Login | Signup

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
Borderlands 2, FPSRPG, Gearbox Software, PC games, PS3 games, Survival Guide, Top Ten, Top Ten Tuesdays, Xbox 360 games

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

Borderlands 2 is currently monopolising our disc drives and causing no small amount of sleep deprivation. As we discussed in our 9/10 review and PC video review, it really is a gloriously OTT triumph of big guns and bug funz.

However, it's also much more challenging than its predecessor thanks to the ferociously aggressive AI... and you'll likely find yourself fighting for your life more often than, perhaps, you'd like to admit. To this end, Carl and I have compiled a list of ten survival strategies that will help you live longer, kill harder and generally make the most of Gearbox's epic fun factory.

Note that this list won't contain any spoilers or boss strategies, but do feel free to get involved in the comments if you've got some specific tips to share!

10: Punch The Crystalisks!

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

Crystalisks can be a formidable opponent if you're not well-prepared; capable of dishing out damage at both long, mid and short range. However, their obvious weak points are incredibly vulnerable to direct damage... and you might not know that they also take massively increased punishment from melee attacks.

Mid-level characters will only need one punch to shatter a leg segment. So long as you're willing to dodge and weave, a couple of well-placed blows are the most effective way of taking one down.

9: Carry A 'Hail Mary' Weapon

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

Borderlands 2 may offer an enormous variety of guns, but you'll want to carry a get out of jail free weapon at all times. A gun that boasts such massively high damage output that you can break it out in case of emergencies - either to finish off a badass or to practically guarantee getting out of Fight For Your Life with a single shot.

Rocket Launchers are perfect for this. I'd personally recommend a triple-firing version to increase your damage and make it easier to at least hit your target in a pinch. Bandit launchers will pack extra rockets in the clip, while Tediore reloads are a thing of exquisite beauty (and will often make the difference between death and revival). You might not always have it equipped, but you'll always want to have something on hand just in case.

8: Remember Your Badass Ranks

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

This is a very basic point, but remember to make full use of your Badass Rank bonuses. Tokens can be exchanged for small yet potent passive boosts to all your characters, though some upgrades are more useful than others.

As a general rule, pick increases to health, damage and shield capacity whenever possible - since even a 1% increase adds up when you're dealing with seriously big numbers. Otherwise, damage, shield recharge, reload speed, accuracy and elemental % chance are all good options. It's difficult to go far wrong, frankly.

7: Up Your Arsenal

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

Carl: Going in with various elemental weapons is all well and good [we'll get to that in a minute - Jon], but taking the manufacturer into consideration is just as important when selecting your loadout. The fast-firing Jakobs certainly helps when taking out weaker enemies quickly such as Rakks, but Torque weapons firing off rockets would be too slow in the same situation. A shotgun with massive damage may look good, but the reload time could be the deciding factor in whether you live or are once again taunted by the New-U machine.

On top of this, you will need to play to the strengths of your character and the skill tree you have chosen. Assassins with a penchant for melee attacks will want to pair it up shotgun for the many up-close encounters they will face, whilst a Gunzerker will want to ensure their second weapon compliments their primary gun for their rage mode. A lot of it is common sense, but even the best of us can be swayed by one or two tasty looking stats from time to time, only to realise a bit more forethough was probably needed in hindsight.

6: Pick The Right Shield

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

With all the guns that Borderlands 2 brings to the table, it's easy to overlook arguably the most important gadget in the game: your shield. A good shield can make the difference between life or death, and it's tempting to get sidetracked by the massive number of unique effects. Don't let them fool you. As a general rule, the best shield has the highest capacity, recharge rate and cooldown possible - so prioritise the numbers. If you've got a choice, absorption shields and Anshin health boost shields are a good bet since they either mitigate damage or vastly increase the amount of damage you can take.

Also, avoid Turtle Shields like the plague. Their stats may be impressive, but health is vastly more important than shield energy. You'll often receive only a slight boost to overall survivability by equipping one - if not a slight decrease.

Intermission: Reader Tips!

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

Some of the comments have been so brilliant that they deserve to be put in the spotlight. Let's take a break.

  • "To iterate the standard FPS mantra: Reload often. Nothing is worse than entering an unexpected firefight, starting to take heavy damage, and only getting off two rounds before you have to reload." - Quietus
  • "If you want to share a great spec gun or item get some one to host and you just drop the items and dashboard the game amd when you enter again you'll both have the item." - a cheeky exploit courtesy of Casinodancer
  • "Play the slots to get lots of eridium." - also Casinodancer
  • "Spend your eridium wisely... I seem to find loads of the stuff in washing machines for some reason." - stevenjameshyde

5: Elementally, My Dear Watson

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

Elemental damage is awesome. Not only will elemental weapons increase your damage potential, but they make taking down certain enemies much easier. As a general rule, use fire on anything unshielded and shock weapons on Stalkers and surveyors. Slag can also be incredibly useful, but only if you're willing to continually switch weapons. Either tag enemies with a slag sniper rifle and then bring the hurt at mid-range, or tell your team mates to prioritise slagged targets in multiplayer.

However, as a general rule, I'd urge you to carry a corrosive weapon at all times. Not only are resistant enemies few and far between, but it cuts through bots, engineers, Vultures, vehicles and bosses like an hot, acidic knife through butter. Even a relatively weak Maliwan SMG can turn entire Hyperion hordes into slop.

4: Solo Players, Spec For Survival

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

Borderlands 2's versatile skill trees grant players an enormous amount of specialisation and one-point wonders that completely change your action ability, and it can be tempting to save up for some of the more esoteric bonuses early. However, in singleplayer, this can come at the cost of ignoring some of the less glamorous passive skills that drastically increase your survivability.

