While the slavering masses await the coming of Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands and the distant possibility of Borderlands 3, we still have a chance to return to the world of Pandora pretty darn soon. Borderlands 2 took its excellent earlier predecessor to task when it shoved it into a vat of liquid awesome in a factory run by psychopaths, and spit out one of the most engagingly hilarious FPS RPG’s in the last ten years.
In Borderlands 2, the gameplay was relatively the same, but included some great upgrades, like auto-ammo pick-up, a blazing color palette, countless additional NPCs with their own uniqueness, and six new Vault Hunters for players to customize and wreak mad havoc on the unsuspecting bandits of Pandora. It also included one of the most entertaining, lovable, and hated villains of all time: Handsome Jack.
Borderlands the Pre-Sequel takes place in the space between where Borderlands ended and Borderlands 2 begins, and documents Handsome Jack’s rise to power. For all intents and purposes, the basic gameplay is the same: point, shoot, insert witty kill quote, repeat. Another four new Vault Hunters have been introduced, but unlike previous Vault Hunters, these four will be familiar to players who have been with the franchise since its inception in 2005: Athena, the Gladiator (from The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC), Wilhelm, the Enforcer (Borderlands 2), Nisha, the Lawbringer (Borderlands 2), and everyone’s favorite/least-favorite CL4TP Steward Bot, Claptrap, the Fragtrap (Borderlands).
We have already seen some really interesting possibilities in character development already, with Wilhelm starting out as a regular looking guy, when in Borderlands 2 he kicked out Vault Hunter butts as a giant mechanical Loader. As the player progresses down his skill tree, we will have the option of choosing skills which will replace his body parts with giant mech-pieces, giving us a look at how the man evolved into the machine.
Another aspect of the Pre-Sequel is that slag damage has been removed (the ability to slag an enemy then switch to another weapon type to deal more damage) and has been replaced with cryo damage (the ability to freeze an enemy, then shatter them into little tiny bits that float aimlessly in the lower gravity). Laser weapons have been added to the arsenal and each gun manufacturer will have its own series of procedurally generated weapons for players to drool over.
Gravity plays a big role as well, as players are able to jump higher and glide longer in the moon’s lower gravity, and a Mario-style butt stomp has been added, which is sure to elicit many giggles and find its way among the Badass Ranking system, to be sure. The need for oxygen rears its ugly head, but despite initial concerns that we might be forced more into concentrating on resupplying our air than butt-smashing frozen moon-skaggs in the glittery silence of space, it doesn’t appear as though it’s a terribly worrisome component of the game.
There appear to be enough oxygen supply stops along the way, and snipers will take particular pleasure if popping off a head shot and knocking away an enemy helmet, watching through the scope as they scramble around in a desperate attempt to find air before expiring permanently.
Again, while the actual gameplay aspects hasn’t fundamentally changed, die-hard fans of the series aren’t going to care that much. Pre-Sequel is going to be another excellent Borderlands adventure filled with great writing, talented voice acting, an engaging story, and lots and lots of EXPLOSIONS (Thanks, Mr. Torgue).
Borderlands the Pre-Sequel will be available Oct. 14, 2014 for PS3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC.