Back To The Borderlands: Hands On With The Pre-Sequel

It’s Borderlands on the moon. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to tell you about Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. I mean, I guess if you’ve never played Borderlands then I could tell you about the brilliance of mixing an action RPG with an almost cel-shaded aesthetic and a great sense of humour.

I suppose, if you really wanted to hear about it, I could tell you about the guns. There’s billions of them. No one really knows how many variations there are in the game, but it’s probably closer to infinity than zero. I know, that’s impossible, but that’s what procedural generation is all about: doing impossible things. Basically, the developers put all of the different parts of different guns into a blender, along with colours and stats and different kinds of bullets and, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find a shotgun that fires rockets in the game. Well, this is pretty much the same as before, but it’s on the moon this time.

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Actually, I could tell you about the moon – that’s something new. Imagine a merging of Borderlands’ physics with those of the moon, but this isn’t Earth’s moon, it’s Pandora’s moon – Elpis – so you’ll have to rethink a little bit. It’s not really all that different, but there are a few small changes.

Since it’s on a natural satellite (that’s still a moon, by the way) orbiting Pandora, rather than the planet itself, gravity works differently. You’ll go really high up in a sort of slow moon jump, but it’ll take an age to come back down and you’ll probably find yourself wanting to descend a bit faster. Don’t worry though, you’ll be able to hit the crouch button and crash back down to the ground, which will also do damage to the enemies around you.

People can’t breathe on Elpis, since it has no atmosphere of its own. It’s extremely unfortunate that we can’t do that, but advancements in technology mean that we can have personal breathing apparatus up there, and so do the characters in Borderlands. That means that you’ll need to collect Oxygen though, which is now another lootable resource.

This is handled pretty well, and you’re never really struggling to breathe, unless someone is strangling you in real life and you’re so immersed in the game that you don’t know why it’s happening, so that you end up spending your last few moments worrying about collecting oxygen tanks in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel rather than fending off your attacker.

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You may also want to know about the new characters. I’d bet you want to hear about the playable Claptrap – named Fragtrap – and how he uses guns with his tiny robot arms, and any secret abilities he has, but I didn’t play as him so you’ll have to hear about Athena instead. She’s basically Captain America, in that her special ability comes in the form of a shield which she can throw, and which might even hurt enemies or come back to you if you’ve upgraded it to do that. In truth, the shield is more like Bloodwing from the first game, but without the need for breathing aparatus for a bird.

In terms of guns, I think Athena specialises in SMGs, but I just picked up whatever was coolest and used that instead, because worrying about my progression and stats in a fifteen minute demo was pointless. Similarly pointless was trying to collect loot, because my progress would be wiped as soon as the screen with the game’s name on it came up just before I got to fight the boss.

But you can collect loot, and since you’re on the moon or something probably, that means that you’ll pretty much automatically collect all of the loot around you, but you’ll still have to look at the guns before taking them so you can share them with my friends. That was actually my favourite part of Borderlands, dividing up the guns between you and your friends, playing to your strengths and it really encouraged teamwork.

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Oh, I could tell you about the enemies too. I’d like to tell you that they’re totally different, brilliant, and inventive but they’re not. They’re basically the same as the ones on Pandora, transposed onto the moon, just as you have been. Essentially, the enemies I encountered were moon Skags – who don’t wear helmets or moon gear – and moon Bandits, who do wear helmets and moon gear.

You can shoot these enemies and, in true Borderlands fashion, numbers will fly out of them. Don’t panic though, as it’s not a maths game and you can even just keep shooting them until they emit so many numbers that they die. Sometimes you don’t even have to shoot them for long, as elemental damage such as fire or acid will keep hurting them, and new element cryo will freeze enemies solid.

Handsome Jack is back and he’s better than ever. I mean, he probably is. He wasn’t in the preview build or anything really but he’s a great character and you can only assume that they’ll get to do more with him in this prequel than they did in Borderlands 2, just because of how well received he was. Plus, he’s on the moon and as you know if you’ve got this far, dear reader, everything on the moon is just that bit better. That’s probably why they put this Borderlands game on there, actually.

So, it’s Borderlands on the moon, and that’s good enough.

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6 Comments

  1. Were there any wizards on the moon?

    • Goddamn, I got ninja’d!

      • Great minds think alike Kenny ^_^

      • Sure seems that way, we even joined the same month. :-o

  2. Are there any wizards on the moon?

    • Ok, Nocure did a number on me and I think there may have been some elemental damage as well…

      I suppose there’s not much hope for a Vita version, so I’ll hold off and see if there’s a PS4 one at some point.

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