Borderlands is one of those games that’s just begging for a full-on MMO treatment. I don’t know if we’ll ever get one, but hey at least China will. Essentially Diablo with guns, and showcasing enough character and class to deserve its own Telltale Games adventure series, Borderlands has been played and replayed by many of us here at MMORPG.com since the first game was released years ago. The Handsome Collection takes all of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, along with every last bit of DLC, and wraps it into one neat package for the PS4 and Xbox One. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a plan to bring the collection to the PC, but considering how cheap the two games often are on Steam, and how many people have already bought them both… it kind of makes sense.
There’s a precedent for bringing late last-gen games to the new consoles, and for hundreds of hours of content at the cost of $60, you’d find far lesser games to spend your money on. If you’ve somehow missed Borderlands 2 and the Pre-Sequel, and you want a really good deal on both games with their fantastic DLC, you’re the target market for The Handsome Collection. If you’ve already played hundreds of hours across both, or if you don’t like shooters on the console, then THC isn’t for you probably. Yes, it’s that cut and dry.
There are some issues with the ports to PS4 and XB1, but they’re not as pronounced as some might think. The framerate issues some other reviews mention are not nearly as noticeable as I was expecting. Yes, you don’t want frame drops in a shooter where every minute counts, but they’re not game-breaking nor should the momentary drops get you killed. Additionally, they were only ever really present for me during my playthrough of the Pre-Sequel. I’m not sure why that is, but the BL2 port seems to have fared a lot better with the conversion and subsequent re-mastering.
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection will always be at its best when played cooperatively, and THC allows this via up to 4-player split-screen just like the golden era of coop gaming from your childhood. The downside of this mode is that splitting even a big screen into four segments makes the action hard to follow, and Borderlands has a lot of action. As two-person splitscreen, it’s much better, but the definitive experience is still going to be over PSN or XBL.
If you’ve played Borderlands before, but not its sequel or the “Pre-Sequel”, you’ll want to start with the latter. The Pre-Sequel, so named as a joke because it takes place after the original game but before Borderlands 2, tells the story of Handsome Jack: how he came from truly pathetic origins to be the big bad and maniacal guy we love to hate in Borderlands 2. Personally, I actually enjoy the tone and playable characters more in the Pre-Sequel too. But that’s really a toss-up and subjective.
It cannot be overstated how much of a value The Handsome Collection is. You get essentially $100+ worth of content and DLCs for the price of the base game. It may not be on the PC, but if you’ve been hankering for a good RPG mixed with shooter than doesn’t leave you frustrated (Destiny…), this is what you’ve been waiting for. If, however, you’ve already played these games to death, you may want to just wait for the next entry in the series. You do have the option of bringing your save over to the Handsome Collection though, which is a nice bonus feature.
GAMEPLAY – 9: Absolutely pitch-perfect gunplay, fantastically addictive loot hunting, and raucous solo and coop firefights. Borderlands’ formula is a blast, and there’s a reason this series has sold so many millions of copies.
VISUALS AND SOUND – 7: They upped the ante on the AA, lighting, and particle effects, pretty much pushing BL2 and TPS to the height of what you can do on the aging Borderlands tech, but framerate issues on the Pre-Sequel and the overall aging quality of the aesthetic bring it down a bit. Still, Borderlands has a style absolutely all its own.
POLISH – 8: Minus the aforementioned framerate woes, you’re talking about the best possible edition of two of last generation’s best Action RPGs. They’re beautiful to look at and to play, with very few bugs holding them down.
LONGEVITY – 8: There are hundreds of hours of content here, and loads of replayability. Just ask the people who are still consistently playing Borderlands 1 years later. It really is Diablo with guns, and that’s a good thing. Still, shooting and looting can only take you so far on replays.
VALUE – 9: I know there are people who don’t like paying $60 for a game, but there’s so much content crammed in here that I think even the cheapest gamer would have trouble faulting the value proposition for The Handsome Collection.