How do I know which weapons to keep in Borderlands 2?



  • I recently started playing Borderlands 2 for the first time. I haven't played any other version of the game.

    Weapons are frequently dropped by enemies, and are also available from various vending machines. I'm having a hard time figuring out if any given weapon is an improvement over the ones in my limited inventory. When I hover the cursor over a weapon, I'm helpfully told how that weapon's damage, accuracy, fire rate, etc. compare to the one I'm holding. However, weapons seem to come in the usual FPS varieties (pistol, shotgun, sniper rifle, etc, an idea supported by the apparently limited varieties of ammo one finds lying around) and the weapon property differences seem like they're comparing apples to oranges if I'm not holding a similar weapon. I can currently only hold three weapons at a time (pitiful, but a slight improvement over the two slots I started the game with) and so it feels like fully evaluating a weapon on the ground can involve rummaging around in my backpack to find a similar-looking weapon to swap in and equip so I can compare the stats. It's such an enormous hassle, I feel like I must be missing something.

    It would be one thing if weapons were clearly identified as belonging to a particular class, but all I see is what looks like a manufacturer's name ("Torgue," "Maliwan," etc) and a side-view silhouette. When I compare, I've been trying to look for a similar-looking silhouette among the weapons in my backpack, but sometimes there's no obvious match.

    Is there some easy way to evaluate whether I should drop a weapon I'm carrying in favor of a new one I've found?



  • This is a complicated question to answer, and there are many opinions on exactly what weapons are worth keeping and what weapons are worth tossing (and what is not even worth picking up).

    The general things that most people seem to agree on are:

    • Level is crucial. Because of how damage and health scaling work in BL2, it is very important to have level appropriate weapons. A gun that’s more than about 3 levels below the enemy you are attacking will generally feel very bad to use, and this goes double if you’re using a mismatched elemental type. Of course, this is not always the case (for example, it’s not unusual for a blue rarity Jakobs sniper rifle to out-damage a purple-rarity Jakobs sniper rifle that’s a level or two above it), but it’s a reasonably solid general guideline. Do note if you ever go on to play any other games in the series (and I recommend you do) that they handle level scaling differently (BL3 and TPS both have shallower scaling than BL2, and BL1 has even shallower scaling than that).
    • If the item has red text, level may not be as crucial. Red text is found on legendary (orange), unique (blue and purple mission rewards), seraph (pink) and pearlescent (cyan) weapons, and in all cases does something beyond what is listed on the item card. Sometimes it just tweaks stats (for example, on the Hammer Buster), sometimes it provides a complex additional effect (such as on the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), sometimes it does both (such as on the Madhous!). In many cases, this is not a huge impact, but for some specific cases it may mean the weapon is still useful even at higher levels because of some effect it has (for example, the Magic Missile grenade mod from the Assault on Dragon Keep DLC is generally useful even underleveled because it’s always a slag elemental effect and it regenerates grenade ammo passively).
    • Higher rarity items tend to be useful for longer than low rarity items. Rarity progression is color coded, and the colors are usually what players will use when talking about rarity. The progression (from lowest to highest) is: White, Green, Blue, Purple, Orange. There are also special cases, but the only one you need to worry about for now are unique items, which are blue or purple items with red text and special effects that are generally obtained as mission rewards, they tend to be really inconsistent in terms of how good they are (it often depends on the exact build).
    • Having a good spread of elemental effects is important. Even in the first playthrough, having a gun that does the appropriate elemental damage type for your target significantly reduces the impact of level. This is especially important because some enemies (for example, the elemental skags varieties) are resistant or immune to certain damage types. This is also important because some missions require certain damage types to be used to progress the mission.
    • Try to ensure you have at least one of every type of gun (not elemental types, but actual weaponry types). This helps to ensure you won’t run out of ammo, and also gives you some extra options in certain situations (there are some places where having a good sniper rifle or rocket launcher makes things significantly easier for example).
    • Try to ensure you have at least one weapon (and keep it equipped) that can reliably drop a target when you are down. Usually this will be a very high damage shotgun, or a rocket launcher. This will help save you money in the long run by allowing you to self-revive much more reliably, and also reduce the burden on anybody you are playing with (because they won’t always have to run to pick you up when you go down).

    Beyond that it gets much more into personal preference.


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