doesn’t have a straight line to a bad guy, it’ll just hit another wall and die.

[8] Every pellet from the shotgun counts as a bullet.

From The Archives:

74 thoughts on “Borderlands Part 7: The New Vault Hunters

  1. Grimwear says:

    It’s been years for me but all I can remember about the Knoxx dlc, aside from the final loot all the crates before you explode mission, is that it was filled with lots of real long roads, with a lot of nothing in them. It also had either no fast travel, or fast travel points so far apart that for a lot of it I found myself exiting and re-loading the game so that I would spawn in at the main hub and not have to waste who knows how many minutes trudging back. Absolutely terrible design which is sad since I loved Knoxx’s story.

    1. Mattias42 says:

      I can speak from personal experience that the ‘long, winding roads + fast travel doesn’t work in the DLCs’ personally killed any and all enjoyment of the Knoxx DLC for me.

      I’d be itching, I’d play a bit… and by the time I’d had my Borderland’s fix and wanted something else, I’d reached the exact same spot.

      After noticing a pattern, I just walked away and wrote it off as not for me. Which is a pity, since I’ve heard the General himself is apparently a really fun and cool boss to fight.

      The Robo-Revolution one that came after was great, though. Some really solid enemies, loot, maps and humor in that one.

    2. Fade2Gray says:

      Seriously. The only thing I remember about the Knoxx DLC is the mad loot dash at the end. Its so bad (my memory of the DLC, not necessarily the DLC itself since I can’t remember enough to have an opinion) that when I was playing though Tales from the Borderlands recently I spent the entire game thinking that Athena must have been a new character introduced in the Pre-Sequel (which I didn’t play until after Tales).

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I was somewhat surprised with how many people complimented this DLC in previous comments since I also have a somewhat vague memory of it. I’m under the impression I thought it had the problem of the main game, by which I mean treating itself somewhat too seriously and lacked the wackiness of Zombie Island and Revolution that they focused on in the 2nd game (the only thing I liked about the Moxxi DLC was the introduction cutscene). That said it’s been a while and maybe I’m not doing it justice.

    3. GloatingSwine says:

      None of the DLC had fast travel. IIRC they couldn’t add multiple fast travel points per DLC area because of some limitation with the way they’d designed the systems.

      Knoxx was the one that added new vehicles, including the four seater, hence lots of roads to drive them on.

  2. Joe says:

    I always play the General Knoxx DLC last, so I have maximum inventory for the armory itself. It’s funny when Knoxx pops up in the Claptrap DLC and complains about being alive again when I haven’t actually killed him yet.

    Shamus, if you still have BL1 installed or don’t mind redownloading it, I suggest playing the Knoxx DLC. It’s fun, apart from one particular quest that messes with the map.

    1. Michael says:

      I can easily agree. It’s still one of my favorite parts of the original game. It’s got problems, and I can get how it would blend in with the base game, but it is where you can see the map design for 2 starting to kick in.

  3. Mephane says:

    I got Borderlands 2 after the DLC characters where already a thing, and bought the DLC with Gaige right from the start and played her primarily (later I played a bit with Zero, but mostly stuck to Gaige). I didn’t know that the character was designed for newcomers to the shooter genre; I also intentionally avoided the entire anarchy mechanic straight away (you must unlock it first by spending skill points on it, which makes it optional). Instead I put my skill points into anything that improves Deathtrap, survivability, self-healing and shields (because I hate having to rely on consumables and love self-sustaining character builds), and my rather unconventional primary weapons were semi-automatic pistols and sniper rifles.

    1. Michael says:

      Randy Pitchford actually took a lot of flak for describing Gaige as, “the girlfriend class.” (At least, I think it was Pitchford.) Which caused a lot of backlash at the time, for obvious reasons. Still, Gaige is a pretty solid character.

      1. Decius says:

        That kind of backlash is bad, because
        1-The statement is true
        2- There’s a very good reason the statement should be true

        Having a class that has a skill/performance curve that favors people who might hang out and want to play with your core audience but don’t have the same skill level is a really great decisions for the reasons discussed. Having a name for that class is good for communication and explanation. The choice of name may have reinforced some unfortunate stereotypes, but the reason we knew what he meant by it was that those stereotypes were already fully established.

        1. shoeboxjeddy says:

          If you’re trying to add a new audience to your game, a great way to NOT do that is to insult that new audience during the very PR run where you’re trying to reach out to them. Pitchford deserved the criticism because it was a shitty “elite gamer” thing to say. Why not just call it “newbie” mode and avoid implying stuff about every female gamer? It’s the same issue with how women are treated in tons of male focused interactions (comic book stores, buying a car, buying a house, etc). “Let’s talk about the opinions and desires of the male in this equation, who after all is the one who counts.”

    2. Christopher says:

      I came late to the game to see what all the fuss was about, and used the Mechromancer, too. She was the only character I liked the look of and she was supposed to be noob-friendly, so that worked out. Having played a limited amount of not very similar to Borderlands-shooters in the past(Bioshock 1, Resident Evil 4, Half-Life 2, Alan Wake, Vanquish, the Mass Effects) I always feel uncomfortable in a shooter setting, especially FPS. Seemed like a good idea to have a robot do the job for me.

