Borderlands has become the signature franchise for Gearbox. Enough so that their other projects have suffered from such prioritizing. The first Borderlands came out in 2010. The following year, the horrid Duke Nukem Forever was released. The studio rebounded in 2012 with Borderlands 2. Then, they relapsed with Aliens: Colonial Marines. With the upcoming Battleborne being the next Gearbox hot property, I should have learned from the past. Because Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel clearly got the short end of the stick under the development of 2K Australia.
As far as a “story” for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, you must help Handsome Jack stop an aggressive military figure from endangering Pandora and its moon. You partake in various missions and side quests to help various characters. You shoot, loot, and repeat. If you’ve played the other Borderlands games, then you know what to expect, much to the game’s detriment. And having one of gaming’s best villains as your ally kills the mystique of the character, coming off as desperate fan service.
There are a slew of new gimmicks added to the series. Yes, I said gimmicks because these new elements are far from innovative. There is less gravity for you to bounce around in. Lasers and cryo are the new types of weapons. There is the O2 for the human characters, but is a non-factor should you play as Claptrap.
The cast of characters and their abilities are uneven. Some are basically useless until they’re leveled up, like the Gladiator’s shield ability. Meanwhile, you have the Gunslinger who can dual-wield like the Gunzerker, Wilhelm (before he became a giant robot) has drones to aid him, and Claptrap who copies his abilities from other Vault Hunters. Other than Claptrap, the characters are void of any interesting personality.
The writing has none of the wit of Borderlands 2, nor the cleverness on display on the Borderlands DLC like Secret Armory of General Knoxx. For the first 15 hours I played the game, I hardly laughed once. When Handsome Jack and the Hyperion bots came into play, then I got some laughs. But, anyone expecting the absurdity of the previous Borderlands game will only be met with mediocrity.
The graphics look nice, but are no different than other titles in the series. There are even recycled elements from the previous game. Character models have some nice detail, but the world they inhabit is bland with nothing striking to see. After seeing Pandora in the sky for so long, it lost its awe.
The controls are the strongest aspect of the game. They are responsive to the player’s command. There was no lag at all between the button press and the action taking place on screen. But, why should I compliment this? This is a basic necessity to any video game.
Some may be wondering if there is any remote fun to actually playing this game. To that I say, “no.” Playing this game feels like work. When I’m done clearing out an area of bad guys, I start to leave and a ton of them spawn – halting any progress and momentum. The Fight for your Life aspect is now made null when enemies run away when you in this stage. Why bother putting this in if the AI won’t accommodate the player? If you want a game that makes you feel weak and miserable and far from a total badass, 2K Australia was all the more happy to oblige.
Borderlands was the favorite child of Gearbox. Now, with the upcoming Battleborne, its been pushed aside for the new family favorite. Playing this game yielded no joy and no number of gimmicks could make this game any fun to play. This game is the poster child for buyer’s remorse.