For the eagle eyed out there, this video was captured from a PC version of the game, whilst I was running around with a totally maxed out, Level 61 version of Krieg. A little over-powered.
Krieg is war. All-out, grizzly, blood-splattering war. In fact, it would probably be more accurate to call him Blitzkrieg, given how he has been designed to play, when he takes the spot as Borderlands 2’s sixth playable character. Being a Psycho Bandit has meant that Gearbox have tried to funnel and encourage a particular style of all out attacking play with this guy, and that starts right away with his main ability, Buzz Axe Rampage.
You charge it up by taking damage, which is in and of itself a little twist, but activate it and you’ll go into a murderous rampage. Now charging around at sprint speed, you’re hitting enemies with the axe, and recovering health in the process. The axe can be thrown with a boomerang-styled return back to your hand, which is particularly handy if you’re a short distance from your enemy, and want to stagger them before getting in close for the kill.
This then splits out into three rather distinct trees, Bloodlust, Mania and Hellborn. For this preview I also only played with Hellborn maxed out and half of Mania, as you can see in the video above.
Bloodlust is all about stacks, which is a system of building up damage multipliers and chaining attacks and kills together, similar to some abilities from Gaige, the Mechromancer. The idea is that skilled players can use a little cycle in the middle of the skill tree to successively augment melee damage with gun kills, grenade damage with melee kills and then gun damage with grenade kills.
Round and round you can go, in an endless loop of carnage and destruction, but this tree tops out with the wonderfully named “Bloodsplosion”, where an enemy killed will explode and rain down element affected blood, depending on what you killed them with. Corrosive damage will yield a corrosive Bloodsplosion, which in turn could set off a chain reaction of three or four further explosions, if you time it just right in a tightly packed group of enemies.
It might seem like the near polar opposite, but the Mania tree is all about taking damage whilst your shield is down. Now this is risky business, on your way to transforming into a Mutant Psycho as the top power, and even though some of the tree deals with mitigating the damage you’re taking, I’m sure that the new Light The Fuse ability will get plenty use as a Second Wind ability.
Here you’re not crawling around on the floor, trying desperately to get that kill which brings you back. No, you’re running around at normal speed, gleefully lobbing sticks of dynamite at anything that moves. The trick is to spot your moment, get in close to a nearly vanquished foe and effectively suicide bomb your enemy. If you get it right, and take them down with your last gasp, then you’ll get your second wind.
Personally, I have a feeling that Mania is going to be a more natural fit for Hellborn, which focusses around being on fire and similarly twisting that into being a positive for you. As you inflict pain, there’s always a chance that you’ll set them on fire, and at the same time yourself. Of course, this hurts you, but again the abilities in this tree will work better while you’re on fire.
You’ll take less damage, for example, or your melee attack is replaced by breathing fire, but it’s the final power which is really quite special, called Raving Retribution. It sees homing fireballs fly out of your character, as you’re hit, hunting down the baddie who is trying to hurt you. No doubt this is particularly special from another person’s point of view, but it’s pretty fun to just run around without a care in the world as everything dies around you.
I’m really no expert on Borderlands, but from the little I’ve played of the two games and with the small slice of the characters I’ve used, Krieg is a lot of silly fun. It’s quite cunning how his skills really do push you down this route of always wanting to be on fire, always wanting to get right up close and clobber your enemies with the axe, and I suspect he’ll offer quite a refreshing style of play for those who fancy a bit of change.
Krieg is set to hit digital shelves on PSN, XBLA and PC next week for $9.99 (converted to everyone’s local currency) or 800 MS points.