Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a peculiar game. It fills an uninteresting gap between Borderlands (after its DLC) and its sequel. By playing Borderlands 2, you kinda know how it's going to end up, but this game fills in the details. The game is set on Elpis, the moon of Pandora (the planet where you've been fighting for the last two games). Because 2K Australia made The Pre-Sequel, Elpis is inhabited by people with Australian accents.

Screenshot of the Triton Flats area

Although it's set before Borderlands 2, it has its own innovations. Along with health and shields, you have to watch the oxygen level of your Oz kit, becuase Elpis is almost airless. Because most enemies drop a oxygen canister, you don't need to worry if keep killing things and collecting loot. It can assist your already long low gravity jumps. You can also boost downwards, resulting in a "butt slam", damaging anyone near the impact.

Elpis has laser weapons. These weapons have the potential of lighting your target on fire when in an atmospheric environment. However, if you have an elemental laser weapon, this won't happen. Sometimes a laser weapon shoots a stream of light, like Ghostbusters.

Few playable characters stuck out as interesting to me. Athena the Gladiator deploys a shield that charges and flings at enemies. Wilhelm the Cyborg deploys two drones as an action skill. Nisha the Sheriff has auto-aim and improved gun stats for an action skill (really?). Claptrap (the mistake, as the intro suggests) has a program that analyzes the current situation and deploys (maybe) helpful abilities. Jack the Doppelganger deploys decoys. Aurelia the Baroness shoots a piece of ice at enemies.

Yes, we've met some of these people before. Athena is the same Athena that you fought with General Knoxx. Wilhelm is the same Wilhelm we killed in Borderlands 2, same with Nisha in Lynchwood. The Claptrap is probably the same one that stuck around. I'm not sure where Jack and Aurelia come from (DLC characters), but Aurelia is Sir Hammerlock's sister.

Moxxi appears too, and she has a secret engineering hobby. (This partially answers an unasked question of why Scooter and Ellie are mechanics.) This puzzles me: you'd think in an age of spaceships and robots that engineering would be more valued than a sexy bartender, but she goes to great lengths to keep it secret. Other characters are heard (but not seen), like Mr. Torgue and Tiny Tina.

I choose Athena (twice), which works very well, for purposes of the story. The game happens as Athena is explaining it while tied to a post in front of a firing squad on the edge of Sanctuary. All prerendered cinematics feature her as the vault hunter.

When I first got this, I played through until the space station was retaken (almost the entire main story). I wasn't having much fun, and I did what was agreed, so I stopped playing. When I decided to finish it, I started over, since almost none of it stuck with me. When going through it again, I still wasn't having all that much fun. The game likes to trickle enemies at you. For example: you'll come up to an area, and see three or four enemies. After killing a dozen, there's still three or four left. The previous games had everyone out and shooting at you right away (more or less). Some creatures even split into two smaller ones when killed. (Yes, despite the thin air and cold temperature, Elpis has a biosphere.)

Screenshot of the Motherless Board

Claptrap's Claptastic Voyage is one of the few parts that I objectively liked. (Granted, it's DLC, but still.) You go inside Claptrap's mind because Jack wants some source code that the last CEO hid in there. You are introduced to 5H4D0W-TP (Shadowtrap) and release him about halfway through, and you act out some of Claptrap's memories.

If you haven't noticed, my reviews and articles sometimes get a bit analytical. I've been watching Jordan Peterson on Youtube recently, and he occasionally references "the shadow"), which is the part of a personality that resides in the unknown parts of the unconscious or subconscious. Sometimes it is a positive force, but is often negative, and capable of terrible things. This describes 5H4D0W-TP accurately. At one point, 5H4D0W-TP offers to merge with Claptrap's Consciousness, but he is refused. I'm torn on that decision. One part of me says "yeah, screw that guy!" The other wonders how things would be different. Maybe Claptrap wouldn't be a pathetic sack of naievety, and be a character worthy of respect.

I recall Borderlands 2 looking like an over saturated comic book. The Pre-Sequel is not. It has this boring silver-blue shine on most things. It tries its best to include color where it makes sense, and it does have the black outlines on everything (love!).

If you're not a diehard Borderlands fan, feel free to pass. Even if you are, there's nothing that's not sufficiently explained by Borderlands 2. And it seems that others felt the same, because shortly after the last DLC for this was released, 2K Australia closed. Although that's sad, Borderlands is Gearbox's thing. It will live on.