Over the last little while I managed to complete Torchlight 2 and, more recently, Borderlands 2.
I definitely enjoyed Torchlight 2 more than I did the first which seemed more and more about delving down deeper and deeper (mostly), kill quests on those levels and the odd side dungeon. TL2 has more of a linear horizontal story, taking you outside with dips into dungeons as part of the story or as side quests. Much better than just the single town as a hub if you prefer a little more exploration.
I liked the randomness of the levels more than I did with Diablo 3 (which had better graphics). There outdoors seemed to be somewhat randomly generated. I didn’t replay too many of the levels to get a feel for how they do it (and I didn’t look it up) but it seems different enough from when I played alone or with the boys.
I also preferred the leveling/character growth options in TL2 over D3. I found the D3 abilities sort of lacking choice and customization – a direction that seems to be common for Blizzard now. I like the choices and ability to pick between trees or combine them. I like choice. I’ll stop there before I go off on a tangent.
Steam reports I spent about 23 hours on the game – this includes some time dabbling with the different classes and playing with the boys who didn’t really take to the game as much as some other games.
Borderlands 2 was completed just the other day. I started playing as Salvador with the boys (LBO was playing Axton while LLO was playing Zero) but we didn’t get too far before LBO took off playing Axton while I wasn’t around, vastly passing me in levels making playing together difficult – he was hosting on my old (but awesome) machine so enemies scaled to his level and his missions progression was much farther along.
I took to playing single player and decided to try Maya out. I got farther along with Maya, enjoying her ability more than Salavdor’s. I got her up to mid-20s when the LBO needed some help with the Bunker mission so I helped him out – even being several levels too low, Maya’s ability to do some crowd control helped out. I also had her spec’ed to do acid damage when shooting targets and explode with fire damage centered on the target she CCed – both of those were vastly beneficial against Hyperion loaders and the bunker itself.
I then proceeded to help him in the Angel Core.
Downside of that was it updated my quest log and appeared to cause me to lose some quests since I wasn’t far enough along to actually do the Bunker mission. Very strange and that caused me to stall on continuing. I popped on to help LLO with Bunker and the Angel Core then later loaded up LBO’s Axton to help LLO with the Warrior. He had was loaded into LBO’s game when LBO beat the game and so he got credit which meant he wasn’t going to face Jack and the Warrior, just the Warrior. He was really disappointed with this because only one Jack face head mod dropped and he missed out on it.
So multiplayer doesn’t quite separate single player progression. I suggest keeping a character for single player if you’re a completionist and don’t want to miss out on anything.
With Maya’s quest log in a messed up state (some quests were categorized under ‘blocked’) I decided to reroll as Zero. I started going down the Sniper tree but decided it was too similar to how I was playing Mordecai in the first Borderlands so I decided to try out the melee (Bloodshed) spec.
Damn… once you hit the top of the tree it becomes a wrecking machine. If you kill a target with melee, deception triggers again, pops out a decoy again (only one up at a time) and resets the timer. In combination with Execute (lunging towards the target in your crosshair, doing lots of damage) it works well for disabling a whole squad of enemies. For the tougher ones, you can soften them up with a grenade then zip through, assassinating them one by one.
The Warrior isn’t really an encounter that doesn’t really suit melee very well. I beat the stuffing out of Jack though.
For the last few parts of the game, the boys hopped on and helped me out. First the LBO showed up with Salvador (well suited to him – he tears around the maps in a frenzy shooting everything) and later the LBO popped on with his Axton (I respec’ed him to have a Longbow, Nuke turret which was impressive). Amazingly, LBO showed a lot of patience and didn’t do much more than bail me out if I was in a downed state since he was already into the second playthrough (which means he was level 40 something, 10 levels higher than I was, and geared up with far better gear).
It was definitely a lot of fun, especially playing with the both the boys. We decided we would use the skin customization for “Bandits” and be the “Bandit Clan”… okay, they decided that, I wanted to use the Hyperion skins for an extra F U to Handsome Jack but got out voted.
Again, another game with a talent tree allowing you to focus or adjust how your play your character to emphasize on different aspects or generalize.
I won’t go on a rant about how WoW’s simplification of this is a bad thing for players – really only a good thing for developers. Devs have it easier to balance the game since they don’t need to worry about predicting hybrid specs; yes, they did away with a portion of this by forcing you down one tree… now they’ve taken trees away entirely.
Sad panda. (see what I did there?)
The game itself is pretty much like the first one, only a little more story driven. The same twisted humor exists in the game, be it quests, introduction of bosses or NPCs you interact with (Tina is a nutter and Elle is … well… jeez.).
I like what they hinted at with the end of the game – a map of various systems containing vaults. Oh, that was a spoiler, by the way.
At first I wasn’t too keen on the change to the customization system – you basically find or are rewarded with skin or head customizations which are preset. After some time, the collector in me started to enjoy it and I suspect I spent a lot of time running from vending machine to vending machine to collect all the different company based skins (Dahl Elite, Maliwan, Torgue, etc.).
The multiplayer setup was much easier than the previous version. It ties right into Steam Friends or XBox friends (if you’re playing the XBox version) and lets you see (and join) friends when they’re playing. There are settings to make the game private though, so if you don’t want to be disturbed, you don’t need to be.
Steam says I’ve spent 95 hours playing Borderlands 2. Wow! That’s not to say one play through takes that long, it’s a combination of my playing Salvador, Maya and Zero through a lot of the content.