2K/Gearbox have announced Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC later this year. Taking place on Pandora’s moon – the location of Borderlands 2 villain Handsome Jack’s Hyperion Moonbase – the game pulls a twist on the Borderlands formula by shifting the focus from the series’ traditional Vault Hunters, to bounty hunters Athena the Gladiator, Wilheim the Enforcer, Nisha the Lawbringer and Claptrap – you heard that right, Claptrap – the Fragtrap.
Apart from images of a Rambo-ized Claptrap, the game has been revealed to not be a genuine Borderlands sequel but take place between the first two games, hence its title. Although Gearbox has passed the development reins onto 2K Australia for this entry, that hasn’t stopped Gearbox head Randy Pitchford from indulging his primary skill: waxing lyrical to stoke the hype machine:
“He’s kinda like Borderlands‘ Darth Vader… To discover how this villain was created, and in fact play as a character that starts the game on his team, is an interesting turn for fans of the series.”
The word that springs to mind here is: Really? Don’t get me wrong, we at MCP love our Borderlands and news of any new installment is music to our ears, especially one that features jetpacks. But who exactly was clamouring for Handsome Jack origin stories? He was a fun character and all, but hardly deep. Maybe it’s the Darth Vader namedrop that raises concern, with George Lucas’s attempt to raise the curtain on that character’s backstory bringing to the Star Wars franchise the kind of vibe change you’d see if you screened Nil By Mouth at a five-year-old’s birthday party. Maybe it’s the memories of what happened the last time Gearbox dabbled in canonicity (Pitchford’s quote suggesting that at a creative/conceptual level Gearbox are still very much involved in The Pre-Sequel, even if 2K Australia are doing the groundwork).
This is hardly the extent of this world-expanding either, with Telltale Games’ as-yet-unrevealed Tales of the Borderlands also upcoming. The purpose of all this isn’t difficult to work out: Pitchford has gone back and forth on the question of Borderlands 3 proper, initially saying that they weren’t making it, then saying that it will be made but will be several years away. Our guess? They’re prepping Borderlands 3 for new-gen but want to hold off on it, maybe because they don’t want to limit the game by having to make it a cross-gen release, hence this ‘interim’ Borderlands for the current fanbase. It seems unlikely that neither Gearbox nor 2K would really want to delay outputting new-gen Borderlands for as long as Pitchford is hinting, but we would wager that it would emerge within the next two years.
With Tales of the Borderlands factored into the equation, it’s a fair guess that brand maintenance is the name of the game at the moment – which, as long as 2K Australia and Telltale are on form, means two more good Borderlands games coming our way soon that will keep the franchise fresh in our minds in preparation for BL3‘s eventual arrival. The only concern is how they handle the worldbuilding, which in the first games was kept enjoyably lighthearted and felt just fleshed out enough to keep things fun. We’re not convinced on how far you can stretch it, but here’s hoping.
But the chance to play as a gunslinging Claptrap? You won our curiosity with that one alone, Gearbox.