      I don’t think I did any Anarchy at all. I was planning to get into it, but I leveled up my robot buddy first and by the time I was thinking of leveling the Anarchy stuff every level felt like it took ages to come(I abandoned the game around Tiny Tina). I used, and tend to always use, shotguns/melee or special abilities(so I don’t have to aim well), as well as sniper rifles if I’m getting the drop on someone from a distance.

  4. Fizban says:

    Gaige’s other non-anarchy trees focus on buffing the robot in one, or an ability that charges up until you hit someone, that second of which didn’t seem very strong but did feel nice in the “hey, don’t worry if you miss the headshot” way.

    Still, that bullet bounce+anarchy combo is where it’s at. I prefer a lower 150 cap (you can put less points in if you want less cap) so the aim-cone doesn’t get ridiculous. Still a huge damage boost, but you can snipe to mid-range while also just saying “screw it” and pointing your shotgun at the ground instead of the enemy to watch the homing shots do the work. Very satisfying.

    I kinda want to go back and do a third run on Gunzerker though. The differences between the skill trees are quite interesting (one makes you tanky, one focuses on gunzerking, and one kinda focuses on not-gunzerking with some weapon juggling and cooldown bonuses) and it’s just nice. There just isn’t any other action skill in 2 or pre-sequel that does the “OMG LOW HEALTH/ DPS NAO!” as much as dual-wielding machine guns with a massive accuracy boost while regenerating like a beast.

    Pre-sequel in particular is disappointing in that regard- maybe Willhelm gets there eventually, but I’ve found Claptrap the best at the feeling so far. Sure, you might end up on bouncy toy with your weapons locked, except even that joke has you doing AoE slam damage and dodging attacks.

    1. Ani-kun says:

      Gunzerker is hugely fun to play as, highly recommended. I did a couple of runs with him, one with Axton, and these days I’m exclusively a Gaige guy, love playing as her :3

  5. Lame Duck says:

    If Gaige is supposed to be a gateway for newcomers to the genre to get interested, then having her as paid DLC seems to completely defeat the purpose. Are people really going to play the game, get frustrated because they’re unfamiliar with the shooter mechanics and then decide to pay extra money to give the game another chance?

    1. Type_V says:

      Gaige was paid DLC buuuuuuut she was free to people who pre-ordered the game. And you could pre-order a 4 stack of copies so you could gift 3 to friends to guarantee a full squad. And this way if you had to gift one to a non-shooter you could tell them to play the easy character.

      1. Lars says:

        So the newcomer should pre-order a game, (s)he probably doesn’t like?
        Or one fan should buy 4 copies of the game before release to have a full party with all characters?
        And before release, there wasn’t a sign, that gearbox would include a newcomer-character-dlc.
        So Lame Ducks argument still counts.

        1. Type_V says:

          The angry face is annoying but I’ll try to block it out.

          So the newcomer should pre-order a game, (s)he probably doesn't like?

          Idk. Lot of implication you wrote though.

          Or one fan should buy 4 copies of the game before release to have a full party with all characters?

          The selling point is that the max party size is four so you can play with three of your friends. Your friends might even pay you back who knows. There was a discount involved.

          And before release, there wasn't a sign, that gearbox would include a newcomer-character-dlc.

          Well yeah there was. BL2 was released in Sept.
          In April they announced Gaige at PAX.Link
          In August they had to have someone step in and say no it’s not the easy mode character because of some… comments. Link But the synonym stuck anyway. Anarchy was designed for people who were new to or not good at shooter to feel they could contribute with other players.

          1. Mephane says:

            The angry face is annoying but I'll try to block it out.

            you mean the gravatar? These are auto-generated, not sure if randomly assigned or procedurally generated out of their email-address, but definitely not chosen by the user.

            1. Decius says:

              There isn’t a meaningful difference between ‘randomly generated with email as a seed’ and ‘proceduraly generated based on email’.

            2. FelBlood says:

              They used to be based on our emails, but spammers figured out how to reverse it, and extract a person’s email from their Gravitar.

              Now they are assigned in a truly random fashion, which is good for privacy

              — but also too bad, because I liked my old one better.

              I was a very sarcastic looking, red square.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            As much as I agree with your points it still leaves me with a somewhat mixed feelings. Full disclosure: I have a strong dislike of the “blind preorder” culture that video game marketing is pushing for in recent years and things like day 1 DLC are a particular pet peeve of mine.

            Bearing that in mind to me it feels like another attempt to squeeze extra 10 bucks out of a customer. I fully support having a character that is easier to play on purpose, especially since they seem to have made her fun in terms of both character and gameplay (haven’t tried mechromancer myself, only played through the game once so far). However, locking that character behind 10$ or preorder is, at the risk of using too harsh a language, holding that feature hostage. The fact that they marketed it before the game release shows that this wasn’t a bonus feature they’ve decided to add once the game sold well, but something they planned while it was in development.

