[Review] Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – Nintendo Switch

Written by Kevin Orme
  • Developer: Gearbox Games
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Release Date: 28/05/2020
  • Price: £34.99 / $39.99
  • Review code provided by 2K Games

Introducing: Borderlands Handsome Collection Switch Review

I have played an exorbitant amount of Borderlands in my life. I started with Borderlands 2 when it originally released an age ago for the Xbox 360. Since that fateful day, I can honestly say that my combined play time for both Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is well past the two-hundred hour mark, so I can tell you now that this is certainly a game worth your time. But there’s something wonderful about this series that keeps me thinking about these games after all these years.

Well, enough about my history with Borderlands. So to quote one of the greatest characters to ever be introduced in all four of these games: “You don’t wanna hear about that, Vault Hunter! You wanna hear about LOOT! AND PECS! AND EXPLOSIONS!” Let’s ride!

A Campaign of Carnage

If somehow you have made it all these years without playing either of the games in the Borderlands Handsome Collection, let’s explain what exactly you’re doing here: in both games you play as one of six “Vault Hunters,” people who have come to the distant planet of Pandora to find legendary locations called “Vaults” that are rumored to contain incredible treasures beyond your wildest imagination. in Borderlands 2, you are immediately sabotaged by the game’s main antagonist: Handsome Jack. You are then given the great assignment of killing literally anything that moves and to collect as much insane loot as you can on your way to beat the ever-loving snot out of Jack.

For The Pre-Sequel, which takes place between the events of Borderlands 1 and 2, you play as one of six additional Vault Hunters who end up being key players in Borderlands 2 (which, if you ask me, is SUPER COOL and I love how well it works). In this one, you are tasked with helping Handsome Jack become the hero he always hoped to be. I wonder how THAT one ends?

Each game focuses more on the insane loot you can get as well as the sheer insane amount of unique guns. Both games are packed to the brim with clever writing, memorable characters, and some amazing monsters and unique bosses. This game has a lot going for a lot of people. But is it worth buying again after all these years? I mean, it’s pretty likely that you already have a few copies of this game lying around if you’ve played this before. It feels like this game is ALWAYS on sale. So why drop another small chunk of change on this collection?

Straight Shootin’

Borderlands as a series isn’t terribly complex at face value. Really, if you have ever played a first-person shooter in the last twenty-plus years you shouldn’t have any problems with how Borderlands works in terms of controlling it. The controls work impressively well on this port, which is pretty wonderful. There is also the new addition of gyro controls which work fairly well. But, considering I’ve played as much of this game as I have without gyro control, they always felt like more than I wanted to deal with. It’s not that gyro controls are inherently bad, it’s just not something I decided I wanted to use. It’s certainly worth a try, especially because there are some very nice customization options for sensitivity.

I will say that like with most sequels in a series the controls and mechanics get better with every iteration. This is certainly the case with the Pre-Sequel, where the additions of the O2 kits gave players a double jump and ground slam that fundamentally change combat. Now, instead of working on distance between you and your foes, you get an entirely new option that not only deals damage, but can also send a much needed shockwave to get people away from you. It also saves ammo (not that there’s any shortage, mind you. It’s literally EVERYWHERE). There’s enough that keeps things fresh in these two games to keep you coming back for more. Between hunting for Legendary loot or playing with friends to pass the time, you’ll keep coming back for more.

Now, something you need to know when it comes to these games is that these were designed to be played with friends. When your health runs out your character goes into something called a “Last Stand” – a state where a timer begins and you have that long to kill an enemy to revive yourself with a small amount of health. In multiplayer, a friend can come to your rescue and revive you. Some characters also have skills and bonuses built around having a friend nearby. The Baroness’s Contracts and Claptrap’s High Five come to mind. The games are BUILT for multiplayer. I will also recommend that when you play with friends that you try as hard as you can to not use the local multiplayer on the same screen. See, Borderlands is an information heavy game where seeing the stats on a new item is a crucial part of the experience. When you play split-screen multiplayer the screen becomes WAY too overloaded. Stick to the online multiplayer. It runs pretty well and you can actually see what’s going on.

The Shiniest Meat Bicycle

When you boot up Borderlands, literally ANY of the games in the series, you know exactly what it’s going to look like. The art style, for those of you not in the know, is like playing through a heavily inked comic book. Everything is stylized to the max, and it really works well. This game looks great given that it originally came out in the early 2010s! Given, the games have been remastered and upgraded to run on current-gen consoles, but these games look great on the Switch.

I was actually super impressed to see that not only was the game running as well as I remember, but actually felt like it was running better than it did way back then. I mean, duh, the game came out eight years ago, I would hope it ran at least a little bit better than it did back then. The music is as great as it ever was with its bass drops and wub-wubs. The game is literally as great as it ever was and I mean that in the best kind of way. I LOVE Borderlands and I feel like putting it on the Switch was actually one of the smartest things 2K could have done.

Digistructing the Game

This game runs really well. Like, really well. Everything is smooth, enjoyable, and maybe it’s just me, but I feel like it might have been made just a bit more user friendly. There is something wonderful about being able to push the power button to stop playing the game whenever you want to. This might actually be the number one reason I ask you to buy this game. Technically, the game is great! I didn’t experience any flavor of bug in my 20+ hours of trying both games on the collection. The gyro controls are fine, but not entirely necessary (for me at least).

Docked mode works a little bit better with load times and textures loading in. Remember also that this game, while a touch prettier than its original release, still functions like it used to. I mean that when you respawn some of the textures take a few seconds to load in. It’s nothing game-breaking, but just something to be aware of. Personally, I love playing this game in Tabletop mode with a Pro Controller as the Joy-Con just always feel a bit small in my hands for what I want to do with this game. But, to each their own!

Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked

If you haven’t played Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel by this point in your life, this is the perfect time to do it. With the game being in its best shape on a console that really makes it the most convenient to play, this is a slam dunk on just about everything. The price tag is a lot higher than I thought it would be, especially where the day before this game released, 2K decided to just GIVE THE DANG THING AWAY FOR FREE ON PC. Forty bucks for two games that are seemingly constantly on sale, fifteen bucks new on other consoles or free for PC, is frustrating, but the gameplay is tight and the story is wonderful. This is a great time.

Pros

  • Solid gameplay
  • Killer story
  • Insane amount of content
  • Super convenient to have this on the go

Cons

  • $40 bucks for a game that’s $15 bucks on any other console is frustrating.
  • Textures can take some time to load in when you respawn
  • Can get a touch tedious with backtracking.

Verdict

The Handsome Collection is a shining example of a solid port on the Switch and I for one am glad that I get to see (and hear) Mr Torgue more often in my life.

4.5/5

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