GameInformer scans have just been posted online, and I took the courtesy of going through the article and making notes. The game sounds awesome!
Set five years after the original Borderlands, a dictator named Handsome Jack purchased the Hyperion Corporation outright and takes credit for the efforts of the original vault hunters. The new batch of colourful characters must compete in an arena-style format from the bottom rank to win the grand loot. As the group wins, Handsome Jack realizes the fearsome foursome is a threat and leaves them to die on the icy tundra somewhere on Pandora. After five long years the original cast has gone their separate ways, and the new heroes must seek out their guidance (as quest-givers) to save Pandora from ultimate destruction.
Instead of being faceless templates, NPCs will be more active this time around. For example, Marcus will fiddle with a radio and play darts with throwing knives. They'll even respond to the player's actions. Gearbox is aiming to give the player a richer experience while not forcing cutscenes or "other elements that take players out of the action." Quest-givers may also provide dialogue on quest objectives and aid or criticize the player when accepting a quest. The developer is making towns more lively. Quests will be more dynamic as well, leading to twists and turns from the original objective.
An early mission lets the player rescue Roland, the soldier, who has run afoul with a gang who worships guns. Handsome Jack sends in an army of mechs to destroy the gang, so it's the player's task to interrupt the invasion and save Roland in the process. Salvador the Gunzerker is given a proper introduction, a proper twist on the Berserker class, a character whose special ability is to dual wield any two weapons in the game. The character will enter a similar daze like Brick and for a certain amount of time he'll be able to unleash carnage with both weapons.
Adding insult to injury, Handsome Jack has built a moon base and will watch the player's actions throughout the adventure regardless of where they are. Enemy robots and supply crates will rain down from the base as well, and crush anything in the landing zone.
The lack of story in the original Borderlands was met with outcry of fans, so Gearbox was prompted to actually beef up the plot this go-around. The player's actions change the plot drastically, like taking too long to achieve an objective could affect the player's standing down the road. A more interactive story is what Gearbox is planning and one I am welcoming.
According to Gearbox, smarter AI will lead to more difficult enemy encounters. Enemies will actually duck and take cover unlike the bullet sponges from the first game. Also, enemies can communicate, making fights more dynamic.
A big complaint of the first game was the utter maniacal driving mechanics, and vehicles are getting a much needed overhaul come the sequel. Four seats is the new standard "so no one gets left behind", more detailed resolutions, the ability to powerslide, and thankfully, better collision detection.
The RPG aspect of Borderlands is getting a boost. The three-tier skill tree is back, but skills are refined and more useful to the player, instead of simple stat upgrades. For example, Salvador can increase his fire rate so long as the player keeps the gun firing.
Borderlands give players the fun advantage of possessing billions of dollars. This time, Eridium, a mysterious substance is the new currency on Pandora, which also doubles as a weapon enhancer. It leaves a nice trade-off early on, and gives players the choice of upgrading weapons early on or hoarding Eridium and going after the big guns later. Eridium can also give the player a temporary boost in health, shield and damage. Artifacts do make a welcome return, and are more fitted to gameplay tweaks. For example, some can put a healing aura around the player or make it so there's a small chance that bullets don't cost ammo.
And best of all, after a failed revolution, Claptrap is back. Time to rejoice.
Lots of details! If you guys want to read all the information for yourselves, just click here. Now I will drink my coffee and cry because Borderlands 2 isn't coming out until next year.