Review: Borderlands: GOTY Edition - a remaster that goes all in?
There are quite a few memorable gaming franchises out there, and a list of them wouldn't be complete without including the Borderlands franchise. It's without any doubt one of the best games that you can get a hold of right now, and with the announcement of Borderlands 3, there's no shortage of them at all. The first game came out in 2009, and 10 years later, a remastered version is suddenly available on every major platform. I received a review key for the remastered version of the first Borderlands, from 2K, and I definitely have some things to talk about.
Platform: Xbox One S.
Introduction We all remember the good old introduction to the first game. First of all, Marcus tells the story of Pandora, its history, and the vault.
Shortly after, a Skag creature is seen wandering around a billboard right next to a road, with just seconds later it being roadkilled by a bus, while Cage the Elephant's "Ain't no rest for the wicked" is playing. The bus contains no other than vault hunters, with one simple objective: find Pandora's secret vault. Throughout the introduction sequence, we get introduced to the four protagonists of the game.
Once introduced, you're able to choose what hunter you want to use. It's one of the best beginnings to a game I've experienced, and it looks even better now. Visuals/performance When it released 10 years ago, it had great graphics for its time, within its art style. I'm very happy that I'm able to write that it hasn't lost its touch, or look. Sure, making a cel shade game run in a higher resolution won't do THAT much of a difference, but it'll still look better. That's the case with Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition.
The game now runs in native 1080p on the Xbox One S, and native 4K on the Xbox One X. Though, there seems to be a dynamic resolution scaler in place to maintain a stable 60fps framerate, which is very odd when the Handsome Collection doesn't seem to have one, and a game like this shouldn't really have any problems running in full HD at 60fps. So, that's obviously a sign of lazy optimization on the developer's side. Still, the game does look great, and the drop in resolution isn't even noticable.
An increase in resolution and framerate isn't the only upgrade the game's gotten, as there has been some work done to the textures, character models, mini-map, as well as the implementation of the gold chest system, allowing the player to use Shift keys to get better weapons, a system that was introduced back when the second game released. I think the game looks a lot better, and the difference is pretty big; I instantly felt like the game stood out a lot more due to the higher resolution, resulting in every possible texture looking very clear, especially with the updated texture work.
It looks like every single texture has gotten a refreshed look, with even weapons looking more crisp than ever before. Seriously, they look great! The load times are super quick, so going from one place to another never bothered me. Character models have never looked this good, they're a lot more defined, too. It's safe to say that there's been more than just a small upgrade to the game, but that doesn't mean that it's free of bugs. There are a few, but they don't break the game, and they're quite simple, like getting stuck with the car, for example.
The 60fps framerate feels super fluid & smooth, and is probably the most important as well as major difference to the game since going from 30fps to 60fps in a shooter like Borderlands can be very different, in a positive way. I can't say that I ever noticed any dip within the framerate either, so the fluid gameplay is constantly there no matter what situation I'm in. Moving over to audio design, it's just as humoristic and awesome as before; funny yet great voice acting, simple but high-budget weapon and vehicle sounds, with the good old Borderlands music that we never forgot.
I honestly didn't expect this remaster to be this deep in terms of the actual upgrade, and I guess that's because I didn't think we actually needed it, but believe me, I was wrong. The blur effect while zooming in with a gun looks so good, and the general motion blur overall is gorgeous. Multiplayer I'm not 100% sure, but I remember the first game NOT having 4 player split-screen, and me always wanting it to have that as I come from a large family (also known as playing a lot of split-screen games with siblings as a kid). In my opinion, it was pretty much the only thing missing from the game, so I am extremely glad that the remaster of Borderlands DOES have 4 player split-screen! Online multiplayer in the form of 4 player co-op is also featured, and it has never felt this great to play!
In general, it works great, there's not really any lag, and there's no impact on the framerate. Roaming Pandora with up to three friends works perfectly fine, and is definitely the ultimate experience of the game. Apart from being able to play the game with three friends on the same console, there's not that much new in terms of multiplayer, but honestly, what more can they add?
I'm very confident when I say that this is one of the better multiplayer experiences to be had in gaming right now, at least when talking about remastered games. I was unfortunately not able to play the game in split-screen, but I'm pretty sure that at least 2-player gameplay still runs at 60fps. Gameplay The Borderlands games are all played in a first-person perspective, and deep down, they're all about leveling your character up, upgrading your skills in the skill system, shooting a LOT of enemies, looting a TON of stuff, finding an insane amount of weapons, driving vehicles, meeting crazy characters, and completing all kinds of weird & not weird missions. There's of course a lot more, but this sums it up rather well.
The game really hasn't lost its touch at all, it feels like I'm a kid playing with my brother again! The story surrounding the game is obviously exactly the same, so I won't really be going into that, but I can say that it's JUST as good as before. One of the stronger parts of Borderlands is definitely the story, not only cause it's filled with humor, but also cause it has a great cast of likable characters.
I think the awesome thing about this remaster is that it doesn't feel like a new game, it's literally the same game with better visuals, and some minor in-game changes. In addition to all this, the game contains every single DLC pack that ever released for the original game, character heads, even more weapons (I know, crazy, right?), and more loot than ever before! Every player gets 70 Shift keys, too!
Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition is one heck of a package, all in native 1080p and 4K at super smooth 60fps. I'm very glad that they didn't change the gameplay at all (apart from the mini-map and gold chests)! I love that if I want to import a character from the Xbox 360 version, I can do that! All in all Sometimes, we all feel like there's something missing in the gaming world, whether it's a new IP to bring a fresh look to a certain genre, or just a simple thing like a remastered version of an older game. Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition scratches that itch to an extreme extent. The GOTY edition is the ultimate Borderlands experience, offering a package that's filled with content and treats, especially with the higher resolution & framerate. The franchise remains as one of the best experiences to be had in the FPS/RPG genre, and not only does the GOTY edition of the first game look better, it also contains in-game changes to make it feel a bit modern! I've yet to have a bad time with the Borderlands franchise, and this remaster will certainly keep me busy until the next installment arrives. The game does look amazing, and its performance is top notch, but I really wanted 2K to put the extra time into optimizing it to not have a dynamic resolution scaler. Other than that, this is one of the best remastered games I've played, and I can't recommend it enough for every FPS/RPG fan out there.
Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition is available both digitally and physically (though only physically in the US & UK, I think) for the generous price of $30. Interested in buying it digitally? That can be done here: A review code was provided by 2K for review purposes. This review is written by Jesper Ingemansson, and is based on his honest opinion about the game.