            Also, I honestly don’t know, does Borderlands s require everyone to have the DLC character or only the player who picks them? Because if it’s the former that means either preordering a 4-pack (a somewhat risky proposition: the game could be short, not fun or have severe technical problems) or shelving 10$*number of players.

      2. Leocruta says:

        she was free to people who pre-ordered the game.

        In theory. When my pre-order copy arrived it didn’t have any pre-order bonuses. After some e-mails and one or two phone calls, I received an arena code, but that was it. I then decided that I didn’t really care about the mechromancer enough to put any more effort into getting her. I know this isn’t Gearbox’s fault, but if a new player had my problems, I imagine it would sour them on the game.

  6. Parkhorse says:

    Re: how well Gaige works for a “newbie.”

    Dark secret time – I’m really bad at FPS games. I generally don’t enjoy them, so I rarely play them, which means I don’t get much practice with them, which means I’m bad at them, which means I have less fun playing them, which loops right back around to not enjoying them and not playing much. Not to say I’m not much of a gamer, or even that I don’t like tough games (the Shin Megami Tensai series is great). I’ve just never found FPSes to be enjoyable.

    All that to say, Borderlands looks interesting, so Gaige was worth giving a try in BL2. And… it kind of works? At least to accommodate lack of skill, for awhile. Still, eventually the game reached a point where it got tougher, and the gameplay still wasn’t really that much fun for me, so I dropped it.

    1. Ani-kun says:

      That wasn’t just you, don’t worry. The fun factor of BL2 is directly proportional to how high level you are, with insane bullet sponge enemies that can one shot you and weapons that don’t do enough damage in return. I love most of the changes in 2, but this one single-handedly ruined a lot of the higher level enjoyment later in the game for me.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        It’s even worse if you’re playing sniper, since all you do is click on enemies from long range. You don’t even get to move around, since (if I recall correctly) you can’t move and sniper-scope at the same time. I played with Zero since I thought I could be a cool sword guy who used his rifle for big guys before they got into range. Unfortunately, with how short I was on skill points and how spongy the enemies are, I was forced to go full rifle to try and have *one* thing that could kill dudes. Then I got sick of it and quit the game half way through the story. If I’d have known better, I’d have used the turret guy.. :S

        1. Ani-kun says:

          It’s pretty clear that they were trying to force people into playing together to overcome the bullet sponges more easily, but that falls flat for someone like me who hates any sort of online gaming.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            This is one of the things d3 did right:If you were playing alone,the enemies were weaker.The more people,the tougher the enemies,but also bigger rewards.So you had the incentive to play with others,but you could still solo it without hitting a hard wall.

            1. Erik says:

              BL2 did this also – if a friend joined, you got a message saying “the enemies on Pandora have gotten stronger”.

              It worked great if you started together, but was really annoying if you were already in the field and they were in (say) Sanctuary, with 5-10 minutes of travel time to get to you. You suddenly had real problems making progress (because the enemies were meant for two), and if you had respawns behind you your friend may not be able to get to you for the same reason.

              In that case, you were more or less stuck dying and hoping that you rezzed close enough to each other to meet.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Thats what town portals are for.

              2. Michael says:

                I’ve actually had friends kill me in BL2 by joining my game without warning while I was out in the field. There was some weirdness with the grouping mechanic, where you couldn’t actually designate a private game, as I recall. You could just close it to randos.

          2. Fade2Gray says:

            Same here. One of the reasons I play games is to get away from annoying/frustrating/confusing people, not to give them a megaphone into my home.

            The solo problems were really exasperated by the slag mechanic. If you weren’t using slag properly, the bullet-sponginess of enemies was super apparent. But, using slag by yourself meant constant weapon swapping. If you played with a group you could just have someone be your dedicated slagger.

            I was really glad to see slag was removed in the Pre-Sequal, but that might have just been for story continuity reasons. I hope they don’t bring it back.

            1. Ani-kun says:

              Slag is one of those weird things where it ‘seems’ like a really good idea in principal, but in practice it’s just kind of tedious and annoying, especially when the enemies are all designed around the idea that the party will have slag. If you’re not using it, good luck taking down those sponges by yourself.

            2. Joe says:

              I find that slag works pretty good when I’m gunzerking. One gun for slag, the other for whatever element is needed.

              1. Ani-kun says:

                Yep, that’s one of the reason I enjoyed the Gunzerker, before I switched to maining Gaige.

    2. Michael says:

      As someone who plays FPSs heavily, and can do some utterly ridiculous things with them: it’s not just you. Borderlands 2 has an incredibly punitive leveling system. The difficulty ramps up fast. Gear is incredibly disposable, meaning you’re always getting stuff you can use, but on the other hand, the stuff you’re using will be reduced to worthless in a couple levels. Stat inflation gets completely out of control by the mid 20s.

      I say this as someone who’s sunk hundreds of hours into the STALKER series: The difficulty curve in Borderlands 2 is like slamming into a brick wall going 60.

      Borderlands 1 had some of this problem, when you started getting into the 40s, and you’d need to really start optimizing your build. But, this was something you’d only really see in New Game +. BL2 starts throwing it at you by midgame.

