2K had an impressive showing at PAX Prime this year. Let’s not waste any time and get right to it.
I’ll start with Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.
A lot of people find it weird that I’ve never really played Borderlands. I mean, I love the RPG / stat stuff. Shooting is always fun, it just wasn’t ever something I got into. That may change in the near future however. Today at PAX I had the opportunity to play about ~40 minutes of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.
You can officially say I’m impressed.
Obviously I’d need more time to give you a more meaningful opinion, but 2K really put their best foot forward on this one. I’m not sure what it is, but the low gravity jumping just fit so well with the quirky guns the demo provided me with that the whole experience was pretty seamless.
There were a few instances where I wasn’t sure where to go, but other than that the demo was pretty flawless. I enjoyed how some enemies were vastly more susceptible to different weapons. I enjoyed how the different weapons worked. I really enjoyed what I assume to be classic Borderlands silliness. I had the opportunity to customize some skills, which I did almost at random, but as a result, so much wackiness was going on.
One downside of the experience was that I didn’t get much a description of the demo from the exhibitors, so I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. I’ve been told I was probably playing the Clap Trap class, but all I can tell you for sure is that mid fight, seemingly at random, disco balls would start flying around, rainbow auras would shoot out of me, and singing holograms would appear.
Just madness. All pretty awesome though.
I think that my tendency to abstain from Borderlands games may end with this one. Of the shooter’s I’ve played so far, this one definitely seems to be the most comprehensive, deep, and just down right fun.
So what else did I see at the 2K booth? Well, as it goes, they double booked my Civ: Beyond Earth appointment, I beleive, so I wasn’t able to get a look at that (which is a bummer. As you remember, that was on my top five games I was looking forward to). PAX, like all expos, is a schedule madhouse though, so no hard feelings.
I did get to try Evolve and this is the type of game that I can really sink my teeth into. I’m a nerd for kits, and class synergy, so when I hear that a game based around asymmetric competitive multiplayer pits a four person team of fundamentally different unit types against one of several brutal boss-monster caliber aliens, I’m all over that.
I got the opportunity to feel out both the monster and human perspectives and I was pleased with how balanced they felt. The quick and dirty is that the monster starts out weak and must evade the humans while it hunts the local wildlife. After gaining enough experience (by eating animals), it can evolve, becoming more powerful and gaining new abilities. At the second rank, the monster can go fairly toe-to-toe with the humans if it catches them off guard (or isolated), but at the third rank the tables are fully turned and the humans must be extremely cautious as the monster begins to actively hunt them.
This notion that both sides play the hunter, and the hunted, within the same match was a really cool design goal, and they achieved it fairly well.
Of the two monsters at the show, I played The Kraken. The other option, the Goliath, was a tanky brawler, capable of breathing fire and stomping the human team. The Kraken on the other hand was much less durable, but could fly, lay traps, drop lightning and knock the humans around it was more about taking pot shots at stragglers using its superior mobility and disruption to isolate targets.
With the humans thoroughly trounced, I switched to the other side of the coin and trying a support human. Humans came in four flavors: Assault for dealing damage, Trapper for locating the monster and preventing its escape, Support for debilitating the monster and enhancing the humans, and a medic for healing and protection.
My support, Bucket, relied heavily on homing rockets, automated turrets, and a clocking device. In fact, the homing rockets in Evolve are some of the best I’ve ever seen, as they simply track the reticle instead of actually locking onto a target.
At the end of the day, both sides have to play smart or they risk being caught in a compromising situation which could end their round pretty quickly. That is exactly what you want asymmetric gameplay to be. You don’t want a relationship where one side plays smart, and the other “just shoots stuff”, and in evolve that’s not the case. Both roles feel challenging and rewarding. I can wait to see what new monsters and characters that release as we continue to hear more about this title.