If 2K was going to do another Borderlands entry in light of Borderlands 2, taking it to the moon makes complete sense. We stare at the orbiting object throughout the extent of the sequels campaign, and we know that it’s a center of operations for Handsome Jack, the main villain in the game.
Going there seemed inevitable. And, minor spoiler alert, when it doesn’t happen in Borderlands 2, it’s sort of a big bummer.
Enter Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, 2K Australia’s first crack at the series. The game takes place between Borderlands and Borderlands 2. It happens, you guessed it, on Pandora’s moon.
I had a chance to go hands on with a 15-ish minute chunk of the game. I completed a single quest. Well, that’s not fair, I completed every bit of the quest except fighting the massive boss my actions drew from below the surface of the moon. That’s when the “Thank You For Playing” text flashed in and kicked me out.
During my hands-on time, I played with Wilhelm, one of Handsome Jack’s four lieutenants who make up the starting set of playable characters here. Yep, Jack’s a good guy. Well, maybe not a “good” guy. You’re working for him, so he’s not the main enemy.
Wilhem is a bit like a blend of the Mechromancer and standard turret hauler. His special ability calls in two separate drones. One is offensive, the other is defensive. I went the offense route with my 25 or so free skill points at the start of the demo. The result was a Wilhelm capable of laying complete waste to hordes of baddies with the help of two robotic friends.
As for play? Obviously, the game feels and looks like Borderlands, that much goes without saying. Being on the moon, though, brings with it a few new mechanics.
First, oxygen is a thing now. When you’re out in the moon’s atmosphere, you’ll need an oxygen tool that slowly drains as you explore the open space. Now, each of these kits can be elementally customized, so doing a ground pound (we’ll get to that) might induce a shockwave or corrosion effect. It works.
Oxygen isn’t a complete pain during play, at least not in this demo. There were atmosphere creating waypoints during the mission that let me fire up an oxygenated zone. Helpful. Enemies need oxygen too, so popping their helmets is a good way to do a good bit of damage during combat.
Note: This is the PAX East 2014 gameplay. It’s not E3, but it’s the best video so far.
Now, those oxygen kits also create jump packs. Once in the air after a low gravity jump, you can extend your already epic reach by blasting some oxygen. While you’re enjoying the view from above, press the crouch button and you’ll slam down on enemies below.
Traversal and gun battles, while physically made of the same stuff, feel different now thanks to low gravity and the oxygen system. Firefights go vertical more often than not, and when enemies get to jumping around, everything goes a little bonkers.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! likely only appeals to diehard fans right now. That’s fine. When the title releases for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this holiday, it will bring with it unique stuff that diehard fans will want to see. That’s its best compliment, really. It’s a good helping of thrills for veterans.
Now, about that price… I hope they slap this thing with a $40 sticker. Not sure it’ll happen, but it should.