      Part of the issue is that gear lasts longer in BL1. A rifle two levels below you will probably still be worth using if it has a good elemental effect, and a decent stat spread. In BL2, if the gear is a higher level, it’s (almost always) better than what you’re currently using. Often by a huge margin. This means when you get a good weapon, you can’t really keep it, the way you could in BL1. This also means, until you hit cap, you can’t really rely on having good weapons, just passable ones.

      The big problem is how quickly stats inflate in BL2. In the original game, a character would start with 100HP at level 1, and then end up with something like 5k at cap. In BL2 you’ll start seeing five digit health values before you’ve finished your first playthrough. (I don’t remember the exact HP ranges, though, sorry.) And that inflation would also apply to your enemies, so their HP pools would get stupid fast. I want to say the final boss has over 1m HP (though, I’ll admit, I could be missremembering there). It’s rare that I’d call a game, even an ARPG, a gear treadmill, but BL2 really fits that term.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        The treadmill at the midway point is why I quit. :S

      2. Fade2Gray says:

        I remember spending an inordinate amount of time using white weapons in BL2 with Zer0. Locking yourself in to a specific weapon type meant you had to use whatever you ended up with, and the rapid stat growth often meant that whites at your level were better than whatever you were carrying around.

  7. Ivan says:

    Wow, so, your description of the Mechromancer play style reminded me of my New Vegas Explosives build so much I decided to check it out on steam (Borderlands 2 that is). And, well, holy shit does that game have an absurd amount of DLC and microtransactions clogging up its store page.

    Most tellingly, the Mechromancer itself is US$16 for me because Australia Tax, the base game is still US$40 in its vanilla form (5yr old game), and the GOTY Edition doesn’t even include close to all that DLC and Microtransactions crap I mentioned above. Congratulations Gearbox, you successfully convinced me not to bother, good job.

    1. Ani-kun says:

      This is why you wait for a sale and pick the whole GOTY package up for £8.

    2. Michael says:

      There’s four… “classes,” of Borderlands 2 DLC.

      Character skins: These are the vast majority of items on the store. You’re not wrong, it’s crazy, and that they’re still asking full price for these is mind boggling.
      Character classes: Gaige and Krieg.
      Season 1: The first season pass included a few DLC packs. I want to say it’s four, but I can’t remember finishing them. These are, in general pretty good.
      Season 2: Which is a bunch of holiday themed event maps. I think this also came with raid bosses (aimed at 4 player parties).
      There’s also a few odds and ends like the original CE bonuses, or some of the preorder perks.

      EDIT: Oh, wow, I’d forgotten that they literally sold an increase to the level cap for $5. Ugh. There was a similar DLC for the first game, but it was free. With BL2, they expected you to shell out, or get excluded from the cool kids’ table for endgame grinding in multiplayer.

      EDIT2: And they did it twice. I don’t even have words. I remembered that the level cap was something like 82, I didn’t remember they’d sold two separate cap increases behind DLC. At least the second one added new content, but still. Ugh.

    3. Lars says:

      Is there a electronics-store near by? The retail-versions of the game are probably much cheaper. (Germany: 7€) In Australia I heard stories of the next (normal) store being more than 3 dozen miles away. If you don’t live in Melbourne or Sydney, of course.

  8. Ani-kun says:

    Gaige is mah gurl, despite me being an experienced FPS player (since original Wolfenstein 3D and Doom). I dislike the Anarchy tree though, and generally go down the Deathtrap tree instead, because I’m quite capable of bringing my own murder using Gaige and prefer to have a distraction bot running around zapping things and drawing fire :3

    I also like the passives that let me zap Deathtrap with an element so he does extra damage.

  9. Type_V says:

    New characters!

    Axton – Meh. Character-wise hes not really that interesting beyond thrill-seeking and its a tropey charade that other games have done better. But his Turret and skills are way better than Rolands were. I have two turrets – that stick to walls – and have rockets – and make me twice as strong as well! Nice QoL feature added to this game was you can recall the turret if you no longer needed it and it refunded the cooldown based on how much time you didn’t use. He’s the first class I passed level 50 with and probably my favourite to play.

    Maya – Press F to revive an idiot. Late game becomes press F to slag an enemy without having to change guns (and slag guns have generally poor % chance to slag). My best character for playing with friends because she’s useful. Also you can equip the Rough Rider to run at 2x speed.

    Sal – Press F to do 2x damage (kind of). The most OP character but the one I’ve played the least because I find him annoying to play. Basically, when you gunzerk all the time the colour shift annoys me and the quote base is smaller.

    Zer0 – He’s weird because none of his skill trees really mesh together. He gets picked by all my shooter friends though who start asking me how to make him better by about level 15-20. As the second melee-focused character he works way way way better than Brick so hes got that going for him, but still BL2 only has bayoneted guns…and base melee damage is tied to character level so it’s almost always worse than just shooting. It’s offset by the massive backstab/crit multiplies but BL3 better give us a melee weapon slot.

    Gaige – I’ve never seen a non-Anarchy build. It’s just that good. I really like the Discord interaction later too.

