The Borderlands series is one that delivers a great experience which features a first-person shooter gameplay style mixed with some RPG elements. This combined with its interesting setting, crazy characters and insane weaponry allows for quite an enjoyable experience. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel looks to bridge the game between the first and second game and does so quite nicely.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel takes place between the first and second game and focuses on the other side of the vault hunt with most of the story paying particular attention to the sadistic but hilarious Handsome Jack. Fans of the series will be familiar with Jack as he was the main antagonist of Borderlands 2, and a good one at that. The game does a great job at telling Jack’s story, successfully making the player feel somewhat sympathetic towards him. However, never does the story depict Jack as a “misunderstood” villain, which is a nice touch. He’s still a bit of anass, which is how players have come to like him as an antagonist. The story revolves around Jack’s hunt for the vault, which takes place before the events from Borderlands 2. While I found the story, characters and humour very true to the standard of the series, the pacing of the plot was a little inconsistent. The first half of the game was slightly difficult to get into but the second half of the campaign was more than enjoyable.
Gameplay of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel remains largely the same aside from a few tweaks. The game still excels at shooting and looting, a mechanic which has been present since the series’ inception. New enemies show up in the game but fail to present any real challenge until a little later on in the campaign. Also, since the story takes place on Elpis, the moon of Pandora, gameplay now features some low gravity mechanics. While a little tricky at first, I found myself getting to grips with it after a little while and was able to make jumps over some rather large gaps. Players can also use the low gravity to their advantage when in combat. This is especially useful when enemies decide to hide behind cover. There’s nothing like hopping over their cover, dropping to the ground and surprising them with a shotgun to the face.
In addition to the low gravity, players are able to make use of a “butt slam” attack. It’s quite a useful manoeuvre when in mid jump and you’d like to come back down in a hurry. The attack also does a bit of damage to enemies; it isn’t much but I’ve noticed on more than one occasion that the butt slam tends to stun enemies for a second.
Since its outset, the series has been well known for itsguns. I can safely say that Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is no different and has an impressive arsenal of weapons of different types, shapes and sizes. Aside from the standard selection of rifles, pistols and shotguns, the game now introduces laser weaponry. These new laser weapons utilise different elements are really powerful. In one instance, I was able to freeze an enemy with my laser weapon and then hit him with a few shots from my explosive rifle. This was enough to put quite a large grin on my face multiple times throughout the campaign. Additionally, loot drops are as generous as they’ve ever been; except for Legendary weapons, however. They wouldn’t be Legendary if they were common drops, now would they?
As mentioned before, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel takes place on a moon which introduces the low gravity mechanic. Additionally, this means that the atmosphere is different and that there also isn’t any oxygen. This introduces a new gear type called Oz kits, which supplies the player with a certain amount of oxygen before they have to refill the tank via oxygen pockets found in the open or inside buildings. I’ll admit, first I was a little annoyed at the need to constantly replenish my supply but I grew to appreciate the new mechanic and how it could possibly change gameplay when needing to retreat from a firefight in order to fill up my kit. Oz kits are similar to shield units in that some of them have buffs that significantly increase the damage of your butt slams or of your weapons when firing mid-jump.
Being a bridge between the first two games means that the game features new vault hunters to choose from when starting your game. As always there are four different characters, each with their own crazy skill trees and even more crazy action skills. Each character’s action skill feels rather unique when comparing it to that of the other available vault hunters and doesn’t just feel like a rehash of skills from the previous games, which is a welcome change. Of the action skills, however, I do feel that Claptrap’s (yes, he’s playable this time) action skill takes the cake in terms of being unique. The annoying little robot’s action skill actually grants him different abilities depending on the situation the player might find themselves in. So if you’re up for rather strange playthrough, Claptrap’s the one for you.
Visually, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel doesn’t disappoint with its cel shaded art style. Environments have been well designed and character models look really well done. The only issue I had was some pop-in textures that seemed to rear its ugly head randomly during the game. In terms of sound, the game has some great voice acting. This is especially true for Handsome Jack, who steals the show where dialogue is concerned.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a great game and delivers on the typical Borderlands experience. However, while it does struggle with pacing at first, the game really picks up after the second half. Gameplay is as brilliant as always and adds to this with its new low gravity mechanics and new laser weaponry. The bridging story, the existing featuresand those newly added really make for a decent title in the series if you’re looking for more Borderlands, which is never really a bad thing.
Lasting appeal: 8.5/10
Known as Brady Ruiters by day and GuitarDemon by night (Well, on the PSN mostly…) Professional, creative and frank, a self-proclaimed gaming journalist moulded by a passion and fascination for gaming and music, and in turn, taking a crack at shaping the rest of the world with the very same obsession. That, however, remains a trying task.