Borderlands The Pre-Sequel Review

... I ... I accept it.

Pumpkin sup mates! Today I want to talk about the recently released Borderlands 1.5. Borderlands the Pre-Sequel (BLPS), as the name states, tells the story between Borderlands and Borderlands 2, mostly explaining how Jack ended up becoming Handsome Jack, the evil Hyperion mastermind. The game is set up on Pandora's moon, Elpis, and the huge Hyperion moon base Helios.

Once again we have the choice between four new vault hunters; Athena the Gladiator, Wilhelm the Enforcer, Nisha the Lawbringer and Clap-Trap the Frag-Trap. Each one of them has a unique special skill that have nearly nothing in common with the previous 2 Borderland games, like Athena having a bullet absorbing shield which when charged can be thrown in a Captain America fashion or Wilhelm using his drones to give cover and support to the group.

Now to the actual review. If you expected the same huge improvements delivered by Borderlands 2 over Borderlands...WRONG. Let me explain.

Yesterday Stealthkilla and I beat the End-Boss and finished the first Walkthrough being now level 26. We only did 3-4 side quests, since there will be enough time to do them all in True Vault Hunter mode. I may have to update this review after reaching lvl 50 because I'm just starting to get into it.

It starts slow, but it gets better.

2K Australia took the job of making the best possible out f the Pre-Sequel of Borderlands 2, a game that had a fantastic script, hilarious voice acting and was overall a never ending enjoyment (89 points on Metacritic). Pretty difficult to top that you may think, well you are right, but 2K Australia tried it anyways.

When you first spawn in the game, somewhere in Helios, you are instantly in the middle of a shootout, your Echo device gets activated and you start shooting grunts because some Clap-Trap unit told you so. Where am I? Why am I shooting this people? Will I get a story driven tutorial like in the previous games? No, the game assumes you know how to move and shoot so its skips it and tells you to follow the little robot and go help Jack, who is pinned down two rooms ahead. You somehow manage to put the pieces together from the intro trailer and go help Jack. Helios is under attack so you escape to Elpis being shot out of the main gun of the moon base, which is kinda cool.

One main aspect of the script that irritates me is how they built it up. From previous Borderlands (and yes, I can't avoid comparing them, since they look identical) you were used to being constantly in motion with the story. With that I mean that things happened while you were walking/driving around, every other minute you had a conversation going on with a character or there was an event of some kind. Even though it is still partially present in BLPS, the whole story involving a quest is told you as you take or deliver the quest, so you have to stand there and listen. You cant even start walking to the next objective meanwhile because the Waypoint doesn't load until the next step of the quest. This happens way to often, not mentioning the quest objectives being 1000km apart from each other.

It gets to the point where you stop actively listening to the story because you are just looting some containers or jumping around to pass the time. Another thing that I found somehow strange is, since the Australian team of 2K made the game, and most of the voice actors are Australian, it seems that Elpis is exclusively inhabited by aussies. Its not by all means a game breaker, but you notice it right away.

Another thing you learn pretty quickly is, because there's a switch/button that activates something doesn't mean it will activate shit. There's ALWAYS a reason why it doesn't work, always, and you will have to run all the way back to turn on a generator that also doesn't work, so you need to spend another 15min just to search for some part to repair the generator and open a goddamn door. Even near the end of the campaign, Jack is counting down for an explosion (not gonna spoil anything) and Stealthkilla goes "It wont work" and bam! countdown stops at 1... Fucking made in china bullshit.

I still have to say that the story itself is very original, it makes sense as a whole, and even explains why some little details are the way they are in BL2, there were a few "aaaaaah THAT's why" moments throughout the campaign. The graphics are still the same as in BL2, of course overworked to fit the moons appearance, and they made a great work to make the whole thing alive through world events etc.

New Classes, same gameplay.

As I mentioned before there are four new classes to the Borderlands series. Even though I only have tested two of them I studied their skill trees and ended up a little confused. Let's start with Wilhelm, the Enforcer, since it is the one I have on level 26 now. You could say it is the successor of Roland and Axton. He doesn't have a stationary turret, but two drones, Wolf attacks and Saint heals you and accelerates shield recharge. The skill tree lets you customize your gameplay to more damage with the drones, more damage by yourself or getting a higher healing potential out of Saint. Pretty basic.

Athena is the Gladiator of the group, with shield and sword. Stealthkilla one hits me with her in every duel. She is able to absorb all incoming damage with her shield, charge it this way and throw it right into the enemies face with the absorbed damage as a bonus. Her skill trees are focused on the shields capabilities, one is for melee and the third one works around a buff called Maelstrom. This buff, depending on the skills chosen from that tree, increases mostly elemental damage. She is like a mix between Zer0, a siren, and Captain America.

