Welcome, Vault Hunters! With the recent release of Borderlands 2 on the Mac, there’s now a whole new audience chomping at the bit to get out and explore Pandora, face off against thousands of merciless enemies, and, most importantly, build up an incredible stockpile of sweet, sweet LOOT.
For those new to the Borderlands, or for those just looking to brush up on both old and new strategies, we’ve put together a short guide to ensuring all players get the most out of their time on Pandora.
Choose Your Starting Character
When choosing your starting character, remember that each and every one of them has the potential to be a complete and utter badass, meaning no one character is “better” than the other. Instead, we recommend looking at each character’s Action Skill (essentially each class’s defining characteristic), and choosing the one that you think best fits your preferred play-style.
- Axton, the Commando – Axton throws out a strong Sabre turret for his action skill that can quickly rip through enemies. The turret is stationary, but has great range and pretty decent aim (which can be further improved with other skill points). Axton may actually be best for new players since the turret not only is deadly in its own right, but helps take some of the pressure off of Axton as well. More bullets flying at your enemies, and less bullets flying at you, is a win-win scenario.
- Maya, the Siren – Maya uses a unique skill called Phaselock. Phaselock will trap and suspend enemies in mid-air for a short period of time, rendering them defenseless. Players can upgrade this ability to add additional elemental damage, instantly heal allies, or even turn enemies against one another. Maya is great at crowd control and thus is a perfect companion in nearly all forms of cooperative play.
- Salvador, the Gunzerker – As a Gunzerker, Salvador has the ability to wield any TWO guns at the same time by Gunzerking. While Gunzerking, Salvador automatically restores half of his health and constantly regenerates bullets and more health. If built correctly, players can enable Salvador to Gunzerk at a near constant rate during combat.
- Zer0, the Assassin – The master of stealth, Zer0 utilizes a skill called Decepti0n to deploy a decoy and temporarily vanish while setting up HUGE amounts of damage to single targets. In addition, Zer0 is probably the most melee-friendly class, providing huge melee bonuses that allow Zer0 to use dashing executions, steal enemy health, and remain in Decepti0n for an extended period of time.
- Gaige, the Mechromancer – Available only to players with the Mechromancer add-on content, Gaige can summon a monstrous robot called Deathtrap to her side. An immensely powerful ally, Deathtrap can fly all over the battlefield, ripping enemies to shreds with his claws or disintegrating them with his laser beam.
Now Choose a Second Starting Character (for Co-op!)
Now that you’ve got your first character up and running, we recommend starting a second character dedicated specifically to co-op with friends. While still incredibly fun as a single player experience, Borderlands 2 is truly meant to be played with others.
The trick, however, is keeping within a reasonable level of your teammates. Due to how the game scales as you level up, it’s best to be within 2-3 levels of your teammate(s). Otherwise, the game will become either too easy or way too hard.
Plan your Skill Tree
Still having trouble deciding which character to use? Or want to build out your character’s skills in advance? Then check out this official Borderlands 2 Skill Tree provided by Gearbox Software (the developers of this fine game).
You’ll be able to see what each character’s skills can do depending on the number of skill points invested.
Sign Up for a SHiFT Account
SHiFT is a free in-game delivery system for providing all sorts of great goodies to Borderlands 2 players. For instance, once signed up, you’ll automatically receive a Golden Key that can be used to open a special loot chest located in the in-game town of Sanctuary. Other examples include new skins and heads that you can use to customize the way your characters look. You can sign up for SHiFT here.
(NOTE: SHiFT codes for Golden Keys on PC should work on Mac, and vice versa. SHiFT codes are only available for the Steam version on Mac; they will not work for the Mac App version.)
Don’t be Shy with Golden Keys
Did you sign up for a SHiFT account yet? Then don’t be shy about using that shiny new Golden Key! You’ll always get some great, rare loot that’s scaled to your character’s level, especially useful if you’ve run into a more difficult section of the game.
The point, however, is that the key won’t be your only one! Gearbox gives out SHiFT codes for new Golden Keys fairly regularly, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities to get more. To make sure you don’t miss any, follow @GearboxSoftware, @ECHOcasts, @SHiFTStatus, and @AspyrMedia on Twitter.
