Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - A First Look
Gearbox has taken the big step of entrusting their best-selling Borderlands series to another studio to develop the next game as they are busy working on some brand new IP for next-gen console.
Instead of a straight sequel (which you'd assume that Gearbox would want to do themselves) 2K Australia has decided to build a game that bridges the gap between Borderlands and Borderlands 2.
This game is set on the moon of Pandora and charts the rise of Borderlands 2 supreme bad guy Handsome Jack to the head of the Hyperion Corporation. This is a game crammed full of familiar characters and it even ties up some plot knots neatly into bows by featuring NPCs from Borderlands and Borderlands 2 as playable characters.
For our first look at the game 2K Australia has chosen Athena who was first seen in the General Knoxx DLC for Borderlands and Wilhelm the man who becomes a massive and dangerous robot and one of the early bosses from Borderlands 2. The playable Claptrap character also makes a guest appearance towards the end of the demo.
What they've done is they've woven these back stories into the levelling-up trees of each character so, as Wilhelm levels up he becomes more and more cyberized and moves towards the character you'll eventually encounter in Borderlands 2.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has become very carefully defined by its location. As it's set on Pandora's moon there's no atmosphere and very low gravity so it changes the way players can approach the game's many challenges.
Players are now equipped with an O2 tank which performs a dual function. These tanks can be filled at oxygen stations or at Sonic The Hedgehog-style vents coming from beneath the moon's surface. As you'd expect there are a variety of oxygen kits with different effects and abilities just like the shields and differen grenade modules. While keeping the characters breathing it also allows players to boost their jumps to cross much larger gaps than was ever possible in the previous two games.
Jumping is enhanced by more than just the oxygen boost though. Due to the low gravity players will be able to jump much further than normal. It also works two ways as explosions and collisions will knock back players and enemies alike much further than you'd expect and may even knock them off the moon's surface altogether. Players also have the ability to slam down during a jump knocking back nearby enemies and clearing a bit of space.
The gameplay video shows off a couple of new weapon types – the laser and the cryo gun. Both will come in millions of different flavours from beam lasers that set fire to enemies and fast-repeating bolt lasers to cryo pistols and rocketlaunchers. The cryo guns are particularly cool as the can freeze enemies once their health gets low. From there you can shatter them in a variety of amusing ways from grenades to using the new aerial slam move.
The new charcters have some pretty impressive toys of their own for causing death, mayhem and destruction. Athena, the main character from the demo has a new shield as her prestige ability that can absorb energy from enemy attacks and reflect it back at them. Once charged (and it can even be charged by friendly fire) it can be thrown out at multiple enemies in one boomerang sweep taking out whatever gets in its way.
From the video footage that 2K have shown off Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel seems to be shaping up as a very inventive and entertaining take on Gearbox's addictive series. 2K Australia has really taken the opportunity to tell some new stories that players will be interested in experiencing and doing it with a host of new mechanics that are totally in keeping with Borderlands style and sense of humour. This is definitely a title we want to get our hands on when it arrives later this year.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is in development for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 and is due out in the autumn of this year.