Borderlands 2

In Grand Theft Auto 5's final scene, protagonists Michael, Franklin and Trevor have odious billionaire Devin Weston trussed up like a turkey in the boot of a swanky car. It's time for some payback - Weston, a marauding tycoon of the Gordon Gekko school, has double-crossed Michael and attempted to hire Franklin to kill him. But first, a little speech from Michael on the subject of the "great evils that bedevil American capitalism". One of these evils, he says, is offshoring - the act of moving part of your business overseas to lower costs by, for example, paying less tax in the country where you're based.

Offshoring is legal in many countries, but is widely regarded as a dirty trick, denying the society that supports you an appropriate share of your earnings - and in a moment of blunt poetic justice, Michael, Franklin and Trevor proceed to "offshore" Weston by rolling the car over a cliff into the Pacific Ocean. It's typical of Rockstar's brand of social satire, clownish and macabre and, in this case, spiced with hypocrisy. Six years after the game's release, the company's UK businesses stand accused by TaxWatch of moving billions of dollars in profits overseas in order to avoid paying corporation tax, all the while claiming back 47.3 million via a tax relief scheme for creators of "culturally British" art, and doling out large bonuses to UK-based executives. It's difficult to assess that accusation without knowledge of how development of GTA5 was distributed across Rockstar's various studios, but well, I'm not sure Michael would be very forgiving.

Videogame "satires" of giant corporations have never rung that true for me, largely because some of the most prominent examples are developed by giant corporations. GTA aside, the field is led by Portal 2, a historical and architectural cross-section of a dysfunctional science company created by Valve, the owner of the world's largest PC game distribution platform. I don't think it's impossible to critique the upper echelons of the private sector while working for one of the Powers That Be - if I did, I wouldn't be writing this for a website owned by a million-dollar events business. But it's harder to laugh along to jokes about, say, brutal working practices or womanising CEOs when they come from those at the summit of an industry that worships crunch and has a lingering sexism problem.

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Borderlands 2

With Borderlands 3 fast approaching, its predecessor is enjoying a resurgence. Recent discounts and free DLC has seen returning and new players hitting Pandora, and if you're playing through the whole thing, you might want to take a look at Borderlands 2.5. 

Released last week, it's a work-in-progress overhaul mod for Borderlands 2, changing characters, gear, enemies and more. The mod team's intent is to let players discover changes for themselves, keeping new weapons and reworked boss fights a surprise, though you can see some of them linked in the Nexus Mods page

Borderlands 2's art style has been a bulwark against ageing, and with looter shooters now being everywhere, it feels pretty contemporary. If you've already defeated Handsome Jack and shot your way through the DLC, however, you might be in the mood for a change. It still looks the same, but under the hood it seems like there's a lot that's new. 

You'll need some DLC if you want to try it out and it's designed to be played standalone. Check out the requirements and installation instructions here

Borderlands 2

In Take-Two's latest earnings call, the publisher told investors that it had beaten expectations and was rolling in dough like a feral hog in mud, despite the absence of big game launches so far this year. 

GTA 5 continues to be a big earner, with GTA Online seeing a significant spike thanks to the casino update—that means more microtransaction cash for Take-Two. But it's not the only older game that continues to sell well. Borderlands 2, which launched seven years ago, a whole year before GTA 5, has also sprung back to life. 

To bridge the gap between Borderlands 2 and 3, Gearbox released the Commander Lilith DLC for free. Rather than being a throwaway piece of exposition, it's a solid adventure with some new villains, monsters and the return of the still uncomfortably ripped Vaughn. And it didn't just bring back old players—sales of Borderlands 2 are up 2 million since May 2019.

That's a big jump for a game that came out in 2012, even with the recent big discount. It's been pretty cheap for years. The Borderlands GOTY Edition also gave it a shot in the arm in April. This has resulted in Take-Two selling more than 6 million copies of Borderlands games, and more 4 million players have downloaded the Commander Lilith DLC. 

Last month, Take-Two studio Rockstar North was accused of receiving millions in UK tax relief while not paying UK corporation tax for nearly a decade, despite the huge profits Take-Two enjoys. Most of the profits generated by games like GTA 5, much of it designed by a British studio, are reported by the US side, while Take-Two's UK studios claim comparatively little, making them eligible for tax breaks. 

