Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Review

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NOW THIS IS A SEQUEL!

Stop what you’re doing.  If you thought that you did not want more Borderlands so soon, you were totally wrong.   Listen to me right now.  Forget my review and buy this game right now on your system of choice.  It is available in three flavors; Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.

If you must have a review, well I am more than happy to review this for you.  Keep in mind my review system is NOT STANDARDIZED! I do my best to give you my honest impressions and then tag on scores that will draw the least amounts of complaints.  Some readers like letters, some readers like numbers and other readers like stars. I like saying “Buy it, Try it or Deny it.”

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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (hereafter known as BTPS) takes place entirely on Pandora’s moon Elpis and the mysterious Hyperion space station/Death Laser of Helios.  What this means is there really is nothing too familiar other than a few recurring characters.  Simply put, Elpis is Australia.   Almost everybody has an Australian accent and I cannot think of many enemies they replicated.  Of course there are new spins on the enemy types you’re familiar with.  Skags and Varkids have their Elpis counterparts as well as Bandits.   The Guardians do return but there are new varieties of them as well as other brand new baddies which do not fight or act like enemies you are familiar with.

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BTPS feels much more like a sequel than Borderlands 2 did.  Borderlands 2 added a few new ideas like specialized currency to buy upgrades but once you max up your upgrades, the uses for it decline.  BTPS takes that one step further and adds more uses for the special currency known as Moonstone.  There are chests that can only be opened with Moonstone as well as buffs from a vendor that only takes Moonstone.  Moonstone is much more versatile than any specialty currency before it.

Even the physics are mostly brand new.  You spend most of your time on a moon with lower gravity, as well as within areas that have varying levels of gravitational pull.  Also, there is no oxygen on the moon’s surface which will require a new piece of gear called an Oz Kit (originally O2 Kit, but due to a font misunderstanding they became known as OZ Kits).  An Oz Kit, gives you oxygen and allows for a slight boost which allows you to glide further or jump a little higher.  In addition to gliding you can also do a butt-slam down to Earth for damage.  Soon enough Oz kits add elemental damage to slams as well as other perks such as higher gun damage or fire rate when you are airborne.

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I am not familiar enough with the variety of guns to tell you if they added any new features to them since Borderlands 2, but I can tell you this the guns.  There are A LOT more of them.  Midway through the game I became a gun snob.  I wouldn’t even pick up a gun to sell for loot if it was not a certain price.  Guns are everywhere. You will end up with about ten guns to either use or sell every mission, sometimes a lot more.  If you are heavy into the loot scene, you will be making several trips back and forth to Concordia to sell, buy or grind weapons.  OH YEAH! The grinder!

There are a bazillion guns in BTPS.  But now there is gun-alchemy.  WHAT? Gun alchemy!  Not too deep into the game, you unlock “The Grinder” which takes three weapons and mashes them into one super gun.  You have to discover the recipes or learn them from co-op partners.  PROTIP: As you learn recipes, write them down because there are no blueprints. The Grinder isn’t restricted to the same weapon type.  I don’t know if this would work, but you could throw a pistol, and SMG and a rifle in the grinder and maybe something wicked would pop out.  Though I’ve never gotten a “bad” gun, I’ve gotten back weapons I would never/rarely use when I mix  and match weapon types.  I tend to stick to throwing three pistols, SMGs, sniper rifles or assault rifles into the grinder to ensure I get back a better version of what I put in.   In addition to grinding weapons, you can grind items together into super items as well.  Finally, if you want to ensure you get the best weapon, you can toss in some Moonstone for a special grind that will definitely up the likelihood you will get something bad-ass back.

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The bank is still there, the lockbox for transferring items and guns to other characters returns as does the Bad-ass system.  In fact, through the Bad-ass system I was able to enhance my shield so well that it regenerates very fast starting the moment I stop receiving damage.  I am almost impossible to kill and I’m only level 27.  Yeah… I know right.  Level 27 and almost impossible to kill.  Put it this way, I defeated the final boss, on my own, first try after struggling pretty deep on the mini-boss that preceded it, before I picked up the new shield.  Combining the new shield with my Bad-ass rank boosted the speed it recharged and how fast the recharge kicked in.  I wonder how deadly I will be at level 30, 40… 50?

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For those that do not know, the story is about saving Elpis from an overzealous Colonel named Zarpadon.  She will not go quietly into the night.  Jack (soon to be known as Handsome Jack) wants to save the moon and reclaim Helios on behalf of Hyperion… at first.   But due to shenanigans, he takes a turn and becomes “Handsome Jack”.  He will be your guardian angel through this experience instead of a Siren in your head.  If you’ve played Borderlands 2, then you know what Jack becomes.   Curious is the inclusion of Wilhelm as a playable character.  Veterans will know Wilhelm as a boss from Borderlands 2.  If you play as Wilhelm, you’ll understand that his entire ambition was to become a cyborg and his transformation will make more sense.

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Speaking of characters; I played through this game as Athena the Gladiator.  Her melee attack is a sword and her special ability is to bring up a shield which absorbs damage and then throws it Captain America/Boomerang style to dish out a magnified version of the damage it received.  There is Wilhelm the Enforcer whose special ability is to throw out two sidekicks that assist him in battle.  Nisha the Sadist/Masochist Lawbringer, who also was a boss in Borderlands 2.  Her special skill is called Showdown which autolocks on to enemies to do increased damage.  Finally there is claptrap… which I imagine will either be the first or second character for most people.  His special ability is “VaultHunter.EXE” which deploys a random ability in battle.  All have their own unique feel… and to be honest, I’m curious about Wilhelm turning into a robot.

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Real photo! This is a hidden area I accessed by going into a pipe… Super Mario Style.  There are other easter eggs as well that I don’t want to spoil.

But there has to be some stale things about BTPS right?  Definitely.  It is Borderlands….. AGAIN!  The art style, although a franchise staple, tends to make everything look like everything else.  I mean that frozen areas always look like every other frozen areas.  The Moon’s surface seems to mash together no matter which zone you are in.  Do not get me wrong.  There is variety of terrain, but a lot of structures look similar to other structures.  I understand that the moon is smaller, but considering the new enemies, NPC characters and playable characters, 2K Australia and Gearbox really missed the boat on original terrain.

Also, you will constantly run into the same enemies.  I am not entirely sure if there are less enemy types, but you sure do run into Skavs a lot.  Skavs and Torks.  If the enemies were mixed up more often, I probably would not have put the controller down as often as I did.

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Despite enjoying Borderlands 2, I thought I was done with the series.  B2 was way too similar to the first game (IMO) so I skipped the DLC.  But this, I am absolutely going to buy each DLC until I am BOREDerlands… heh heh heh. LAME

Overall, the landmass does feel a touch smaller.   Not small enough that you would notice it if you take part in the easter eggs and optional missions, but small enough if you stick to the critical path, so feel free to go off the beaten path for the best BTPS experience.

Though this game is very doable singleplayer, co-op is the only way to fly.  Hopefully you have 2 to 3 friends to play this with because Borderlands is meant for Co-op… and multiple playthroughs.

However, if Borderlands 3 or Borderlands: Pre-post Prequel or whatever it ends up being called, is not a larger leap forward, BTPS is probably where this affair will end. It really is MORE-derlands but there is just enough different to make it as fresh as a sequel should be.

I say: Buy it! (If you like anything to do with Borderlands.)
2 thumbs….A-….. 8.0…. 4/5 stars….

KUDOS!

The Jaded Gamer
IamFN2K@gmail.com (@IamFN2K)

 

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