Thursday, 10 April 2014

Borderlands the Pre Sequel announced



Gearbox has been in the doghouse recently over it's mishandling of the Aliens: Colonial Marines franchise and prior to that the launch of Duke Nukem Forever.  Both games failed to light up the tills on release and both received scathing reviews for their general lack of content and ultimately suffering from their own hype.

Colonial Marines was something that could have been hugely popular had it been the Aliens game fans had been promised.  People expected to be able to move around the iconic colony as part of a cooperative team, motion trackers bleeping as dynamically generated Xenomorphs moved in from multiple directions.  Instead players got a lacklustre, by the numbers shooter replete with broken AI and poor shooting mechanics.  Most criminally of all the game focused a majority of it's combat on fighting human enemies.

Duke Nukem was a casualty of it's own success, it occupied a space in shooter history when first person shooters where about the jokes, big guns and crazy enemies.  A modern Duke just wasn't going to work when all of his best lines had been used before and other games like Bulletstorm and Serious Sam had pretty much nailed the crazy shooter market.  Putting aside the twelve year delay, the game hardly got any support from Gearbox and was setup to fail, only being released to avoid becoming the next developer to never release Duke but also to cash grab on unsuspecting fans who thought highly of Gearbox as a company who only produced quality shooter titles.

It's clear that Gearbox only really care about their own franchises and IP, Borderlands is their baby and they make the best possible product they can with the tools they are given.  Borderlands and it's sequel are great games with sharp writing, memorable monsters and massive amounts of replayability for the hardcore loot hunter out there.  Yesterdays reveal of the latest entry in the series by 2K Australia in the form of Borderlands the Pre Sequel was something of a swerve.

From what we know the game is set between the two main games and focuses on Handsome Jack's rise to power in the Hyperion corporation.  To do this he has recruited four warriors to accomplish his goals on both Pandora's moon and the massive Hyperion station in orbit over the planet.  The four characters are all familiar to fans of the series with:

Athena - The Crimson Lance commando and short term ally of the original Vault Hunters on Pandora.  Presumably she was either working for Jack from the start or signs up with him after General Knoxx is brought down.  She uses a Kinetic Aspis shield which can absorb damage and be thrown at enemies a la Captain America.

Wilhelm - The supposedly powerful cyborg who you fight in Borderlands 2 and kill rather easily is the second character seen, although here he is more human.  Apparently as you level him up and unlock more skills he becomes more and more cybernetic to match his eventual form in Borderlands 2.  I guess his working with Jack was something of a loyalty thing, maybe he was promised a lot by Jack.

The Sheriff/Nisha - The cruel overlord of Lynchwood and girlfriend to Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2 is the third character.  Presumably she will be the gunslinger of the group specialising in revolvers and other ranged combat abilities.  She has yet to be shown in game at this early stage but it's safe to say she will be the most evil of the group.  Well evil may not be the right term, but I see her being the most willing to comply with Jack's schemes.

Fragtrap - The last trap of his kind and the one seen in the beginning of Borderlands 2 he will be the odd ball of the group.  Likely the best the most morally ambiguous of the group and also the most comedic, little is know about he will work with the other characters.

Outside of this the game will focus heavily on combat in low gravity environments allowing players to jump higher and make massive leaps.  Oxygen is a key resource which needs to be harvested from dead foes and item boxes to stopped yourself from suffocating on the moon.  You also have a jetpack that uses blasts of oxygen to propel you but has the downside of using your air more rapidly, but it can be used to smash the ground around you.

A new element has been added in the form of cryo which allows you to freeze enemies solid before smashing them into pieces.  Other little tricks can be things like shooting enemy helmets off their heads and watching them choke to death on the moon and using explosives to blast people off the surface into deep space.  Another new weapon type has been added in the form of the laser which can fire continuous streams of energy to Star Wars like blaster bolts.

Obviously there is more to this to be revealed and more Borderlands isn't a bad thing by any means.  It's scheduled to be released this autumn on the PS3, 360 and PC which will upset some console users who may have since traded in their old consoles for the new shiny versions but Gearbox are adamant that a majority of their fans are on older gen hardware, which isn't shocking when you consider that all of their fans are on older hardware due to a lack of next gen Borderlands games on the PS4 and Xbone.

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