Review: Borderlands Remastered

That an enhanced port of the original Borderlands exists is no surprise. That it was released ten years after the original version is. This game seemingly exists to make sure the entire series was playable on modern consoles to set up for Borderlands 3, but the changes made are entirely welcome.

As you would expect, Borderlands Remastered has improved graphics and presentation. However, the important changes were made to gameplay. First and foremost, while the in-game compass remains in place, the Remastered version finally offers a minimap. In addition, quest objectives are called out on screen in 3D space with a distance indicator, which helps immensely with certain confusing map locations. Sidequesting in particular goes much more smoothly than it did in the original version of the game. The other major UI update is an overhaul of the inventory screen to focus on item graphics more in-line with later Borderlands game. The layout actually causes you to see fewer items at once, but the addition of favorite and trash flags makes this a definite improvement on the whole. Those flags even work better than in Borderlands 2, as the game will not let you sell a Favorite item until you de-flag it.

Little has changed gameplay-wise, though some specifics have been retuned. Of particular note is that the final boss was made less trivial to defeat on normal difficulty. Some fancy new weapons were added for this version, as well as support for Golden Keys that can be attained through non-game means (such as codes distributed on Twitter) and give great loot whenever you need it. You are now able to re-assign buttons on the controller freely, which depending on your play style can be a big improvement to the basic shooting as well. The Remastered version also includes a fantastic improvement to basic looting, in that ammo and money are now automatically picked up from the ground when you walk nearby. These changes make it very difficult to go back to the original after playing this version (or any of the sequels, for that matter), not that you’d want to.

Every version of Borderlands Remastered includes all of the DLC, which consists of four packs that range from good to frustratingly repetitive. All four packs suffer from a strange decision not to add any fast travel locations beyond the initial one, leading to a whole lot of walking around. Moxxi’s Underdome avoids this problem by being a set of arena fights, but they go on interminably and offer very little in the way of rewards for your time. The other DLC is more imaginative, and embraces the weirdness of Borderlands more enthusiastically than the original game did. You’ll fight zombies created by Dr. Zed doppelganger Dr. Ned, and put down a rebellion consisting of Claptrap units. These scenarios are undeniably amusing, even if the leveling structure of the game makes them largely superfluous on your first playthrough.

The bottom line is, if you like Borderlands, you should play the Remastered version exclusively. All of the improvements are positive, and it doesn’t break the original game or try to shoehorn in new content that disturbs the original vision. This is just Borderlands 1 with a UI worthy of Borderlands 2 and beyond. Given how relevant the Borderlands cast is going forward, it’s worth it to play at least once.

 

Review Score: B+

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