Borderlands Game of the Year Edition
So, you’re looking for the Legendary Vault, adventurer? The one said to keep riches beyond your imagination? Well, I have news for you: your vault is now prettier, sharper and shinier than ever before! In Borderlands GOTY, gearbox software, the studio responsible for the original adventure, spent some time improving the game visuals (and mechanics) to a new level while we wait for the third chapter of the vault hunters’ adventure. Now, for the question I’ve been asking myself (and you’re probably doing the same) since they first announced the game: is the game still worth playing or were these upgrades really needed for this adventure?
You can say that we didn’t need a remaster from the first Borderlands to introduce players for the third chapter of the adventure to be released this year, since we have been in touch with the series through The Handsome Collection and Telltale’s Tales from Borderlands. But I really don’t mind revisiting old titles when they’re done correctly: updating and upgrading everything you can to the new available technologies. We had a lot of bad examples of remasters in the early years of this generation (Prototype said hi!), while others made corrections and/or improvements that really justified the re-release (and here we can mention Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 as one of the most recent examples). And let’s not forget that the original version of the game for Xbox 360 is backward compatible. Wasn’t it enough to enhance it instead of remastering the game (like Ubisoft recently did to Splinter Cell)? Do we really need a new game, even for a fraction of the price of a new title?
I’m not giving you a direct answer. But instead, I want to review this game like a completely new title, making comparisons only when needed. So, let’s go for a ride through the deserts of Pandora to check for ourselves.
- Visuals: The first Borderlands wasn’t the most good-looking game back in 2010. Its mainly gray and brown graphics took some time to get used to. The beautiful cell-shaded style used in the game is now prettier than ever! The visual upgrades had a MAJOR difference in the game, giving more life and a great level of detail to the world of Pandora. The rocks, ground, puddles of water, even the green fireflies above corpses feel much more alive.
- Characters: The characters in Borderlands are one of the aspects of the game that makes your adventure so special. The ones you play with are very different from each other. Each class has specializations in different kinds of weapons, with a unique ability and skill trees. You can play as Mordecai, the Hunter, whose preferred weapons are sniper rifles and revolvers. His special ability consists in using his pet crown, Bloodwing, who can damage enemies from far away. Lilith, the Siren, who prefers SMGs and can phase out and back in to escape any dangers or to surprise unaware enemies. Roland, the Soldier, an assault-guns and shotguns specialist whose automatic turret can offer protection and backup. And Brick, the body-builder apprentice Berserk who loves explosive things and melee weapons, using his brute strength as a special ability. From the NPC side, you have many important names to the franchise, but none is as important and emblematic as CL4P-TP, or Claptrap, for the intimate. These little robots programmed by Hyperion, one of the weapons manufacturer of the game, are general purpose robots that will work as a guide, open doors for you throughout the adventure and inform you about new missions. ‘What makes him so special?’, Do you ask me? Its outstanding personality, of course! Sometimes you find one of them laying on the ground, crying (I’m leaking, I’m leaking!) in need of repair. Apparently, bandits really enjoy destroying these little fellas. In others, you will find him doing some beatbox (‘c’mon, check it out!’). And its voice work is still one of the best things in the game for me. Well, now that I mentioned the voice work…
- Sound: Both music and sound effects in Borderlands are great! Music has a somewhat feeling of loneliness and desolation that perfectly transmits the sense of emptiness of Pandora. This same music changes into fast-paced tones when you are in combat or a tenser moment. Sound effects of shots and explosions vary according to what kind of gun you’re shooting. The shots have a somewhat cartoon style (as the art in the game), perfectly fitting the world of the game. Sometimes you cannot distinguish bandit’s groans and mumbling, but their voice acting is awesome! When you hear the midgets laughing, you know you’re up to some trouble. Your character voices are very good, but the best voice acting title goes for David Eddings, the actor who plays Claptrap. I really enjoy my time around the little robot.
- Gameplay: Here’s where the game shines! Forget about Destiny, The Division and Monster Hunter World. This is THE loot shooter that started it all (or at least, the first one I remember). IN your adventure after the legendary Vault, you will venture through Pandora, accomplishing tasks while searching for clues that may lead you to the location of the vault. Missions are usually assigned to you by NPCs in one of the cities of Pandora (talking to them). Aside from story missions, you can do lots of side-missions that will help you in leveling up your characters or to accumulate money to buy new equipment. The world of Pandora is divided into huge maps interconnected by gates and passages that take you to new areas. The only load in the game is when entering a new area. In each area, you will face wild animals ready to devour you or bandits trying to eliminate you. To deal with them, you will need all the guns and skills at your disposal. But if you fall in battle, there’s no need to worry: you have a second wind chance if you manage to kill an enemy before your character dies. And if he/she dies, you can always use a New-U, a clone that keeps all your stats and skills (the way Gearbox found to explain the save points in the game). You can experience your adventure alone or with up to three more friends in local or online coop.
- Equipping your character: The original Borderlands had something around 17 million different guns. No, you didn’t read it wrong: 17 MILLION or, as they used to call it, ONE BAZILLION guns. Between pistols, revolvers, SMGs, assault-guns, sniper rifles and more. And there’s great variety in each category of guns, according to what company is responsible for its development. The status for these guns is RNG-ed, with associated elemental effects, making possible such a huge number of combinations. Besides the 4 different weapons your characters can hold, he can also equip shields (providing protection), grenade mods (changes the behavior of your grenades), class modes (gives different bonuses to skills and weapons) and relics (add special effects to your ability). It’s worth mentioning here that this remaster changed the original inventory screen for a more useful one and added 6 new legendary weapons to your collection.
- Multiple playthroughs: After finishing your journey through Pandora, you can start a new one with a different character (at least, I plan to do it). Or you can start a second playthrough keeping all your gear, skills and money with more challenging enemies. Are you up for the challenge?
- All DLCs: This GOTY edition comes with all the DLCs released for the game: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx and (my personal favorite) Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution are all available from the first checkpoint, but I strongly recommend you complete the game first at least once before going for these extra adventures. But again, it’s all up to you.
- Golden chests: As if we haven’t enough loot, after sign up to SHIFT (Gearbox’s service) and linking your account, we can eventually receive some golden keys (they can also be distributed through Twitter, so if you are interested in getting them, you better follow @borderlands and keep your eyes open) that can be used to acquire some very good equipment from a special chest in safe settlements (Fyrestone, the first city you visit, has one). It’s a cool feature from its producers, but I see it as an unnecessary feature for the game.
- Not today. Try again next week.
After re-igniting the vault hunter flame in my chest, I can say that yes, we needed this remaster. It’s prettier, smoother, and with little improvements that made an already addicting game worth revisiting after almost ten years. And it feels fresh as new! If you have never played Borderlands before, here’s the perfect opportunity for you to try it. Even better if you have an old save from the original game for Xbox 360 because you can recover your characters and continue your adventure! Now it’s up to you, hunter: the legendary vault waits for you. I’ll be here waiting for you to tell me what you will find inside of it. Until the next time!
Developer: Gearbox Software Publisher: 2K
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PC and PS4
Time to beat: Guessing around 80 hours for all missions and DLCs
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: Not so difficult. There are lots of stackable and item gathering ones. These will give you a little more trouble if you miss one of them
Perfect for: Loot shooter fans
Xbox Game Store link: Click here
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.