On Monday, I was reviewing my Borderlands 2 Trophy list when I came across the ‘Tribute to A Vault Hunter’ achievement. According to its description, I needed to acquire an item from Michael Mamaril. After a few minutes of intelligent Googling, I discovered that Michael is a non-playable character residing in Sanctuary who, if you talk to him, will give you some rare loot. The lengths some people will go to for interesting conversation…

In desperate need of some midget-murdering weaponry, I headed to said destination, and met with the fellow vault hunter inside Moxxi’s bar (perhaps he was on a bender with Sir Hammerlock). When I spoke to him he handed me a blue-graded elemental SMG, which I accepted whilst grinning like I’d slept with a coat hanger in my mouth the night before. A trophy notification appeared in the top right-hand corner of my TV, and I continued on my quest to overthrow Pandora’s self-declared Dictator Handsome Jack.

Later on, wandering about in search of Pimon and Tumbaa, I found myself pondering Michael’s significance and origin. From memory, Borderlands’ storyline makes no direct reference to him, yet he’s important enough to have a Trophy dedicated to him. More Googling followed, and what I learned really moved me.

Michael John Mamaril was big fan of the original Borderlands who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He and his buddies enjoyed a special companionship, and played Gearbox Software’s game together every day until Michael passed away in 2011, aged 22 years old.

In honour of his memory, close friend Carlos contacted Gearbox to ask if a short eulogy could be read by smart-mouthed robot Claptrap. It was a touching speech, during which voice actor David Eddings promised that Michael would live on forever in the Borderlands. One year on, he does in Sanctuary, a name given to a sacred place that offers refuge, asylum and safety.

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I saw Michael again yesterday, this time loitering outside Crazy Earl’s Black Market. I went over, spoke to him, and he supplied me with a rocket launcher bigger than an adult Bullymong. But I wasn’t grinning. Instead, I walked away with something in my eye, mindful that this generous, devilishly handsome NPC isn’t just there to help me boost my Trophy count, or up my arsenal; he is a digital tribute to a life that ended far too soon.

Rest in peace, Michael.

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