The Nintendo Switch is no stranger to ports, but Borderlands Legendary Collection may just be one of the best ports the system has received to date. I’ve played a lot of Borderlands in my time, especially the enhanced versions of the games included in the Handsome Collection on PS4 and Xbox One. The Handsome Collection (and the later port of Borderlands Game of the Year Edition) brings Borderlands to a razor-sharp resolution at a butter-smooth framerate, so when Borderlands Legendary Collection was announced for Nintendo Switch a few months ago, I was sure that there was no way the Switch ports could even come close to their current-gen counterparts. I was wrong. Borderlands Legendary Collection doesn’t match the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the games on a technical level, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve that now make it one of my favorite ways to play Borderlands.
Borderlands Legendary Collection includes the first three games in the series, Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, as well as all of their respective DLC. If you’re familiar with the series, then you know that that’s a ridiculous amount of content. Sure, the Handsome Collection and the original Borderlands are available for much cheaper on other platforms, even being given away for free in some cases, but the $50 price tag is well worth it considering the benefits of the Switch version. The three included games easily offer over 100 hours of content, and the added bonuses of portability and gyro aiming make the Switch version of Borderlands Legendary Collection a very enticing package.
Surprisingly, the versions of the games included in Borderlands Legendary Collection appear to be closer to the remastered PS4/Xbox One versions rather than their last-gen counterparts. Textures are shockingly sharp, and the games’ cartoony and exaggerated art style looks gorgeous on the Switch’s screen. In docked mode, the games run at a full 1080p and never seem to drop below that. In handheld mode, the resolution is dropped to 720p, although the games’ visuals scale well to the lower resolution of the Switch’s screen. Both modes maintain a solid 30fps, never dropping even when things start to get hectic. Both the original Borderlands and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel even have FOV sliders in the settings, although the feature is absent for some reason in Borderlands 2. Graphically, these ports make practically no compromises in bringing Borderlands to the small screen. The only visual concession I noticed in my time with the collection was a sharp drop in detail at long distances, but this problem wasn’t too huge in handheld mode.
Like most other collections or bundles released on Switch, you’re going to need a beefy SD card for this one. Even if you buy the physical cartridge for Borderlands Legendary Collection, you’ll still need to download data to play the games. The cartridge only has data for the first Borderlands, but you’ll still need to download an additional 6.6 GB to play it. For the other games, however, you’re stuck with digital copies no matter what. Even the physical edition of the game just includes an eShop code for a digital copy of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel weigh in at 21.5 GB and 12 GB respectively, so you’ll need lots of free space to have every piece of the collection installed at the same time. Thankfully, the games can be installed individually if you only want to play one of them.
Borderlands is better with friends, and the Nintendo Switch versions of the games feature both online and split-screen play. Split-screen is limited to two players, unlike the maximum of four found on PS4 and Xbox One, but that’s an understandable concession given the Switch’s more limited hardware. Even with two players blasting away at bandits and skags in split-screen, the framerate holds surprisingly steady. Also, two players playing together locally can then join up with friends online to bring the total up to four players. Speaking of online play, it’s relatively painless to join up with friends and shoot and loot your way through Pandora online.
The Switch’s online structure is known for being less than ideal, but the Borderlands games actually allow you to invite players that are playing other games. I haven’t seen any other Nintendo Switch games utilize this functionality, but Borderlands online invites work just like any other modern platform. As long as your friend is online using their Nintendo Switch, you can invite them to your Borderlands game and they’ll be prompted to join, no matter whether they’re sitting on the home screen or working their way through Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. The Switch versions of the games even have built-in voice chat, meaning you don’t need to use the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app to talk to your friends. In a series where multiplayer is so important, it’s great that online play in Borderlands Legendary Collection is effortless.
When compared to Borderlands 2 on PlayStation Vita, Borderlands Legendary Collection is a masterpiece, but the Vita version of Borderlands 2 didn’t exactly set a high bar. What’s impressive about Borderlands Legendary Collection is that it doesn’t just rise above previous attempts at a handheld Borderlands experience, but that it holds its own against some of the most impressive ports the Nintendo Switch has seen. Borderlands Legendary Collection is up there with the Switch ports of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and BioShock: The Collection. Even if you have the games on current-gen consoles or PC, there’s still a serious appeal to having them available on the go. While they may not be 4k/60fps like you can get on PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, or PC, the portability and gyro aim functionality are huge draws for the Switch ports of these games.
Each game included in Borderlands Legendary Collection looks and runs beautifully, almost as if they were designed for the Nintendo Switch from the ground up. Our review of the Handsome Collection still stands, and the Borderlands Legendary Collection brings all of that content and more to the Switch. The franchise’s cartoony aesthetic is beautiful on the Switch’s screen, and the performance is surprisingly smooth. Almost nothing was lost in the transition to the Switch. As long as you’ve got space on your SD card, you can experience Borderlands Legendary Collection’s sharp textures and uncompressed audio for yourself. Borderlands feels right at home on the Switch, and this is one of the most impressive ports I’ve ever seen for the system.
- This article was updated on June 2nd, 2020