    Krieg – Turns out I just don’t like low-hp matters characters. I hit a wall every time I play him but I think it’s just me because I hear hes really strong at high level play. His inside calm voice has some lines but realllllly few comparatively which sucks because of how great his intro video is.

    1. Nixitur says:

      With Zer0, you basically have two general builds you can do. You either go sniping or you go melee.
      Now, the melee build is incredibly fun. If I recall correctly, you later get an ability to extend your invisibility if you get a backstab kill. It’s very powerful and kills mooks very quickly.
      However, then the game throws flying bosses at you. One of the bosses even flies over a bottomless pit. It’s completely infeasible to try to hit it with melee attacks, even with Zer0’s dash.

      And this really bugged me. The game very clearly presents melee Zer0 as a legitimate build. And then it turns around and makes him completely useless against quite a few bosses.

  10. Darren says:

    I always felt like Gaige’s deal was that the robot skill tree was for noobs and the Anarchy skill tree was for the jerks who are inclined to turn their nose up at a sop to less skilled/more casual players.

    As for Maya, her damage output is nuts if you spec her correctly. AoE, DoT, Slag, and every Element in the game just unloaded with a remarkably quick cooldown. She’s a beast. And at low levels, you can incapacitate a tough enemy and whale on them while they are suspended and helpless, or clean up low-level mooks without getting bombarded by their boss’s more powerful attacks. It’s a really good power.

    1. Tim Keating says:

      Yeah, I share your opinion on Maya. I always played Zer0, but recently started a new playthrough, and chose her, since she was the only character I had never even touched. My Zer0 character was reasonably specced and geared, and Maya routinely steamrolls encounters I struggled with as Zer0.

      1. Darren says:

        I could never quite figure out what I was doing with Zer0. I hate sniping, and a lot of areas in Borderlands are a poor fit for it anyway, while his melee-focused skills are outright negated by a lot of bosses and flying enemies.

  11. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    I used an Anarchy build for about 10 minutes. I really disliked missing my shots (I like sniping), and like many, would reload too often to keep any stacks. Ended up focusing on Deathtrap and everything else, and still really enjoyed playing Gaige.

    In the end I played Maya, Zero and Gaige a lot. Never really liked Salvator or Axton, and I barely tried Krieg.

  12. DougO says:

    Murder at close range
    One shot sniping from afar
    Do Not Mock Zero.

    1. Boobah says:

      I see what you did there;
      Your effort was not in vain.
      My Zero still sucks.

  13. Canthros says:

    I’m not new to FPS games, by any stretch, but I haven’t been better than average at them since the days of Unreal Tournament. (Pre-2003, basically.)

    Gaige was great. Deathtrap functions similar to Mordecai, and the Anarchy buff could get positively silly with enough investment. Unfortunately, there was an ugly bug with Anarchy and network play that made it difficult to gain or keep stacks of it if you were playing with somebody else and weren’t the one hosting the game.

    Maybe they fixed that bug? I dunno. It’s been a long while.

  14. IanTheM1 says:

    I actually JUST started playing 2 a few days ago as part of my series playthrough (decided to go chronological and do TPS first), and as Anarchy Gaige no less, so prepare for the quote storm!


    I always felt like Gaige's deal was that the robot skill tree was for noobs and the Anarchy skill tree was for the jerks who are inclined to turn their nose up at a sop to less skilled/more casual players.

    Yeah I think Shamus is mistaken, I don’t believe the entire Mechromancer class was meant for newbies, just the left hand skill tree. It’s a bunch of skills that make it harder to die, let Deathtrap do more of the work, and worst case scenario make missed shots not miss. Ironically a lot of the early stuff is also critical for supporting Anarchy, so calling it the “Girlfriend Tree” was even more of a dumb way to poison the well than it already was.

    Speaking of things Shamus is mistaken about (sort of), typo watch!

    Axton's turret deals respectable damage and can mop up the mooks while you run off to loot the room is whatever it is that you'd rather be doing.

    Guessing that should be “OR whatever it is”.


    Still, that bullet bounce+anarchy combo is where it's at. I prefer a lower 150 cap (you can put less points in if you want less cap) so the aim-cone doesn't get ridiculous. Still a huge damage boost, but you can snipe to mid-range while also just saying “screw it” and pointing your shotgun at the ground instead of the enemy to watch the homing shots do the work. Very satisfying.

    Yeah I tried rocking even just 1 point in the cap extender for 200 stacks and that was overkill for me even with Close Enough in effect. Due to the 50% damage penalty, whatever benefit I was getting for just 50 extra stacks wasn’t wasn’t worth the accuracy loss. And honestly, for the first playthrough, you really probably don’t need more than 150 anyway.

    One of the things that’s been interesting is that my recent playthroughs are the first time I’m going through the games solo. I’m so used to being in co-op and dealing with co-op scaling and it’s like night and day. I seriously wonder how many people who get fed up with the game due to bulletsponge enemies and insta-kill level damage were playing in co-op, because that perfectly describes the experience for me. Whereas now (and with a bit of system mastery under my belt, like understanding how to get the most out of elemental weapons and how often to cycle my inventory) things aren’t a huge hassle. Definitely still some rough fights out there, but nowhere near the slog of spending an hour on every little side jaunt because the game spawns a million badasses and even regular enemies can blow your head off, all while constantly running out of ammo and shield stats basically being meaningless.

