There are lots of guns to be found on Pandora – a "gajillion bajillion" of them, if you're going by the marketing materials. While the reality is probably something more like, oh, an actual number, the sheer variety of attributes that your killing tools can possess in Borderlands 2 far outstrips the already-impressive assortment offered by its predecessor.
Gearbox Software made a big change to its arsenal for the just-released sequel: each manufacturer now has a fully developed personality, resulting in distinctive styles and, more importantly, gameplay-changing attributes for each piece of gear you collect. You'll no doubt realize this as you explore the world of Pandora and collect its generous helpings of lethal loot, but we figured it would be helpful to lay out the basics of the Borderlands 2 arms race in a single place.
Do you appreciate the hair-trigger semi-automatic fire of a Jakobs revolver or do you prefer the clean futuretech look and feel of Hyperion's aim-assisted pistols? We're here to help you decide.
There's an undeniable "cool" factor to Bandit's thrown-together arsenal. Sure, that 1,500-damage Dahl pistol is pretty sweet, but you look so much more badass when you draw a bead on targets using a shotgun decorated with shark teeth decals around the barrel.
During your time away from Pandora between Borderlands and Borderlands 2, the bandits got organized and started cobbling together guns using spare parts and duct tape. The results aren't pretty -- hence the shark teeth -- but the weapons do their jobs well. Bandit firearms are unique on Pandora for offering the largest magazines.
If you're the sort of FPS player who goes for the LMG category's bottomless bullet well, you'll definitely want to give Bandit weapons a closer look. Prepare for some hefty reload times, but the whole idea with the big magazines is that everything in front of you has been decimated by the time you have to reload. You'll find Bandit brand assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, SMGs, and even the odd rocket launcher clutched in the cold, dead hands of corpses all across Pandora.
Dahl is a military company, through and through. Its camo-painted arsenal is designed specifically for the tactical assault-minded Vault Hunters of Pandora. The intent with every one of the company's products is to create an array of options for the shooter.
Every firearm from the Dahl catalog comes with a unique feature that has become the manufacturer's trademark: the weapon auto-switches to burst-fire when you're aiming down the sights. It works better for some weapons than it does for others, and you'll definitely want to weigh the full set of stats whenever you find a new Dahl.
Sniper rifles tend to have it the worst, with the already small clips depleting even more quickly when scoped shots spit out three bullets at a time. That can be devastating against certain enemies too, but it's overkill and a waste of your precious sniper ammo for most of the grunts that you'll face. Assault rifles, pistols, and SMGs all fare better, as the burst-fire shots typically come out in a tight spread with minimal recoil on your end. Higher-level Dahl pistols that have been fitted with Maliwan's elemental tech are especially devastating.
It figures that the weapons spewing out from Handsome Jack's own company are also generally among the worst that you'll come across. Hyperion's wares embrace a sleek, futuristic look, with lots of clean lines and metallic paints. Their ability to fire in a straight line is unfortunately not nearly as sleek; Hyperion weapons suffer from some serious sway issues.
It's not all bad news, however. Each Hyperion firearm is fitted with stabilizer technology that makes each shot fired in a clip more accurate than the last. Aim down the sights of one of the company's pistols, shotguns, SMGs, or sniper rifles and watch in awe as the horrendous sway magically disappears as you fire. Take that, laws of physics.
Don't even waste your time with Hyperion sniper rifles unless they're so naturally dead-on accurate that the initial sway is at a minimum. Pistols and SMGs are buyer beware situations as well; give each one a spin to see how it feels before you start depending on it to save your life (or Fight For Your Life). Hyperion shotguns, on the other hand, are a force to be reckoned with, especially when you can find one with a high rate of fire and a deep clip.
The family-owned Jakobs Corporation has a really slick sense of old-fashioned style. These are the "Wild West" guns of Pandora. They're all very ornate firearms in a more classical sense, with a clean design punctuated by flashes of wood grain and bullets chambered in a revolving cylinder. They tend to pack a mean punch too, and they always shoot straight.
The defining characteristic of any Jakobs firearm is summed up in the company's motto: "Fires as fast as you can pull the trigger." It's all semi-automatic, all the time for Jakobs, but with most of its low-recoil arsenal sporting hair trigger responsiveness, that's not such a bad thing. Scoped assault rifles and pistols can be just as deadly at range as Jakobs' primarily bolt-action (and slower to fire) sniper rifles. Keep an eye out for any Jakobs assault rifles that spit out multiple bullets in a single shot. Scoped shotgun, anyone?
