I remember seeing teaser footage of Borderlands nearly two years back, and it looked very different then: realistic visuals heading in a direction to compete with Far Cry 2 and some of the other sexiest shooters out there. But, somewhere along the line, the folks over at Gearbox and 2K Games decided that the world didn’t need another shooter with bleeding-edge visuals, and changed their approach. The result is an open-ended, single- and multiplayer first-person shooter with attitude-packed, stylised illustrative visuals. From the moment you see the stylish intro with No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant playing over the credits, you’ll know what kind of world you’re about to enter.
After this intro, you are given the chance to choose which of the four characters you’d like to play: The Assassin, the Siren, the Soldier, or Brick (a muscle-bound berserker). Each character favours a particular weapon and has a unique set of skills it can upgrade as it progresses through the game. The Assassin has Bloodwing, a hawk, which he can send out to kill enemies and bring him the items they drop, and he’s got the steadiest hand when it comes to using sniper rifles. The Siren learns the ability to Phasewalk, which increases her movement speed and makes her temporarily immune to damage. She’s most at home using SMG type weapons. The Soldier can learn the ability to construct a turret which will automatically attack enemies, and he’s highly proficient with high-damage, rapid-fire machine guns. Brick is the hard-hitting berserker of the crew. He’s at his best when using shotguns and explosives – anything that doesn’t require too much accuracy – and he can learn the ability to enter a Berserker Rage mode, which makes him temporarily resistant to damage and powers up his fists immensely.
Once you’ve chosen your character, you’re dumped into the world of Pandora: a planet filled with scattered settlements, dangerous creatures, and bandit gangs. Tales have persisted of a hidden vault on Pandora, filled with riches and advanced alien technology that will bring anyone who finds it fame and fortune beyond their wildest dreams – that’s what you’re after. The game uses a mix of pre-made quests and random content generation. The best way to describe it – and this description fits loosely – is like Diablo masquerading as a first-person shooter. Players progress through the game by accepting and completing quests for the characters they’ll meet. Each quest rewards them with experience, items, and money, which they can use to power up their characters to take on even tougher quests and come ever closer to finding the vault.