I’m going to go ahead and put this out there right up front – I adored the first two Borderlands games. I love them, I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing them, and I’m not sorry about it.
Now that that’s out of the way…
I have been patiently, and sometimes not-so-patiently, awaiting the arrival of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! since it was confirmed back in April. I had paid off my pre-order and was slowly whittling down my fingernails with my teeth in anticipation. Finally, after dashing out of work, tearing through the store like a whirlwind, and driving just this side of reckless to get home, I finally had the chance to experience my personal most-anticipated game of the year.
Even before getting my hands on my own copy, I’d seen a lot of hemming and hawing across the gaming community about whether or not Pre-Sequel was finally going to get “right” what previous Borderlands titles had failed to do. Some said yes, some said no, and some didn’t really answer the question at all. At the end of the day, though, I play Borderlands – stay with me now – because I like it. The series was one of the first FPS games that actually got me to enjoy the genre, and the simple pleasures of going around shooting stuff.
[pullquote]Initial impressions from the community basically said, “It feels like just another Borderlands”, to which I respond: What’s wrong with that?[/pullquote]The artstyle from the original Borderlands made it feel like being part of a comic book, and Gearbox improved on that feeling tenfold with the second installment. The places felt original and real, the characters were interesting, and above all else, the writing was fantastic. In fact, for me, the writing is what makes Borderlands 2, in particular, so fun. The tongue-in-cheek wit, the blatant dropping of really bad puns, and the incredible voice acting by Daemon Clarke (Handsome Jack) specifically is still hilarious even though I can now quote it (and probably do) in my sleep.
Initial impressions from the community basically said, “It feels like just another Borderlands”, to which I respond: What’s wrong with that? 2K got it right on so many levels with the first two games that there is nothing wrong with “just another Borderlands”.
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
My eager anticipation was rewarded with some excellent early gags (during the character creation process, no less), that had me nearly on the floor with laughter when I chose my character, Claptrap. Running (or rather, rolling) around, with my co-op partner as Wilhelm, I massacred some Dhal soldiers, saved a meek and puny but fresh-faced Jack from getting his ass kicked, got shot to the moon, met a super-helpful lesbian mechanic, learned about O2 and Oz-kits, butt-slammed some moonskags (sorry… kraggens), and even met Mr. TORGUE! Claptrap’s Action Skill was just as crazy as the developers had warned, but damn if it wasn’t awesome. It was a great time, with the same quality of dialogue that I’ve come to expect and adore, quests, guns, and gorgeous art. I went to bed very happy that night.
So, you can imagine my surprise when the very next day, Facebook and YouTube were already plastered with videos of people beating the final boss, finding a hidden gun that no one can seem to pick up, and even finding a secret level 30 boss just inside the first area.
Really, guys? Really?
When did we stop playing games because we enjoy them, and start playing them to be the first one to beat it, or the first one to get the best gear, or be the first one to find the hidden area? Is that what it’s all about to the industry now? Is that what it’s all about to the gaming community? If that’s the case, I’ll light a candle tonight and weep over my console. I play games because I want to experience the game, and because I want to enjoy it. What is the point of bull-rushing through to get to the end just so you plant your flag and proclaim, “First!”
That’s right up there with forum 1st posters and that’s just not a prestigious throne to be sitting on. I can’t tell if the community at large just has a really short attention span that they need to finish one game and move on to the next, or a really big ego that needs uber stroking. Maybe both.
My review of the Pre-Sequel will come after some dedicated playtime, time spent in both singleplayer and co-op, and after exploring the differences between each of the playable characters. No more or less than anyone might expect a reasonable person to experience before reviewing a new game, but definitely a more in-depth, more personally involved look than the speed-runners who are already farming for epic loot. Where’s the fun in that? Did you even enjoy your ice cream or are you simply frustrated because you got brain freeze?
I’ll be over here delighting in my experience, taking everything in, in order to present an all-encompassing viewpoint, and not simply a cursory look at “just another Borderlands.”