While the importance and utility of the HD collection or remaster might still be up for debate, for now the trend is still going strong. Since neither the PS4 nor the Xbox One is backwards compatible, many publishers see an opportunity to take their more popular last-gen titles, give them a little next-gen sheen, and put them out on new machines. Sometimes those games come as part of repackaged collections, while others feature as standalone offerings.
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, however, is something a little different. It’s not the full Borderlands experience, mind you, but rather this Collection only includes the two most recent entries in the franchise, with the first nowhere to be found. Granted, The Handsome Collection does feature all of the previously released DLC for Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, but those hoping to get the entire series in one swoop will be left wanting.
That being said, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is quite the value in its own right, but there are a few caveats to that recommendation. For Borderlands 2, this is the definitive edition – a better running and better-looking version of Gearbox Software’s stellar sequel. The frame rate is more consistent, the textures are crisper and pop a little better, and the loading times have been improved considerably. Not to mention, The Handsome Collection includes all of Borderlands 2’s DLC expansions, many of which are just as engaging (and downright entertaining) as the main game.
Sure, those who already own Borderlands 2 may not feel a tremendous draw to upgrade, but the package is no less impressive. In fact, considering B2 is really just a more polished version of the first game, it kind of makes sense that first game was left off. There’s only so much Borderlands one person can handle at any given time, so it appears Gearbox Software opted to offer the superior option when it came to the numbered entries.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, on the other hand, stands in stark contrast to the sublime Borderlands 2. Some might even say its inclusion weighs down The Handsome Collection with its less refined combat, lackluster story, and confounding gameplay hiccups. Where Borderlands 2 is Borderlands perfected, The Pre-Sequel is a step backwards for the franchise. The oxygen mechanic, lower gravity, and new laser weapons are interesting additions, but each feels mismanaged.
We noted in our Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel review that the game felt more like a half-step for the franchise, and that sentiment is still true here. Gamers who passed on the last-gen versions for current-gen ones will find that the added horsepower of the PS4 and Xbox One does little to improve the experience. In fact, we noted considerable frame rate slowdown and the same ugly texture pop in the PS4 version. Rather, this feels more like a less optimized PC version of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, which is a confusing revelation to say the least.
Like with Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel’s DLC is packed alongside the main game, so players can try out the Handsome Jack Doppelganger class or the arena-based Shock Drop Slaughter Pit at their leisure. However, the real jewel of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel’s post-release content is the Claptastic Voyage, which takes players into the mind of Borderlands mascot Claptrap.
In true Borderlands DLC tradition, Claptastic Voyage features some of the game’s sharpest writing and it puts some unique spins on the gameplay. Where many of the main game’s attempts to be different fell flat for us, Claptastic Voyage’s ideas resonate on a much higher level. So, while The Pre-Sequel may be hit or miss – it’s more Borderlands for fans that crave it, but is a sub-par iteration – the DLC is worth players’ time and effort.
Truly, the main selling point for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection will be Borderlands 2 and all its DLC. Those who were looking forward to a current-gen port will find that the game is well represented on the new platforms, and has no major flaws to speak of. Also, any who missed out on the DLC the first time around are encouraged to check that out, especially Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep. Borderlands 2 is the real reason to pick up Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, and The Pre-Sequel is an added bonus that fans can take or leave as they please.
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PS4 code for this review.