When I launched Split Screens last summer, I started out with writing an article series that detailed games and gaming franchises that haven’t seen a sequel, or have been dormant, for some time. I wanted it to be a regular weekly series, but life and my overall mental bandwidth made that a bit of a challenge (Oh life, aren’t you wonderful!!). I miss reminiscing about all the great games and series I’ve played, and dearly miss, so I’d like to get back in the habit of writing these pieces again. I’m not sure if it will be weekly, bi-weekly, or something of the like, but I think I’ll figure that out as we go along from here.
So without further ado, let’s get into another gaming series that is very close to my heart and absolutely deserves a sequel…
Platfrom(s): Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita, PC, Mac
Before I go into the overview and why this series deserves a new entry, I want to acknowledge that I will only be talking about the main Borderlands games and not Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands. Telltale’s addition to the Borderlands lore is fantastic and I highly recommend playing it, but it is a vastly different style of game in comparison to the other three main Borderlands games.
The original Borderlands, released in October 2009, is developed by Gearbox and published by 2K Games. The first title quickly found positive praise upon release from players for its excellent cel-shaded art style, crazy Mad Max-inspired setting, hilarious NPCs, plethora of weapon options, and solid rpg elements. The game follows four “Vault Hunters” who are in search of mythic troves scattered across the planet of Pandora that are said to contain mountains of ancient alien tech and artifacts. The main criticism of the first game is that it lacks a fully fleshed out story. All players really understand about the world of Pandora, and its characters, is that Vault Hunters exist and there is loot to grab. There are many gun companies, who all fight for control of the planet, and wonderful NPCs scattered throughout the game, but most don’t get much backstory within the main game.
Gearbox fixed this issue in the following Borderlands 2 which was released in September 2012. It gave the series more purpose by adding in a fantastic villain in the form of the gun company, Hyperion, and its homicidal CEO, Handsome Jack. Players were introduced to four new vault hunters, all with diverse and badass skillsets, while the former vault hunters from the first Borderlands took crucial roles as leaders of the Crimson Raider who are fighting against Jack. The Hyperion overlord attempts to use vault technology and resources to unearth a super-weapon in a quest to wipe “evil” off the face of Pandora. Featuring much better writing, even more loot, and more ways to play, Borderlands 2 continues to be met with critical acclaim from fans and critics alike. Gearbox also added dozens of hours worth of content to the sequel through not one, not two, but four full DLC expansions along with two additional vault hunters.
The last entry in the Borderlands series is Borderlands: The Pre Sequel which gives players the backstory of Handsome Jack and how he became the maniac he is in Borderlands 2. Another set of four vault hunters are introduced (an additional two were added later as dlc) and players are transported off Pandora and explore its moon, Elpis, as well as Hyperion space station. While not as memorable as the first two games, The Pre Sequel adds new flavor to the Borderlands gameplay formula by introducing zero gravity mechanics, new vehicles, equippable Oxygen kits, the Dahl weapon grinder, and glitch weapons. The game also gives more backstory to the Dahl Corporation, another gun company from the series, and presents more details on the significance of the alien vaults.
Borderlands 2 and The Pre Sequel were recently re-released in the Borderlands: Handsome Collection which features remaster version of both games along with all available dlc.
Why it deserves a sequel:
Borderlands series are some of my favorite games ever. As I am writing this now, I’m thinking back to when I wrote my Mystery Bloggers Award: Acceptance Speech. In the “speech” I wrote that the original Bioshock and The Witcher 3 were pretty much tied for the title of my all-time favorite game. After spending time the past couple weeks playing Borderlands 2 and The Pre Sequel again with my little brother, however, I’m realizing that the Borderlands games are actually at the top of the list; Borderlands 2 in particular. These games as just so much fun and offer near limitless replay value.
The lore and universe surrounding Pandora are vast and offer a hell of a lot to explore. The cliffhangers in Borderlands 2 and the Claptastic Voyage (the expansion for The Pre Sequel) reference that there are multiple vaults not only scattered across Pandora, but the galaxy around it as well. This detail alone begs for a third title in the series to fully dive into how these vaults, and the hunters who seek them, connect to one another.
The characters in each game are a blast to play, have so much personality, and each come with three different skills trees to allot points as you level up which allows for a number of varying play styles. For example, the siren in Borderlands 2, Maya, has the skill trees Motion, Harmony, and Cataclysm.
Motion focuses on crowd control through buffs to movement speed, reload speed, damage, and so on; Harmony focuses on healing and being a powerful support for your allies; and Cataclysm focuses on elemental damage and bringing pure chaos to the battlefield through your phaselock base ability. Players can choose to put points solely in on tree or diversify based by finding unique ways to combined skills from different trees. The possibilities are almost endless especially when you factor in the other characters your friends might be playing as. The characters, both playable and NPC, are also hilarious and very well written, so it is easier to fall in love with the world of Pandora and its witty inhabitants.
The Borderlands games are also hands down some of the best co-op games you can find. Each game offers both online and local couch co-op (this includes the recent remasters as well). Very few games offer four-player, split screens co-op anymore, but it is a staple of the series. The Borderlands games are meant to be co-op experiences and the games themselves will enhance the enemy difficulty levels based on how many people are playing alongside you. This leads to some pretty exhilarating and intense encounters as you and your friends attempt to take out camps of bandits, go toe-to-toe with the likes of Handsome Jack, or try to tackle the series extra raid bosses.
All in all, the Borderlands games are literally about how badass you and your friends characters can become. What more do I really need to say here?
There hasn’t been much talk about Borderlands 3 since Gearbox head Randy Pitchford announced they were hiring new staff to develop the game back in 2015. The only other related news has been a confirmation from this past April that the third game is in development and a tech demo given by Pitchford earlier this month. The tech demo just gives us an idea of how the game might look and function, but not much else. There is speculation that we could see a new Borderlands sometime between 2018-2019.
Here’s to hoping it will be sooner rather than later!
Review & Impressions: