Borderlands 2: Combat 101

The lion's share of your time in Borderlands 2 will be spent slugging it out with various enemy types and for this you'll need a variety of weapons. There are basically six different weapon types in the game: Assault Rifles, Pistols, Rocket Launchers, Shotguns, Sub-machine Guns and Sniper Rifles.

These weapons, whether found out in the field in weapon chests or from enemy drops or purchased at vending machines, could be made by any of the following weapon manufacturers: Vladof, Torgue, Tediore, Maliwan, Jakobs, Hyperion, Dahl or Bandit. Each manufacturer builds their weapons with certain characteristics some of which are more useful to some playstyles than others.

Some missions you complete or bosses you defeat will reward you with specific unique weapons but for the most part, weapons you acquire as you progress the game will be mostly random. Enemies will make random weapon drops of any weapon type from any manufacturer so it's mostly a potluck kind of deal. Likewise, the various Guns vending machines you encounter throughout the game will spawn a random assortment of weapons. Your best bet is to kill as many enemies as possible to maximize weapon drops, loot everywhere and frequently check all Guns vending machines to increase your chances of acquiring your favorite weapons.

Which weapons you use will depend entirely on your playstyle and the character class you select and the skills you decide to build. My video walkthrough focuses on playing as the Assassin class (Zer0) using a 'power sniper' build. Hence the weapon of choice will be sniper rifles specializing in high-damage long range attacks with an assortment of whatever else we can lay our hands on to deal with close combat situations.

Fight Smart, Not Hard

Regardless of your character class, skill build or preferred weapon types, two main things to remember that will help you totally kick butt in this game are:

  1. Go for critical hits whenever you can. — Critical hits, as discussed previously, are special weak points on an enemy that yield mega bonus damage. Typically the critical hit point is the enemy's head (assuming it has a head) but may also be other parts of its body. Critical hit points of all enemies will be discussed in more detail as we encounter new enemies throughout this walkthrough.
  2. Use the right elemental damage on the right enemy. — On top of regular damage, many weapons in Borderlands 2 will inflict either fire, corrosive, shock, explosive or slag damage all of which are referred to in the game as elemental damage. Elemental damage can do things like set the enemy on fire, bath it in acid or electrocute it for a short period of time after being hit.

About Elemental Damage

As you make your way through the game, you'll begin to come across many weapons having elemental damage properties. Using the right type of elemental damage on the right kind of enemy will kill enemies much quicker.

Borderlands 2 will be throwing literally hundreds of enemy types at you as you battle it out through the game. Fortunately, you don't need to memorize the attributes of each and every enemy type in order to figure out what kind of elemental damage will kill it the quickest. All you have to have to do is take a look at the enemy's health bar type. Enemies will have one of four different color-coded health bars.

  1. Red Health Bar — Enemies with just a red health bar are 'normal' fleshy type enemies all of which are very susceptible to BURN DAMAGE. Attack them with a fire weapon to take them down the fastest.
  2. Red Health Bar + Blue Shield Bar — These enemies -like you- have a shield which will soak up damage and must be depleted before you can start whittling away at their red health bar. Shields are susceptible to SHOCK DAMAGE so attack them with a shock weapon to take down their shields quickly. Then either continue to attack them with your shock weapon to finish them off or switch to a fire weapon to run down their red health bar faster.
  3. Yellow Armor Bar — Enemies with yellow armor health bars, such as the robots called 'Loaders' which you'll face starting in Chapter 7 are most susceptible to CORROSIVE DAMAGE. Attack them with corrosive weapons to take them down hard and fast.
  4. Yellow Armor Bar + Blue Shield Bar — These advanced armored enemies also have a shield protecting them and should be attacked first with SHOCK DAMAGE and then once their blue shield bar is depleted, attack them with CORROSIVE DAMAGE. You'll face enemies like this much later in the game.

Other Elemental Damage

Two other kinds of elemental damage you'll find weapons enabled with in Borderlands 2 are explosive damage and slag damage.

Explosive Damage which is dealt by all Torgue manufactured weapons has a higher impact and, more importantly, a blast radius making it ideal for skitterish, fast-moving enemies which defy precision targetting.

Slag Damage is a special kind of damage new to Borderlands 2. Slag weapons have a chance of covering the enemy in a kind of purple goo which doubles the amount of any further damage the enemy takes from any NON-slag weapon. So in effect, the strategy is to attack the enemy until it gets 'slagged' (it turns purple) and then switch to any non-slag weapon and attack the slagged enemy for big bonus damage.

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