If you’re anything like me, you probably feel as though you’ve been playing Borderlands your entire life. While that’s not likely to be entirely true (the first game appeared barely eleven years ago), we’ve seen the Borderlands series straddle two generations, taking in a bunch of competing consoles, even including some of the less popular ones like the PS Vita, Google Stadia and VR. You’ve been able to play it nearly everywhere, but now, with the arrival of the Legendary Collection on Nintendo Switch you really can. Nothing says Borderlands like playing on the toilet until your legs go dead, does it?
Borderlands is the prototypical looter shooter. The meaty gunplay, the exploration, and indeed pretty much any action you take, is likely to result in a myriad array of guns, ammo, and money springing out at you. It’s everywhere, and the incremental differences between gun types, manufacturers and special attributes mean you’ll spend almost as much time sifting through your loot as you will acquiring it. It’s a recipe that’s continued to work for Gearbox for eleven years, and, really, why stop now.
Borderlands Legendary Collection for Switch pulls together the Game of the Year editions of Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, putting them in the most accessible place yet. In terms of value, that’s a simply incredible amount of gameplay, especially when you consider that they’re some of the most popular shooters of the last decade. It doesn’t quite hit the heights of The Master Chief Collection, but it’s pretty damn close.
Switch owners who’ve yet to experience Borderlands, or dedicated fans looking to triple or quadruple dip, will want to know what they’re getting themselves in for though, and fortunately the arrival of the series on Switch hasn’t diminished any of the crazy action, the memorable characters, or the gallons of loot. Borderlands Legendary Collection is a brilliant Borderlands experience, albeit with a few graphical compromises that come from the shift to the weaker hardware.
When docked The Borderlands Legendary Collection runs at 1080p, aiming for 30fps. The clarity of the image plays out that resolution, but there’s some visible roughness to the visuals that comes from a near-complete lack of anti-aliasing. It’s obvious when jumping from the Xbox One or PS4 versions, where image quality is certainly smoother.
In a head to head battle it’s clear that the more powerful consoles, and of course the PC, are offering a better-looking image. Besides that, there’s some obvious texture pop-in as you make your way through the landscape, though how much that bothers you is likely to be more personal; it didn’t bother me in the slightest.
Performance is solid, whether at home attached to the TV or on the go, though there are occasional hiccups and stutters here and there. They also appear in the Xbox One and PS4 versions – though those consoles shoot for 60fps instead of 30fps – so it’s not an issue that’s purely limited to Nintendo’s less powerful console. There’s certainly none of the screen tearing that was so prevalent on the original Xbox 360 and PS3 releases, and considering their age, it’s not much of a surprise that the Switch port is so consistent.
The thing is that Borderlands’ bold comic-book art-style makes any roughness virtually meaningless. Borderlands on Switch looks like Borderlands, and that includes when playing handheld. I was incredibly impressed with how clear and vivid the image is on the Switch’s built in screen, and while there’s still the same lack of anti-aliasing, it matters a great deal less. Borderlands on Switch is attractive and playable, and the only real concession is having to play with the Joy-Con and their stubby analogue sticks.
As with any other shooter on Switch, from Overwatch to Wolfenstein, you’re going to be better served by playing with the Pro Controller at home, but that’s hardly Borderlands’ fault. There is however the option of motion controls, and they actually prove to be pretty useful, utilising the gyros in Nintendo’s controllers and certainly giving you more fine control than the Joy-Con, particularly when using weapons with a scope. Lining up a headshot has rarely been so intuitive.
The Legendary Collection not only pulls the first three games together, it also includes all of the assorted DLC for each title. Borderlands 2 remains the highlight of the pack, not simply because of the wonderfully maniacal Handsome Jack, but also due to the improved weaponry, gunplay and story-telling.
Similarly, The Pre-Sequel, benefits from all of the advancements made in the second game, while offering a few ideas of its own and a more in-depth look at Jack before he became quite so much of a git. In the grand scheme of things, it’s the first game that suffers the most from the passing of time. It remains straightforward, cathartic fun, but the other two games are considerably better.