I played about 5 minutes of the original Borderlands and felt it was just never going to be my jam. Years later and after it’s release, I picked up Borderlands 2 for a really bad live stream setup (I looked, it’s not around any more *tear*) and fell in love within seconds. I streamlined that game into my veins to float after the magic dragons and that loveable jerk-ass, Handsome Jack. This was all before I realized what kind of post game content Gearbox Software had managed to pack in there. It stands as one of my serious contenders for best game ever made: a true single-or-multiplayer MMO-like experience on consoles. Breathe that in, Destiny.
The Pre-Sequel was fine too…I guess. I Redbox-ed it and mainlined the story to near completion in a day. The largest problem it faced was that it was undeniably missing huge chunks of content and the heart of the second title’s writing. Either way, I’m two-thirds a smitten Borderlands freak. Three-fourths if you count the Telltale series.
All of this made The Handsome Collection, which holds both Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel for dissection, fly about as close to the “must-buy eventually” sun as Icarus (my college nickname) could possibly fly. I could import my Zer0 and keep plugging away at DLC for larger, meaner weapons that I hadn’t had the patience to find originally while bringing Athena and her shield-tossing skills – I still love it! – to Pandora’s moon. I was content with good enough in a graphically superior model and having the opportunity to chip away at larger goals. Even 4-player mayhem was now an option if I could ever convince friends to play the damn thing. All was well.
So, if your bar is as low as mine, you’re set to stop here.
..are they gone?
Yay! For the rest of you looking for a full reason to knock heads with Goliaths and Skags again (or for the first time), let me lay out my impressions on the product as a whole. The 4-player local co-op is fully available, functional, and smoothly integrated for both included titles in Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. I, however, have nothing positive to say about that part of the game experience because of spoiled adult reasons. If you have more than two people in local, there is just too much action and movement to keep track of, even on a 60’ television (is that small these days?). Field of view is massively useful here given the dozens of enemies that can crawl out to kill you, so it’s a sacrifice I’m unwilling to make for my selfish dick hole friends (jk, kinda).
On top of the DLC from both games, there are a small amount of quality of life enhancements, most of which being in The Pre-Sequel. The low-gravity entry became notoriously difficult to farm for high-tier gear, which made the endgame feel not only barren but unnecessarily gated as the drop rates didn’t justify going through a whole gauntlet of hoops over and over. The counter here are some tweaked rates and a grinder that turns lower level pistols into high-tier hand cannons, which works well to begin to solve one issue. What couldn’t be adjusted without actual, I don’t know, adjustments was the dead stop you felt after the main missions and single raid boss, making me feel mighty lonely on Elpis. That mighty worm remains in charge.
Again, that void remains mostly because you packaged it with one of the most content-rich games ever put out on consoles. Borderlands 2 has something like 10 raid bosses and another 10 to 15 secret bosses that emerge only after a few playthroughs. THEN, you have rare weapons that randomly pop out of a few bosses each, usually, for farming purposes. The Pre-Sequel, as a juxtaposition, has one raid boss and no real secrets beyond that. This gives you nothing to grind to defeat, which just doesn’t leave you feeling engaged at the end of the campaign.
Even so, there wasn’t a lot that they could do to screw Borderlands: The Handsome Collection up for me from the start, so any harshness I show here is something that reflects more on the original games. There certainly aren’t a ton of extras to be found in the package minus some more Borderlands flavor, which, while exactly what I needed on my plate, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Still, it’s revived some love for the second game in my heart. That’s worth the price of admission and dignity.
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection Score: