‘Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition’ Review


Gearbox's classic looter-shooter returns, with new content and plenty of fixes!

Recently, Gearbox, the studio behind games like Battleborn and the Borderlands series has gone from radio silence to absolute insanity. Within the span of two weeks, the studio has teased, announced, and showed gameplay for the next main series title in the Borderlands franchise, Borderlands 3.

But, on the same day of Borderlands 3’s announcement, Gearbox announced an unexpected title: Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition!

The title in question is a remastered port of the original Borderlands game for the current console generation, with a free update release for players who owned the game on Steam. Not only did the remaster promise quality of life changes, improved graphics, and plenty of bug fixes, but it even boasted new content, for a game released ten years ago!

But is the remastered re-release of the classic looter-shooter worth picking up? After a week of hands-on time with the game, I can definitively say yes.

First and foremost, by far the biggest change to the original Borderlands that had fans clamoring for the remaster was the addition of some quality of life changes. One of the biggest problems with the original game was its field of view, or FOV, which was locked at 70 on all versions of the game. What this meant was that the screen displayed much less on screen than most other shooters at the time. A majority of other shooters made around the same time, for reference, tended to have an FOV of 90 at the bare minimum, with options to change it as seen fit.

Borderlands, however, did not have this option. Even on PC, the only way to change the terrible FOV was to go directly into the game’s code, access the commands section that binds actions to certain keys, then manually change the FOV every single time you play the game. This includes resetting the changed FOV every time you enter or exit the inventory or in-game vendors, enter or exit vehicles, go between levels, enter a cutscene, or respawn after death.

Needless to say, the feature was a massive issue for most people who were interested in the game and continues to be a large part of why even the biggest fans of the series avoid the first game.

Thus, when one of the first major changes Gearbox announced for the remaster was an added FOV adjuster in the options menu, fans rejoiced, as they finally could play the first Borderlands without feeling like they were pressing their face to the screen at all times. Even better, this slider was added across all versions of the game, meaning even PS4 and Xbox One players could enjoy the added screen space.

Other useful changes included the addition of Borderlands 2‘s mini-map, which made navigating Borderlands‘ world much easier, some reduced loading times between areas of the game, and the total overhaul to the appearance of vendors and the inventory, streamlining and simplifying the process of swapping out equipment and purchasing new gear.

The graphical improvements, while minor, do contribute to making the experience much more enjoyable. Every texture and object in the game was updated to be more defined than before, making the blurry and, frankly, ugly textures of the first game pop in a way never before seen.

Much more impressive, and, in my opinion, important, are the myriad of bug fixes that the remaster boasts. Several weapons in the game were glitched out of existence, preventing the player from ever obtaining them in their intended state, or, otherwise, keeping the player from utilizing their unique effects.

Some game breaking bugs were also given the boot, and, as near as the community can tell, never again will dozens of hours of time be lost to data corruption from something as simple as having too much money in-game.

Finally, and most surprisingly of all, was the addition of six brand new weapons to obtain, brand new customization options for each of the characters, and a total overhaul to the final boss fight. No spoilers will be given here, but this much is certain: what once was a boring slog of a battle can now be definitively called a final boss.

Otherwise, the game remains largely unaltered. The first chapter in the Borderlands series retains its core design, allowing the player to collect and use a variety of insanely powerful, randomly generated weapons as they explore the world of Pandora, leveling up and becoming a more powerful mercenary on their quest to find the Vault. Dozens of hours worth of content are available in the base game, but four additional add-on packs give even more quests, weapons, and experiences to the player.

However, this being said, this means it also retains its core design flaws. The first Borderlands has no real endgame to speak of: if you enjoy running around and opening up loot chests all day, then you’re ready for what Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition holds in store for you once you complete the main campaign. Because of the way the loot system is designed, finding whatever it is you want or need is far from guaranteed. The music is a bit bland, and, while the game’s textures were updated, much of the levels in the game still look painfully similar.

Still, Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition offers an experience unlike any other and is definitely a worthwhile purchase for anyone looking to see how the Borderlands series got started or who may be interested in getting into the series for the first time.

Honestly, $30 for all the content that is offered within this respectably massive game is a bargain, and with Borderlands 3 on the horizon, we’ll need all the Vault Hunters we can get.