Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! Hands-On with Anti-Gravity and Handsome Jack


Borderlands has taken a bazillion guns and aimed them straight at Pandora's moon. Is it worth getting there?

So far, yes. The loot-obsessed shooter returns to Pandora for a jaunt to its moon set between the first two Borderlands games. Core game play, similar to previous Borderlands enemies, consists of getting loot, and laughing at inappropriate jokes and weirdly accented characters.

Lasers, Cryo weapons, and buttstomps represent the mechanical updates paired with the low-gravity environment of the moon. These new additions were presented to us by Jack himself in a presentation before we entered onto the showroom floor.

Our mission was to follow a small, crazy British guy as we took on some Australian baddies to try and build a robot army for Handsome Jack -- myself and my fellow player weren’t able to finish the mission, but we made significant progress and learned about the new systems.

Playing as Athena the Gladiator, my shield became an invaluable new tool in battle, absorbing damage and elemental abilities after I leveled it up in the skill tree and helping me control the flow of battle. The game still holds onto its absurdity with numbers representing damage flying over your screen while still properly understanding how your loadouts effectively alter your gameplay.

The biggest worry I had going into the demo was negotiating our oxygen levels on Pandora’s moon while dealing with the bad guys, but this often upped the stakes for combat rather than hinder it. Vents and Oxygen generators were amply stationed, possibly as an opportunity to light our enemies on fire, but we failed to completely strategist around them.

Most importantly, and a significant feat for a Borderlands game still on last generation consoles, I was impressed by the size of the arenas and the engineering behind using low gravity. Moving around in combat meant jumping from level to level, shooting high and low in an attempt to gain battlefield superiority.

Lastly, the series’ caricature-based humor moves along humorously with an Australian flavor from 2K Australia. Though a lot of the in-jokes did not always land with me, the flavor of this being "down under" as part of Pandora rang through and helped concentrate some of the wacky humor that was previously a bit nebulous. The idea that we’re in a a wacky place, even by Pandora standards, comes through in its game play, and it makes the moon a fresh space for a new Borderlands setting.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, drops October 14th, and seems to be holding its own among the crowds here at E3 -- We will see if this trip to the moon holds its own in the long run.