While the Switch hasn’t always offered much choice when it comes to loot-based first-person shooters, that recently changed with the release of 2K’s Borderlands Legendary Collection. Included in the collection are three separate titles: Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, each of which are fantastic in their own right.
Borderlands was originally released all the way back in 2009 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, MacOS, and even Android via the Nvidia Shield TV. An enhanced Game Of The Year edition was eventually ported to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One offering quality of life improvements that wouldn’t show up until later in the franchise, along with upgraded visuals and an increased framerate. This is the version included for the Switch’s Legendary Collection, however the resolution is (a still very handsome) 1080p with the framerate locked at 30FPS in lieu of the 4K / 60FPS experience you’ll receive on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. This is a small compromise but it’s worth it considering how well all three of these games run on the Switch.
Story-wise, the game remains the exact same as its original release, sending you to the planet of Pandora as a “Vault Hunter” – one of four individuals that each possess unique upgradeable skills and favour certain weapon types. Admittedly, it’s a bit thin on narrative but the plot has never been the main attraction of this series. Nay, it’s the 17,750,000 different firearms you can find during the course of your adventure. It has been speculated that this is greater than the number of unique guns in every other videogame released before it combined. While I have no idea who would want to do the arithmetic on all that, I’d be willing to believe it.
At the time of its original release over a decade ago, I remember this number absolutely blowing my mind. Granted, this number includes many permutations of weapons that are incredibly similar, but it’s still a baffling amount of loot to collect. An arsenal that would get Burt Gummer’s blood pumping in conjunction with the excellent multiplayer vastly extends the title’s replayability, as does the inclusion of all the original DLC. Visually, the first title in the series holds up remarkably well on the Switch, with the chunky, cel-shaded aesthetic looking exceptionally crisp even to this day.
Borderlands 2 was originally released in 2012 for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and OS X before eventually finding its way to the PlayStation Vita and Linux. The sequel fixes nothing that isn’t broken (save for the aforementioned quality of life improvements replacing a basic compass with a minimap, etc) and switches things up, giving 4 new playable characters with all-new abilities with the included DLC upping the total count to 6. The gun-generating system used by it’s predecessor has been improved, further increasing the total number of guns available to the player but more importantly adding even more variety to the guns you’ll find.
The story in Borderlands 2 takes place five years after the end of the original game, with the planet Pandora awash in a new material known as Eridium. Handsome Jack, the president of the Hyperion Corperation from the previous game, has obtained a monopoly on this new resource and has used it to establish his rule over the planet. Many familiar faces from the original Borderlands return once again as NPCs, including all four original playable characters who each play a pivotal in the events that unfold.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, the newest game in this collection, is still almost six years old. It still feels fresh, however, as it adds in some interesting new gameplay elements (including some fun zero gravity mechanics) and to top it off still runs just as splendidly as the other two titles included. There is the inclusion of a new weapon type (lasers, which are fun) and a new type of elemental damage that lets you freeze your enemies and shatter them with a melee attack (also fun). The four playable characters in this outing have all shown up elsewhere in the franchise as NPCs (or boss characters) and all have their own unique feel, with two more characters being available as DLC once again (which was also included in the version I played). Although named in a somewhat unconventional matter, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel does indeed take place between the events of the original and the sequel, and expands on much of the backstory regarding Handsome Jack’s rise to power.
In all, Borderlands Legendary Collection is excellent value and is a much welcomed addition to the Switch’s library. I had a blast replaying through each of these titles, and having them available in a truly portable form made sneaking in the short quest while on the go a breeze. Previously, the only way you could play this franchise on the go was the rather abysmal Borderlands 2 port for PlayStation Vita which chugged along at 20FPS and only allowed for 2 player co-op, among other shortcomings. This collection makes good on the missteps of the Vita port and then some so if you were one of the unlucky souls that played that version, fear not – it’s all here and it plays great. With that being said, if you opt for the e-shop version of this title you’re going to want a decently sized microSD card as having all three installed on the system at once takes up a substantial amount of storage space.
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