Sam Rivman ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is the third Borderlands game to be released, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. The general concept of the game is the same as the other two: complete quests for eccentric NPCs and receive tons of cool loot. However, with multiple new additions to gameplay mechanics, a brand new story, and a new development team in charge of the game’s production, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel feels like anything but a rehashed edition of an old game. That’s not to say everything new is necessarily an improvement, because there are certainly blunders along the way. However, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, while not everything that it could have been, succeeds in maintaining a good name for the beloved Borderlands franchise.
While the last two installments of Borderlands took place on a far away planet called Pandora, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel actually takes place entirely on Pandora’s moon. In terms of gameplay, this one simple difference in location changes everything. For starters, there is far less gravity on the moon, which allows for higher jumps and slower fall times. This allows for a whole new aspect of aerial combat, which is quite enjoyable and easy to master. Due to the lack of breathable atmosphere on the moon, there is also a new equipped item type: Oz Kits. Oz Kits are essentially oxygen tanks with a limited amount of oxygen which provides players with the ability to double jump and slam down on their opponents, in addition to varying character bonuses, such as increased damage or damage resistance. The extra jump and the slam are extremely satisfying and handy to use, but the constant pressure of running out of oxygen can be quite irking, especially when trying to focus on combat.
If a player runs out of oxygen, they have to find an area to replenish while their health slowly deteriorates. There is nothing in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel as frustrating as having run out of oxygen and forgetting that you can no longer double jump as you plunge to your death into burning lava. The other issue with moon-based gameplay is the echoing sound that the game makes while a player is in an area with no atmosphere. Normally, the sound is unnoticeable, but can give quite a headache akin to a plane depressurizing when wearing large headphones. Annoyances aside, moon gameplay mechanics give the game a new unique spin and function surprisingly well for the most part.
The best part of Borderlands has always been its outlandish humor intertwined with a solid plot. 2K experimented with humor in the first game, and truly found their voice in Borderlands 2. Now, 2K Australia, which lead the development of The Pre-Sequel, has taken up the mantle of delivering a hilarious story within the shooter/RPG game. The game is certainly as funny as its predecessors in most regards, but the story itself suffers from a lack of depth compared to the last installment. Handsome Jack returns in The Pre-Sequel, but it was a shame to see perhaps the greatest video game villain of all time lose a bit of his edge and fight on the same side as the player.
The bottom line is, fighting Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2 was not only enveloping, but comical as well. Jack had some of the best lines in Borderlands 2, and it was his arrogance and insulting nature that drove players forward towards his demise. Any new villain just feels underwhelming in comparison to how badass Handsome Jack was in Borderlands 2. With that being said, player characters The Pre-Sequel now often respond to NPC dialogue, which is a first in Borderlands history. The characters often have funny responses, which somewhat alleviates the void of Handsome Jack not being the witty, sarcastic villain that he once was.
Perhaps the most important thing to come to terms with before embarking on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is that 2k Australia doesn’t necessarily do things exactly the way that 2K did in the past. The humor is quite similar, but has an Australian spin on it that may not be familiar to many long time Borderlands fans. With almost every NPC being voiced with an Australian accent, certain nostalgia is lost. However, the new characters and voice actors introduced by 2K Australia are great in their own way. The writing of the game is still in typical Borderlands style, so any player able to accept a bit of a new spin will still enjoy Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.
All in all, despite some bothersome differences to previous Borderlands experiences, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is enjoyable for anyone who has been satisfied with the franchise thus far. There are enough good changes to outweigh the bad as well as keep Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel from feeling like a simple regurgitation of previous titles.
Overall Grade: 8.5