by Joseph Leray
During a panel at PAX East this weekend, Gearbox Software made host of announcements that focused on the longterm support of their most recent shoot-and-loot RPG "Borderlands 2": a level cap increase, a new game mode, and a new character are all forthcoming in the next few months.
Let's go in order by release date, shall we?
The long-awaited and much-discussed level cap will be available on April 2: an update for the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3 versions of "Borderlands 2" will jack the cap up to 61, providing players with 11 more levels to grind through. I'm assuming this means another 11 skill points will be available to round out your Vault Hunter of choice, but Gearbox president Randy Pitchford has already described some of the problems -- including possible hardware failure -- with that route, so who knows? A new, Pearlescent class of high-level gear makes its triumphant return from the original "Borderland," as well: all Pearlescent-rarity guns start at level 51 and work their way up.
This update will be free to owners of the game's Season Pass, and $4.99 for the rest of us. Another update that same day will in introduce Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, a third playthrough of the game only available to players at level 50. It will be free for everyone.
In May, "Borderlands 2" will be introduced to Krieg the Psycho, the game's sixth playable character. As teased at SXSW, Krieg is a melee-focused character whose action skill allows him to use a buzz saw to dispatch Pandora's myriad baddies. Krieg can use the buzz saw at close range, or throw it at enemies behind cover. He'll be vulnerable while his action skill is active, but killing enemies will replenish his health. The playstyle sounds similar to a Bloodshed-focused Zero build, meaning high risk and high reward.
Krieg, of course, has three different skill trees: Bloodlust buffs Krieg's axe and focuses on chaining melee kills together; Mania decreases the cooldown on his skills as he takes damage; and Hellborn increases damage when Krieg is afflicted by an elemental effect. The "stacking" mechanic introduced by the downloadable Mechromancer mechanic also makes a return -- chaining kills using the "Bloodbath" skill will stack up increased weapon and grenade damage.
The Psycho Pack will cost $9.99 and isn't covered by the game's Season Pass, even though previous comments at SXSW seemed to indicate otherwise.
Last but not least, the Gearbox panel ended with a short teaser trailer (captured by IGN) of Tiny Tina playing a "Dungeons & Dragon"-esque board game called "Bunkers and Badasses." While it's not an official announcement, "Bunkers and Badasses" is somehow connected to "Borderlands 2"'s fourth (and last) bit of downloadable content, according to the panel.
Whatever it is, the fourth bit of DLC is slated for June.