Game Review: Borderlands

More of a first impression than anything else…

Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows (reviewed)
Available on: Steam

This is my second attempt at getting into this game and finally beating it. I bought it years back on the PS3, put a few hours into it and even tried co-op with my younger brother and the game never clicked for me, especially because controllers suck for aiming. So I decided to give it another chance on PC. And holy shit am I bored to tears with this. I’m barely 5 hours in at level 14 and I seriously have to ask if this shit gets better later and is even worth going through. Because the combat really isn’t my thing. I don’t know how anybody can look at skill-based FPS gameplay and dice-based RPG gameplay and think that a combination of the two would in any way improve on either of the two. It’s so weird to shoot your way through bandits without a sweat but if the identical bandit is a measly 2 levels above you, you can’t take the fucker down. Hell, even enemies on the same level as you are bullet sponges.

To me there’s also not much incentive to look for newer and better guns. I get that there is a subset of people who feel that new gear is one of the most essential things in a game, but what point is a gun with 2% better accuracy, 5% more damage and a different elemental effect when the core gameplay is this insubstantial? How do you motivate yourself to drudge through the grind of identical environments and enemies (which naturally constantly respawn and nag you even if you’re 10 levels higher) when the only payoff at the end is marginal stat increases? Because it sure as shit ain’t because of the story. The premise is about as simplistic as it gets and for all the pompous character introductions there’s hardly any actual character to these characters. They don’t react to anything you do and are basically static pieces of furniture in this world.

Quests also aren’t really all that interesting. They consist of the same basic fetch quest over and over again and since you can only have one quest active at a time, it’s entirely possible for you to trek through a stretch of hostile environment to fill up your current quota only to realize that another quest needs you to go to the same damn place all over again. I tried to be clever with three quests I got simultaneously and look up their destinations beforehand so I only had to wander through that particular section of the game once to gather all the necessary items, but it got really annoying. Why isn’t there the ability to see markers on the map for all your open quests? You could save so much time.

But saving time isn’t what we’re here for. Because the UI does its best to waste as much time as possible. Comparing weapons is a fucking chore in this game and as mentioned before, the marginal stat increases don’t incentivise me to go through that process over and over again. Coupled with the extremely limited inventory space means if you want to have the best stuff you constantly need to be comparing absolutely everything.

I guess if you’re the type of gamer who can tolerate an endless grind that serves only to increase your stats over time,  you’ll end up having fun with this, but anybody who demands more from their games both in terms of gameplay as well as narrative should skip Snorederbland. I don’t care that I write this review after only 5 hours of playing, it’s as much as I can stomach of this borefest. It just mystifies my how people can call this one of the greatest games of all time.

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