Cheers, GamesIndustry.biz

Borderlands 2

The latest video in YouTuber Shesez's excellent Boundary Break series—which takes the viewer outside the boundaries in popular games—is all about Borderlands 2, and  it reveals plenty of secrets about the way the world is designed.

My favorite revelation is that the flashy intros for major characters and bosses actually happen directly inside the game world, rather than being made separately. Those intro have splash backgrounds: if you zoom out, you'll find that those backgrounds just appear as textures in the world for the intro, linger behind the character, and then vanish when the intro is over. Skip to 9:30 in the video to see what I mean.

Shesez also finds weird, empty rectangles hidden far below each level, each one segmented into smaller boxes (see 7:00). What's their purpose? Gearbox senior programmer Kyle Pittman jumped on the line to explain: they're called global loaders, and they're used to transition players and their vehicles between levels. "If you travel from one map to another, and then also if you die and respawn...we take your player character and move them down to these regions. Basically this is just a way that we can get the player character out of the game world and into a safe space," he says.

It started as a solution to bugs in the first Borderlands, which Pittman also worked on. Sometimes, when players were moving between levels their vehicle would fall through the world—having an area for players to go first fixed the issue.

Shesez also finds a random model of Claptrap in a T-pose hidden underneath a mountain near the start of the game. Pittman explains that the model would've been used to scale the level around it, but that the level was redesigned to add a new hill, effectively burying poor Claptrap. The designer just never went back and deleted it, he said. 

The video also reveals rainbow-colored boxes dotted around, which are used to replace assets that were removed from the world, presumably so the team could keep track of them. We also see cubes underneath the platform where the player meets Angel: these cubes are basically hidden stands for shock field generators that pop up during the Angel boss fight.

There are lots more secrets revealed in the video, which is worth a watch in full. And if you're curious, the entire Boundary Break series is here, all 147 videos of it.

Thanks, Kotaku.

Half-Life 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Robert Yang)

In Vectorpark s Sandcastles, you build fantastic towers and watch the waves erase your work every 10 seconds. It s a very direct metaphor for the global climate crisis that threatens to flood coastal cities and exacerbate natural disasters. Sandcastles confronts us with our totally predictable watery doom, but we also find fun and expression in our totally foreseeable destruction. When the planet dies, at least we ll be entertained.

Before you commit to starving and drowning, you should probably understand how and why it ll happen. To imagine this nightmarish hellworld, readers can flip through climate fiction novels ( cli-fi ) and movie-goers can watch a big unprofitable climate disaster blockbuster every few years. But us mouse-clickers, we obviously don t read books or watch movies. Instead, we play with climate. Behold, the climate crisis game.

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Borderlands 2 - 2kschug
Become a VIP in the Borderlands Vault Insider Program!
As a VIP, you can score some sweet rewards for Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Obtain Gold Keys to earn rare loot, or even unlock some of the most elusive Legendary weapons, including the Dahl Torrent, Maliwan Norfleet, or Vladof Mongol! And that’s just a taste of all the awesome loot available to VIPs!



WHAT IS THE VAULT INSIDER PROGRAM?
Simply put, the Vault Insider Program, built in partnership by Gearbox and 2K, is a way for us to celebrate Borderlands fans like you. As a Vault Insider you’ll earn points and rewards for doing a lot of the fun stuff that you’d probably be doing anyway, like watching videos, reading articles, checking social media for the latest Borderlands updates, and of course, signing up for the program in the first place. Points can then be redeemed to claim rewards such as Gold Keys, wallpapers, and more in-game and out-of-game rewards!

I WANT IN! HOW DO I JOIN?
Before you can become a Vault Insider, you need a SHiFT account. If you don’t already have one, you’ll have an opportunity to create one during the VIP sign-up process.

Note that you must be at least 18 years of age to join. Be sure to review the Vault Insider Program Terms so you know all the important details.

Join at VIP.Borderlands.com

HANG ON, WHY DO I NEED A SHIFT ACCOUNT?
SHiFT is the platform that powers all in-game promotions and rewards in Gearbox games. Without SHiFT there’d be no way for you to receive all of the awesome in-game rewards that are coming your way.

