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Borderlands 2: A father & son relationship

Borderlands

My first vacation to Pandora was as a lone buccaneer. Not quite as desperate as the lives of the zone trippers in Richard Stanley’s Hardware, the pace and scenery in this tale more suited to a Sergio Leone vision of a futuristic Nevada. Everyone I knew bought Borderlands at different times and the little co-operative play I did have was limited. With a second prospect to go vault hunting a partner or two was a must.

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Who better to be a companion when saving a distant world than my own father; and why not. Together we’d be popping heads into a eruption of neon mathematical digits, not laughing at Gearbox’s obsession with midgets and down syndrome, finding even more loot that we’d have no space to carry, and turning the opportunity to plan our attacks into a two man free-for-all.

Our partnership began with a raid on a dam. This long and intense battle concluded with a last ditch confrontation against a guardian of hulking metal who sports a rather unsportsmanlike shield. In my earlier run, I couldn’t do enough damage to take it down – playing solo has difficulty spikes – and the mission continued on a trajectory. Here, with the two of us and plenty of explosives, we took it down. Makes me wonder what other missions could result in different paths dependent upon your performance. With a lot of bullets spilt we headed back to the central hub for a change of clothes and some new fetch quests favours.

Whilst dickin’ about in Sanctuary – dickin’ being the sort of term Gearbox would fully endorse – I illustrated where you can utilise the Premier Club key. Originally, I’d opened this chest completely unaware of what it was. Inside were two great shields, one of which had a high capacity and could drop 25% shield boosts as you’re attacked. It was only upon revisiting this chest of treasures at a later time that its purpose became clear. I’d need to find more golden keys.

When my Dad opened it there were this time two guns inside. The one on the right immediately caught my crow-ish eye. It was shiny; coated with metallic oranges and blues. The circular ammunition clip on the side gyrating as a flurry of bullets is unleashed. The whole aesthetic of the gun was perfect, considering moments earlier I’d bemoaned the lack of attachment to any of the guns. A high damage accurate SMG with a high element chance. Excellent.

Playing as the siren class, complete with They call her One-eye head model, this bandit alighting SMG was a must. And so it became mine. To be fair, I’d already traded over a bunch of guns and shields I no longer needed for free. With pockets bursting at the seams with dollar notes there was nothing needed in return. It’s a start to making up for eating my parents out of house and home during my younger years.

Two hours later and I’d yet to level up once. Playing in a lower-level world is solely a favour to the other player. There’s nothing to gain outside of insanely rare loot; should it come along. Hopping out of one game and into another was pleasantly easy and without the need break the mood. It felt a continual experience.

Moving from his game to mine, our first visit was Fink’s SlaughterHouse. Attempting this with a player of a lower status is a nightmare of missile-in-the-face proportions. Facing down an upsurge of screaming lunatics saw my Dad get knocked down and the majority of ammunition turn to empty cases littering the arena floor.

Then even bigger bandits came swaggering out. Mission status: survive three waves… one of three completed. Two more runs of this? No, thank you. Still, my siren gave it her best shot but when this does next to no damage it wasn’t long until she too was cashing in a chunk of dollars to be rejuvenated. This arena could wait for a rainy day: Time to focus on the mission at hand.

With more in-game experience, I was one rather substantial narrative footstep ahead. As we’re both more keen on the solo experience of gaming rather than the recent ham-fisted cooperative approach at the arse-end of this generation, the plot, no matter how wafer thin, was important.

The risk was a voiceover interjecting the carnage with a sudden spoiler or over descriptive waffle of an event that had previously happened, repeating itself to ensure I now definitely knew what that plain-as-day event was. This almost happened but thankfully the words were furiously mixed into a sound casserole of grenade explosions, burning screams and a fistful of reloading.

So to avoid it occurring again we went for a stroll instead, taking down all manner of creatures from animals to the semi-human. This brought with it different complications. As new areas were discovered there were items or objects whose importance virtually shone, but must have been quest activated as nothing would happen. Stray off the beaten path and this is a much more linear adventure that it first appears to be. This is an illusion I did not want to break, and soon we gave up the ghost.

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My Dad began gaming when he first saw and instantly fell in love with Elite (before they coloured it in). This led to me being brought up on a socially unhealthy amount of video gaming desert. On the plus side, we get to share hobbies like this. It’s now his new mission to complete all the quests he had outstanding when we left the world, and therefore bring him up to speed in both experience and plot. Then we’ll be tag-teaming once again to double perfect-plex Handsome Jack out for the three count.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

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