Posted: March 21
Wow... I think I'm in love with the Borderlands universe.
There's just something really special about this game: the way the characters grow on you, the explosive no-f**ks-given atmosphere, the compelling story, the weird but incredible way they weave heavy moments and introspection in a game filled to the brim with bloody humor, murder and INTERNET MEMES. I feel like this game is the best it can get, or at least until Gearbox or some other developer comes up with even better stuff. There's such a diverse cast of characters, I find it hard to imagine NOT being able to relate to at least one of them despite how extreme their personalities can be. It's not all haphazard extremeness either and each is endearing in their own way. Want queer protagonists? Check. Neurodivergent characters? Check. Attractive cyborgs? A definite check. They follow stereotypes, they break stereotypes, and their differences are natural and introduced as such. Handsome Jack is on par with Pagan Min as my favorite antagonist. Every character feels alive and has defining dialogue; the settings you can explore are just as interesting. Pandora is a harsh yet vibrant world that you will have fun blasting through over and over. The FPS genre generally isn't very memorable but here's a game that smashes the rules and brings out its own style.
Gunplay is the heart of Borderlands and there is a huge number of quests you can complete to gain better guns, loot and experience. I found levelling and looting enjoyable and the skill trees are decent but slightly underwhelming for the first 10-15 levels. It goes without saying... there's a lot of grinding in this game and a couple "fetch" sidequests. Especially early on when you're stuck with some really low level equipment. But once you get past that initial slow start, the game really picks up and you'll find yourself shooting electricity out of shotguns and facing more challenging opponents with better rewards. I think the only gripe I might have with the gameplay is that some bosses felt like they were designed more for co-op than solo and that vendors never had any good stuff to buy but these aren't game-breaking in the slightest. Bugs exist but with the rest of the game being completely incredible I found them amusingly minor.
There are four playable characters (six in GOTY edition) that each have their own perks and quotes. No matter who you choose you'll have a good time while they rattle off at enemies or make it to second wind just in time. There's Axton, Pandora's most handsome (next to Jack!) but smart-mouthed bisexual man, who makes a great tank and support. Maya, an ace siren, is my personal favorite with her phaselock ability and makes for a nice offensive and support unit as well. Her background ties her in somewhat with the going-ons of the game and playing her can involve you more in the story. Zer0, my other favorite, is your key "outsider" nameless, genderless type. He recites haiku after scoring critical hits and displays emotes on his face.... which is honestly more adorable than it should be. You just can't quite put your finger on him but that's probably part of his charm. It should be noted that although he's an assassin class, there's no stealth (this is not a subtle game!) but over time he can become a very specialized, powerful character. Sal is the only one I haven't tried out yet but from what I've heard his skill tree makes him one of the most OP tanks in the game. Sadly there isn't a lot of backstory on the protagonists but there's plenty on all the other NPCs you'll be dealing with.
This is an attractive game full of creativity and it's clear upon playing that the people who made this game really put in a lot of effort and attention (and also memes) into it. Aside from the characters, small details like occasional ECHO logs and the differences in gun part brands add depth. The landscapes and cartoony art are great and perfectly suit the game's action-savvy theme which creates a unique combination of lightheartedness and gore. I loved the day-night transitions and many areas make for some beautiful, detailed scenery that are nice to look at while you're in or out of a fight. The world is literally blowing up with fun! And despite some really tough mobs you'll crawl through, you might find yourself coming back for more because there's nothing quite like it. For a game that makes a million jokes, I copped lots of feels and it somehow really touched me.
If you have the time and energy to spare, I strongly recommend the GOTY edition. Tiny Tina and Captain Scarlett's DLC that are included with it are some of the biggest, best DLC I've seen to date. There are many ways to play the game and trying out new characters or difficulty modes lends itself to some high replayability. On days you just want to sit back, kick some butt and feel like a badass, this is the perfect solution for everyone and anyone. "I LOVE my powers!" --Maya says it best