Maya can regenerate health, increase shield strength and damage. Salvador can tank like nobody's business. Once you hit level 20-30, a cheeky respec will grant you access to all those tasty advanced skills, but solo players would do well to improve their survival potential in the early game.

3: Talk, Dammit!

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

In multiplayer, your headset is your greatest weapon. Character skills are designed to encourage cooperation, so always let your team mates know when you need Zer0 to neutralise a priority target or Maya to phaselock a dangerous enemy - allowing you to focus fire or regroup. As always, tell your team when you're taking a beating so someone can get ready to revive you if necessary.

However, you should start chatting before you even leave Sanctuary. Decide on job roles for each team member, then head over to the respec machine and load out your skills appropriately. Maya, for example, can become a potent healer if you focus on the Harmony Tree, while Axton can provide a safe haven with his Phalanx shield.

Talk. Cooperate. Win.

2: Don't Hoard - Be Selective!

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

Carl: It’s something we have all been conditioned into doing through years of RPGs: grab all the loot you see and sell up when you get back to base. The thing is, even from the get-go this isn’t the best way to make your money in Borderlands 2, and in most cases will just slow you down the further you go. This is down to two reasons.

  1. There is ALWAYS a better gun waiting for you down the road
  2. You don’t have the capacity to carry them all.

This is why you need to be picky with what you grab on your travels, and for the most part you will be ignoring White weapons. Even some elemental weapons will end up having low sell prices, so always keep an eye on the monetary value of the loot you pick up. For instance, you could start by only picking up weapons over $100, then as you move onto the next area push that up to $150. That said, as you progress into new areas you will find making money is easy enough without picking up all the guns (especially when dealing with Raging “GET YOUR FREE MONEY HERE” Crystalisks [remember to punch them! -Jon]). Along with mission rewards and all those containers to open, you’ll be better served by having a little restraint with all that loot.

1: Pick Your Battles

Top Ten Tuesdays | Borderlands 2 Survival Guide

When in doubt, run away.

It's not big, clever or particularly honourable - but part of Borderlands 2's unique charm is that you can attempt missions and access areas before you're ready to take them on. Winning through a difficult situation is immensely satisfying... but if you're continually being taken out of action (or worse, killed), there's no reason to stick around.

Instead, retreat. Do some side missions. Get some extra levels. Grab some more powerful guns. By the time you return, what seemed like an impossible challenge will be much easier to handle... and you'll save plenty of money rather than giving it to Handsome Jack via the New U machines.

We hope that this will make your lives both easier and longer, but Borderlands 2 is such a huge and versatile game that we've barely scratched the surface. Got some class-specific tips or builds to share? Some powerful boss strategies, personal anecdotes or even exploits? Let us know in the comments!

Add a comment8 comments
Quietus  Oct. 2, 2012 at 13:34

To iterate the standard FPS mantra: Reload often. Nothing is worse than entering an unexpected firefight, starting to take heavy damage, and only getting off two rounds before you have to reload. It even prevents you backing off effectively.

Secondly, manipulate drops. If you're taking damage, back off early, and let your shield refill, rather than losing health. Every drop / spawn wasted on a health vial could have been ammo or grenades that you really needed.

Lastly, grenade often. Borderlands 2 seems to spawn so many grenades that they're almost free damage. Couple this with a corrosive MIRV, and you're laughing.

stevenjameshyde  Oct. 2, 2012 at 14:54

Spend your eridium wisely. I've been finding ammo capacity SDUs far more useful than extra backpack or bank space. Also, I seem to find loads of the stuff in washing machines for some reason

Casinodancer  Oct. 2, 2012 at 15:57

If you want to share a great spec gun or item get some one to host and you just drop the items and dashboard the game amd when you enter again you'll both have the item. Same with money. Also take time ranking up and quest everywhere before you get to the final mission as it's quite hard. Save ya golden key till your a high level as the gun you get will be the level your at.

Last edited by Casinodancer, Oct. 2, 2012 at 16:01
Casinodancer  Oct. 2, 2012 at 15:59

Spend your eridium wisely. I've been finding ammo capacity SDUs far more useful than extra backpack or bank space. Also, I seem to find loads of the stuff in washing machines for some reason
Play the slots to get lots of eridium.

stevenjameshyde  Oct. 2, 2012 at 17:34

Spend your eridium wisely. I've been finding ammo capacity SDUs far more useful than extra backpack or bank space. Also, I seem to find loads of the stuff in washing machines for some reason
Play the slots to get lots of eridium.


Also a good tip. I'm currently hoarding money in order to complete a few challenges, but once that's out of the way I'll be gambling big-time

Late  Oct. 2, 2012 at 18:13

...drop the items and dashboard the game amd when you enter again you'll both have the item...


Boo, hiss!

JonLester  Oct. 2, 2012 at 18:26

@everyone: Valid points all. To which I say... get in the article! I'll keep updating as and when.

If you find this sort of article useful/fun, I can try to get them ready close to (or even before) launch for future games.

@stevenjameshyde: yeah, I actually considered putting "do your washing" in as one of the tips - I've found a fair haul of Eridium that way. Often in the Crimson Raiders base next to Tanis.

Last edited by JonLester, Oct. 2, 2012 at 18:30
CoolCab  Oct. 2, 2012 at 20:32

1) Always, always always try to level up Goliaths. Shoot them once in the face to get them raging then kite them to as many enemies as possible. They've got four levels, level on kills (so feel free to soften their pickings up for them) and their final form, the Fatal Godliath, will consistently drop blues and purples, a bunch of both currencies but best of all, it accumulates all the XP you would have gotten for the Goliath but triples it. Plus, super super fun to do; the pathing on them is absolutely nuts, they can easily chase you forever.

2) Money and ammo pickups are shared! This is important.

Email Address:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.