Borderlands 2 is a Looter-Shooter by Gearbox Software that mixes an FPS with RPG elements. This means that there is a lot to shoot, loot, and level up, however, don’t worry, in this beginner’s guide I’m going to walk you through the basics of the game to get you started.
Table of contents
Borderlands 2 is set a few years after the events of the original Borderlands game. Pandora is now under the dictatorship of Handsome Jack, the CEO of the Hyperion corporation, and he is set to wipe out all the bandits on the planet. In order to do this, Handsome Jack wants to summon the Warrior – An Ancient Vault Monster – that is hidden on the planet.
Handsome Jack calls upon all the Vault Hunters to help him find the Vault, however, this turns out to be a trap and you and the train you are on are blown up. As you barely survive the crash, you are found by a Claptrap unit in the Arctic Wasteland that helps you on your way.
At the start of your journey, you are contacted by a mysterious Guardian Angel that explains to you that Handsome Jack must be stopped. With a Hyperion Space Station in orbit looking over Pandora you start your quest.
You will start on Normal mode when you begin playing Borderlands 2, however, when you finished the main story campaign, you are able to progress to True Vault Hunter Mode. This is a “New Game+” where you restart the story progress but keep all your loot and character progress. When you manage to clear this playthrough there is another playthrough mode that increases the difficulty again.
|Normal||Normal||1 – 35||–|
|True Vault Hunter Mode (TVHM)||Hard||30 – 50||Complete Normal Mode|
|Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (UVHM)||Brutal||50 – 80||Complete TVHM|
Choose Your Vault Hunter
There are 6 playable characters in Borderlands 2. Four Characters came with the base game and the two others were added later as DLC. Anno 2023, you likely picked up a bundle that includes a bunch of DLC packs. Therefore, I’ll be going over all the playable Vault Hunters.
Axton is the Commando class in Borderlands 2. He spent ten years with the Dahl military force, however, after pursuing personal glory, he got discharged and was facing a death sentence. This resulted in Axton going AWOL and becoming a mercenary on other planets beyond Dahl’s reach.
Axton can deploy a versatile Dahl Turret on the battlefield that provides additional firepower. The Turret can be upgraded with additional guns, missile pods, a bubble shield, and more.
Maya is a Siren in Borderlands 2. The Order of the Impending Storm helped her train her mystical powers, however, while she was presented as a goddess and savior on her home planet Athenas, she soon learned that she was being used to control the people of Athenas. Maya traveled to Pandora to discover more about her Siren lineage.
Maya can use her mystical powers to suspend enemies in the air and lock them in place for a brief moment. This Phaselock ability can be upgraded to deal more damage or even mind control enemies.
Salvador is the Gunzerker Class in Borderlands 2. He is native to the planet Pandora and while he loves violence he is definitely on a rampage after a Hyperion strike team tried to seize his town. Salvador becomes interested in the Vault after hearing about the dangers as he interrogated the last survivor of the strike team.
Salvador is capable of dual wielding any two weapons in the game. This Gunzerking ability provides him with a very high damage output, which can be enhanced in his skill tree.
Zer0 is the Assassin Class in Borderlands 2. He is a mysterious character as his origins and real name are also unknown. Zer0 has traveled to Pandora after hearing about the Vault as his latest assassination left him unsatisfied and deeming the hunt for the Vault worthy of his skills.
Zer0 has the ability to deploy a holographic decoy of himself while cloaking himself from his enemies. When Zer0 is in this stealth mode he is able to deal massive damage with his next attack. Zer0’s cloak will break after engaging an opponent.
Gaige is the Mechromancer Class in Borderlands 2. She’s on the run from the Eden-6 police as her high school science project killed her classmate. Gaige’s robot was designed to protect others from bullies but excitedly blew up her classmate after she pushed Gaige. After landing on Pandora, she stowed away on a train leading to Windshear Waste.
Gaige can summon a giant robot called Deathtrap. Her mechanical companion can slash enemies to bits or burn them with his laser eye.
Krieg is the Psycho Class in Borderlands 2. He was part of an experiment that encouraged traits like self-harm, suicidal impulses, and reckless behavior. However, instead of destroying his sanity, it manifested as an “inner voice” in his mind. While Krieg’s sane side maintains hopeful, his psychotic side became the dominant personality.
Krieg can go on a Rampage where he will smash or throw his Buzz Axe into enemies. As Krieg, you want to take damage in order to do more damage.
Level Up + Skill Tree
You will gain experience points (XP) by defeating the enemies that you encounter during the game. When you accumulate enough XP you will level up until you reach the level cap. Each time you level up, your character’s maximum Health will increase.
You unlock your Action Skill once you reach level 5. Then you can also get a skill point each time you level up. You can use these points to activate passive boosts or augments in one of the three skill trees. Each skill tree focuses on a specific play style.
