And now for the nitpicking!
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is built on a Borderlands 2 frame, meaning everything from badass ranks to the storage bank is still around. The list of added features is just the right size for a pseudo-sequel, so the game has enough new-bait to attract seasoned players with the rich smell of co-op looting. Despite the butt-slams, laser weapons and oxygen meters, though, you'll still encounter some moments when the game feels a little too much like its predecessor. Missions that don't take place on the moon are especially bad, as ground pounds and Oz attacks are practically gone. This doesn't detract from the game as a whole, but it does dull that feeling of freshness you get when diving into a brand new game. Sometimes you have to remind yourself this isn't Borderlands 2.
The writing in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a notch above Borderlands 2. Ask around and you'll discover I wasn't a fan of the labored, puerile humor that dominated the second game. Borderlands doesn't have to be a best-selling novel, but it doesn't have to sound like a 13 year old's Tumblr account, either. 2K Australia brought in some of their own talent to help script the pre-sequel, and their efforts definitely show. One of the more noticeable changes is how Australian the dialogue feels, something you wouldn't expect is possible from a sci-fi shooter on a moon. From the jokes to the slang to some of the names (it's Moon Zoomy, not Catch-A-Ride), it's obvious this game came from down under.
Along with the writing comes a plenty of spoken dialogue for the playable characters. A few reaction lines and idle comments was pretty much all the characters had to say in previous Borderlands games. Now they practically have entire conversations with NPCs, making the storytelling a lot less one-sided. Amazingly, their personalities hold up to this extra attention, even the lovable failure Claptrap and his pathetic attempts at not being pathetic.
Having to track oxygen levels seems like it would be an enormous pain in the rear. In practice, it's balanced well enough to not pose much of a problem. There are some annoying moments when you're out exploring in the vacuum and start running out of air. Those put a damper on the Borderlands "yay let's go climb on top of things to look for loot chests!" spirit. You can't go quite as far or stay out quite as long, but that's somewhat mitigated by the fact that you can actually climb higher and jump further than before.
Speaking of loot chests, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel seems to suffer from a shortage of hidden booty. Level design has been tweaked to accommodate more vertical layouts, but hopping between rooftops doesn't yield much more than a few nice views of the scenery. It's only a slight step down from Borderlands 2, which itself was a step down from the original game. Or maybe everything's just hidden better and we're terrible at hide and seek?
Now for the big question: did Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel add enough to make it a distinct product? The answer is... yes. Take the new features in with the subtle tweaks and suddenly Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has a style all its own. It still shares plenty of core elements with its predecessor, but just because two people have the same skeleton, internal organs and cheesy haircut doesn't mean they're the same person. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is Borderlands 2's close cousin. They grew up together, built blanket forts and tree houses together, but then Pre-Sequel went to high school on the moon. Now they're back together and have rediscovered why they got along so well in the first place. Feel free to invite Pre-Sequel over for dinner even though you've had Borderlands 2 over every Thursday for the past two years. They'll tell some of the same stories, but Pre-Sequel learned several neat tricks on the moon and has plenty of its own stories to share.
The Co-Optimus Review of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is based on the PC version of the game. A copy was supplied by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: Players work together using four different classes of characters to complete quests, gather loot, and trade items. All three systems support online co-op. Local co-op is available on the console versions.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.