Borderlands 2: Behind Krieg, the game’s latest character

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the Borderlands 2 update was released on Tuesday, not Wednesday.

Borderlands 2 developers over at the game studio Gearbox released a major new update to their hit game Tuesday, introducing a completely new playable character: Krieg, the axe-wielding psycho-bandit.

But how did they come up a character like that?

Those who play the games know bandits as one of the game’s most ubiquitous types of enemy. And so the game’s developers wanted to shake things up a little with its latest downloadable addition to the game, which originally hit store shelves in October, by turning the tables a bit.

“I had a lot of goals with [Krieg] but one was to put the players in the shoes of the psychos they’ve fought for two games,” said Paul Hellquist, the creative director of the game and the man behind Krieg.

To do that, Hellquist said, the game’s designers wanted to give players access to try some of the (admittedly twisted) things they’ve seen bandits do in the course of the series, including skills that let the axe-wielding Krieg fight better when he’s injured — or even on fire.


Kreig, the newest playable character in Borderlands 2, puts players in the mindset of one of the game's most common enemies. (Courtesy of 2K Games/Courtesy of 2K Games)

Hellquist took particular care in crafting the character so that some of the skills players can choose can seem pretty counterintuitive but actually have a deeper purpose, such as choosing to have your shields regenerate more slowly.

“You’d think you want the fastest recharging,” Hellquist said. “When you investigate the rest of the [skill] tree, you find that Krieg actually enjoys taking damage to his health.”

Another skill actually lets users turn on the option to get shot by their fellow players in order to power up some of his skills.

Walking the fine line between taking beneficial damage and not-so-beneficial damage can be tricky, Hellquist said, but he designed Krieg that way to provide a better challenge for players looking for new replay value out of the game and to help players step into the characterization.

“He’s definitely our most advanced character in terms of how you, as a player, have to make some connections between your skills and your gear,” Hellquist said.

He also added that while the psycho-bandit looks like a physically focused melee fighter, he actually designed the character to have a little more nuance than that.

For example, some of Krieg’s attacks are long-range or can make enemies stumble, giving you or your fellow players some time to sneak up on whoever or whatever you may be fighting. In other words, Hellquist says that he and his team took the time to make sure that players could get a ton of replay value from the $9.99 they pay for this latest round of downloadable content.

“Each of his trees plays so very differently ... it might take a while for you to find the one that fits,” Hellquist said.

Related stories:

2K Games makes plans for short ‘Borderlands 2’ film

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Halo 4 set for a sales shootout

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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