Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!
Hands-On Preview
"I had a blast playing through the 20-minute demo, so it's safe to say that Borderlands veterans will find plenty to love about this newest entry."

If you've played any Borderlands before, you know what to expect in the Pre-Sequel! (the exclamation mark is part of the title, I'm not just really excited). While the Pre-Sequel! still has the same solid shooting, countless stockpiles of guns, and good humour, it does bring with it a new cast of characters. I was able to select any of the game's four protagonists in the demo I played, and I took on the role of 'The Lawbringer,' Nisha.

The demo started all players at a fairly high level, so I was able to distribute a couple of dozen skill points into Nisha's trees. "Order" is about collecting and maintaining various buffs, "Fan the Hammer" specialises in increasing damage and dual-wielding, and "Riflewoman" boosts reloading speed and provides other rifle-related utility. When activated, her primary skill 'Showdown' dramatically increases damage and auto-targets nearby enemies. The loud bangs as I took down foe after foe were truly satisfying.

If you've kept up with information on this entry in the Borderlands series at all, then you'll likely know low-gravity areas will be common. The entire demo I played was low-grav, so I could leap up huge piles of debris and cross great gaps. The floaty-feeling as you jump is fun, but waiting to land again after missing your target is tiring. Your enjoyment of the lack of gravity will be based on your platforming skills.

A series of short objectives were my goal during the demo. I had to infiltrate a base, cross piles of space junk, then sabotage various equipment on the inside. It all sounds fancy and varied, but it really surmounted to shooting lots of bad guys, which is exactly what we would want and expect from Borderlands. Foes tended to arrive in small groups and would leap around while taking shots at me, though the AI was not particularly intelligent and sneaking up on them was easy. There will be a proper storyline in the final release, but I didn't get to experience any of it during the demo.

As I travelled through each interior location, there were plenty of chests and lockers from which to loot cash, weapons and ammo. I grabbed a handful of different guns as I went: pistols, rifles, machine guns and shotguns were common. One particularly interesting weapon fired a large, electrically charged projectile each time I used up an ammo clip. And, as in past games, elemental and other varied ammo types make a return.

The graphics are excellent, and the cel-shading gorgeous. The space-base environment I traversed wasn't particularly varied in scenery, but there were plenty of details in the control consoles, engines and piping that I ran by. Enemy models were disappointingly similar, and I found it difficult to tell them apart unless I highlighted them to see their names.

The game controls amicably for the most part, though the layout was not entirely intuitive in the demo. Sprinting by pressing in the left analogue stick felt awkward, for example, though I've never played Borderlands on a gamepad before. For those of you with more experience on consoles, it likely won't be a problem. I did, unfortunately, manage to end up stuck in a hole towards the end of the demo and I physically could not jump out of it. I had to sit and wait while my teammate mopped up the final objectives. With the game's release so close, hopefully issues like these will be quickly ironed out in a patch.

The full Pre-Sequel! game will bring far more with it than I experienced today: a storyline, humorous dialogue, levelling-up, and more guns that you can count. I had a blast playing through the 20-minute demo, so it's safe to say that Borderlands veterans will find plenty to love about this newest entry. If you've played any other games in the series and it didn't click with you, then the Pre-Sequel! isn't going to change your mind. But with only a little over a week to go, the wait won't be long.


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