BORDERLANDS

I haven’t felt like posting on this blog for the longest time, so when the desire to write about anything (no matter how irrelevant or crappy it is) awakens, I wanna go for it before that desire passes. This is gonna be lengthy.

I’ve been playing Borderlands for the past month or so and I’ve really enjoyed it.

I might as well start by saying that I have never written about games before because 1. I don’t play them very often and 2. As a result of that, I feel as though my opinions aren’t very valid (so opt out now if you’re looking for some professional kick-ass review). I also have no idea how to format this so I did it the easy way and wrote everything in sections.

With all that out of the way, here are my thoughts on the popular game Borderlands.

First of all, I actually played Borderlands 2 a few years before jumping into the original game, so I already had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into. For those who are unaware, Borderlands is a first person shooter role-playing game that is set on a desolate, wasteland-like planet called Pandora. It offers four playable characters (“Vault Hunters“) each with their own unique skill and multiple skill trees, and the plot is revolved around finding a hidden treasure called The Vault. The game can be played in single player or co-op and also comes with a few PvP features. You can find out more about the game here. And here’s the official website.

Characters (Playable and non-playable)

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As mentioned earlier, Borderlands offers four characters that you can play as – Lilith the Siren, Mordecai the Hunter, Brick the Berserker and Roland the Soldier.

For my first playthrough, I chose Mordecai.

Coming from someone who is absolutely terrible at any kind of shooter game, and even moreso at sniping, I thoroughly enjoyed playing as Mordecai. There is just so much satisfaction in scoping in on an enemy and blowing his brain apart with a headshot (That made me sound terrible, I’m sorry. I PROMISE I WOULD NEVER ACTUALLY DO THAT TO ANYONE). And if you’re not into being a sniper? Get up close and personal with a revolver.

Another thing I loved about being Mordecai was his special ability: Bloodwing. The skill basically involves sending out your pet falcon to do a bit of your dirty work (swooping in onto enemies and damaging them) before loyally returning to you. Especially useful if you’re surrounded by enemies or just downright lazy (as I am).

The only other playable character I tried was Lilith. When I first played Borderlands 2 I enjoyed playing as Maya the Siren, so I wanted to see if her predecessor could compare (especially with a badass name like Lilith). Unfortunately, Lilith didn’t really meet my expectations.

It might just have been because right now she’s only level 25-ish, but I don’t at all like her Phasewalk skill, which involves her walking around in another dimension with some buffs for a very limited time and then producing shock waves upon entry and exit of said dimension. Personally, I just didn’t find it all that useful (except for making quick escapes) and I’m glad that they changed it up in Borderlands 2 to Phaselock. Or maybe I’m doing it wrong? I don’t know.

So, onto the NPCs.

Absolutely love them. And yes, that includes Claptrap – the extremely annoying robot mascot thing that guides you around to different places. I just love the banter that comes out of their mouths. Granted, all they do is give you missions and progress the storyline a little, but I feel like there’s so much personality to them if you’re bothered to look. None of them have really made me cringe like a lot of characters in other games have, and every time they start talking, I wait for them to finish before moving on because I enjoy hearing their one-liners (I have subtitles on because it can be hard to hear over the sound of gunfire). Like everyone else on the planet, they’re all just a little bit insane. Or a lot insane (looking at you, Patricia Tannis).

The only character that I didn’t really like so much was Angel. I don’t think they even mention her name in the first game, but she’s that chick who appears on the top right of your screen and tells you what to do. I’m not entirely sure why I don’t like her – maybe because she’s the only character in the game without a sense of humour (?), or because she just looks creepy in general. Regardless, she doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable and is quite a big part of the storyline, especially in the second installment.

Classes and Skill Trees
Borderlands offers three skill trees for each character, which are all focused on different aspects of the character. For Mordecai I chose to pursue the Rogue tree, which buffs up my Bloodwing and lets it attack more enemies before returning to me. It’s super useful when I’m surrounded because my beloved pet can pick off enemies one by one while I’m on the run.

What’s also cool about Borderlands is that you don’t have to stick to just one tree, you can put points into multiple sets as long as you start at the top of each tree. Since I’ve gotten the final skill for the Rogue and am not interested in other buffs on that tree, I’ve started putting points into Sniper as well. I quite like this feature because it offers characters more variety to their classes, as opposed to just being cookie cut.