OK I SIGNED UP. NOW WHAT DO I DO?
Be a Borderlands fan! You’re probably doing some of this stuff already, but in case you’re not, be sure to follow us on social media, make sure you’ve signed up for promotional updates, and check out articles and videos at borderlands.com. You can start earning points right away by referring friends and creating a 2K account to stay up-to-date on 2K’s other games. Check the hit list on your profile for up-to-date info on which activities are available for you right now.

Additional ways to earn points will be rolling out over time, including some that won’t appear on your hit list because they’re super-secret and designed to reward super-fans with super-rewards.

REMIND ME, WHAT DO I GET?
Rewards available right now include wallpapers and Gold Keys that are redeemable in current Borderlands games. With the legacy Gold Keys, there’s no need to wait – you can jump right back in to revisit your favorite Borderlands games!
Borderlands 2

It looks like Borderlands 2 VR is coming to PC, after almost a year of PlayStation exclusivity. Evidence comes via an ESRB rating for the Windows PC edition of the game. There's no indication of release date, but these classifications are usually filed within a month or so of release.

Borderlands 2 VR contains the full original game, but on PS4 at least, its entirely single-player. That does detract somewhat from the game's central appeal, but the opportunity to virtually inhabit Pandora is pretty cool. As is watching piles of guns explode from toilet cisterns. 

Borderlands 2

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.  

Plenty of videogame villains bother you by rambling over the radio or whatever its fantasy equivalent is. The Guardian in Ultima 7, Sander Cohen in Bioshock, Frank Fontaine in Bioshock, actually just everyone in Bioshock. 

Handsome Jack is different. He doesn't pontificate like he's delivering a sermon, he doesn't rant like he's going to be played by Jeremy Irons in the movie. When he shows up on your echonet device in Borderlands 2, he's casual. He's eating, for god's sake. He delivers villain monologues like someone making it up as he goes along, and he does it while audibly chewing. 

The monster.

Handsome Jack doesn't act like a villain, but then he doesn't think he is one. He thinks he's the hero. You and your friends are bandits, and he's the one who is going to open the Vault and fix Pandora. (By killing everyone. But not in an evil way.) Your relationship with him seems low stakes at first. It's annoying that he mocks you and tricks you, but it's so casual and he's so charming and funny about it that it's hard to stay mad—even if you found the audio logs that reveal what he did to Helena Pierce from the first game.

Halfway through Borderlands 2, that changes. You strike a significant blow against Jack, and he does the same to you. People die. Now it's personal. His rants stop being funny. Instead of making jokes, he just tells you he's going to kill you, and he's not chewing pretzels or whatever while he does it. The shift is surprising, and in that moment you realize that he hates you and you hate him too.

It's an emotional resonance few other games manage, effective because it's so surprising. Handsome Jack is not just a bag of hit points between you and your goal, he's an actual personality (an oversized and obnoxious one), and you feel like you have a real relationship with him. Which makes it even better when you finally take him down.

Borderlands 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

Borderlands 3 is on the way, and developers Gearbox really want everyone to know, so they’ve launched one final piece of epilogue story DLC for enduringly popular looter-shooter Borderlands 2. Commander Lilith And The Fight For Sanctuary is free until July 8th brings the cast back together (including folks from Tales From The Borderlands) for one last fight. They’ve also slashed the price on Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (Containing Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and all their DLC) to under a fiver. Below, a trailer for the new stuff, featuring a gun that shoots exploding unicorns.

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Borderlands 2

Here it is: courtesy of the Microsoft E3 conference, we now have some official details on the leaked Borderlands 2 DLC - including confirmation the DLC does indeed bridge the gap between Borderlands 2 and 3.

Commander Lilith & The Fight For Sanctuary is available for download right now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam. As was hinted in the Steam page leak, the DLC is going to be free (sort of) for owners of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. The catch is you'll only have until 9th July (7:59am BST) to snag this, as from then on it will cost 11.99 to purchase.

While there's nothing new in terms of story description and the level cap raise that wasn't already leaked, the press release does confirm the DLC "sets the stage for Borderlands 3's release". The new trailer adds some colour, at least - and shows off the DLC's villain along with some familiar faces.

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