Those two so far have solid main skills and specific skills to favour one specific type of gameplay. Nisha the Lawbringer is the precision type of character. She has a main skill makes her go full aimbot. By using the skill she is able to auto aim and switch between enemies with one single click and she gets increased everything during that time. They somehow tried to nerf it not giving the damage bonus to snipers and RPGs. I can understand that this skills wants to reflect that she is a very skilled gunslinger, but auto aim? Her three trees are mostly focused on gun damage; one works with a buff that works somehow like Maelstrom from Athena, the second one upgrades the main skill and the last increases everything that does ouchies.

The last class is a fan favourite, but that no one will end up using, not as a first character at least. Yes, I'm talking about the Frag-Trap. As the description says, his main skill "VaultHunter.exe" is classified as Malware. Well somehow... The skill/software he uses analyses the situation and loads a different module depending on what's happening around you, but there's still a randomizer in play. He has about 10 different modules at the beginning, and other modules can be unlocked by skills in any of the three skill trees. It also gives you full health and shields. I have only played about 3 hours with my Crap-Trap and I have to say, the skill just doesn't work for me. For example, one of the skills is a stationary turret, but since you never know what you'll be going to get, most of the time I am behind cover, press F for the health and suddenly there's a turret in front of me facing the wall. Or you need some extra firepower (one of the modules is the gunzerker skill from BL2) and you get a Psycho axe in your hands or a rubber duck floatie around your waist (deflects bullets). You can't really use his skill tactically. At least he is still as annoyingly funny as we know him.

Nothing new from the gameplay mechanics department. Well, that's actually a lie. There's one little detail that changes the gameplay significantly when outside or a zero atmosphere environment. Low gravity. Early in the game you get an Oz Kit, a force field helmet that lets you breath (duh!) and also lets you jetpack jump and slam into the ground. These helmets come with its own stats like elemental damage when slamming or airborne bonuses. Indoors its still the same, shoot at everything with a red health bar, and since there's artificial gravity you mostly can't jump high enough to slam.

They added an new type of weapon with its correspondent ammo, laser guns. From slow rate of fire concentrated laser shots up to one constant beam of death. They also created a new elemental type called Cryo (or frost) that slows down enemies up to the point where they completely freeze. This replacing Slag from BL2, since in BLPS they are still testing with it and its not being used by the weapons industry yet.

The one thing that really went south are boss fights. Well actually you cant really call them boss fights, more like badass fights maybe, they have a little bit more health and that's it. Not only are there only about 5 bosses, they also are way to weak and easy to kill. The only boss fight that really was entertaining and somehow challenging was the campaigns end boss, I really enjoyed that one, I'd even leap over and say it is as good as against The Warrior from BL2.

Please change for the True Vault Hunter mode.

Even though there are things I don't completely agree with in this game, I didn't lose hope yet.

This game's main gift is the fact that there are gazillions of different weapons in the game, it's impossible for you to get the same weapon twice. But there's something different in BLPS in comparison with the other two Borderlands... where's the loot? I mean, where's the good loot? We are now both Stealthkilla and I at level 26, we have killed every boss and finished the campaign so far. Do you know how many epic drops we have seen? About 5, 3 of them from the end boss. How many legendaries? None. The only legendary item was the quest reward for killing the end boss, a legendary head for our character... yay! I really really hope to see more shiny stuff being dropped in the second walkthrough, and much tougher enemies.

That's about everything I can say so far, still more that half of the game to go so, maybe the game ends up satisfying all my expectations and becomes as addictive as Borderlands 2 back in the day. One can only hope...

Summa Summarum

New story, new environments, new classes, new gun types and air combat (low gravity, jetpacks and slamming are just awesome) makes this a worthy third part of the Borderlands franchise. Even though, they could have worked a little bit more on the script and implemented more different gun models, since lots of them look exactly the same as in Borderlands 2. I know, it takes place between BL and BL2 so it makes sense, but it lacks a bit in that department. The rest is pretty okay, as soon as you get a few hours into it you feel like playing any Borderlands again, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Do I think it is a good game? Yes. Do I think it is worth 60.-? Not yet, this could have perfectly been a 30.- add-on to Borderlands 2, judging from the new content they delivered. But hey, again there will be a Seasons Pass with DLC Packs dropping every few months. So, at the end, its totally worth buying.

My rating: 8 broken doors out of 10




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