    1. Darren says:

      The real problem with solo play is boss encounters, which are horrendously unfair. Having them regenerate all of their health to full if you die is just absurd, and many skills just don’t work well against certain bosses (Zer0’s melee skills are often outright useless against bosses).

      1. IanTheM1 says:

        I don’t disagree, but that really ends up coming down to the individual boss design (and of course some of the wonky under-the-hood math). Trying to solo the final boss of TPS’ Claptrap DLC was a horrible slog even with the otherwise overpowered Jack pet build. On the other hand, last night I annihilated Wilhelm before the cast was even finished freaking out about him.

        Also having now played all three games in close proximity, it’s become really abundantly obvious just how often they use infinitely respawning minions as a crutch so you have something to revive off of when you (sometimes inevitably) die.

    2. Michael says:

      Yeah, the whole, “Gaige is the girlfriend class,” came directly from Randy Pitchford. He specifically suggested she was there as an entry point for non-FPS players. So, that one’s really not on Shamus.

  15. Jokerman says:

    It was really a bad idea to solo as Maya in my first playthough, i really didn’t like it, found the game frustrating, unpleasant and wondered why people like it.

    These days i have played it 6 (i think?) times through, four times with Axton, twice with Gage, and really liked it. Need to give Salvador a shot at some point too, he sounds fun.

  16. Sean Hagen says:

    The first character I played was Sal. I haven’t played any of the other characters.

    I just found Gunzerking to be so much fun! One of my favorite things about the build I ended up with is that as you keep gunzerking, my fire rate and reload speed got faster every time a weapon went dry. And every enemy I killed increased my gunzerking time. So in some areas of the game I became a literal bullet hose, reloading stuff like shotguns or huge assault rifles quicker than some of the faster pistols and hosing down the area with deathmurderkill.

    One thing I found interesting is that the two guns you hold when you enter gunzerking depend on what gun you’re holding. There are 4 gun slots. If you’re holding gun 1 or 2, when you entered gunzerking you’d be holding gun 1 & 2. It made choosing a loadout interesting, because that small magazine shotgun or slow to reload smg could be super deadly when you’re gunzerking, so you put them in slots 3 & 4 — but now you’ve got two guns that are nearly useless outside of gunzerking, so your other two guns have to be able to handle a much wider variety of situations.

  17. C.J.Geringer says:

    IMO as a krieg mainer, You REALLY undersold him. In my opinion he is actually oen fo the mroe interesting charcters.

    Firstly Krieg does go in a rampage like brick, however, skill are much more interesting and his interact a lot more with other game systems(Here is a relvant Devblog:

    “He's a psycho, so his personality is pretty one-note. While his trailer makes for good cinema, none of that particular humor appears in the game. He just shouts psycho-ish stuff”

    This is not quite true, Actualy it is plain wrong

    See if you play around with Krieg you will see his personality is actually divided, he has teh psycho-ish voice, wich is mostly in control, and he has the sane voice, and both are really well acted.

    Moreover his psycho-ish tone can change depending on the skills you have.

    A few examples:

    If you go fire psycho it becomes more grandiose-monologue.

    He has a skill called “silence the voices” which causes him to hit himself and when he does thatat the sound bites show that he is actually trying to stop the voice in his head and he says how he deserves this and hates himself. And sometimes the sane voice responds “You can’ t get rid of me that easily”

    Seriously take a look at his quotes and when they activate and you see his definitely not one-note (

    The sane voice saying “You asked for it…I can’t hold him back any longer…!” when starting his rampage gave me chills.

    And his quotes on being helped really show his tragedy

  18. Exasperation says:

    I completely disagree about Maya. Maya’s action skill is a targeted stun with a decent duration. That makes it a wonderful tool for dealing with dangerous enemies from the very beginning. Also, as the only targeted action skill, it just feels better to use; you point at an enemy you want something to happen to, and it does. No “I place an AI companion and hope it targets the right enemy instead of wandering off and starting a new fight”. Also, your statement about convergence is simply false; convergence causes non-elemental AOE damage after it pulls everyone in. Plus, if you just want the AOE damage and don’t care about crowd control, you can go for the cataclysm tree instead and get Helios (AOE fire damage) even sooner (level 11 if you beeline for it).

    PS – another problem with Gaige is that Deathtrap’s rendering is buggy. Deathtrap renders ABOVE the menu layer, so if you (either as Gaige or as someone playing with Gaige in multiplayer) happen to be facing Deathtrap when you open your inventory/skill tree/etc., you won’t be able to see it because of the robot being drawn over the top of it.

    1. Michael says:

      Yeah, the deathtrap thing isn’t a bug, hard as that may be to believe. The game’s set up to paste characters above the Menu UI, when rendering. The idea seems to be selling the concept of them “leaking” over the edge onto the UI. Normally, this works fine, but Deathtrap (and I think Axton’s turret) enjoy the same status as players and can royally screw up the interfaces.