Take Advantage of Enemy Weaknesses
Okay, enough intro—time to get into the actual gameplay itself! There are multiple types of elemental damage that can be done in Borderlands 2, and each one does a varying amount of damage to different enemy types.
- Non-elemental damage – This is your basic gun damage. You can tell if it’s non-elemental because the damage numbers on enemies will pop up in white. Non-elemental weapons do slightly less damage to armored enemies (yellow health bars) and base damage to all other enemy health.
- Shock elemental damage – Shock weapons are incredibly effective against enemy shields (the enemies’ blue health bar). Shock weapons don’t have any weaknesses, making them particularly effective in late-game situations when enemies have huge shield and health bars.
- Fire elemental damage – Fire weapons are very strong against flesh, doing extra damage to enemies with red health bars. However, they also suffer a damage reduction against shields (blue health bars) and armor (yellow health bars).
- Corrosive elemental damage – Corrosive weapons are GREAT against armored enemies like the loaders and constructors from Hyperion’s robot army. Corrosive weapons do extra damage against armor (yellow health bars), but reduced damage to all other enemy health.
- Explosive elemental damage – Explosive weapons do slightly less damage to shields but base damage to all other enemy health. However, explosive weapons also have a splash radius, meaning you don’t have to hit your target directly to score some damage points!
- Slag elemental damage – Slag doesn’t provide any extra damage itself, but once an enemy is coated in slag, all other weapon types will do DOUBLE the calculated damage!
In addition to the base damage, shock, fire, and corrosive weapons have a chance to add a secondary damage effect, called damage over time (or DOT). If an enemy is affected by a DOT effect, they’ll continue to take damage even after you quit shooting them!
Fight For Your Life
Get knocked out by an enemy? Don’t give up! Once your health hits zero, you’ll enter what is called “Fight For Your Life” mode (FFYL). You’ll have a few seconds to crawl around and keep shooting, and if you manage to score a kill before FFYL runs out, you’ll get a Second Wind. Your shields and a portion of your life will regenerate so you can get back in the fight!
We recommend carrying around a strong rocket launcher specifically for this type of situation.
Alternatively, if playing with teammates, they’ll be able to run over and revive you if you can’t take out an enemy. The Siren even has the ability to revive players from across the map with her upgraded Phaselock ability!
Search ALL THE CONTAINERS
Enemies in Borderlands 2 can take a LOT of punishment, and that means you’ll be firing a LOT of bullets. Be sure to check containers, dumpsters, and… fecal piles from the local wildlife to scavenge for ammo and cash.
Of more importance, however, is finding an in-game currency called Eridium. This purple substance can be traded in for increased ammo carrying capacity as well as a larger inventory (for carrying around more loot!). The more ammo you can carry, the less likely you are to run out of bullets!
Don’t Forget Your Badass Points!
As you progress through Borderlands 2, you’ll inevitably complete various in-game Challenges. The reward? Badass Points!
Once you have enough Badass Points, you’ll be rewarded with a Badass Token that you can use to boost any one of a selection of character stats, ranging from gun damage and accuracy to maximum health and shield capacity.
There are two additional badass parts to this:
- These stat boosts work across ALL of your Borderlands 2 characters.
- Badass Points and Tokens are UNLIMITED, meaning you can gain an infinite number of stat boosts!
Get Ready To Do It Again
After you complete the game once, it’s time to do it all over again! You’ll be given the option to start True Vault Hunter Mode (TVHM), which offers a second, tougher playthrough.
Enemies are much deadlier and harder to kill, and you’ll need every last skill and skill point at your disposal to survive. Luckily, with tougher enemies comes better loot, which will help YOU to be much deadlier and harder to kill!
Extra: Certain quests in Borderlands 2 give unique and powerful rewards. However, they’re typically only effective for a limited time until the enemies’ levels get too high. You can actually get around this limitation, though, by skipping the quests during your second playthrough! After beating the game a second time with the same character, all quests and enemies will scale up to the max level of 50, meaning you can get the most powerful equipment by doing the quest later!
That about covers the basics. The rest is best left up the player to explore and find out for him or herself! Still, we’re always open to new tips and tricks. Have any of your own? Sound off in the comments!