Yet again, 2K Games was out in full force at E3 with one of the most ambitious booths of the entire show. Sporting a 25-foot tall Evolve monster and a huge, tournament space, the company's presence was well felt at E3 2014.
However, while a lot of the attention was focused on Evolve (read our preview), the developer also brought Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel along for a short theater presentation and hands-on demo. In case fans hadn't heard, Handsome Jack is back for this new interquel, and he's more vane than ever.
By now fans know what they are getting when they fire up a Borderlands game. Developer Gearbox Software, and now 2K Australia, have honed in on a formula that delivers solid FPS gameplay, and a self-referential tone that keeps players consistently laughing. That being said, some might argue that the well has run dry for Borderlands, or at the very least that the franchise needed to take a break.
Nevertheless, 2K Australia setup at E3 2014 with a massive, moon-shaped theater built specifically for showing off Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The theater itself was easily the most comfortable set-up I've ever experienced at E3, and the video presentation, which focused on funny tips for new Pre-Sequel players, had the crowd roaring the whole way through. New features like a butt stomp from high elevations and the usefulness of low-gravity were just some of the hints highlighted by the video, which was preceded by the latest trailer.
As far as the playable version of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is concerned, it was a familiar experience albeit with a few clever twists. Players are still cast as one of four classes, each with a unique set of abilities and skill trees, and given a wealth of unique weapons to work with. This time around ice-based guns are a big selling point, allowing players to hold enemies in place before shattering them into tiny pieces.
The low-gravity moon setting also factors heavily into the gameplay, giving players the ability to leap high into the air and take enemies out from a greater vantage point. In fact, it appears the combat scenarios in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel were built with the low-gravity in mind, as many of the enemies charge the player headfirst and require plenty of dodge jumps.
Aside from that, though, this was Borderlands through and through. There were new enemy types and areas to explore, and players need to be mindful of their Oxygen levels, but you're still firing creative weapons at uniquely designed enemies in a cel-shaded lunar world.
And so, in that respect, it's hard to evaluate Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel as anything other than more Borderlands. Fans will certainly love it, and the changes Gearbox and 2K have added should spice up the combat a bit, but this is a last-gen title built using what are now tried and true mechanics. For some people that will be exactly what they want, but for others Pre-Sequel might be seen as a disappointment, regardless of how strong the storytelling may be.
For our money, the game is still as fun to play as ever and will get plenty of love come October, but we hope that this is a stop-gap not a new solution. Borderlands 2 was arguably the perfect refinement of the first title's stellar gameplay, and Pre-Sequel, while still fun, didn't show us enough at E3 2014 to make it an instant-buy.
What are your thoughts on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel? Are you excited for the game, disappointed it's not next-gen, worried it will be too much of the same?
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel releases October 14, 2014 for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina.