Borderlands 2 VR hands-on preview: Return ticket for one

Borderlands 2 VR contains a lot of familiar territory with some changed-up mechanics to fit VR and also fit a solo adventure setting. Shacknews goes hands-on from TwitchCon.

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The virtual reality space has become home to many new gaming experiences, but has also proved itself to be a good place to rediscover old favorites. Gearbox is now discovering this with the recently-announced Borderlands 2 VR, taking the original classic and fully translating it for VR headsets.

Though Borderlands 2 was announced just a few weeks ago, there was already a playable demo available at this year's TwitchCon. Naturally, Shacknews stopped by to give it a look.

Taking control of Maya, the demo started off in mid-mission along Frostburn Canyon. Maya's main skills and weaponry are intact, with the Borderlands mechanics mostly preserved. Just as before, the idea here is to explore the world, take out any Psychos or hostile machines in the way, and wipe out a giant Loader bot boss at the end with extreme prejudice. Maya was armed to the teeth in this particular demo, allowing me to get to work with a variety of weapons.

But the differences in the VR version of Borderlands 2 are very much noticeable. The first thing to note is that the Left Trigger is no longer tied to aiming, but rather zooms in on a target slightly via a mini-HUD. Aiming is now tied to head movement, meaning players need to stare down whatever they're looking to shoot down. Steady aim means steady focus and as someone who's prone to shaky movements, the aim proved a little finicky. Outside of that, movement felt slick and the moment-to-moment action was smooth enough that there wasn't any motion sickness on my end.

The biggest addition to this particular version of Borderlands 2 is the BadAss Mega Fun (BAMF) Time feature. This is the game's version of bullet time, which slows down the action long enough to try and squeeze in as many critical hits as possible. This proved invaluable against the demo's boss, which was frequently getting healed by nearby Surveyors. BAMF Time wouldn't last too long, enough to get about seven or eight good shotgun blasts in, but the ability recharged quickly, allowing me to use it roughly every minute or so.

Those looking for a faithful Borderlands 2 translation will unfortunately have to trade off a few existing features in exchange for these newer ones. For one thing, this looks to be a strictly solo experience, with no co-op on the horizon. Outside of that and the aiming system that takes some getting used to, this looks and feels very close to the base game, right down to the copious loot drops.

The demo wasn't particularly extensive, only going roughly 15 minutes, but I did feel encouraged by what I saw. Whether a strictly solo Borderlands experience proves appealing in the end remains to be seen, but those looking for a new way to get back into the Borderlands world may want to look into this. Borderlands 2 VR is set to hit PlayStation 4 on December 14.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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