Monday, October 15, 2012

Borderlands 2: Mechromancer first impressions

Gearbox rolled out their Mechromancer DLC a week early and I nearly peed on myself.

The new character's name is Gaige and her special ability is summoning an ass kicker of a robot.  Unlike Axton's turrets the robot dishes out melee attacks and takes the fight to the enemy.  It's a real beast of a machine that has quite a few upgrades.  Gaige herself has three skill trees: Best Friends Forever, Little Big Trouble, and Ordered Chaos.  Best Friends Forever grants the most bonuses to the robot, Little Big Trouble has some beastly bonuses to element effects for Gaige, and Ordered Chaos is, well I'm not sure, a combo platter of stat boosters combined with a stacking Anarchy bonus that boosts damage but lowers accuracy.  I'm really sure how Ordered Chaos works but it seems like a fast strike skill tree.  I won't use it because it doesn't appeal to my play style.  I'm going for Best Friends Forever and the sweet ass electricity damage bonuses in Little Big Trouble (including electric dmg possibly causing burn damage).

There's been a bunch of press about lead designer John Hemingway's quip that the Mechromancer is "girlfriend mode".  As in, it's an easy class for new/inexperienced players to get into - particularly with some of the skills in the Best Friends Forever skill tree.  On one hand I'm thinking, "Dude, just because a player might be a girlfriend doesn't mean girls are n00bs."  On another (just pretend I have a lot of hands) I'm thinking, "Y'know, yeah calling the Mechromancer 'girlfriend mode' sucks but it's kind of cool to have a character that inexperienced players of any kind can pick up and have fun with."  On another I'm thinking, "Fuck you, Mechromancer is awesome, fun, and my game play experience is only easier this time through is because I dumped all of my old sweet gear Axton picked up - and all the money - into my Mechromancer."  Hell, I spent an entire evening just playing slots and hoarding eridium (and gear) for my new character.  I've also been tearing through the challenges in the areas available to me (thus giving me even greater bonuses to those I racked up with Axton).

While the bonuses, gear, and loot make life easier the Mechromancer skill tree has not diminished the difficulty of the game (True Vault Hunter Mode was brutal with Axton).  At level 13 (even with bonuses and better equipment than I started Axton with) I'm still having to fight tooth and nail with equal and higher level mobs.  Mr. Robot helps but he's not a crutch or game breaker.  Tactically he's a greater benefit than Axton's turrets or the Gunzerker's rage mode (I haven't tinkered with the Siren yet).  He'll kite and just be a general pain in the ass while I hang back and snipe/toss grenades/pop barrels/etc.  I'm a big fan of summoner/resurrection/mind control classes (the Siren has a skill I'm kind of keen on which allows you to turn enemy against enemy) in games.  I firmly believe in flying monkeys and hired goons.  Why expose yourself to unnecessary risk?

Gaige also does well in multiplayer with Assassin - though during that session I was primarily playing her as kite for Goliaths.  I'd be curious to see how she holds her own along with a Gunzerker or Siren.  We shall see.

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