Plot/missions
Pretty simple. Finding the Vault.

The entire game revolves around you (a vault hunter) hunting a legendary treasure only known as the Vault. Of course to be successful, you need the help and support of other people around you. Unfortunately on this planet, everyone is a selfish bastard that will only help you once you’ve returned the favour.

As a result, the entirety of this game is played through missions. The game offers two types – ones that are compulsory and progress the storyline (main missions/quests/whatever you want to call them) and one’s that don’t (completely optional). Being more of a “completionist” gamer, I did every single mission I could find. And I have no regrets whatsoever.

Personally, I like doing missions. I don’t get bored of them, even though a lot of games offer generic missions like collecting X amount of things or killing Y number of enemies. They just make me feel productive for some reason. The missions in Borderlands are no exception to this. There are some missions where you just have to kill a certain number of enemies or walk around collecting certain items. Regardless, there aren’t any I would skip (except maybe the “Scavenger” series which never really benefit me much). Some of the missions were quite challenging for me too, not just in the sheer number of enemies being thrown at you but with the placement of certain items you have to pick up or actually look for. So although generic missions are present, they are not overwhelming and I never once found them to be repetitive.

Apart from that, most, if not all missions have a little bit of humour injected into them if you pay attention. They also range from super hardcore like killing bandit bosses to really mundane like searching through dumpsters to find a dude’s porno mags. Oh, and is tradition, each mission has a reward.

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Potato laptop = potato graphics

Enemies / Bosses
Borderlands comes with a variety of enemies, ranging from the local wildlife that want to kill you for no particular reason, to spectral beings with magical powers, to fully fledged soldiers under an organization. Most of the time though, you’ll be killing bandits.

Although I feel like there aren’t really that many different types of enemies, each enemy still has their own variations. Let’s take the most common example – bandits. There are bandits who will spray bullets at you, ones that will throw axes at you, others that will run at you holding grenades and some that just plain ol’ shoot at you. It’s these kinds of variations that can make enemies harder to kill when they’re in groups (which they usually are), because sometimes you need to think a little before making a move.

There’s also a special variation of each enemy called a Badass (which are basically enemies on steroids) and elemental type enemies which made things more challenging.

I feel like the bosses in Borderlands were a hit or miss for me. Some of them proved to be super easy (and somewhat disappointing),  whereas others put up quite the fight and took me a few tries to kill. [spoiler] The last boss in particular I found to be extremely disappointing. You fight all these monsters and baddies to get to the end of the story only to find a really weak enemy to kill. All that build-up for nothing! Trust Borderlands to rick-roll you like that.

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One of the bosses.

Weapons and Equipment
There is so much loot in this game.

There is so much loot in this game.

At the start, you only get 12 inventory spaces that can eventually be upgraded to 42 through certain missions – But I feel like even that is not enough. I swear half of my gameplay is spent just on comparing equipment and then selling them to a vendor.

Money, ammo and equipment are just everywhere. Dropped from enemies, in bins, crates, boxes, piles of refuse and even toilets. I have never needed to buy a piece of equipment before because I was just fine with everything I found on the floor.

I’ve heard that the weapons in this game are randomly generated and I totally believe it. Even the same enemies will have variations of the same gun – even if those guns sometimes have the same name they can have slightly different stats. It’s crazy but I love it.

I’ve tried using a weapon from every category in the game and the only ones I don’t like are the rocket launchers and Eridian weapons. Maybe I just suck at aiming but I feel as though rocket launchers don’t do as much damage at they should. Eridian weapons just don’t feel that great to me in general but that may be because I’m not sure how to use them effectively.

As most games do, Borderlands also has a rarity system assigned to items that is denoted by different colours. The system is pretty useful especially if you’re running out of space, although there have been times I’ve had “common” weapons that had better stats than “rare” ones. All depends on what you like I guess.

Weapons, grenades and armour can also have elemental effects. Usually they have lower base damage than normal weapons, but they can be super useful against certain enemies. I really like using elemental weapons just because it’s satisfying seeing the side effects and the little numbers that indicate damage. There are also rare weapons with unique perks (such as unlimited ammo or never needing a reload) which I like collecting.