      1. Exasperation says:

        I would still consider “UI unusable some of the time due to poor design decisions” a bug.

  19. Dreadjaws says:

    “Like I said, when I hit the action button I either want my power to save me from dying or do a bunch of murder. Maya doesn't solve either of these problems for me. She's a siren like Lilith in the first game, and her power is that she can phaselock one foe and make them float up in the air where they will be harmless for a few seconds. This doesn't hurt them, and when phaselock ends the foe floats gently back to the ground and resumes trying to kill you.”

    Since I’ve recently been replaying the games, I actually got to a point where I wished for precisely that kind of ability. “Man, it would be great if I had some way to wall off this though guy while I get rid of these mooks or vice-versa”. I never played Maya before, but this seems right up my alley. I always have difficulty having to choose between focusing on attacking one really strong foe or several weak ones (as it tends to happen a lot in these games), as keeping my attention on one/s lets the other/s mow me down.

    Granted, if you’re weak enough that all enemies are too strong this isn’t gonna be much help, but I guess a bit of grinding/upgrading would solve that.

    Anyway, I never tried the DLC characters. I don’t even know if I own them (I currently own the GOTY version of the game, but I hear it doesn’t actually include all DLC, and I got it very recently, having only played the vanilla version before). But they do sound interesting.

  20. Paul says:

    I almost never play anyone but Maya. I tried the Gunzerker and my Ex loved Zero, but Maya was the way I liked it. If you level up her phaselock it becomes horrifyingly powerful, sucking in a mass of enemies, damaging them, and then inflicting elemental damage over time. Also remember that the damage burst will set off explosive barrels or other environmental hazards, further damaging enemies, and then you can chuck a grenade into the bunched-up leftover mooks. There’s also a skill halfway up her Cataclysm tree called Cloud Kill that is worth its weight in gold. It adds a chance for any bullet to create an acid cloud that does impressive damage and lingers for several seconds, further, other enemies can blunder into the cloud, so if you pop the first guy in line, then the guys after him will walk into it and melt. With a rapid-fire weapon the acid cloud becomes almost a certainty, and I found it as almost too powerful.

    1. Drlemaster says:

      100% agree, cloudkill is awesome. All I need is any assault rifle with a scope, and I can snipe far longer than anyone using a sniper rifle. Can even take down whole groups at choke points.

      Her special does lack the get-out-of-jail-free quality the others have, but it has many tactical uses, and recharges fairly quickly.

  21. Nessus says:

    The only character I’ve actually played a whole campaign with. I agree with the others above that her special has more utility than you’re giving it credit for. In addition to the other uses mentioned, she has an ability IIRC somewhere midway down on the tree that steals health from phaselocked opponents. This basically works like a better health grenade, and can be a lifesaver in mid-late game.

    The first character I tried to play on first getting the game, because he promised to be the most different from anything else playstyle-wise. That didn’t last long. I found him cripplingly overspecialized IMO. A good “cherry tapping” class, maybe, but in regular play he’s brutally disadvantaged in most of the tactical situations the maps and enemy distributions lend themselves to. His dialog was super cringe-y 14 year old edgelord stuff. Which could have been good if it was played for parody… but it wasn’t. It was written and delivered as seriously as that hypothetical 14 year old edgelord would have envisioned it, and that just made it really dumb in a bad way.

    Mechanically the most “middle of the road” balanced straightforward shooter-type character. Aesthetically he’s a “Steve”. I played the first map with him (’till you take the boat to the Sanctuary hub map), and found him very playable, but also found him kinda boring and so never went further with him.

    Like Steve, I only played the first map with him. I liked him better than Steve, as he definitely seemed designed with certain playstyles in mind (run-n-gun/Leroy Jenkins), but those playstyles weren’t my persona jam, so I didn’t go further with him.

    I liked Maya the best, because she seemed to provide the most variety of experiences. She’s not so strong that just facetanking everything is the path of least resistance (Salvadore), yet not so limited that you have to plan every encounter ahead in Xanatos-like detail just to survive (Zer0), and her base stat balance puts you just enough more on your toes than Steve’s to make things more frenetic. Her special ability encourages and rewards creative/thoughtful use rather than just being mostly a plunk-and-go buff (Steve, Salvadore), while still having open-ended situational applicability (unlike Zer0’s).

    I never played the 2 DLC characters, as I don’t have the DLC. I’m a little curious about Gauge, but Krieg’s character type and playstyle don’t interest me.

  22. Mikey says:

    I’ve played as Maya and Gaige, dabbled a bit with Zero, Axton and Salvador, and don’t have access to Krieg.

    Maya is the character I played as when I first started. I liked her Phaselock skill a lot more once I found the skill that makes a Phaselocked character spit up health if they die, like a healing pinata.

    I didn’t really like how Zero or Salvador played, but I like them as characters. Axton irrationally irritates me as a character (to the point where I stuck him with his Vault Veteran Crimson Lance head to hide his smug dumb face,) but it’s hard to hate that turret skill.

