Everybody wants to play as the bad guy in a video game. There?s just something to be said for experiencing life through the eyes of an enemy character. Gearbox knows this, and has decided to satisfy that urge with the latest character class in Borderlands 2: Krieg. He?s mental, he?s a Psycho bandit, and he loves to melee.
Built like a brick shithouse and wielding a massive buzz-axe, Gearbox describes this muscly character as a genetic experiment that?s been let loose on the world of Pandora. His brutish axe works as his Action Skill - when triggered, Krieg will put away any equipped guns and storm towards foes, allowing you to smash heads in at close range. Or, you can aim with the left trigger and throw the buzz-axe at faraway targets.
Krieg is made to be an up-close-and-personal, melee-heavy character. You?re not going to deal anywhere near as much damage with regular weapons than you will when on an Action Skill-based Rampage - and his skill trees are tailored to suit that very style of play. The result of upgrading Krieg?s skills is the power to pretty much survive - and exist - solely within Rampage.
Of the three skill trees on offer, Bloodlust is perhaps the most traditional in focus, allowing players to increase melee and weapons damage under varying circumstances. Such bonus damage is entirely based on the number of Bloodlust Stacks you?ve accrued - you gain Stacks by dealing damage to enemies, and slowly lose them as you stay out of combat. It encourages you to stay aggressive and keep in the fray at all times.
Some noteworthy skills that you can unlock in the Bloodlust tree includes Buzz-Axe Bombardier, which adds dynamite to your throwing axe ability, and the top tier skill Bloodsplosion. With this unlocked, any kill you make will cause the enemy to explode, a perk that can be chained as enemy explosions kill nearby targets and cause them to explode too.
The other skill trees force players to reconsider various game mechanics in the Borderlands 2
universe. The Mania tree, for example, changes Krieg?s relationship with shields. He?s a bit of a archaic brute, you see, and so his hi-tech capabilities are somewhat shot. As a result, unlocking perks in this tree will usually provide a big bonus, at the expense of your shields.
Feed the Meat, for example, greatly increases health, but also increases shield recharge delay. While this might sound like a bad thing, it?s worth looking at other skills in other trees that might turn that disadvantage into an opportunity - Gearbox revealed that some other skills will work best when Krieg?s shields are down.
Another example of an initially disappointing perk is a skill that allows friendly fire on Krieg. Sounds crap, right? Until you realise that Krieg?s Action Skill is triggered by taking damage - so what this really does is allow co-op players to assist the Psycho when necessary and help him on his way to that next Buzz-Axe Rampage.
There are some more skills that offer more obvious rewards, though. Light the Fuse replaces the standard Fight for Your Life mode with a dynamite-chucking mini-game, which sees Krieg running full-speed at enemies in an attempt to blow them up. When the timer runs out, he suicide-bombs, coming back to life instantly if he catches any nearby enemies in his final explosion. Release the Beast, the top tier perk, allows Krieg to transform into a Mutant Psycho when his health hits critical.
The final skill tree is called Hellborn, and is all about setting the Psycho on fire. When you start off in this tree, you get the chance to trigger a self-ignition whenever you kill an enemy with the fire element. As you progress, you can add various bonus effects whilst being alight - reduced damage, the ability to breathe fire, and even homing fireballs.
With the right balance of skills that suit your play style, Krieg can really change the way you play Borderlands 2. My main style of play has either been the all-guns-blazing Gunzerker or the robot-assistant tactical play of the Mechromancer. I?m not a person that likes to get up close and brutal - but ten minutes after sitting down with Krieg, and I noticed that my whole attitude to a battle scene had changed.
No running backwards and forwards, around corners or reloading every so often before jumping into a pack of bad guys. I was running straight for the nearest guy, entering Fight For Your Life almost every 30 seconds (with the dynamite-chucking ability active whilst in this mode, I honestly think I was trying to get myself into Fight For Your Life all the time) and buzz-sawing everything in sight.
He?s probably not the most balanced character once you?ve levelled him up a fair amount, but there?s risk-reward in running into a hail of bullets regardless. Krieg allows us to throw away our inhibitions and fear of getting shot in the face, and instead lets us stampeded towards said steel pellets with the words, ?Let them come. Let them come.?