You will come across a huge number of guns in your travels, though most are only good for selling back to the many vending machines around Pandora. However, you will continually find better guns throughout your journey, and because a sweet gun or awesome shield could be be found on the remains of any human or animal and in any inanimate storage container, you'll spend a lot of time searching and picking things up. There is a lot of stuff to pick up in Borderlands, and it can be a bit unsettling when you realize just how much of the game you might have to spend looking down at the ground, pressing a button to grab your loot. Initially, it feels like you're looking down and pressing a button far too often. But as you progress, you'll become a more proficient loot-grabber, and you won't be bothered by the action. You'll even grow to love the sight of a battlefield littered with the tiny towers of light that seem to proclaim, "Grab me!" Watching your loot fly towards you and hearing it lodge in your inventory is satisfying, though there is another kink in the works. You can hold the reload button to pick up all the ammo and money nearby (something you'll want to do often), but if you hold the button while looking at a gun, you'll immediately equip it. This can cause you to equip some bogus guns if you're not careful, but this is quickly remedied and rarely too bothersome. You can compare guns within your inventory, and if you've used up your limited space, you can check the specs on a fallen gun easily and drop one from your inventory if you like.
A deadly automated turret always comes in handy when fighting hulking psychotic freaks.
Unfortunately, dropping items is also the only way you can give them to your teammates, and there's no way to exchange ammo or money. If teammates are using the same type of gun, this can lead to some problematic ammo shortages, which is another reason to play to your character's strengths. This can also lead to disputes over who gets that fancy new shotgun, so it's best to have a gentleman's agreement in place over how to handle these issues. Borderlands allows you to resolve disputes by melee attacking a friendly player and challenging him to a duel. If your teammate melees you back, a colored dome pops up and the two of you fight to the death. The loser doesn't actually die, just loses some health, and there's no way to put a wager on the match, so the victor doesn't necessarily receive the spoils. As long as you're playing with a respectful group, you should be able to avoid loot-hoggers and the like, but it's still a bit disappointing that there isn't a better way to pool and equally distribute your collective resources. Still, joining other players online is easy, even if you all have characters at different levels. Borderlands does a good job of adjusting enemy difficulty to accommodate more players, though the larger the level gap, the easier it will be for higher level players, and the tougher it will be for lower level players. It's worth noting that the story-related missions--that is, the ones you have to perform in sequence--reflect the host's progress, and players who are behind the host may not get credit for completing certain missions.
Having some friends on your side makes things a lot more pleasant, given that about 99 percent of life on Pandora is your enemy. Human enemies range from bandits that are smart enough to wear shields and take cover to psychos that light themselves on fire and sprint toward you, screaming about rending your flesh from your bones. The local wildlife is universally hostile and includes skags (toothy dog-beasts), spiderants (armored insect monsters), rakks (raggedy death bats), and scythids (wriggling prehistoric grubs). Every type of enemy appears in various incarnations, ranging from young and weak to badass and on fire. These variations are generated anew during each encounter, so even when you kill a clutch of enemies in that same gully for the fourth time, it will be a different bad-guy loadout. You'll fight hundreds of each enemy type throughout the game, and the fact that groups are varied goes a long way toward staving off repetition. The two-seater vehicles also offer some locomotive variety, and many of the areas are much more fun to traverse on four wheels than on two legs. You can conjure the lone vehicle type from the many Catch-a-Ride stations. The touchy handling takes some getting used to, and you can run into some exaggerated physics problems when crashing into rocks. However, there's nothing quite like vehicular homicide to stave off bandit-killing fatigue. In or out of a vehicle, the simple act of killing enemies is pretty fun, and since you're constantly reaping loot and experience rewards, even repeated encounters have some incentive attached to them.
What are friends for? Keeping the vicious alien birds off your back, that's what.
The combined incentives of killing enemies, gathering loot, cashing in, and leveling up are the main driving forces in Borderlands. The various quests you undertake cover a good variety of motivations, but most follow the pattern mentioned in the previous sentence. The 1 percent of life on Pandora that isn't your enemy will often have quests for you, though only a handful of characters are voice-acted. Of these, there are a few standouts, including the bumpkin car-rental mogul and the borderline sociopathic archaeologist, but for the most part Borderlands offers precious little in the way of non-player character contact. This makes playing solo a lonely experience. Though the action is still satisfying and the world is still interesting, solo players will have a slower-paced adventure in which the flashes of comedy also serve to underscore how sparse those flashes are. The main story is thin and the final encounter is pointless and thoroughly unsatisfying, so anyone hoping Borderlands will deliver a climactic conclusion is almost certainly going to be disappointed.
After you uncover the secrets of the Vault, you are once again set loose into Pandora, where you are free to quest on and remember why you enjoyed your previous hours with the game. Borderlands has tens of hours of quests to fulfill, and you'll likely find yourself enticed back to explore new skills, find new guns, and kill more enemies. Though the core action doesn't change drastically over the course of the game, it is woven together in such a way that once it ensnares you, you'll want nothing more than to plunge into Pandora at any chance you get. Combat is satisfying, and upgrading your skills and equipment is engaging. The constant stream of loot and experience is rewarding, and sharing it with some friends makes the experience that much richer and more exciting. Despite its hostile (albeit stylish) environment, Pandora is a great planet to visit if you want to shoot some stuff. Just be sure to bring some friends along for the ride.