For months I've been referring to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel as More Borderlands or, occasionally, Morederlands Borderlands. That's still an apt description. Other possible titles could be Borderlands: The Largest Borderlands 2 Expansion or Borderlands 2 in Space.
That's what The Pre-Sequel is at its core. Just more Borderlands 2.
Let them eat Borderlands
Borderlands is the latest franchise to fall prey to what I think we can now safely call an industry trend — stopgap games. In other words, "Our new game won't be ready for an extra year, what do we do?" syndrome. Other privileged members of this club include Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Batman: Arkham Origins, and (going back a few years) Call of Duty: World at War.
With the "main" product still in development, a secondary studio is called in to create something to keep the franchise relevant and make a bit of cash while also (hopefully) not screwing everything up in the meantime.
Merely charged with regurgitating what's already popular while the primary studio works on something actually innovative, these games are inevitably just retreads of what we've already played with enough story hooks to keep core fans interested and maybe one or two new features. Arkham Origins had the audacity to place you on the exact same map as Arkham City except everything was Christmas themed. Revelations had that hook-thing that made you a bit more nimble while climbing, but otherwise felt like just another Assassin's Creed II expansion.
In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel it's the ability to jump higher. This latest iteration of Gearbox's loot-driven shooter series takes place story-wise between Borderlands and Borderlands 2 and explores the rise of the second game's villain Handsome Jack. Rather than fighting on the planet of Pandora as in the last two games, this time you're going to the moon — thus the low gravity.
You'll also have to monitor your oxygen levels, as most outside areas don't have an atmosphere. And there are now laser guns.
In just two (short) paragraphs I've listed literally every new feature in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Sure, plenty of work has gone into this piece of content in terms of writing, voiceovers, et cetera. It's definitely long enough to be considered a "full game," whatever that means, and it's backed by a full story and new lore. I also really enjoy the way low gravity opens up the level design, adding more verticality and allowing you to scale some truly impressive structures.
But it plays everything so safe, it's impossible to think of The Pre-Sequel as anything but a long expansion pack. It's not just the same engine as Borderlands 2 — it's the same enemies, the same sorts of environments, the same everything. Oh, except these skags are white and are called kraggons, and the raiders now wear little transparent masks over their faces to breathe in space. Oh, and smaller enemies are now called "Lil Raider" and "Lil Lunatic" because Gearbox apparently realized the word midget is perhaps not the kindest term to throw around.
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