Borderlands 2 – Tackling True Vault Hunter Mode Solo Intro

Borderlands 2 – Tackling True Vault Hunter Mode Solo
This “guide”, for want of a better word, is for those, like me, who found True Vault Hunter Mode
(TVHM) hard going. It's aimed at those who have got stuck in TVHM or are about to start a
TVHM playthrough and have read about its reputation.
There's nothing original here. All of these suggestions and recommendations can be found scattered
across many posts on the Gearbox forums. I've just brought them together in one place, added a bit
of background and given my experience of applying them. I hope it helps.
So, why is TVHM so bl**dy hard!
Playthrough 2 (PT2)in Borderlands 1 (BL1) continued the difficulty progression of Playthrough 1
(PT1). As long as you kept levelling, it was much of the same.
Generally, in Borderlands 2 (BL2), your level no longer affects the damage you do. In BL1, if you
found an area tough you could level up, go back and it would be easy. This is not an option in BL2.
In TVHM, Gearbox introduced a real increase in difficulty. Enemies get significantly more health.
There are variants on the PT1 enemy types that will additionally do extra damage or have better
shields. In particular, Super Badass variants appear. There are new, tough enemy types such as
Armoured Maniacs.
Consequently, if you carry on playing as if you're in PT1, then you'll hit problems pretty quickly.
You need a different approach.
But it's got to be fun
Agreed. I had personal gaming preferences that I was not willing to compromise just for the sake of
playing TVHM.
To start with, I'm not interested in farming for weapons. That's not my thing and if a game doesn't
give you adequate tools in normal play, something's wrong.
I also didn't want to respec to a boring survival build. The thing I like most about the BL games is
using the variety of character skills. I wanted my Zero to stick to melee, Maya to using elemental
phaselock, Sal to continue to rely on gunzerk etc. This is what I did.
Weapon level is everything (ish!)
In BL1, you could find a Combustion Hellfire or Pestilent Defiler that you could use for half the
game. Colour and cost were excellent guides to how good a weapon was. This just doesn't apply to
In BL2, it's (nearly) all about weapon level. You will pay a lot of money for a coloured weapon
within a level. A white weapon at a higher level might well be cheaper. However, the coloured
weapon might be outclassed by the cheaper, higher level white weapon. And that might be by as
little as just one level higher!
Constantly review your inventory and loadout. As a general rule, you should be using the highest
level weapons you can lay your hands on. Use common sense, of course. There will be blue and
purple weapons that might survive a few levels. Similarly, there will be some rubbish white
weapons at a higher level.
So, every time you find a weapon that's a higher level than the equivalent you're carrying already,
there's got to be a darn good reason why you shouldn't replace the existing one with the new one.
Don't get attached to your weapons (as was often the case in BL1). Be ruthless!
How about character mods and shields?
Broadly, the level rule remains the same. However, it might be that a coloured, lower level mod or
shield gives your character specific boosts to skills that support the way you like to play the game.
It's up to you to balance this against the overall advantages that a higher level item will provide.
I do tend to hold on to shields and mods for longer but remember that they will be outclassed by
higher level gear eventually. Keep an eye on them just as you would your weapons.
Fire in the hole!
Grenades. You don't have to use grenades that much in PT1. I tend to prefer guns to 'nades. In
TVHM, grenades are your best friends! They are very powerful in BL2 and will weaken and/or kill
the toughest enemies. Use them freely. Lead with them as you attack. If a particularly tough
enemy is heading your way, grenades should be your first thought. The game gives you plenty of
grenades in ammo crates and creature “piles”, so don't save them for a rainy day!
Find the grenade type that's right for you. As someone who prefers shooting, I'm particularly fond
of sticky homing grenades, which turn the 'nade into a guideable bullet. Singularities are always
handy because if an enemy is flying through the air, he's not shooting at you! Find the type you like
and use them!
The level rule applies, as ever. Grenade mods sit somewhere between character mods and guns.
That is, higher levels will do significantly more damage but you might keep hold of a lower level
one because you like homing grenades, corrosive grenades or whatever. They will become
outclassed faster than mods and shields, though.
Failure to Launch(er)
I rarely used launchers in PT1. A good sniper rifle often did a better job. In TVHM they have their
Some enemies are much more powerful in TVHM. They will do you a lot of damage if they get the
chance. You want a quick kill and the solution is often a launcher. A tossed grenade or two
followed by a magazine-ful of rockets significantly weakens most enemies.
Their other use is in fight for your life (FFYL). You probably have a favourite “quick-kill” weapon
for FFYL. In TVHM, the enemies can be so tough that only a launcher will do. I don't commonly
take up a weapon slot with a launcher but if I'm going into a tough fight, I always equip one.
The problem with the launcher is that its ammo is scarce. It's also expensive at vending machines
but it's still cheaper than dying! As for level progression, it's the same as any other weapon.
Buy! Buy! Buy!
In PT1, I always found that you got adequate gear from drops or chests while playing missions. I
hardly bothered to use the vending machines, except for ammo. In TVHM, it is worthwhile keeping
an eye on the “Items of the Day”, at least. You can often find coloured or higher level gear that is
better than you've got. I find this especially true for grenade mods and character mods. A little less
so for shields but I have picked one up from time to time. I rarely buy guns from vending machines
except through the opening missions of TVHM, when you should be looking to upgrade all your
gear asap.