Jakobs' revolvers and shotguns are really where it's at, and that should come as no surprise. Which two firearms better embody the sensibilities of the Wild West? A competent shooter can empty a full Jakobs revolver clip and keep it on target in a handful of seconds. The hefty shotguns, on the other hand, are iron and wood-wrought beasts. They can only hold a few shots at a time, but find one with a fast reload time and you'll really come to love your Jakobs boomstick.
Maliwan's arsenal is as ostentatious as it is deadly. You can always spot one of the manufacturer's weapons from a distance on the battlefield thanks to the bright, eye-catching colors that they're all painted with. The colors aren't just for flash; they'll actually communicate important information about the weapon before you even lay hands on it.
The thing that separates Maliwan wares from the rest is a focus on elemental effects. Pick up anything with the company logo stamped on it and you can look forward to smacking down anything that stands in your way with the help of fire, corrosion, slag, or electricity status effects. The color scheme on the gun is often a dead giveaway for the kinds of elemental rounds it puts out, serving as a visual indicator that you can rely on from a distance.
Maliwan pistols tend to be the most popular based on the spoils of Pandora's various battlefields, and they become even more useful when they're fitted with the same burst-fire tech that makes Dahl products so popular. You'll find that SMGs and sniper rifles are a bit more rare, but both tend to offer best-in-class performance mixed with that always-sweet elemental aftertouch. Maliwan branded rocket launchers are rare finds, but always useful. After all: would you rather smack down a Badass Thresher with a 15,000 point damage rocket or a 15,000 point damage rocket that also sets the thing on fire?
In the ever-growing Pandoran arms race, there's still no company quite like Tediore. This is the budget manufacturer of choice among Vault Hunters, offering cheap, cheaply designed weapons that don't just break down... they explode!
That's a good thing. Tediore firearms are unique because they do away with silly concerns like reloading. Your gun's clip is empty? Why not just chuck it at an enemy for an added bit of explosive damage? That's how Tediore rolls. Empty a clip, chuck your gun, and then watch as it magically reappears in your hands, fully reloaded. The more ammo that's left in the clip when you "reload," the bigger the blast damage you'll get when you chuck the weapon.
Whether you're using a Tediore pistol, shotgun, rocket launcher, or SMG, it's vitally important to rewire the way you think about FPS shooting or you'll burn through ammo quickly. For most veteran shooter fans, hitting reload is a reflex action. You fire, you take cover, you reload. That's a recipe for disaster with Tediore wares. You need to think tactically about when you want to replenish your clip, just as you also need to remember that the big blast you get from a nearly-full clip also uses up all of the ammo in that clip in a flash.
Torgue wares are the preferred firearms of the dude-bro community. They don't just shoot bullets; they shoot explosive bullets. They're also big, beefy, and mean-looking monstrosities that are often adorned with checkerboard paint schemes. You really can't miss one of these when you see it in someone's hand on the battlefield.
Torgue's exploding rounds are a defining characteristic of the company, offering bigger damage per shot for each weapon than most of the other Pandoran weapons makers will ever encounter in their wildest dreams. There's also something undeniably badass about wading into battle with what amounts to a fully automatic grenade launcher in your hands. That's what you get with a Torgue assault rifle.
With all of the focus on making things go BOOM, you'd think Torgue rocket launchers are the end-all, be-all of the Turn Everything On The Battlefield Into Goo trade, but it's not quite that simple. Torgue's RPGs do indeed pack a very nasty punch -- we're talking tens of thousands of HP in damage at the highest levels -- but their rockets fly through the air very slowly, great for slow-moving Badass and boss enemies, but not much else.
Vladof is a manufacturer with an agenda: everyone should cast of the chains of oppression. It's an idea that comes to life more in the company's logo than its weapon designs, but the guns also happen to be pretty reliable. The company's products as a whole are known for having the highest fire rates around, though this plays out in some unusual ways depending on which weapon you're using.
Vladof assault rifles, for example, frequently sport multiple barrels and sometimes even multiple spinning barrels. The puppies need to spool up for a bit, but they'll spew out what amounts to a wall of bullets once they hit their top speed. Vladof pistols, on the other hand, can essentially double as mini-SMGs. The high rate of fire carries over to the company's sniper rifles as well; they're not automatic, but you can pop off semi-auto shots almost quickly as you can with a Jakobs small arm.
The real winner in the Vladog catalog, however, is its line of rocket launchers. The company's trademark high rate of fire is there, but it's the already decent-sized magazines that get an added boost thanks to a peculiar trait that is common to all Vladof RPGs: they use up less ammo per shot. The rockets that they fire are a bit on the weaker side, but does that really matter when you can let loose with a volley of 5-10 high-damage explosives in a few short seconds?