The Borderlands games have always been a firm favourite of mine, though the original definitely isn’t without faults.
And replaying it as part of the new Game of the Year edition does expose some of those limitations as it sometimes feels like a step backwards from the sequel.
The difficulty balancing is often at odds with your levelling and equipment, the environments, enemies and quests soon become overly familiar, and the game really lacks the narrative drive of 2.
All that said, I am really surprised at how enjoyable it is diving into this all over again a decade after my first run-through. And I am really impressed at how much effort has gone into the upgrade.
The biggest change is that the Borderlands 2 style mini-map has been added into the game for ease and convenience. Originally, you’d have to pause the game to see your map and keep switching screens, but now it’s always present in the top right.
The inventory management has also been refined to suit the Borderlands 2 style of play, making it easier to navigate, drop, and select the items you want. Plus ammo and money are now picked up automatically, though ammo still needs to be picked up individually.
Visually, the game is also so much sharper, crisper, and more fluid with stable, solid frame rate. Truly, the 4K upgrade is impressive for a game that released so early on in last-gen’s life cycle.
Mostly, though, playing splitscreen manages to feel so bloody refreshing all over again. This gen, it’s become really difficult to find a good game that supports you sitting on the couch next to a buddy so you can trade gun tips and bark out tactics.
Replaying Borderlands GOTY has got my partner back into gaming all over again. It’s been years since she picked up a pad – partly due to injury and partly down to disinterest – but now she’s really got a taste again and it’s wonderful.
True, Borderlands does feel a bit dated in its design and presentation now. Since its release, we’ve had looter shooters like Destiny, Anthem, The Division and many more which have come along and given the genre a complete revamp.
But where these games can often feel soulless and devoid of personality, Borderlands absolutely oozes charisma at every turn. Zany characters give you ridiculous objectives, obnoxious one-liners often make you chuckle, and the weapons border on the ridiculous.
That’s how Borderlands has managed to remain so timeless and where it will probably still be interesting to people in another decade, where games like Anthem may get forgotten about entirely.
But revisiting Borderlands 1 after the incredible sequel certainly does feel like a chore at times. Missions will take you over long stretches, there’s deaths aplenty, vehicle control is still horrendous, and the game just doesn’t hold up well in solo.
However, this is chock-full of content with the four DLC packs as well as the thirty + hour base experience, with plenty of laughs along the way, and it teaches a valuable lesson to the looter shooters of today that couch co-op is a must to get the most out of these experiences.
It’s not often will get a second shot at a Game of the Year Edition, but Borderlands 1 makes the most of it. If you’re getting swept up in the Borderlands 3 hype and have somehow never played the original, there’s never been a better time or opportunity to start.
Borderlands Game of the Year Edition is now available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Reviewed on PS4.
Review code kindly provided by 2K.