Playing Borderlands again today is an odd experience, most obviously because there’s not a single thing the sequel doesn’t do better – even though it was never seen as a particularly big leap over the original. Borderlands 2 is funnier and has more complex storytelling, but there’s also a very empty, almost unfinished, feel to the original game world. The opening hours are filled with painfully uninteresting fetch quests, that make the whole experience very unappealing if you don’t know what’s coming next.
But get past those problems and that core loop does start to get its teeth into you, especially if you’re playing co-op with three other people. As a single-player game Borderlands has never held up very well but the four unique character classes and weapon variety makes playing as a team a lot more fun. Especially as the console versions have four-player split-screen (the PC is stuck with just two).
In terms of the remaster itself a surprising amount of effort has been expended here, with a lot of new texture work and some new character models – including alternative heads for the player characters. Although the cel-shaded art means it doesn’t really make that much difference. The smoother frame rate is definitely a positive though and the mini-map has been upgraded to be more like Borderlands 2, plus the inventory’s easier to use and you can now pick up ammo and money automatically.
The final, bullet sponge boss encounter has also been tweaked and there’s even a few new weapons and other loot. While we’re not certain there was ever any real need for a remaster of Borderlands 1 this has made the experience of going back to the original game more enjoyable than we would’ve expected; even if we’re still much more interested in the future of the franchise, rather than its past.
Borderlands: Game Of The Year Edition
In Short: Not a game that particularly needed a remaster but that in itself speaks to the quality of the original and the potential of the new sequel.
Pros: The humour, the cel-shaded graphics, and the near infinite range of weapons still stands up very well. Excellent four-player co-op action. Some welcome refinements and tons of content.
Cons: Weak artificial intelligence, repetitive enemies, and bland art style. Game world and storytelling is much more simplistic than the sequel.
Formats: PC (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC
Developer: Blind Squirrel Games and Gearbox Software
Release Date: 3rd April 2019
Age Rating: 18
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