One of the most popular looter shooter series continues when “Borderlands 3” arrives Sept. 13 on consoles and PC. As a promotion, Gearbox Software has decided to give away a fifth downloadable expansion for “Borderlands 2” and one of the most packed bundles of content in the “Handsome Jack Collection.” Through July, if you have an Xbox One or PS4, you can download this bundle entirely for free. The Handsome Jack Collection includes “Borderlands 2” (accompanied by all of its downloadable content) and “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel” (a less popular, but still enjoyable experience in my opinion). That’s really a treasure trove of content right there. But a new DLC “Borderlands: Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary” connects the final events of “Borderlands 2” to the sequel coming out in September. That’s just a little more icing on the cake for die hard enthusiasts like myself.
I’ve invested a tad bit of time into the “Borderlands” games. I probably put hundreds of hours boosting certain characters to exceptionally high levels (the psycho, Krieg, in “Borderlands 2” and the gladiator, Athena, in the “Pre-Sequel”) when I played the games strictly on my Xbox 360. When they came to PS4, I did pretty much the same thing, but spent tons of time with each of the classes in reality.
Gearbox decided to eliminate any need to grind by offering players a way to instantly create new characters at level 30. The last story mission has still not been completed, but the DLC intends that you have beaten “Borderlands 2.” It’s a good way to encourage people to jump right in and see what happens next. It also encourages gamers to pick a class they haven’t spent that much time with and just try it out. As a result, I finally can say I’ve put some hours into the sniper, Zero, but I found myself regretting that decision later on.
After the main events of “Borderlands 2,” the crew discusses the next steps in finding vaults spread throughout the galaxy. Out of nowhere, the place falls under attack. The culprit, Colonel Hector and his army of Dahl Soldiers, use spore-based weaponry to turn everyone into plant-mutant zombies.
So, keeping spoilers to a minimum, Hector and his legion take over Sanctuary (your home base for the entirety of “Borderlands 2”) as Lilith teleports you and the survivors to safety.
From there, it’s pretty typical “Borderlands” fare. Grab quests, go shoot things, cycle through hundreds and thousands of guns that drop, and storm through hordes of enemies.
The over-the-top and extreme humor is still intact. Characters often have more to say than you expect or even ask for and familiar faces make surprise cameos.
The story is fine, pretty much what I expected at this point from a “Borderlands” game. It plays the same, feels the same and the humor usually hits, but even the usually charming, yet annoying Claptrap has started to wear on me a little. I kind of attribute that to overexposure, probably mostly my fault, but it’s just more “Borderlands.”
However, despite the boost, I found some of the same problems I’ve run into in the past while playing these games. After breezing through most of the missions, my sniper seemed ill prepared for a major boss fight. Over and over again, I’d try as I might to topple this giant robot firing missiles and lasers at my face to no avail. My guns did inadequate damage and I found myself resorting to my minions lurking about. As a “Borderlands” player, I had hit a wall. The only way to go grind — fighting swarms of enemies over and over again until you gain a few levels. And sure, I’m still working on boosting my fragile little sniper dude, but I had another immediate solution to the problem. I just jumped on my overpowered psycho and plowed through the new content. I just ran up to my nemesis, punched him three times and celebrated as he fell to pieces in my wake.
After beating the episode, I predicted where they were going, but I did want more of a tie in or sneak peek into “Borderlands 3.” I’m not saying I felt completely disappointed, I just expected more and it did come off as a giant tease.