Fans of the Borderlands series may be hotly anticipating the franchise’s leap to the next console generation in Borderlands 3, but Gearbox has come up with an alternative plan to keep their fans satisfied in the meantime: working with 2K Australia to craft Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, a game filling in the gaps between the first and second games in the series. Taking players to Pandora’s moon, Elpis, the lower gravity, continued tradition of over-the-top weaponry and the dependable cast of colorful characters has shown that Gearbox isn’t the only studio capable of capturing the brand’s unique sense of humor.
The developers haven’t been shy about showing off gameplay to prove that corners haven’t been cut in delivering an experience that looks and feels like they’ve come to expect. But now that the reviews have begun to pour in, the team’s decision to deliver another helping of an established series has had… predictable results. In our own time with the game, it was clear that it would be best described as simply more Borderlands for those seeking it.
Reviewers actually seem to be unanimous in the belief that 2K Australia has succeeded in copying the Borderlands formula, but in the process, failed to refine or innovate. There’s something to be said for limiting one’s ambition to what’s possible to deliver on a deadline, but as these reviews state, players waiting for a major improvement or next-gen step forward for the series may prefer to keep waiting.
But if the weeks and months since your last play session have got you hankering for some more low-gravity carnage – with a weaponized Claptrap in tow – then you won’t want to miss out on The Pre-Sequel. Read on for some choice excerpts from around the industry.
OXM (Joe Skrebels):
“This feels like the beginning of a new take on Borderlands – a more reactive, immediate, Australian game, better built for lone players but still accommodating for the co-op crowd – although by no means distinct enough to be called a follow-up.”
Gamespot (Cameron Woolsey):
“Repetition and a lackluster story are its biggest shortcomings, but Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is different enough to separate itself from the shadows of its older siblings… No, it never reaches the furthest edges of space, but Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel still offers some the best of what the series has to offer: good loot, good laughs, and good times for many hours.”
Polygon (Arthur Gies):
“Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel doesn’t feel like a game that needs to be, exactly. It’s a story filling in gaps… But the lark of low gravity proves that the tedious parts of previous games don’t have to stay an anchor holding the series down. That addition makes this one last run through the world of Pandora (or its moon, anyway) on the last generation of consoles worth the time.”
Game Informer (Jeff Marchiafava):
“The Pre-Sequel offers plenty of missions, completely new environments and playable characters, and one of the more interesting story threads of the series. If you’re looking for more from Borderlands, however, The Pre-Sequel falls short, and it will take more than laser blasters and buttstomps to put the series back at the top of my must-play list.”
IGN (Vince Ingenito):
“Despite its tendency to make you jump through hoops before getting to the good stuff, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel delivers where I expect it to as a Borderlands fan. The new gear and low-gravity mechanics mixed with the zany skill trees makes for a fresh experience, and with Jack at the center driving the story forward, you get a deeper dive into the always entertaining, if well-traveled universe of Borderlands.”
Escapist (Jim Sterling):
“Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a funny cartoon shooter that compels you to keep playing and score more guns. Just like the last two. Laser weapons and moon bouncing add a little extra flavor, but if you don’t like Borderlands by now, this won’t change things.”
Joystiq (Jessica Conditt):
“Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has the makings of a pretty great Borderlands game. There are plenty of enemies begging to have their faces shot. The environments on Elpis are stunning neon spectacles, there are plenty of new guns that are bundles of violent joy to use (including lasers!), and the new characters are well-rounded. The Pre-Sequel is missing just a bit of soul, but it has plenty of heart – hearts exploded by laser rifles.”
PC Gamer (Evan Lahti):
“The Pre-Sequel is a happy to be Just Another Borderlands Game. I enjoyed it for that, but I also finished it thinking my time would’ve been better spent on one of the more original games that’ve released this year. I love seeing Borderlands embrace the FPS trend of unconventional movement. Apart from the low-gravity leaping, though, The Pre-Sequel doesn’t do much to freshen what we’ve been playing since 2012.”
Shacknews (Steven Wong):
“Much like a Claptrap, parts of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel try too hard to be liked. The freezing element, although welcome, doesn’t add much to the gameplay. Between the airless environments and the gravity slams, it’s usually far easier to shatter masks and wait for enemies to suffocate than it is to fire a dozen shots in hopes that one of them will freeze an enemy in place for a second or two… 2K Australia has injected some of its own personality into Borderlands. While not all of the changes are as welcome as others, it’s successful on the whole.”
Destructoid (Darren Nakamura):
“Some of the cool new features like multi-leveled areas and combining weapons could have been enhanced further if the user interface and systems had been updated to play to those strengths. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a solid entry to the series, but I hope that the development team takes some of the failings to heart and delivers excellence in the future.”
What do you make of the reviews? Will you Borderlands fans be taking another spin around (or near) Pandora, or do the criticisms give you pause? Sound off in the comments.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is available now for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.