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Borderlands the Pre-Sequel review - Explosive moon landing

  • Written by Petrus-Iulian "Devon" Fatu
  • Published in Shooter reviews

Gameplay

The game is very Borderlands in almost every aspect. If you’ve played the previous games and liked them, then you will enjoy this one. If you don’t know what Borderlands is, well, how does loot-based action RPG-FPS sound?

You play as one of the 4 available Vault-Hunters, with one unique ability, modifiers, skills and ranks, which you attain from killing enemies or completing missions. The available loot is randomized, so you might get some good rare-guns, or terrible epics along the way. 

The 4 new characters will feel familiar to anyone who played the previous games. You have a Lawbringer, using revolvers and Sniper Rifles; Gladiator using a shield to soak some damage; Enforcer, using drones and tech; and lastly ClapTrap the FragTrap, which uses a vaulthunter.exe, loading “remixed” versions of previous Vault-Hunter abilities. From 20-second unbreakable stealth, to becoming a pirate ship, or summoning turrets. However, its skills are random, and not from one single Vault Hunter, which means you might end-up stuck with some really awkward abilities. In co-op the randomness might be entertaining, but in single-player it might end-you.

Borderlands the Pre-Sequel - Shields

I played the game with the Gladiator, which uses a shield to soak some damage before throwing it into the face of a Lunar Jason Voorhees. Oh yeah, you still face throngs of lunatics running towards you. 

The entirety of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequels feels the same as Borderlands 2. There's no way around it, the game is an expansion dreaming of the stars. The death-penalty is the same, the bosses, while new, don't really feel that unique, and even the UI is identical. 

What's most aggravating is that the game is considerably shorter (18-20 hours, maybe you can stretch it to 30 if you grind / die a lot and complete as many side-missions as possible), and a lot more repetitive, with less landscape and enemy variety.

Borderlands the Pre-Sequel - Cars

If it seems like I am ragging too much on The Pre-Sequel, know that I kinda like-it. It fixes one of the series' worse transgressions. Previous games had these massive empty spaces between locations of interest. You had vehicles to move around, but there were many barred areas which meant you had to traverse the land on foot. Combat movement was limited to only strafing around and hopping from place to place. 

By adding a jump that reminds of Firefall's Jetpack flight, the situation changes. Since the game takes place on a moon (or space) gravity is not really that much of a thing. You can have some ridiculous jumps, aided by the oxygen-consuming double jump, or use the carefully positioned pads to literally be thrown away into the distance.

This does several things. First, it implements some much needed verticality to the game. Second, it adds a new type of item, keeping tabs of your O2 levels, the “Oz” kit, which has its own perks and also brings some modifiers to the newly added air-stomp attack. Supposedly, you could die if you run out of Oxygen, but that’s not really going to happen, because there are plenty oxygen “geysers” scattered around the map, and almost every enemy drops Oz tanks.

Borderlands the Pre-Sequel - Shuggurath

As a result moving around is actually fun, and the newfound ability to float around adds a new dimension to the gunplay. In a way, the game has the best gunplay in the series, and that’s just because of the added level of mobility.

It also helps that the game doesn’t create that borderline separation Borderlands 2 did, with enemies being unkillable until you’d be the right level. It was a reminder that the series took a lot of its cues from the MMO genre. Thankfully that’s almost gone.

Side quests are also beefed up, hiding entire mechanics as rewards. Example? A grinder which you can use to destroy unwanted gear for a chance of getting better items. 

 Borderlands the Pre-Sequel - Side Quests

These new additions, while they might feel minor at the beginning really do change the way the game is being played, especially when grinding sets in. Movement is more fluid, and missions don’t really have that “Gather x and kill y” feel to them.

Co-Op

This is Borderlands, and Borderlands prides itself by being better with friends. Never mind the fact that almost everything is better with friends. Have you ever been in a hospital with both arms broken? The experience is so much better, when you're not doing it alone.

With that being said, The Pre-Sequel does feel more co-op inclined than previous games. While it’s easier to play it alone, the class abilities are a bit more fluid, and lend themselves to synergy a lot better than they did in Borderlands 2. Top it all off with FragTrap, which becomes hilarious in co-op, while its kinda frustrating in single-player, and you get plenty of reasons to give the game a bash with friends.

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