Video Game Review: Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition

Details: Originally released in 2012. I purchased the Game of the Year Edition (doesn’t include all DLC) on Steam for PC for $8.80. I then purchased all five Headhunter DLC’s (all extra story content are in the Game of the Year Edition and the Headhunter DLC’s) for around $4.50 and the Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack 2 for another $2.50. In total, that’s about $16.00. I spent about seventy-five hours playing through the game.

I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings on Borderlands 2. Sometimes, the game is really fun. More times than necessary though, this game is freaking boring. So much so that I’m not sure I’m going to ever play a Borderlands game again. I haven’t played Borderlands 1 or the Pre-Sequel and I know there’s no Borderlands 3, but that’s probably in the pipeline.

Borderlands 2 takes place on the world Pandora, in another universe/galaxy or in the distant future somewhere. Pandora is a backwater, savage world a lot like something you’d see from Mad Max. On Pandora, like on a lot of worlds in the galaxy, there are places called Vaults which have monsters and treasure inside. The Hyperion corporation has come to Pandora to pacify the world and raid the Vaults. You play a Vault hunter who wants treasure and to destroy the evil Hyperion Corporation.

The game doesn’t take itself too seriously. Despite some moment of seriousness, it’s mostly a game of humor with a lot of jokes throughout. The story isn’t bad, but the issues I have with the narrative mostly have to do with pacing and payoff.

Though I spent over seventy hours playing the game, the vast majority of that time was spent trying to get from point A to point B. This wouldn’t be so bad if the game wasn’t so boring to look at. I’m not even talking about the technical aspects. I’m talking about the artistic aspects. The worlds are just so bland to look at with so little in them. Further, the enemies you fight are all pretty much cookie cutter enemies with slightly different skins throughout the game. No variety there and nothing to look forward to. So what ended up happening for me was hours of walking through bland areas, fighting bland enemies, for a narrative payoff that usually wasn’t that good. In game, story is the carrot at the end of the stick. It’s the thing that incentivizes me to slog through the grind of playing. Ideally, the gameplay is fun, too, but Borderlands 2 is undoubtedly a grind to play.

Gameplay in Borderlands 2 consists mostly of first person shooting. You travel through different regions and complete quests for various computer controlled characters. Quests usually consist of going somewhere to collect something or killing an enemy. Enemies are generally uninspired and fit a cookie cutter mold. You’ll see a lot of enemies with slightly different appearances but with mostly the same behavior and weapons. Your character also levels and gains abilities depending on what you choose.

The strongest part of gameplay and of this game is the cooperative play. You and three other can play over the internet and play through the main quest or side quests/raids. Loot in this game works similarly to Diablo III in that it is a randomized slot machine system where every enemy you kill has a chance of dropping a new weapon or accessory. Some items are rarer that others and rarer items are more powerful. The more powerful the enemy, the more powerful and rarer the items dropped usually. I don’t love this kind of loot system, but it works well in a multiplayer setting.

Visually, the game isn’t bad to look at. It’s stylized, which seems to cover up the lack of technical quality. This isn’t Witcher 3. However, I don’t mind the graphics. What I do mind is how bland everything looks and how empty the world feels a lot of the time. I will say that the DLC, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep, looks really good. I just wished the rest of Borderlands 2 and its DLC looked as good.

The voice acting is fine with a number of voice actors I recognized. Music is mostly forgettable except for a few tracks. They also have a number of licensed music, but that’s sparsely used.

In regards to the DLC (downloadable content), the Game of the Year Edition has all story DLC except for the Headhunter stuff. There are five Headhunter DLC’s and they each took around an hour to get through for me. There wasn’t a lot of content there. I don’t recommend them and I don’t hate them either. I bought each of the five for eighty-nine cents each. If you can get it for a similar price, I think its worth it. That’s only if you need to have it.

Overall, the game was fun… sometimes. I didn’t play a lot of cooperative play, but I think it really succeeds as a multiplayer game and only sort of succeeds as a single player game. I lean towards not recommending this game if you don’t have friends to play with. If you do, then this game is definitely worth the purchase.

Score: 6.7/10

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