Something else I love about the loot in this game is that all the equipment is made by different in-game manufacturers. It’s not something I’ve seen before in other games and I think it makes the setting seem a little realer. Sooner or later you’ll figure out which company makes the best elemental weapons and which ones make the best shields.

UI
The UI was fine, but something I didn’t really like much was the navigation thing in the game as opposed to having a mini map (glad they put that in the sequel). There were many times I would have to keep opening the map because I would get lost following the compass directions at the bottom of the screen. It doesn’t help that I have no directional sense in general.

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See the thing at the bottom with the compass directions and green diamond? You are not helpful to me.

Game Mechanics and stuff?
As I said at the start of this post, I’m terrible at shooter games. This is why I really like that this game incorporates the use of shields – which are like an extra, regenerating layer of health on top of your normal health bar. I think that they balanced it out pretty well, because they’re not overpowered to the point where you never die, but they’ve still saved me from death a countless number of times. Since enemies can have shields too, it also adds a little extra flavour when trying to kill them.

Another thing that’s saved me a countless number of times are Second Winds. I think they’re great and I haven’t encountered any other games that have this. Basically if you die in the game, you are given a limited amount of time (while you bleed out) to kill an enemy and revive yourself. From what I know there aren’t any limits to this, so there have been times where I’ve had three Second Winds in a row and kept from dying.

In a lot of games, the consequences for dying are the loss of experience points or items. In Borderlands, it’s money. When you die, you lose a very small percentage of the cash you’re currently holding. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. Because money and ammo is found everywhere in the game, you can amass huge amounts of it without ever really spending it. Losing a bit of money that I will never use doesn’t really mean much to me – the only thing that actually sucks about dying is having to travel all that way again from a checkpoint (which isn’t much of a complaint, really). There is no permadeath in this game, so you can respawn an infinite number of times. Great for people like me who die in games frequently.

DLC
Finally, I want to write down my thoughts on the DLC this game offers. I bought the game in a bundle and it came with three of the four DLCs available. They are Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned and The Secret Armory of General Knoxx.

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I’ll  be quite frank and say that I don’t like Mad Moxxi’s Underdome. She basically pitches you in an arena where you have to kill waves of never-ending enemies. On paper it sounds appealing, but when I played it I didn’t find it enjoyable at all. I guess it’s something you play with a friend to kill time. The only thing I actually liked about this DLC is that it offers a bank. Unfortunately that bank isn’t shared between your characters so I didn’t really have that much of a use for it. I think I’d only finish this DLC for it’s achievements.

The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned was more my style. Out of all DLCs, this is the one I enjoyed the most. As the name implies, it’s a DLC set on an island where it’s inhabitants have turned into zombies. You fight off these hostile monsters and other creatures inspired by popular horror franchises while trying to get to the bottom of the situation. The one thing that did suck about this DLC was the optional “Brains” mission that I missed until I had finished everything else. This quest involves you collecting 10, 25, 50, 100 and then finally 250 of one item (I’m sure you can guess what it is). The good thing is that is IS optional, but since it comes with an achievement, there was no way I was skipping it.. Haha.

The Secret Armory of General Knoxx is the DLC I’m currently playing through. From what I’ve experienced so far, this DLC focuses more on the driving aspect of the game. While I generally don’t mind driving in Borderlands, I never liked racing or car games to begin with, so this DLC isn’t exactly up my alley. What’s cool about this one though is that if you pick up a mission given by Marcus, you can collect these little power core things that enemies drop. They’ll give you temporary boosts which are pretty rad. I’ve also heard that this DLC is more of a true ending to the game, so it’s not something I want to miss.

Who knew I’d end up writing almost 3000 words?
Well those are some of my thoughts about the game Borderlands. A lot of the time I feel like I was more explaining the game than writing my thoughts about it but.. oh well. First time for everything? I’ve never looked up reviews for this game so I have no idea what other people think of it – For all I know, it might be considered a terrible game but I for one, loved it. I would definitely recommend this game for anyone looking for something to play. There are heaps of jokes and pop-cultural references that I think anyone could appreciate. The only big disappointment is at the end of the game, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. It’s a game I could definitely replay a few times and I am definitely interested in getting Tales from the Borderlands and The Presequel.

Hours played: 54 and counting

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