Two guns are better than one.
Out of all the games at E3 2012, Borderlands 2 was the first to blow my mind, starting an incredible streak of third-party hits that soared in an event when the first-party press conferences were generally underwhelming. Gearbox Software's Borderlands, despite the occasional glitch and irritating "corrupt DLC" notifications, was a incredible top-seller as a four-player cooperative first-person shooter gunfest. Borderlands 2 takes that tried-and-true formula and multiplies it by two bazookas… literally.
All it took was thirty seconds of trying out the new Gunzerker class, a behemoth badass who can wield two rocket launchers (or two of anything) at once, to remind me of how awesome this series really is. Beyond that, the increase in speed is extremely noticeable. Borderlands 2 is about 30% faster than its predecessor, with quicker movements, reloads, and weapon switches.
As you would expect, though, Borderlands 2 is more of a "new and improved" model of Borderlands than a complete redo. You will still accept bounty board quests, choose from four classes based on the original four, earn experience, gain skill points for various trees, open familiar red treasure chests, and cheer when you find an 4x-incendiary sniper rifle. (I will at least.) You'll also notice that money is automatically pulled toward your character like a magnet, making looting that much easier and the pace much swifter than before. If you find a crappy gun, you don't have to skip it this time around, either; you can throw it enemies for a blast explosion. I guess that's the Borderlands version of going green.
The four new characters are tweaked and upgraded versions of the original four; Salvador replaces Brick as the previously mentioned Gunzerker, Maya keeps in line with Lilith's Siren abilities, the commando Axton is just as turret-happy as Roland, and Zer0 is a stealthy masked Assassin with skills markedly close to the Hunter. This doesn't include the recently revealed Mechromancer class, featuring a cyborg woman with robotic support drones, which will be available as post-launch DLC before Christmas.
The mission for this heroic quartet, five years after the events in the first Borderlands, is actually to rescue the original cast of heroes after they've been thrown into prison by a power-hungry character named Handsome Jack. Apparently, he's stolen the credit for opening the Eridian Vault from the first game and is convinced that he can "cleanse" the world by exterminating colonists and industrialization. You happen to win a gladiator battle sponsored by Handsome Jack, but he becomes jealous of your praise and has you thrown in the desert and left for dead. Luckily, Guardian Angel returns from the first game to rescue you just in the nick of time. Fan favorite Scooter will also make a comeback. Hey, can't catch a ride without him.
Get your revenge, find your favorite gun, grab three friends, and rescue Pandora once more when Borderlands 2 arrives September 18, 2012.