    Gaige is the character I’ve played the most, to the point of actually beating the game and Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep with her. I enjoyed playing as her, in spite of the best efforts of voice lines like “The completionist in me is like YAAAASSS!” or “My hit-to-miss ratio is sadness :(” Full Anarchy is just too good, and she even has a few cool/cute Heads. I mostly used Read All About It, but I absolutely had to get the Necrosis hood when I learned about it. Would also have been nice to get Wayfarer Wizard out of one of those die chests, but whatever.

  23. Brendan says:

    I like Zer0. :(

  24. topazwolf says:

    You should probably mention the weird golden key things at some point. It took me forever to actually play BL2, and when I did I had a bunch of them. I’ll be honest, I never really used gear I found in the field and instead just used gear from the golden chest as they seemed to actually be decent while field level gear sucked pretty hard.

  25. PhoenixUltima says:

    As long as the topic of BL1 DLC is being brought up: Mad Moxxi’s Underdrome or whatever it was called was the most bored I’ve ever been with DLC, and quite possibly with any video game. It’s just wave after wave after wave after wave of the same 3 or 4 enemies, in the same arena, with little to no loot. The only reason to even bother is that doing them all gets you a free skill point, which is just enough of a reward to obligate me to do it while still being too little of one to make it really worthwhile. There isn’t even a whole lot of humor, mostly just Moxxi saying a line in between rounds – and there’s only a few of those, so even that gets old quickly.

    And they you get to do it all again in new game + (I forget what BL1 called it specifically, but that’s what it is). Laaaaaaaaaaaaaame.

  26. Duoae says:

    Wow. $10 for a character? I guess maybe if they cane with new content but that’s a purchase I’d never make and I “waste” a lot of money on games… It’s a shame, too, because I like the sound of gaige.

  27. 4th Dimension says:

    I played Salvador/Gunzerker and I never really found the boost to gunzerk time from kills that useful especially since everything is a damage sponge so you arent going to be killing that quickly.

    I quit when I got to the Atlast Mech Central, that city filled with Engineers and Mechs. Everything took AGES to kill so I was failing even the random missions to protect some kind of statues because I couldn’t output enough damage or not die constantly

  28. krellen says:

    I’m not particularly a shooter fan, though I do have pretty good accuracy, but I played Gaige as my main in Borderlands 2 and went full Anarchy. While I usually like sniping, with Gaige I played very different – very aggressively. I focused on shotguns and got real close to enemies to use it – bad accuracy means nothing if the enemy is literally right in front of the barrel. And enemies melt to a point-blank full-Anarchy shotgun blast.

    Add in a bit of the survival stuff from the other trees and Gaige becomes a tanky little girl with a killer robot, which appeals to me on a level of “that was my favourite character in City of Villains”.

  29. threePwny says:

    I realize I’m a year late to the party, but with hundreds of hours played of each character, I’d like to chime in on my favorite, Gaige.

    First, at high levels, Anarchy is absolutely essential. It’s literally her only substantial damage booster, whereas each other character has at least three. It’s pleasantly unnecessary at lower levels, so yay for that, but it is unfortunately constraining for high level builds.

    Second, she’s horribly designed in general (her skill trees are, well, anarchy), and even worse as a “girlfriend character”. Admittedly, I didn’t play her until a few toons in, and I’ve played my fair share of FPS games, so I didn’t start her as a newbie. But Deathtrap is about the only part that’s newbie-friendly. Pet classes are always newbie friendly, since they do the work for you. Unfortunately, he’s on cooldown for a full minute before skills, and that can last an entire small engagement. And at higher levels, he’s not superpowered and is decently squishy, plus he moves around too much to be adequate aggro relief. Axton’s turret generally proves far more useful.

    Besides that, Anarchy is the opposite of newbie-friendly. Making it harder to aim is bad, regardless of the Close Enough skill. On paper, it increases your damage output, but in practice it doesn’t without actually knowing what you’re doing. Even in your case, you were thinking about how to max your damage output, something a “girlfriend character” shouldn’t require. Plus, DT aside, Gaige herself is just so squishy, so you have to play carefully. If you’re coming in completely new to FPS games, or even just new to the franchise, she has a very steep learning curve in terms of making good use out of her and staying alive. Every vault hunter is easy enough at low levels, but even by the time you hit the 30s toward the Normal mode endgame, you’re going to be better off with Axton or Maya than Gaige if you’re behind on the learning curve.

    Unless you enjoy resetting your skill tree every hour or so to experiment with different builds to min/max your potency and looking up game mechanics to abuse, Gaige is not the girl for you. Frankly, the easiest vault hunter to start with is Axton, and the easiest at higher levels are Sal and Maya, depending on if you want to cheese the game raiding or actually have a fun combat loop mobbing.

    Even so, I always recommend Gaige because the sheer absurdity of Anarchy, her one-liners, and some of her game-breaking synergies are just an absolute blast, even if you have to think a little to get far enough for that.

    I also realize this is getting into the realm of esoteric; I know you have a lot of games to play and can’t spend a few thousand hours on a single game between gameplay and tedious “git gud” research. But I thought I’d just give my year-late appraisal of Gaige as a broken, not newbie-friendly, but still fun toon.

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