The Borderlands franchise was the savior of co-op gaming when the first title released in 2009. While other publishers were busy shoveling money into any developer that was making another multiplayer FPS, Gearbox knew that playing with your friends could be just as fun. Since the dawn of Borderlands, the games have become a worldwide sensation, and they sit atop a lofty throne as one of the best co-op experiences you can play, even though explaining the gameplay to someone can sound like one big, hot-mess.
Just like the comic-book styling that the game itself features, I have always felt that Borderlands has always put fun and great gameplay ahead of all other components. The latest installment ‘Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel,’ brings with it the same mayhem, loot and destruction as the other titles, but fun took a backseat at times.
The game tried its best to make this installment standout from the original, and the much more popular sequel, adding in zero gravity jumps, all new characters and ditching the popular Siren class that so many people enjoyed. The story of Borderlands is always a bit of a zany adventure rather than an epic-saga, and this story will allow fans to learn the tale of Handsome Jack before he became the horrendous villain that hunted down our vault hunters in the second Borderlands game.
New gameplay mechanics like oxygen tanks adds a bit of tension to your surface battles as you explore the moon, unless you are Claptrap then you are free to murder without the annoying problem of having to breathe. The oxygen mechanic works as a welcomed pacesetter in the game, keeping you from simply barreling across the surface from one objective to the next. It’s a burden, but came across as a welcomed challenge while I was playing, and made playing through the game a new experience from what I was accustomed to with the other installments.
While jumping in low-gravity offers you the chance to manage some wonderful kill shots, powerful slams and dastardly maneuvers, the game-mechanic crippled the navigation for the game and made traveling through checkpoints a nightmare at times. The comic-book styled landscape offers little indication of what is scalable, jumpable or if you could land on it with this double-jump technique. More often than not, I was double jumping into mountains or trying to land on perches for a great shot, but the game would not allow it.
That is not the worst of Borderlands TPS, that honor goes to the story missions. I made a point of saying that Borderlands is about fun, and that’s where the game lets you down in the mission department. I want guns-out mayhem and storming into ridiculous hideouts and bases with little chance that I should be surviving any of it, but somehow do. While the game offers that in staging areas and in different points on the map, the main missions have you tracking and re-tracking boring “fix-it” missions. The main story is stuck on repeat, with you going to an objective only to find out that you have to do something else, to do the other thing, to fix the thing that you were sent there to fix in the first place. This is a common Quest to Side-Quest storyline in any game, but Borderlands TPS took this to the max and it became predictable and boring to watch.
Outside of this main-mission letdown, the game sparkles. I played the title using an Alienware x51 r2 with a GeForce GTX 760 Ti OEM on max-settings and the game was a marvelous adventure, with majestic backdrops and boisterous characters to love and hate. I personally didn’t fall in-love with any of the class choices at first (though I thought adding Claptrap as a playable character was a terrific addition) but as I played the game and their backstories and personalities came out in the cut-scenes and missions, they all grew on me.
One disadvantage that this game has going against Borderlands 2 is that players know ahead of time that Gearbox is going to drop a ton of DLC into this game. When that happens, I can’t help but wonder what’s missing while I play. The Siren for example is an obvious character that will most likely be dropped-in at a later date, so like many people I wonder ‘was she left out just to be DLC?’.
The loot in the game is simply overwhelming at first, but in a good way. It’s part of the Borderland universe that fans have come to expect I think and the game doesn’t hold-back when dispersing new and creative weapons to destroy anyone in your path. The game has all of the makings of a terrific Borderlands installment, but since so much DLC is on the way over the coming months, I can’t help but feel like it’s unfinished. The main missions and their borderline triviality was the game’s biggest downfall, but without that being a sticking point for you, the rest of the title is a smash-hit and should provide hours and hours of enjoyment for you and your friends.