|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Gearbox, 2K Australia|
|Pub: 2K Games|
|Release: October 14, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Dancing robots? Low gravity? Bandits exploding into pieces? Argyle guns? It looks like Borderlands is back in Borderlands: The Pre Sequel. We got a chance to fight the good fight for Handsome Jack at E3 2014. Here’s what we found on Pandora’s moon.
First of all, the game isn’t just more Borderlands. It IS more Boderlands, as you’ll still have the 4 guns, the class mods, grenade mods, tech trees, one special active character ability and more. You still get loot when you blast enemies to bits, still find loot in chest, still have the same over-world map filled with goals and missions, and still laugh your ass off while doing it. So if you were looking for an excuse to grind some more loot out of the Borderlands franchise you can stop reading right now because this game is giving you more of what you love.
But as I said before it’s not JUST more Borderlands. A whole host of new mechanics have been introduced that give this game its own unique identity. For example, oxygen. Since the moon of Pandora has not atmosphere, you have to constantly wear an oxygen tank. Indoors, your oxygen meter is always full, but outdoors it drains slowly. If it ever hits 0, your HP will start draining instead.
This sounds like a nuisance until you realize that you can use oxygen for things other than breathing. For example, you can use your Oxygen like a jet pack to get a double jump in mid-air. You can also use it to execute a ground pound style move in midair, blowing enemies back around you in an area of effect.
However, these two functions are a little boring, so why not spice them up? This is what Oxy mods are for. Like class mods and grenade mods, Oxy mods give you a bunch of new functionality to your oxygen tank. For example, you can spend oxygen to make your bullets stronger. You can get a triple jump in mid-air. You can add a flame nova when you ground pound. You can throw out grenades when you double jump. You can have your shields drain instead of life when your oxygen runs out and much, much more. It’s just another level of customization for your characters to tinker around with.
Another way that The Pre-Sequel is a bit different from other Borderlands games, is that it’s all low-gravity, all the time. That’s one of the fun things about playing on a moon after all. This means that most maps have a lot of verticality to them. There’s a lot of jumping, a lot of platforming, and a lot of aerial combat allowing you to slowly descend on your opponents while firing bullets into the tops of their skulls. It’s goofy and feels like someone put a cheat code into the console, but that’s what it’s supposed to feel like.
There is a new type of ammo in The Pre-Sequel, Cryo ammo, and it does what you would imagine it does. It freezes enemies into a gigantic sheet of ice, causing them to shatter with the next bullet or melee attack they incur. As a nice touch, the names of enemies change as you freeze them, changing from “bandit” to “snowball” or “icicle.” I’d like to see this same touch applied for other means of elemental damage, like calling enemies that are on fire “matchsticks” or something.
There is a new type of gun… sort of. It’s more of a new type of ammo: lasers. You’ll find a lot of different types of lasers in the game, from constant beam style lasers, to pulse lasers like a gun from Star Wars, to shotgun lasers, sniper lasers, and all manner of other lasers. Lasers do a bunch of damage and basically give your guns a different feel. In the demo we played the operated by normal ammo rules, but we were told that all the laser mechanics aren’t final yet. It would be cool if they just recharged, rather than operating off normal ammo.
Only two characters were available to play in the E3 stage demo. The first was Wilhelm, whose special ability was summoning two drones, Wolf and Saint. Fans of the Mechromancer will really enjoy this class, as Wolf wanders around shooting enemies, and Saint heals you and allies. His tech trees mostly have to do with different upgrades to his own damage, along with damage to his drones. He also has a ton of new drone abilities in his tech trees as well, including making them explode whenever his special ability timer runs out.
Athena was the other character we got to try, and her big ability allows her to carry around a shield. Her abilities allowed this shield to act as cover, absorb damage, reflect bullets, and more. Also, as Handsome Jack says, we don’t want to get sued but she can throw it just like a superhero whose name rhymes with Shmamptain Shamerica.
Overall, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel was a lot of fun for multiple reasons. The characters felt unique, the new guns were awesome, and the gameplay felt different enough that it wasn’t just more Borderlands with a new coat of paint. This was one of the more solid titles at E3 this year, and I would consider it a safe buy no matter who you are.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 23, 2014