Borderlands: The Handsome Collection bundles together Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre Sequel in one handy collection for the PS4. Nothing much has changed with either game apart from improved textures and resolution, but they really didn’t need to change anything anyway. Both games were already excellent.
The first thing I noticed when booting up the game was the massive amount of content included in the collection. Not only are you getting two full games which are huge to begin with, you also get all of the released DLC packs which adds hours to the game. I’m not a big fan of most re-releases as it can feel like a cheap way to make easy money, but with The Handsome Collection there is definite value for money and it feels like so much more than an attempt at making a quick buck. One of the most fun features in both games is the loot system. With a massive amount of weapons and different levels of rarity to each weapon, finding loot in Borderlands is one of my favourite features and I got genuinely excited when I found my first very rare weapon and began laying waste to my enemies.
In addition to the loot system, both games actually feature fun stories and I never felt bored working my way through the numerous side quests on my way to completing the main story. In Borderlands 2, with a cast of hilarious and charming characters, you are a vault hunter who gets wrapped up in a plot to take down the villainous Handsome Jack. In The Pre Sequel, we learn more about Jack and why he is the way he is in Borderlands 2. The story is very well written and is a fascinating tale, especially if you are already familiar with the characters from the previous games. Both games feature an excellent mixture of FPS and RPG elements, which make for a really strong character development system. With a total of twelve characters across both games, all of whom allow you to play the games with different classes and combat styles, you can go in all guns blazing with one character or play the game in a more stealthy way using another.
There is a lot of depth to be found and a lot of alternative ways to play in addition to this, allowing you to play the game you want. The skill tree also allows you to further dictate how you play. The skill tree system is easy to pick up for beginners and you can easily upgrade your character in order to strengthen them, and as you learn more about the game you will be able to take advantage and upgrade your character in more useful ways.
In addition to the skill tree system, you also earn ‘Badass tokens’ by completing challenges in the games and upping your ‘Badass rank’. In turn, these tokens can be used to purchase improvements such as gun damage, maximum health, and grenade damage, with a total of fourteen stats that can be improved. This allows you to strengthen your character further than the usual upgrades which you receive each time you level up. Both games feature beautifully designed worlds. In Borderlands 2 your adventures happen in Pandora and in The Pre Sequel you get to explore the moon. These different locations make the games feel different enough so you don’t feel like you’re playing the same game over and over; this is also in some respect due to the low gravity mechanics in The Pre Sequel.
The art style in Borderlands is gorgeous and it really helps to separate it from other FPS games, making it feel like a unique experience in a cartoon-ish world as opposed to the more realistic and gritty environments you face in other games. As always, Borderlands is a better experience if played in co-op, with the option to play either online or locally in split screen. It is still a fantastic single player experience, though, which will keep you entertained for many hours. One thing that would have improved the collection would have been the inclusion of the original Borderlands game. It seems like a strange choice not to include the first instalment and I would love to have the full collection on the PS4 rather than booting up the PS3 just to play the first game.
I didn’t have many issues with the game but one thing that stood out was the frame rate. This was most prevalent in both games when playing co-op. Borderlands 2, however, runs perfectly in single player with no frame rate issues and The Pre Sequel has its occasional hiccups but for the most part runs smoothly. The only other minor annoyance is that you can’t switch between the games; you have to close the game and re-open it in order to change.
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is an excellent package featuring hundreds of hours of content and allowing you to revisit two excellent games from the previous generation. The original game not being included is disappointing but it isn’t a deal breaker, and the collection is still fantastic value for money and a worthy addition to any PS4 library.