Any series worth its weight in gold would either press on to a future sequel or maybe go back to its past roots to explore more on its past lore. In the popular action-role-playing game-slash-first-person shooter hybrid Borderlands’ case, 2K Games will be taking a step back just before the events of the second game with a new entry.
Titled Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, the game’s narrative follows part 2’s big bad, Handsome Jack, in his rise to power in the Hyperion Corporation. Rather than playing a bunch of mercenaries looking for the Vault in the wilds of Pandora, you’ll be on the bad guy’s team cleaning up shop on the Hyperion Moonbase.
Unlike the past two titles, Gearbox Software will not be handling the majority of the project. That honor goes to 2K Australia. Gearbox will be overseeing the project so that it doesn’t stray away from the game’s original feel. CEO Randy Pitchford said in a Kotaku interview that the 2K Australia team shows promise as they’ve demonstrated some design techniques that “turn Borderlands upside down.”
Mechanics-wise, players will still fight enemies in gun combat. Since they’re fighting on the moon however, players can jump higher than usual since gravity is lower. However, players will need to keep their oxygen levels up by collecting oxygen tanks scattered from fallen enemies. Otherwise, they’ll take damage from lack of air. Players can also do nifty tricks with their oxygen tanks like using it as a makeshift jetpack and doing a ground-pound stomp at astronaut gun-toting lunatics below you.
The hunters players will get to pick from include Athena the Gladiator, Wilheim the Enforcer, Nisha the Lawbringer, and Claptrap the Fragtrap. If you are fully aware of your Borderlands lore, these characters aren’t exactly new to the story. Athena’s from the Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC in the first Borderlands, while Wilheim and Nisha made appearances as bosses in Borderlands 2. Claptrap is more or less the mascot of the series; players who control him will notice that he’s shorter than the rest of the cast, but his abilities will compensate for his height.
In fact, this narrative change of perspective is something lead writer Anthony Burch is looking to explore. He said on Kotaku that the team wanted to explore character arcs for Handsome Jack and the four characters that teeter the line between good guy versus bad guy.
The team also felt that setting it in-between part 1 and 2 is better than establishing it after part 2. “What fun is playing the events of Star Wars after the Emperor’s killed?” Pitchford said, “Ok, there’s still some Imperial space ships flying around up there but the Death Star blew up and it’s over. Who cares? The mop-up effort? That’s boring, that’s lame. The stakes are zero.” He also added that having a story that explains the events leading up to Borderlands 2 will be satisfying from a creative standpoint, while also exploring the concept of villains and their morally-ambiguous path towards evil.
Players can also expect to find more loot and guns in this game than Borderlands 2, in addition to new vehicles to ride around the moonbase. All this and possibly more will be available for concept art-style looting-and-shooting fans when the title is out this fall for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.
We think that this would be a nice stopgap before a Xbox One/PlayStation 4 iteration of Borderlands in a far-flung future. For now, this space odyssey will do; stay tuned to e27 for a future hands-on preview.