Death of the Critic

The Backlog - Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Written by: Tom Blaich


I have a confession to make. Like many of you reading this, I have a list of games that I’ve been meaning play for years. I have way too many games on Steam, and a stack of cases sitting next to my TV. Close to five hundred games now. Maybe more. It makes me feel guilty. I haven’t touched 90% of them in one way or another. I need to fix that. So this week, I dug deep into my backlog and pulled out a game. I want to play all of them; I’ve just never had the chance. Now’s the time.

I loved the first Borderlands. It came out at the perfect time for me to sink dozens of hours into that strange little world. I probably played through it four or five times with different characters and friends. I wrung every drop of enjoyment that I could out of it, and I had fun the entire time. I can remember how excited I was for the second game when it came out, and that night I rushed home with friends to play it as soon as it launched. But something was different. Some of the magic that used to be there was lost for me. I still played it through twice, but towards the end it started to feel more like an obligation as opposed to me actually wanting to play it more. The world started to feel empty and the characters started to annoy me. The gameplay was still the same solid base, and it carried the game for me for a long time, but eventually I put it down, and I haven’t looked back since.


I had hoped that The Pre-Sequel could reignite some of that fire in me for a new Borderlands game, but unfortunately, it seems that it took all of the problems of the previous games and amplified them while taking some of the good things away. The environments are empty and boring, the guns feel weaker and more generic than they did before, and the movement just does not feel right anymore. I don’t know who thought that zero-g made for compelling movement, but they were wrong. Same with the new oxygen conservation mechanic.

The controls feel floaty and sluggish, the exact opposite of what I want in a shooter. The oxygen adds a constant annoyance that you have to manage for the first few hours, constantly having to keep in mind where you can refill your meager reserves. I never found a laser weapon that felt good, and the story was nonsensical at best and contradictory at worst. The characters were flat and the world uninteresting. It’s a problem that
Borderlands 2 barely managed to avoid by leaning heavily on the characters from the first game, but they couldn’t use the same crutch again.


The one saving grace of this game is the co-op. Playing a game with your friends has the remarkable ability to make any game feel fun, and as a way to waste a weekend away, there are much worse ideas. The player characters abilities feel cool, if a little uninspired, and I loved playing as Nisha and using her “aim bot” like lawgiver ability to mow down waves of enemies in a split second. It isn’t something that I would want to play by myself for any extended period of time, and that’ is why I ultimately put it down long before the end of the game. There were a few cool things here, but ultimately it fell flat. They will have to take a good long look at their formula before they put out their next title, or I may find myself not coming back at all.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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