Borderlands 2 VR Review
It's Borderlands 2...but in VR! That's kind of it.
As VR gaming has evolved we’ve seen two distinct ways to get games onto the technology. Either you can craft a brand new experience aimed at virtual reality from the very beginning, or you can take something that worked before and port it over. The latter has become more popular as of late, with Skyrim VR, Fallout 4 VR, and L.A. Noire VR as recent examples. The problem with this approach is that VR can only add so much, so that base experience still needs to be solid, and it needs to be enhanced enough with the addition of VR to make a new purchase worthwhile. This is the question posed by Borderlands 2 VR, and the answer seems to be that it’s worth it…but only for die hard fans or VR newbies.
In case you’ve not jumped into the world of Pandora before, Borderlands 2 is an open-world loot shooter. Players explore the world of Pandora in search of Vaults, relics of an alien civilization that supposedly contain riches and rewards beyond your wildest dreams. Choosing from four unique characters, the player will have to decide how to confront enemies, and how to find all the best loot there is on this crazy, backwoods planet. And then there’s Handsome Jack to worry about, but the less said about him, the better.
Borderlands 2 VR is exactly what its title suggests. This is Borderlands 2, but in virtual reality. No story changes have been made, and no major part of the experience is altered, except that the whole multi-dozen hour campaign is now fully playable in virtual reality. That brings with it a lot of pluses, such as full aim control through the use of Move Controllers. It also ups the immersion level of the game immeasurably. You feel like you’re a vault hunter exploring Pandora, battling foes all along the way.
Did you feel like this before? Sure, that’s what games are meant to do. But VR truly adds something to the experience that can’t be fully appreciated without diving in yourself. You aren’t controlling a character on the surface of beautiful Pandora, you are that character. You wander the environment and everything just has a stronger sense of reality behind it. And this is before you add in motion controls that make gunplay so much better than in non-VR.
Borderlands 2 VR offers a plethora of control and quality of life options that are absent from other titles
Borderlands 2 also lends itself well to this transition. Whereas other shooters go for a realistic visual style, the Borderlands series’ cel-shaded graphics work perfectly for VR. The PSVR’s biggest hurdle is its relative lack of power and graphical ability, when compared to PC. With Borderlands 2 VR the system sings and performs quite admirably. The entire styling of the franchise fits VR like a glove. Whether you are a series veteran, or coming at it with fresh eyes, this game will impress.
Beyond that, this isn’t some quick and dirty port. Borderlands 2 VR offers a plethora of control and quality of life options that are absent from other titles. Multiple movement choices combine with options like narrowing your field of view while in motion to create what is one of the most customizable and comfortable virtual reality experiences out there. While motion sickness and other ills aren’t completely solved by the work put into this release, this is about as close as you’ll get to a totally accessible VR game. If you’ve experienced or worried about getting sick or uncomfortable before, you don’t have much concern in Borderlands 2.
There’s also a brand new slow-mo option available. Called BAMF (Bad Ass Mega Fun Time) time, this feature slows down enemies so you can line up those perfect shots. This is likely in here to compensate for the fact that Borderlands 2’s enemies weren’t really designed for a VR shooter. Many of them rush the player, creating a chaotic situation where you’re moving and shooting, but not in the fun way. Instead you can trigger BAMF time and slow things down so it looks and feels more elegant and natural.
So shifting into VR has added a lot to the Borderlands 2 experience, but it’s also taken some things away. A lot of things, actually. For one, Borederlands 2 VR is a solo experience from beginning to end. Yes, the shooter franchise that built itself on coop gameplay has no coop gameplay in this iteration. It’s somewhat understandable, given the player population issues other multiplayer shooters have had in VR, but it is a very unfortunate loss. If the game were priced as more of a budget title, this subtraction wouldn’t be as hard felt, but at the current MSRP it is a tough sell, if your favorite Borderlands moments involve other people playing along.
It’s also sad to see that the original DLC hasn’t been included here. This has been the trend for many of these types of ports, but it’s still always lamentable. Given the high price for such an old game, you’d expect to get the deluxe treatment, which would include not only everything from the original release, but also its DLC. That, sadly, is not what you’re getting here.
Aside from these issues, there’s not much to complain about with Borderlands 2 VR. The game promises to take the six year old classic and update it with virtual reality, and that’s exactly what it does. It does this well, offering plenty of options for players to mess with and finetune to perfection. The game also lends itself perfectly to the technology, and that was not lost in the transition. If the title intrigued you, then you will find a worthy purchase here. The high price is a concern though, especially given what has been removed.
The loss of coop multiplayer is hard, and leads to a much softer recommendation for this title than it otherwise would garner. This entire series was built on its fun and chaotic multiplayer action, and while it would have had issues in the VR environment, it could have been done. If you prefer solo play though, this won’t be a big problem anyway.
Borderlands 2 VR continues the trend of enjoyable but flawed ports of larger, traditionally designed games. Few additions make the cut to enhance the experience, but the simple fact of existing in virtual reality adds significantly to the overall gameplay. You will be running around on Pandora, popping off headshots, and looting weapons off of corpses just like before, but with a massive increase in immersion. Cutting out coop is a hard pill to swallow though, and the lack of DLC makes for a lesser experience overall. If you’re a massive fan of the series or just want to up your VR library, you won’t be too disappointed. But if you have other VR shooters available to play, there isn’t much to draw you in here.
- Available On: PS4
- Published By: 2K
- Developed By: Gearbox Software
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- US Release Date: December 14th, 2018
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Borderlands 2 VR continues the trend of enjoyable but flawed ports of larger, traditionally designed games. Few additions make the cut to enhance the experience, but the simple fact of existing in virtual reality adds significantly to the overall gameplay."