‘Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!’ Review

Platforms PC, Linux, Mac, Xbox 360, PS3

Developer 2K Games   Publisher 2K Australia, Gearbox Software

Genre First Person Shooter/Action RPG  Platform Played On PC

I am completely surrounded by weird-looking creeps that want to kill me, my trusty shield is recharging, and I’m running out of ammo. Instead of panicking, I leap into the air, use some precious oxygen to gain a bit of height, and slam back down to the ground, buying some time, space, and killing a few dirtbags in the meantime. No, I am not having some weird fever dream, I am just having way too much fun with a few of the mechanics introduced in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!.

Set between the events of Borderlands and its actual sequel Borderlands 2The Pre-Sequel! follows four new vault hunters: Claptrap, Athena, Wilhelm, and Nisha, who were hired by Jack (who is apparently not yet handsome) to find a vault on Pandora’s moon, Elpis. The game itself plays out within a frame; Athena relays the story to Lilith as you shoot, loot, and butt slam your way through main missions that take you all over the surface of Elpis and the Hyperion station Helios. Jack assumes the role of the fallen hero, a man whose good intentions led him down a dark path.

The low-gravity and oxygen-free atmosphere of Elpis allow for the introduction of a couple of new oxygen-centric mechanics, while fans of the series will also take note of the new laser weapons and cryo elemental damage.

While wandering around on Elpis, players will need an oxygen mask, referred to by Elpis’s Australian-sounding population as “oz kits.” The oxygen provided by the kits isn’t infinite, but enemies drop air tanks almost as often as they drop ammo. In addition to enemy drops, there are a ton of geysers and other oxygenated areas. Even robots like Claptrap can benefit from the oz kits. These useful masks also allow the player character to boost their jump in midair, which can be useful for performing a butt-slam. Yes, I said “butt-slam.” A butt-slam is the aforementioned slam attack which can deal out some hefty area-of-effect elemental damage based on your oz kit’s bonus.

The Pre-Sequel! also introduces lasers as a weapon type and replaces the slag elemental damage with cryo. Honestly, I found myself wondering more than once why we have had to wait this long to freeze enemies in their tracks. There is something incredibly satisfying about freezing something solid and then butt-slamming it into smithereens. The laser weapons feel like just another weapon type instead of something particularly special. That said, I spent most of my playthrough shooting at guys with cryo lasers because, well, lasers.

The new gameplay mechanics merge well with what Borderlands fans have come to expect, both good and bad. There is a ton of loot around every corner, zany NPC’s offer absurd missions, and you can shoot at almost everything that moves. Unfortunately, there are a few hiccups in The Pre-Sequel!. Though there is not technically a time limit on quests, some of the story feels rushed. More than once when I was completing a side mission, I had Jack in my ear reminding me that we were facing imminent doom, and I felt a little like the story would leave me behind. Checkpoints are often frustratingly far apart and several side missions require you to explore relatively large expanses that almost feel like a bit too much trouble to traverse yet again. As an RPG fan, I am no stranger to fetch quests and grinding, but having to shoot my way back through a bandit camp I have already cleared can be more than a little repetitive.

I do have to mention my favorite part of the game. Janey Springs, who takes the place of Scooter as engineer and transportation station provider, has an interesting machine in her shop called the Grinder. It becomes available after you complete her “Grinders” mission, and turns useless older items into shiny new items of equal or greater value! One of my favorite parts of the Borderlands games (besides butt-slamming, of course) is collecting and comparing loot of various effects and rarities. If you are a loot junkie like I am, you definitely want to complete Janey’s side mission and use the grinder.

Overall, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! is a solid, if not quite revolutionary, addition to the Borderlands series. It fleshes out the Handsome Jack we have all come to know and love-um, I mean hate, and tosses in a solid amount of new locations and characters. There is even a sweet new single-rider vehicle. No more yelling at your friends that if you were driving you wouldn’t have zoomed off of that cliff! The Pre-Sequel! is better when you have friends to play with, but that can be said for all of the Borderlands games. I had a great time shooting, freezing, and butt slamming my way through the story missions and exploring Elpis, and look forward to whatever DLC may come.

The Good

  • Lasers
  • Butt-slamming
  • Tons of new loot

The Bad

  • Large areas with fewer checkpoints
  • Side mission seem a bit repetitive
  • Feels very linear in some places

The Score: 8