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Borderlands Game of the Year Edition Review: I’m dancing!

Whether you love Destiny, The Division or even Anthem, you really have Borderlands to thank for the good ol’ looter shooter. On the eve of more news on Borderlands 3, 2K and Gearbox have done their damndest to rekindle your interest in the franchise with ultra HD textures for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 2 alongside a fancy new release called Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition. Since we’ve reviewed the former titles — alone and bundled together as The Handsome Collection — before, we’re here to talk about the latter.

The original Borderlands is set in the barren world of Pandora, where children grow up learning of a fabled vault of extraterrestrial origins filled to the brim with riches and power. Playing as one of four Vault Hunters, you set off on a quest to claim the prizes for yourselves, fighting off bandits, mega-rich corporations and Pandora’s wildlife along the way. As the player, you can choose to go Pandora alone or team up with three other players; variations on the latter are definitely preferred as lone wolves will find the environments, originally designed in 2009, quite sparse, brown and samey.

The Vault Hunters defined the looter shooter’s classes, offering four unique characters with their own special ability. The Soldier makes use of an automated turret, the Hunter an aggressive pet bird of prey, the Siren can turn invisible and gains speed and the Berserker gains damage-resistance while essentially in Hulk mode. Turning in quests and dispatching earns XP, which in turn are used to populate various skill trees as you level up.Not only can you apply points to specialise your unique ability, but dabble in other professions; the Soldier can become the medic by shooting allies and restoring health in the process, as an example. Weapon proficiencies are also in the mix, gaining their own unique type of XP as you use a class of weapon.

Whereas players of Destiny 2 — and more on-the-nose, Anthem — might have to grind for hours for a decent god-roll weapon (or a high-level drop at all), Borderlands excels by constantly throwing loot at a player’s face. Even better, a decent compare feature makes it easy to assess what you’ve picked up and whether or not you want to keep it. And that’s about the highest compliment I can give the game, really.

I’d be lying if I said Borderlands was for me; I’m partial to its cel-shaded presentation but I don’t align with its humour at all. In getting through Borderlands: GOTY Edition‘s tutorials, I was just about ready to throw my laptop out a window after having to suffer through Claptrap’s, “look at me! I’m dancing! I’m dancing!” or “I’m over here!” numerous times. I also dislike the way in which Borderlands inundates you with menu text to issue and prep you for new missions; thankfully, this specific method of delivery has been corrected with Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel.

I refreshed myself with Borderlands: GOTY Edition on my Surface Book 2, and while it can run things fairly well, I didn’t get the chance to see how things would look in glorious 4K. I did notice that textures had a nasty habit of popping from low- into high-res all around me, but since my rig’s only a little more powerful than a potato, I’m not sure if I’m ready to fault Gearbox and 2K for that. Moreover, we only had the opportunity to play in single-player, so I’m not sure if Borderlands‘ original issue of loot sharing has been corrected or not; previously, it relied on a system of honesty in which players in co-op were basically free to screw others over by taking everything. A new mini-map is a godsend; I used it a bunch.

Despite some design decisions that may be seen as missteps in 2019, Borderlands has aged remarkably well (and in some cases, reminds current developers that they need to reassess how they’ve tackled the looter shooter). While we wait for Borderlands 3Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition is a worthy inclusion to your game library (especially if you love shooting baddies and seeing numbers pop up around them in the process). That said, if you’ve already own Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel or The Handsome Collection you might just want to jump onto those and take advantage of the free HD textures (or take advantage of this free upgrade if you own Borderlands on PC.) However you jump back in, tell Claptrap to shut up for me.


7.5 out of 10

The good

  • So, so much loot.
  • The Granddaddy of the looter shooter holds up today (for the most part).
  • Amazing cel-shaded designs and unique characters.
  • Great in co-op.

The bad

  • Polarising humour.
  • Sparse, brown environments.
  • Co-op loot stealing.
  • Lots of text when it comes to quests.


Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition was reviewed using review code on Windows PC via Steam, as provided by the publisher, alongside previous experience with Borderlands on Xbox 360.Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist nearing twenty (TWENTY!?!) years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.