Wow. I’d forgotten how awesome the original Borderlands is.
It’s been a long, long time since I’d played it on my Xbox 360 so my memory of it was hazy at best. I remembered the cel-shaded visuals, the guns and looting and the Mad Max-style setting. Beyond that, I pretty much relegated Borderlands to the last-gen shooter graveyard of my mind.
Luckily, Borderlands Game of the Year Edition has been released to refresh my memory and remind me just how great a game it is.
And get me hyped for Borderlands 3.
Borderlands Game of the Year Edition Review
When it launched in 2009, Borderlands was something new. A loot-based RPG played from a first-person perspective was a new and novel idea at the time. It hadn’t ever been done before (to the best of my knowledge) and players went wild for it.
It was followed by Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel; both of which, fans loved. They introduced new mechanics, refined the gameplay and formula and cemented the franchise as one of gaming’s greatest.
Since then, fans have been clamouring for Borderlands 3 and have had to wait for ages. Thankfully, Gearbox has finally, officially announced Borderlands 3 and at the same time revealed the UHD upgrade for The Handsome Collection and the special, remastered rerelease of the original Borderlands.
The one that kicked off the whole shebang.
Shoot, Loot, Shoot, Loot
Now, players have the chance to go back and play the original before Borderlands 3. And they should totally do it.
I honestly can’t believe how well this game has held up in the 10 years since it was released. Sure, Gearbox and Blind Squirrel Games have done a hefty amount of work to bring things up to scratch, but without such a strong base, this Game of the Year Edition wouldn’t be anywhere near as impressive.
What is immediately apparent with Borderlands Game of the Year Edition is just how striking the visuals are. It boasts improved lighting, textures and character models but it’s the cel-shading that makes Borderlands look so great. The cartoony, flat textures mean that a higher, clearer resolution doesn’t reveal blurriness or imperfections. Looking at other remasters you can always tell that they’re old games that have been upscaled.
Not so with Borderlands.
What’s Cooking Good Looking?
It looks as though it could have been developed and released yesterday. And it’s all thanks to the cel-shading. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t ring true for the game world. Having been developed so long ago, it wasn’t possible to render tonnes of enemies on screen at one time. So sometimes, it does seem a little empty and barren as you explore, despite the excellent visuals.
Skirmishes and battles tend to take place in small, off the beaten path locations, instead of naturally as you explore too. Whenever your quests take you to a destination, you can bet that there’ll be a battle there. Of course, fighting is a huge part of the game, so it’s expected, but it does feel a little strange to travel from point A to point B without much going on in between.
In that way, Borderlands Game of the Year Edition feels dated. In others, it feels like a breath of fresh air.
Since Borderlands, plenty of other looter-shooters have been released including Destiny, The Division and Anthem. Of those games, only The Division comes close to the same tight, addictive and satisfying loot loop. In Borderlands, new guns and equipment are thrown at you nearly constantly. Most enemies you kill will drop guns, cash or equipment and there’s just a great feeling of constant progress.
What’s Old is New Again
The only time you’re forced to wait for your loot is when you’re underlevelled. Occasionally, the loot you find will require a level higher than yours to equip. Even if it’s something amazing, you can sell it to a vending machine and just buy it back later when you can use it.
Borderlands Game of the Year Edition isn’t the exact same game from 10-years ago. Gearbox and Blind Squirrel Games have added features that make it more in line with the sequels including a mini-map, upgrades to your inventory and automatically picking up cash, ammo and health. The mini-map is a godsend and makes exploring Pandora much more enjoyable. You can toggle it off if you choose, for that authentic Borderlands experience.
Trust me though, you’ll want it on.
You’re also now able to play Borderlands with three other players in split-screen. Something which was only possible when playing online before.
It’s Still Awesome
While Borderlands Game of the Year Edition is a remaster and has undergone an overhaul, it’s essentially the same game that was originally released. It comes with all of the DLC, new weapons and some special cosmetics. But it doesn’t change the game in any meaningful way.
One of the best features of this rerelease is the fact that those who own Borderlands on Steam will be able to upgrade, free of charge.
If you’re hyped for Borderlands 3, there are worse ways to kill the time than by playing the original. After all, it’s the granddaddy of the looter-shooter genre and is still one of the best.
Yeah, Borderlands Game of the Year Edition is fucking awesome.
Borderlands Game of the Year Edition was reviewed on PC using a digital code provided by 2K.
Game Title: Borderlands Game of the Year Edition Review
The visuals are incredible, even 10 years later - 9.1/10
Weighty, chunky, satisfying shooting - 8.4/10
So much looting and it's still insanely addictive - 8.8/10
Quality of life improvements make it modern - 9.2/10
The world can feel a little sparse and barren - 6/10