For half of 2013 and 2014, the hubs and I spent time in the acrid, dangerous and awesome world that is Borderlands 1 and 2 (written about previously here). We took a hiatus while we awaited the long anticipated release of the third chapter in the Borderlands franchise, Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel! and once released in the Fall of 2014, waited for it to go on sale cheap enough to pull the trigger. Lucky us, we found two cheap hard copies for the PC thanks to a random sale at Best Buy ($10 each). Soon thereafter, we got a hankering to explore a fresh adventure in the Borderlands once again. We began playing together in Co-op via Steam in August 2015 and from there, dedicated at least 37 hours of gameplay, which took us to Christmastime 2015. Aside from a few nit-picky things, it was an interesting trip!
Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel! fits right in the middle of Borderlands 1 and 2 in chronology. In past Borderlands games, you played as a Vault Hunter, in search for priceless hidden booty on Pandora, a bleak planet that once housed mining colonies. In this game, you again play as a Vault Hunter assisting on a mission to explore Pandora’s moon, Elpis, and to take over a space station. In an interesting and surprising turn, you inadvertently assist a well-known villain in the Borderlands canon on their journey from their humble beginnings to their corruption. The plot, quite like the other two Borderlands stories, is secondary to this massive mission-based game, and can be a little confusing to follow if you try to dig too deep.
You will see several familiar faces in the Pre-Sequel, such as ClapTrap (in several iterations), Roland and Lilith, but this round, you are given the option of playing one of four Vault Hunters that were never playable before, but that are familiar in the Borderlands Universe. I played Athena, a kick-ass Gladiatrix who is equipped with a special shield that can block damage caused by enemies by absorbing its energy, then using that energy to attack enemies in return.
This game has a very similar look and feel to its predecessors. The hyper-realism with cel-shaded graphics that players are familiar with is left intact, and I couldn’t be happier! The gameplay mechanics are also similar in this game to Borderlands 2, with some interesting additions. First, weaponry has been upgraded to include laser and cryogenic guns, which can obliterate or freeze your opponent.There is also something called the Grinder, which could be used to obtain weapon upgrades by combining two lower level weapons.
Because you were exploring on a moon (Elpis, Pandora’s moon), you were often dealing with low-gravity environments while in gameplay which provided your character with the ability to make giant leaps over long distances. These leaps were often aided by jump pads that would propel you into the air. This activity was fun and challenging for me as I would often over-shoot my target landing spot, and end up falling into the abyss.
The environment outside also lacked oxygen. Not only were you having to manage your health, weapons, and shields in this game, you were also having to manage your oxygen levels. Along the way, you were able to top up your air or open up oxygen-filled areas. This was fine in the beginning stages as you were leveling up, but, I was half expecting (hoping?) to be able to pick up a self-regen oxygen pack of some type that would regenerate your oxygen permanently; but this never came. This might be a nit-picky thing, but searching and worrying about the oxygen levels got ridiculous by the end of the game.
Because Elpis was rather expansive, you were given the familiar moon buggy of past Borderlands games to traverse the barren landscape. In an interesting twist, though, you were also provided with stingrays – one-person hover-craft rides that propelled on a jetpack. I never got the hang of them, to be honest, and would often respawn after falling off a cliff while riding one of those things. But, it was something different, and it being a one-man ride, you had to rely on your own devices to survive on them.
Although, overall, Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel! is not my favourite in the Borderlands franchise (Number 1 is), it is a familiar and fun game that should be experienced.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!
Gearbox / 2K Australia