For anyone who doesn't know, a lot of games have a leveling system. For completing missions and defeating enemies, you'll earn experience points that accumulate until you gain a level, thereby increasing your stats. The highest level a player could reach was level 50...until last week when new downloadable content raised the level cap to 61. I've never been so excited about new content like I was last week (still am).
If you've never played a game with a leveling system, you might not understand why this is so important to the game. Prior to the increase, there was still a ton of gameplay value in BL2 even with a max level character. There were side missions to play, bosses to farm, and new weapons, shields, and mods to find, but with a max level character, I started to get bored because there was no progress. The level cap increase changed all that.
When I defeated the Warrior (final boss) on my second playthrough with my level 49 Mecromancer and received not just a level up to 50 but also experience gained towards my next level, I felt like I was playing a whole different game. Once again, I felt my character's progress move forward, and I couldn't wait to start a new game.
ULTIMATE VAULT HUNTER MODE
At the same time we all saw new downloadable content with the level cap increase, a free update opened up a third playthrough for the game: Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode. Borderlands and Borderlands 2 both had second playthroughs which allowed players to keep their current level and weapons. Enemies were harder. Weapons were stronger. And the fun...oh the fun.
But the latest free update introduced a third playthrough for Borderlands 2. Enemies now have 4x the health (which they also regenerate over time), but a game component called Slag received a 4x damage bonus, making it essential to gameplay. Suddenly, the game was no longer familiar. The weapons and shields that made me damn-near invincible in the second playthrough BARELY allowed me to survive in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode.
And unlike in previous playthroughs where an enemy's level was determined by where you were at story-wise in the game, Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode automatically scaled enemy levels to the highest level of anyone on your team. So on my first co-op night, when my my teammate joined the game at level 58 and I was at a fresh level 51...well...I needed quite a bit of saves. But make no mistake, I had a blast. The challenge provided was astounding, frustrating, and so much fun.
Weapons have played a major role in Borderlands since the beginning. One of the first things I heard about the game was how many guns there were to find in the game, literally thousands, each one different from the next. But this was only part of the fun because there were different tiers of weapon rarity.
When Grandma Burps Patrick Obeys. This is a mnemonic device for the level of rarity in Borderlands. White, Green, Blue, Purple, and Orange. White weapons are the most common drops, while orange (or legendary) weapons are the highest level of rarity...or are they? Like in the original Borderlands, Pearlescent weapons make an appearance in BL2 with the latest downloadable content package. New weapons, new drop rates equals much more fun to be had.
The best part of Borderlands 2 (and its predecessor) is its maker...Gearbox. One of the best parts about playing this game has been the attention its designers have paid to the players. Gearbox listened to critiques from the players and provided updates to fix most of the problems the game had. Downloadable content could be a little longer (more bang for the buck), but overall, I feel like Gearbox holds great value in their players. We're not just a paycheck for them, and as a gamer, I appreciate that more than anything (especially considering how much of my time is devoted away from the console).