Borderlands 2 brings back the previous game's new game-plus mode as True Vault Hunter Mode, amping up the difficulty with tougher enemies, more powerful loot, and larger stat figures all around.
The main game is hardly a cakewalk, but TVHM is designed to really kick your tail. Many of the basic tips laid out in our Borderlands 2 starter guide still apply, but the amped up difficulty can still come as a shock if you're not prepared for it. That's why I'm back to share a few more tips that ought to help as you take your first stumbling steps into True Vault Hunter Mode.
Bigger, Better, More Badasses
The wide assortment of Borderlands 2 enemies can be boiled down into two basic categories: standard, run-of-the-mill jerks and Badass jerks. They all want to kill you, but the Badasses do so from a position of greater power, with more health, improved elemental resistance, and higher damage attacks for you to contend with.
In vanilla Borderlands 2, you can expect to encounter roughly one Badass for every 10-20 peons you come across. In True Vault Hunter Mode, the ratio is more like 1:3. Badasses are everywhere and they're gunning for you. Most will be able to put you in Fight For Your Life mode in only a handful of shots, even when you've out-leveled the area you find them in.
The only functional tip I've got for you here is "be ready." There's no value in recklessly running into the middle of the battlefield. Advance slowly and use cover. Simple, straightforward stuff, sure, but it's vitally important for survival in TVHM.
More Nuanced Inventory Management
When it comes to gear, there are a few things to keep in mind. First: don't get too attached to your weapons. You might've been able to ironman your way through five or more levels with that one prized revolver during your initial playthrough, but most of the weapons you'll find in TVHM will only last you for a level or two before you're finding them to be outclassed by new gear. Let go of your attachments and upgrade whenever possible.
That said, you still want to be prepared for every situation. By now you've likely spent Eridium on most or all black market upgrades, and if you followed my previous guide then you put the priority on expanding your backpack first. That'll be especially helpful in TVHM since you want to have a weapon handy for every possible circumstance.
For starters, have at least one of each weapon type in your inventory. Ammo disappears very quickly in TVHM, so unless you're using or playing with a Gunzerker equipped with a bullet regen class mod, you might need to dig deep and exhaust all of your ammo every now and again. Also be sure that the arsenal you're carrying covers every possible status effect.
You don't need four different sniper rifles with fire, corrosive, electric, and slag effects, respectively, but you should at least have a spread of weapons to cover each of those categories, plus another that can do explosive damage. Also make sure you've got good firepower with no status effects attached; you'll find a lot of everything-resistant enemies in TVHM, so the raw damage of a Vladof or Jakobs firearm can be a big help. Also, slag. Take advantage of the damage bonuses offered by this new elemental type.
When it comes to shields, having a high capacity is still important, but you'll also want to shoot for the lowest recharge delay possible. As a general rule, if the recharge delay on a shield is more than five seconds then you'll probably want to skip it in TVHM. It's not impossible to use one of these, but you'll definitely find your progress to be much more challenging.
When it comes to mods and relics, play to your class's strengths. For the most part, you'll want to rely on health-boosting and health-regenerating class mods. The lone exception here is the Gunzerker; it's the only class that can be set up for bullet regeneration. Take advantage of that, especially since there are other ways to quickly heal your Gunzerker. As for relics, anything that improves your action skill cooldown time is always a good idea.
Most players will be a high enough level to unlock the top tier skill in one tree by the end of their first playthrough. By level 42 you'll have enough skill points to advance to the mid-tier "Game Changer" skill in another tree. You'll want to plan carefully as you assign skill points; it's easy to respec at any time, but come up with a plan for making the best use of your skill points whenever you do.
You can respec your skills by paying a very small fee (relatively speaking, based on your experience level) at one of the game's the character customization stations. The fact that it's so easy to respec means that you can spread your skill points around a bit as you work towards certain milestones. For example, you may be able to unlock another tree's mid-tier Game Changer at level 42, but you can put points into more immediately useful skills as you work up to that point and then simply respec when you hit 42.
There's a lot of flexibility in each character's various skill trees, but the playable four Vault Hunters all have particular strengths that you'll want to cater to in the late game. Maya's Siren, for example, can essentially be turned into a healer, with her Action Skill offering the ability to revive fallen allies from a distance and an even earlier skill allowing you to heal allies by shooting them. Salvador, on the other hand, can be specced out as a tank, especially with his Come At Me, Bro top-tier skill, which restores his health and gives him a massive damage reduction bonus as he draws all of the aggro in his direction.
What Was Is No More
There are a few things that you can effectively forget about during a TVHM playthrough that may go against your better instincts as a gamer. For starters, you may want to ease up on searching every last container for goodies. While it's true that you'll sometimes find some obscenely powerful gun tucked away in a locker, the big reason for searching every container during your first playthrough is Eridium.
The thing about Eridium is, once you've purchased every upgrade in the black market, the only use you'll really have for the substance is using it to access Terramorphous' lair. Since that only costs an easily obtainable four bars, there's much less value in building up your Eridium supplies. The numbers will tell the tale here. When you're halfway through TVHM with 100+ bars of Eridium in your inventory, you'll quickly realize that the rare substance is no longer as valuable a commodity as it once was.
The same goes for any quest that offers a secondary "bonus" objective. The only thing you stand to earn from completing these bonus objectives is extra cash. You'll be earning so much money from selling loot during TVHM that a few bonus dollars from one quest or another won't make much difference. Go against your completionist instincts and take the path of least resistance during your second playthrough. There's no shame in playing smart.
Forget About Farmville
Maybe you had some fun farming certain sections of the game or bosses during your first playthrough, either for experience or for better loot. Forget about that in TVHM. The best way to proceed is forward, always. Look for high experience side quests and story missions. Stick to those as you continue to climb toward the level 50 cap. You're replacing weapons with better ones so frequently in this mode that there's little value in farming for loot until you've hit the level cap.
Your ultimate goal alongside hitting the cap should be finishing your second playthrough. Once you've beaten the game a second time, every area on Pandora immediately scales up to level 50. Now there's value in revisiting even the earliest sections of the game and farming bosses for loot. This is where Borderlands 2 becomes a different sort of game, a place where you're shooting to take on mega-bosses like Terramorphous.
Also keep in mind: Terramorphous isn't the only raid-style boss to be found in Borderlands 2. He's the only one with a connected quest, sure, but there are a fair few "secret" bosses scattered through Pandora's various environments. Enemies like King Mong and Vermivorous the Invincible aren't as easily found as Terramorphous, but they present hefty challenges and sweet, loot-tastic rewards to those who can best them.