While the vault hunters of the first Borderlands may not have featured much in the way of narration, it definitely mattered which of them you picked. Each class came with a different play-style and skill tree, from the proficient sniper Mordecai to the heavy weaponry and brutal melee attacks of Brick. Borderlands 2 will place players in the shoes of four new characters, and Gearbox revealed one of them to us during our recent cover trip. Salvador belongs to the new Gunzerker class, and all signs point to him being a versatile and entertaining character selection. Read on to see what you can expect from this new addition to the franchise.
As you might surmise from the name, the Gunzerker differs from the Berserker in that he focuses his abilities more on shooting than melee attacks. Whereas Brick would toss the guns and go into a timed rage of brutal punches, Salvador’s timed ability grants him an additional firearm. Once you’re double-fisting two of Pandora’s varied weapons, each will be fired independently with the left and right triggers. “What inspired some of the original ideas behind him was The Punisher,” says art director Jeramy Cooke. “He was happy to dual-wield AKs and M16s and everything under the sun. He just had this whole ‘grit his teeth and blast the crap out of everything’ vibe”.
Any of the guns in Borderlands 2 can be dual-wielded during this time, meaning Salvador can simultaneously shoot a rocket launcher and a sniper rifle, an incendiary SMG and an electric pistol, or go all-out with two giant miniguns. Thanks to the new "amp" elemental, you can work some strategy into your weapon selection. Amp-based weapons coat enemies in a goo that intensifies elemental damage, so dual-wielding one along with a fire/electric/corrosive gun will cause it to be much more effective.
Like in the first game, each character will feature a unique skill tree that allows for more play-style customization. Salvador’s tree splits into three paths - Wrath, Brawn, and Gun Lust. Wrath features stat bonuses and new abilities tied to his dual-wielding ability, Brawn is focused on physical toughness, and Gun Lust increases weapon stats and grants new abilities like Salvador’s aggro turret. Here are some other bonuses on the skill tree that you can funnel your points into:
Divergent Likeness - If you’re dual-wielding two weapons of the same type, you’ll deal bonus damage. Dual-wield weapons of differing types, and your accuracy goes up.
Notes from Paul Hellquist, Gearbox’s game design director: This skill is great because it interacts so well with not only the action skill but also with your gear choices. Which pairing of weapons makes me the most effective when using this skill? Should I use low-accuracy, high-damage weapons of different types to get accuracy bonuses? Or should I double-fist some revolvers for max damage but low fire rate? This skill changes the way you think about what you are dual-wielding and which gear will work best together to maximize your power during your action skill.
Down, Not Out - In the first Borderlands, no action ability was able to be used when you were on the brink of death. If you have this bonus activated in Salvador’s skill tree, however, he can dual-wield in his final moments.
Notes from Paul Hellquist: This skill breaks the rules of Borderlands. The general rule is no action skills while fighting for your life. This rule is to increase tension and limit a player’s power while fighting for their life. But in game design, the reason you make a rule is so you can occasionally break it. This skill breaks that rule and changes the way you think about your action skill. Your strategic options for when to use it are very different after purchasing this skill.
Overheat - No matter what gun you’re using, its rate of fire will continue to increase as long as you hold down the trigger.
Notes from Paul Hellquist: This skill is awesome because it can result in the most ludicrous fire rates on your weapons. Your low fire rate high-damage weapons become god-like. Your high rate-of-fire weapons fire all of their rounds in the blink of an eye. It’s just great fun.From our early look at Salvador, he appears to be an absolute blast to play. Dual-wielding has been done before in tons of FPS titles, but the amount of weapons in Borderlands 2 should ensure a more strategic and varied experience.