CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) review: A sandwich-sequel with lots of filler

The Pre-Sequel isn't for everyone. If you've completely exhausted everything Borderlands 2 has to offer, then the Pre-Sequel will hold you over, but it shouldn't be the first exposure you ever have to the series.

Jeff Bakalar Editor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
Jeff Bakalar
4 min read

I had what some would call a slight obsession with Borderlands 2. I found myself dumping hours upon hours into its campaign and the excellent supporting DLC that seemed to endlessly complement it.


Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

The Good

The Pre-Sequel fills the story between Borderlands 1 and 2 and continues the addictive first-person-shooter RPG action its best known for. A few new kinds of guns and elemental damage are welcome additions.

The Bad

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel features a lot of the same gameplay that you've likely spent hours grinding through before. There isn't much that separates this experience from the ones the series has already offered.

The Bottom Line

It's not the best Borderlands experience out there, but The Pre-Sequel is a solid entry that will satisfy Borderlands diehards most. If you've never played a Borderlands game though, try starting with Borderlands 2.

For me, the game was unusually addictive because of its expertly balanced leveling-up system that convinced to me to grind on. That, combined with an infinite amount of weapons to discover and delightfully witty and sharp writing served as the perfect storm for a time-sucking game. My cumulative number of hours spent in the Borderlands 2 universe is likely a disturbing total, something we don't need to investigate further.

So just when I thought I'd had my fill of leveling up, shooting and looting, Gearbox Software delivered news that an in between sequel, or "sandwich sequel" would be arriving, connecting the events of Borderlands 1 and 2.

2K Games

Developed by 2K Australia, The Pre-Sequel feels a lot like Borderlands 2, with a few new tricks up its sleeve. The biggest narrative appeal has to be its setting, as the game takes place on Pandora's moon, the one previously inaccessible area reserved for colorful background scenery up until now. According to Gearbox, visiting the moon was a popular request by Borderlands players.

Elpis (the moon) allows for new game mechanics to be introduced: players can jump great distances because of low gravity as well as utilize a stomp attack that blasts out a radius of damage. The lack of oxygen means another meter to monitor, so players will need to keep an eye on their character's O2 supply, though it rarely becomes high maintenance issue.

For more Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, head over to GameSpot

After nearly 20 hours with the game, I've found that it's tough to separate the high-quality DLC that supported Borderlands 2 and The Pre-sequel. For most players, it's likely this new separate game will feel like an episodic update to the Borderlands 2 universe. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the harsh reality is that it's a lot of the same.

2K Games

There's not a whole lot that separates the two -- save for the fact that you're now able to chose a set of new playable characters including the series' iconic mascot, Claptrap. Stylistically speaking, you won't find much contrast at all. Everything follows the systems and mechanics you learned in previous games. It's not a total carbon copy, though, The Pre-Sequel introduces laser weapons and items that can have cryogenic freezing element damage effects.

Because it's a low gravity lunar environment, the game feels much more floaty and it will likely have you tweaking your attack style -- especially if you developed habits with Borderlands 2. There's a lot of soaring around from platform to platform, and your O2 supply will allow you to thrust and access areas you wouldn't normally think you could reach. Piloting around can be great fun and using a jump pad that flings you through the air never really gets old.

The gravity effect displays a few frustrating moments though. When you open a crate in low gravity, its items explode out and sometimes you'll miss an ammo clip or grenade you may have wanted. I also ran into a few clipping issues throughout the campaign, where items and enemies will fall through floors. A lot of the loot that enemies drop can sometimes float off the map too, which really stinks if you see it's a rare item or valuable commodity.

2K Games

Elpis isn't as varied of a world as Pandora, so its locales tend to start blurring into one another. Environments just aren't as diverse as Borderlands players are used to seeing. The level design is occasionally confusing too, mostly because there are neighborhoods that don't necessarily flow into each other. Lava separates some of the areas in a level, so you won't always be able to drive to where you need to be.

For the best graphical experience and overall performance, I recommend playing the game on PC. I played The Pre-Sequel on a Origin EON17-SLX similar to the one we reviewed last year , but with even more beefed up specs. Suffice it to say, but the EON17-SLX easy handled the game with completely maxed out settings.

From the start, The Pre-Sequel feels like a DLC pack for Borderlands 2, and perhaps it should be similarly priced. Like Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel will get a smattering of follow-up DLC too, so it should comfort those on the fence about the planned longevity for the title.

2K Games

CNET Verdict: Reserved for the core Borderlands player

The Pre-Sequel isn't for everyone. If you've completely exhausted everything Borderlands 2 has to offer, then the Pre-Sequel will hold you over, but it shouldn't be the first exposure you ever have to the series.

For more Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, head over to GameSpot