The tier 1 skills are there to generally help you out, however, the stronger skills are locked further down the skill tree.
Missions have a loose level requirement. You need to be somewhat on par with the mission level. Missions will be harder if your character has a lower level but you can get a bit overpowered by completing side missions before going on the next main campaign mission.
Weapons + Gear
Borderlands 2 has a lot of weapons because there are multiple weapon types and weapon manufacturers that produce your arsenal. Each weapon consists of multiple parts and with the number of components in the game, there are 2,736,589 unique weapons at your disposal in Borderlands 2.
- Assault Rifles
- Sniper Rifles
- Rocket Launchers
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- Bandit: These weapons have a large magazine size and take a bit longer to reload. Their weapon names use misspellings.
- Dahl: Military weaponry with camo skins that can tactically burst fire when aiming down sight while they are semi-automatic or fully automatic when shooting from the hip.
- Hyperion: These weapons have stabilizers and get more accurate when you keep firing them. Basically, they inverted the recoil as you start off with more sway and get more accurate over time.
- Jakobs: These Old-West weapons are very strong and can be fired as fast as you can pull the trigger. Jakobs doesn’t have any elemental weapons with the exception of some unique or legendary items.
- Mailiwan: These sci-fi weapons are always elemental and have an increased elemental effect chance. They are efficient when matching the correct element against your foes.
- Tediore: These weapons have mediocre statistics but can reload very fast because you simply throw away the gun in an arc while a new one spawns in your hands. The reload basically becomes a grenade throw and the more ammo is left in the clip the more damage the thrown weapon does.
- Torgue: These weapons shoot micro-missiles instead of bullets and therefore always deal explosive damage.
- Vladof: These weapons have a very high rate of fire.
Grenades are fun but they are even more fun when adding a Grenade Mod to them because then they will do more damage and behave differently.
Grenade Mods can change their functionality from a simple lob throw with an explosion into a teleporting explosive that deals elemental damage and drops multiple Child Grenades.
Shields keep your health bar safe and just like your weapon arsenal, there is a great variety of them. The main attributes vary, some have more capacity but others might recharge sooner or faster.
Shields are great to absorb that first chunk of damage but some shields come with different abilities. There are shields that explode when they break or give you add the bullets it absorbs into your pocket.
A Relic is an item that you can equip on your Vault Hunter that boosts specific stats of your character. They can boost your damage, health, action skill cooldown, and more. Find a Relic that suits your play style.
You can equip a Class Mod on your character to optimize your build. Class Mods provide passive stat boosts but also additional skill points to specific skills in your skill tree. You do need to spend at least 1 point on a skill in order to benefit from the Class Mods perk. The skill points from a Class Mod can push the performance of a skill beyond the max skill points. This means you can have a 10/5 skill and enjoy double the added bonuses.
These are the common weapon rarities in Borderlands 2 but there are a few more when you have the DLCs. The main takeaway is that the rarer an item is, the more likely it is that it’s the stronger weapon. That said, check the stats on the weapon if it meets your play style.
- White (common)
- Green (uncommon)
- Blue (Unique)
- Purple (Rare)
- Orange (Legendary)
There are Rare Purple items that are actually some of the strongest weapons in the game, however, Legendary items have special weapon parts that offer them perks that are normally not found in that manufacturer’s arsenal.
- Pick up valuable items even if you won’t be using them. You can sell them at one of the vending machines and make a quick buck.
- Vending machines have an item of the day. These are always a bit more powerful/special than the normal items you can find in the store.
- While vending machines don’t sell the most powerful gear in the game, they are a good way to get gear that is on the same level as your character.
- When you go into “fight for your life”, quickly defeat an enemy to get back up.
- Aim for the enemy’s critical weak spot to deal more damage and save ammo.
- Counter your enemy’s life bar with the correct elemental damage. So keep 1 gun of each element in your backpack.
- Use fire weapons against flesh (red life bars).
- Use shock weapons against shields (blue life bars).
- Use corrosive against armor (yellow life bars).
- Quickly peek at the mini-map from time to time during combat. Enemies are sometimes hard to spot because they are behind cover or blend in the environment. This way you get quickly get a sense of their location.
- Have various weapons equipped in your quick select slots. Not just various elements but various gun types. If you run out of pistol ammo and you only have pistols equipped you can’t quickly switch between weapons (Yes, you can always pause the game and dive into your menu to select different weapons but I like to come prepared).
- If you out-leveled your weapon by 5 levels or more, you are likely better off picking up a random gun from the ground as your old weapon won’t deal enough damage to work effectively against your enemies.
- Borderlands 2 is challenging if you only complete the main missions. The game is designed to pick up some side quests, if you pick up every side quest, you can actually become a bit overpowered for the next main story mission.