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Coming to Xbox 360, PS3 and PC October 17Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel: okay, we admit it. We don't like the title. They could have opted for something that sounds a little less silly. But even this silliness doesn't touch the quirky sense of humour of the game itself.
Set between Borderlands and Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel takes place on Elpis, the moon of Pandora - the planet from the first two Borderlands games. What this setting brings to Borderlands is zero-gravity action.
But first, a bit more on the story.
In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, one of the main characters is Handsome Jack. Villain of Borderlands 2, he's now on your side. We played a mission to retrieve artificial intelligence for Jack, which will no doubt mark the start of his rise to power, as he begins militarising his robot forces.
We got to play as Wilhelm the Enforcer during our brief time with the game. One of the new playable characters, he is a square-faced, bearded hulk of a man found in the End of the Line story mission of Borderlands 2. There he was half-robot, but here he's all-human
Although, as you add to his skill tree, Wilhelm begins to gain a few robotic parts, hinting that through the game we'll find out just how he became half-man, half-machine.
Like the other new characters, Wilhelm has a special power - an Action Skill. His Air Power move calls in two support drones, known as Wolf and Shield, to assist him in battle. Wolf is an attack drone, while Shield stays back with Wilhelm to help recharge his defences.
During the demo we were paired up in co-op with another new character, Athena the Gladiator. Her Action Skill is Kinetic Aspis, which is a special shield that can be turned into a formidable Captain America style weapon.
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But it's the lunar environment, rather than the new moves, that marks the real change in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.
Oxygen is a brand new resource for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. You need oxygen to breathe on Elpis, and it also powers your jetpack, which lets you performs extended jumps and double jumps. 2K Australia really encourages you to stay in the air. And it's a gameplay conceit that works well. Why would anyone bother to use cover when you can zoom about in zero gravity?
Most of the combat saw us floating in mid-air, taking out enemies before our space boots even touched the ground.
Complementing this new jetpack, 2K Australia has introduced a technique called butt-stomping. After doing a double-jump, you can quickly tap the B button (Xbox 360) to slam your backside down on the ground, stunning enemies and dealing damage to anyone who is in butt-stomping radius.
This really comes in handy when you're surrounded by enemy forces in close-range combat, especially for a new enemy type known as Kraggon. These ice-covered alligators split into two when first defeated.
It's great that this butt-stomping ability isn't limited to one character in the game, making it a handy resource in those near-death moments. You can also upgrade your butt-stomping skill so that when you perform it, your enemies dissolve in pools of acid. Yes, acid from your backside. But it wouldn't be Borderlands without some deeply silly bits.
Along with the new butt-stomping ability, there are also a pair of new weapon types to play around with on Elpis. The first are Cryo weapons, which slowly freeze your enemies so you can shatter them into a million bloody pieces with a butt-stomp or melee attack, which feels very satisfying when you've been flying around trying to take out a heavy enemy.
The other new weapons are lasers. The one we tried emits a long laser stream that grows weaker and less accurate the longer you use it. There are apparently also the "pew pew" kind of laser guns.
Aside from zero-gravity, the moon presents a variety of hazards that you'll need to watch out for while playing. These include radiating methane pools that will deal a great deal of damage if you wander into one.
The graphics of The Pre-Sequel are similar to those of the previous games, and the game's draw distance really pushes the last-gen consoles to their limits. We're intrigued to see what other moon locations we'll discover throughout the game and enjoy their visual aesthetics alongside the fast paced, butt-stomping action.
First ImpressionsWe can officially say that butt-stomping on the Moon is awesome and with brand new weapons and other features, this is a welcome entry into the Borderlands series. It's a shame it isn't coming to new-gen consoles, but it looks like there's enough new gameplay and co-operative ventures to keep those still clinging to last-gen consoles more than satisfied.
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