After trying to conceive different ways to approach and start this review, I think I might as well be better off admitting and saying that with all the strength in the world I was unable to will myself to finish this game.
Borderlands is traditionally a few fun game which is well-paced and has a lot of good things about it. The Pre-Sequel isn’t exactly that…
What really intrigued me about the game initially aside from that it takes place before 2 is how it takes place on Pandora’s moon. This means that when you jump, you jump like you would on Earth’s moon, for example. Not only this, but the introduced of Oz Kits to stop you from dying without a helmet acts like a slowly counting down timer that you have to be wary of when moving around areas outside that don’t have oxygen, by opening oxygen tanks around the game round or picking up cannisters from fallen enemies.
The concept of a game in the series taking place on the moon is such an innovative and cool idea to take the games in the next direction. Unfortunately, Pre-Sequel’s enjoyment only lasts for around a few hours before it starts to become unbearable.
Sure, it’s a Borderlands game so its actual meat and core is pretty great! The guns are fun to play around and experiment with and there’s lots of different options for elemental damage such as fire, electricity, explosive and the newly introduced cryogenic. There’s also laser guns now, as you can’t have a space-themed videogame without any laser guns in sight. But The issue is that the Pre-Sequel doesn’t feel like a standalone game. It’s more akin to basically just being a re-skinned Borderlands 2.
Borderlands 2 is absolutely fantastic. Maybe not as good as 3 in my opinion but they’re both in that 8 and 9 out of 10 range when it comes to my review scores. So that begs the question, if Borderlands 2 is so good, why is Pre-Sequel so bad?
The level design is not very good. At the beginning of the game I found myself constantly getting lost and confused and irritated when driving around in the Moon Zoomy (which is just a renamed Catch-A-Ride) and I quite frequently found myself dying and falling off edges even when going at the lowest speeds to try and avoid such deaths. Having the double-jump from the Oz Kits is really fun and a change from previous entries, yet its mobility still doesn’t feel like enough when its level design is incredibly tedious, fetch quests feel like they take years and the vast open spaces with plenty of pits to unnecessarily die from makes it increasingly less enjoyable every time. I’m pretty sure I died more times to environmental hazards in the first few hours of playing Pre-Sequel than I did in my entire playthrough of Borderlands 2.
If you look at other games in the franchise, the pacing is great. It’s not too slow or not too rushed and there’s enough time to digest the story and the gameplay before you move onto the next part. In the Pre-Sequel, the pace is like a slug going from London to Manchester. It’s not like the story is bad or anything, I was quite invested in seeing how Jack becomes the person that he is in Borderlands 2, but the pacing of said story is incredibly slow and boring and there were multiple times where I just had to stop playing because I just could not get through it at all.
Now, the pacing wouldn’t be too bad if there wasn’t also the issue of level-scaling. Pre-Sequel’s level scaling is ridiculously punishing. You can be a level below a boss or an enemy and get killed by them easily. In fact, I found myself having to do every single “optional” sidequest just so that my level would be high enough to progress through the story, meaning that the side quests aren’t even optional, they’re required to get through the game, which makes the pacing even more agonising. As soon as I’d get interested in a part of the game, there’d be a screeching halt as I grind away at side missions so my level is high enough to not be murked by an enemy or boss that was *only* one or two levels above me.
Something feels like it’s missing from this game. It doesn’t live up to the standard of Borderlands 2 and isn’t as enjoyable as Borderlands 3. The quality takes a complete and very visible nosedive in this game in almost every area. I think the game looks great, just like every other game in the franchise. But even the new concepts and ideas explored in this entry can’t save what is easily the most agonising and painful experience out of all the games released so far.
I’m fully aware that some people enjoy Pre-Sequel and I’m happy for them. To me, it’s an entirely skippable game surrounded by fantastic other games that it was unable to amount to the quality of.
I think the best way to sum up The Pre-Sequel would be: “Great idea, bad execution”.