Keepin’ on the Borderlands

I haven’t talked about the Xbox in a while. I started Metro 2033 a few months ago, which I love the setting of but which is hard as hell. It’s a rails shooter set in post-apocalyptic Russia, and I totally dig the look and feel of it. I began on Normal setting but almost immediately restarted on Easy, and even on Easy it’s not a cakewalk. However, when I got really stressed earlier in the summer, the added videogame stress didn’t help. I slowed down playing and when Becky’s folks stayed with us for a week or so it was easier to abstain than explain the game.

I was away from the Xbox for pretty much a solid month, and when I was ready to return, I wanted something I could jump back into without much effort. The choice was obvious; I returned to Pandora for more Borderlands 2.

I’d started a playthrough as Maya the Siren a while back and was about 95% through. So I went back to that and finished her up. Then, my bloodlust still unsated (and all these increased level caps going to waste), I decided to “continue” a character by replaying in True Vault Hunter Mode (aka, Nightmare). You can only do that with a character you’ve finished with, and I’d just played a bunch of Maya, so instead I went back to Axton the Commando, who I finished the game with the first time around.

True Vault Hunter Mode didn’t start out too tough, but I was hampered by the fact that I have no idea how I finished the game with this character in such lousy condition. His gear was largely crap except for a few items I wasn’t really using anyway. His skill tree was a mess. Despite me supposedly trying to do something other than snipe with him, he came loaded with four sniper rifles; eventually I had just succumbed to my natural instincts.

I tried to roll with this. I reallocated his skill points. I also tried using the sniper rifles tactically. Axton’s main skill is he has a turret he can throw down that just blasts the hell out of everyone for a while. I loaded up the sniper rifles and tried to use the turret to keep bad guys at bay while I picked them off. This did not work, as any swarm of guys could take me down easily. Armored Maniacs, who are both armored and maniacal, were unfazed by the turret gun and would happily run through it straight to me, who now was trying to beat them to death with a high-powered, laser-scoped club. I needed a different plan.

That plan fell into my hands. First I found a really nice slag SMG. Then I found a nice slag grenade. Then I found a plan.

Slag is an element you can shoot at and infect an enemy with. Unlike fire and acid, which cause constant damage, slag itself doesn’t do a lot of damage, but a slagged enemy takes extra damage from other attacks. I already had a turret that pumped out bullets and missiles at bad guys, why not make those bullets and missiles hurt more? And why not make them all easier to hit? I got me a Singularity slag grenade, which pulls enemies towards itself before exploding. I can throw down the turret, toss a grenade, and dudes are pulled in front of the turret and slagged before they realize why they’re dying. As a backup, I have the slag SMG to help make sure everyone can enjoy the fun. For the Armored Maniacs, I also got a Corrosive SMG. And I found a nice little regular SMG that just spits out a ton of regular bullets, a little mini turret in itself. Once more I’m chugging along, and last night I took on the Bloodshot Dam Fortress.

I didn’t use slag much in any of my other playthroughs, but now I’m loving it. Unfortunately I’m entering the most-bad-guys-are-robots section of the game, so I don’t know that it will keep being useful, but I’m a slagaholic until then.

Eventually I’ll go back to playing games that aren’t Borderlands 2.

I suppose.

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