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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Review



Normally I try to avoid comparisons to other games in my reviews, but the nature of the The Pre-Sequel demands otherwise. As some of you may recall from the Borderlands 2 review, one of the issues I had with the story was how it was connected to the original game. Specifically it told us that Handsome Jack had manipulated the Vault Hunters, through Angel, during the original Borderlands to get them to open the Vault, seeding Pandora with Eridium. Jack then claimed to have been the one to open the Vault, defeat the Destroyer trapped within, and used the Eridium to take control of Hyperion and the planet. I felt that this cheapened the story of the original game by implying that simply not doing its campaign would have left Pandora in better shape.

As you can imagine, this made me somewhat concerned about the story of The Pre-Sequel. Luckily the story actually seems to counter some of what we were told in Borderlands 2, and establishes a timeline similar to the one I had hoped for when first playing the previous game.

When we first meet Jack in The Pre-Sequel, he is just a Hyperion employee and is in charge of the Helios space station. He is ambitious for more though, and when he learns about another Vault on Elpis, Pandora's moon, he hires Vault Hunters to help him find it. Before anyone can start on this quest though, Helios is taken by the Lost Legion, which is the Dahl company's personal army. Before you can find the Vault you have to retake the station, which threatens the moon and Pandora with its Eye of Hyperion weapon.



For most of this, Jack actually does come off as a reasonably nice guy, trying to do the right thing, but also wanting it to turn out right for him. As the story plays out we do find him crossing lines, although it is primarily his response to betrayals, and perceived betrayals, that push him past redemption. Essentially, Jack is a hero that can still be redeemed, but Handsome Jack is an evil and insane narcissist that actual heroes must deal with.

At least that is how Jack is mostly portrayed. As I played there were several notes in the game that suggested Jack has always been somewhat evil, and may indeed be manipulating everyone. There is more to suggest that what I described above is true than this possibility, though. Either it is just the knowledge that he becomes Handsome Jack that gives me a bias interpretation of those notes, or at one point the story was going to make him out like that, but was later changed.



For anyone hoping for Angel to return, sadly she is barely present. There is a picture of her on Jack's desk, but besides reports on each of the new Vault Hunters, you do not encounter her.

I should probably mention that the story is actually being told by Athena, the character from the Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC for Borderlands and one of the new Vault Hunters. She has been captured by the original Vault Hunters and is now answering questions, before Lilith decides what is to happen to her. This has only a minor bearing on the gameplay, though at times you will hear Athena, Lilith, Brick, and Mordecai talking in the present. These moments are often amusing, so pay attention to them.

One thing that eventually came to stand out to me was the accents. Almost everyone in the game has a thick English or English-like accent. On its own that is fine (and even understandable, as the game was developed by 2K Australia), but some of the accents are pushed to being ridiculous caricatures. I regularly speak with people with English, Irish, Australian, and New Zealand accents, and never have I heard them talk anything like these characters. I also found it odd how the bandit-equivalent enemies were just called Scavs by everyone. Why not just keep calling them bandits? It is not like anyone would get confused.

I chose to play as Claptrap for the review and, being a little robot that characters are already familiar with, special dialogue is used at times. For example, Jack comments on how he would leave a Claptrap to do something on the Helios, but being that the robot is the Vault Hunter that would not work too well. While the other characters may also have special dialogue associated with them, I suspect Claptrap has more than the others.


One last thing I want to mention is that many characters reference the Crackening, but it is never actually made clear what this is. My best guess is that this is referring to the opening of the Vault in Borderlands, though nothing in that game was suggestive of such a major event. It may have something to do with the Vault on Elpis instead, but again, it is not explained.

The story of The Pre-Sequel is essentially what I wanted to be the story between the two other games, which definitely makes me happy. It does have some issues where things are not made clear or explained, but nothing too serious. While I did like it, it is not a very strong story, but maybe half a notch lower than the others. It is still a good story, but there are some points that could use some touching up.

  1. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Review - Introduction
  2. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Review - Graphics
  3. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Review - Story
  4. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Review - Gameplay
  5. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Review - Conclusion
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