I know Marcus slaps a ludicrous mark-up on his wares but, if you save your money, you'll only
spend more when you die next! As Marcus says “Your cash's not worth a thing unless you spend
it”. It's true.
Sell! Sell! Sell!
The converse is that it's useful to have a certain amount of money available to buy those good items
when you see them. Even if you hate trading, try and leave some empty slots in your inventory just
to pick up a few expensive items to sell on.
However, don't get hung up on having lots of money. As long as you've got enough to top up on
ammo, that's all that really matters. There are no bonuses for ending the game as a multimillionaire.
Market Gardening
Market gardening is just short of actual farming! If you find yourself really stuck for gear, or the
kind of gear you want, then there are some things you can do without resorting to the tedium of
The slot machines in Moxxi's can turn up some good stuff. Money is far less important than a good
gun, so play away.
While you're in Moxxi's, keep putting $1000's in her tip jar on the bar. With a bit of luck, she'll give
you one of her “second best” weapons. These are always good and have special abilities. Check
them out on the wiki or forum.
There are a few other guaranteed good weapon drops early on in the game. Explore the stream in
Frostburn Canyon for a good SMG. Shoot the snowman's head at the start of the Tundra, before
completing the story mission, for a good pistol. Check the forums/wiki for more.
The Mission-ary Position
My approach is to do all the missions you can in ascending mission level order. The XP you gain is
not that important. Unlike BL1, your level does not affect the damage you do to enemies.
However, the more missions you do, the more likely you are to find better weapons. If you do level
up along the way, then that's a bonus.
Inglourious Basterds
In TVHM, the enemy types you know and love from PT1 get tougher and new, harder variants
appear. For these, providing you've upgraded your gear, as above, you should be able to tackle
them using the same strategies as you used in PT1. However, TVHM also introduces some new
enemy categories that you need to take seriously!
Super Badasses. Arguably only a variant but so tough they need a different approach. As a rule of
thumb, I find they need at least two applications of your special ability to take down. For instance,
two gunzerks or two phaselocks (with applied violence). In between, it's survival time. Don't be
afraid to retreat, take cover or hide. Stand in their way and they will kill you. They are definitely
an instance when you should apply grenades and rockets.
Armoured Bandits. I got wiped out the first time I came across one of these. They will have a
yellow health bar, like a robot. And like a robot, they resist most damage but succumb to corrosive
attacks. With corrosion, they go down pretty quickly. I always carry one corrosive weapon for
Rabid Creatures. These tend to be shielded and with lots of health. Unlike most Super Badasses,
they are fast and will pursue you relentlessly. Their considerable attacks will also distort your
vision. If you find one on your tail, deal with it to the exclusion of everything else. It will not
wander off or lose interest. It will also probably be too close for grenade or launcher. Use your
best, quick damage gun (I like big shotties) and pray!
If your normal style is a gung-ho charge at the enemy, you'll have problems with these. If you
accept that you have to play a little more defensively and take a bit more care, they are all defeatable with level-appropriate gear. This is a “hard” playthrough, after all!
You. Will. Die!
Not a guide to Terramorphous but a fact as you play through the normal campaign. TVHM is a
“hard” level. How many games have you played on hard where you haven't died from time to time?
The fact is, that's gaming life. So don't worry about it. I don't even look at the cost. I'm yet to get
close to losing enough money to stop me using the vending machines. It just doesn't matter.
Where do I go from here?
That depends on where you are as you read this.
I gave up part way through TVHM with a couple of characters. I realised that a large part of my
problem was that they were “under-geared”. Fortunately, I had some co-op characters in TVHM
(which is fine in co-op) . I passed on a few of their higher level weapons to my solo characters and
that was enough to get them going again. I then carried on gearing up properly, as above.
If you haven't got another source of better weapons, then you've got to get them somehow. If you
have any outstanding side missions, then do them now. If not, I'm afraid you will have to resort to
farming, of a sort. Replay areas covered by your most recent, highest level missions. You're
looking for the highest level gear you can find. Vending machines in these areas should also be
giving the best, level appropriate gear.
If you're just about to set out on TVHM, then you can do all this stuff from the start. However, be
warned. All that lovely gear you've got from beating The Warrior in PT1 is now broadly useless!
You'll take on the initial Bullymongs OK. When you get to Liars Berg, you'll notice how tough the
bandits are. After that, you'll need to start levelling your gear up quickly!
It is possible to get adequate gear as you go through these early missions. I took a Siren into
TVHM straight after killing The Warrior. However, I took every opportunity to do all the stuff in
this guide. She started with weapon levels ranging from L29 to L34. By the time she left Southern
Shelf, 85% of her gear was L35 and there were good reasons for keeping the rest.
Of course, you might do all the stuff in this guide and still have problems. I'm sorry if it hasn't
helped. All I can say is it works for me.
As I said in the Intro, there is nothing original here. It is just a compilation of good advice
published elsewhere. I would like to thank everyone on the Gearbox forums, whose words got me
enjoying Borderlands again. Have fun.