Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – First Play

In this day and age, it is rather difficult to find a gamer who hasn’t heard of Borderlands – Gearbox’s pride and joy. But miracles do happen and that is perhaps one of the main reasons behind 2K Games releasing both Borderlands 2 and the recently released Borderlands Pre-Sequel again on the current generation – in the form of the appropriately named Borderlands: The Handsome Collection.

For those new to Borderlands, expect plenty of gun fights, quests and levelling up. Borderlands 2 upped the stakes with all sorts of weapons available for players to shoot enemies with. The Pre-Sequel added some new ideas, such as characters losing health when outside safe zones where there is no oxygen. One of the best aspects of Borderlands is the ability to play together with up to three other players.

This collection is perfect for those who want to play with others in the same room. The Pre-Sequel has been given a visual upgrade worthy of a current generation outing. This definitely helps to make it more feasible to still enjoy playing both titles on a smaller screen in split-screen mode. Finer details such as hit points appear clearly on-screen – no matter how hectic it gets during fights with the various psychopaths encountered.

Those who have not yet experienced Borderlands Pre-Sequel are in for a treat.  It’s worth playing just for the inclusion of the iconic Claptrap as a playable character. It seems impossible to not have a good time when playing as the tiny Claptrap robot. The fact it has a special power that can activate the most random of abilities, such as jumping around like a psychopath high on drugs, makes it even better.

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A change that stood out and will probably only apply to the PlayStation 4 version is the way that the menu for equipping weapons and so on is brought up. This is accomplished by pressing the touch pad on the controller. This came in handy a few times during combat when it was necessary to change equipment. However, it is a rather odd decision to not make full use of the touch pad to navigate the menus. This means having to press the touch pad and then revert to using the stick to move around the menus. Both titles make use of this feature.

No other major changes were observed when playing through both of the titles. In fact, it is pretty much like playing the original versions.

Oddly enough, it seemed like this was a far tougher challenge to overcome than any previous Borderlands titles. Somehow it felt even tougher than the original release of the Pre-Sequel. The enemies themselves seemed hell bent on killing the players. To the point that they were able to incapacitate the characters a few times during the play session.

Compared to previous efforts, the Pre-Sequel definitely feels like a different experience. The objectives during the play session were all located within the one area. The enemies encountered are also usually more human-like in appearance. One of the positive sides of having one bigger area, is that players are given the freedom to explore and don’t always have to stick together.

Every character that was previously available as downloadable content for Borderlands 2, is not only included, but is also playable from the start. There is no denying that Borderlands 2 is still the best title in the series so far. Like a fine port wine, it has aged rather well and this visual upgrade has, like those trendy people would say, given it a new lease on life.

Perhaps it’s the visual style used or the fact that it still offers the better view of Pandora, but Borderlands 2 can still hold its own against new titles on the current generation. Everything is just so vibrant that it’s impossible not to want to keep exploring.

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It’s necessary to load into each area, but fortunately it only takes a very brief amount of time. What is also remarkable about playing Borderlands 2 again is noticing just how accessible it is. It’s the sort of video-game that most people can easily start or jump in by joining a friend’s play session. The dialogue is still amusing and the characters are very likeable

Whereas the Pre-Sequel is more like fan service and is definitely not as easy to get into. In fact, it feels Borderlands 2 is the older and perhaps wiser brother to the younger and easily excitable younger sibling. Not that it’s necessarily bad since the chaotic nature of the Pre-Sequel is what also can make it an enjoyable experience.

For the fans, it seems like the main incentive here is to get a glimpse of what a current generation Borderlands could look like. The fact that both titles are playable with up to three other players locally is also appealing. After all, there’s not a lot of titles on the current generation that support local play.

No wonder 2K Games felt the need to call this the Handsome Collection, given the impressive visual upgrade for both titles. In addition, all downloadable content released for the original version is included in this collection at no extra cost – even Pre-Sequel content not yet released. This Borderlands collection will probably keep fans happy a little while longer while they wait for information on a new title. Who knows, Borderlands may even gain a few new fans.