borderlands 2 the handsome collection review

The Handsome Collection is Boredomland without Friends

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Last week, Epic Games Store offered Borderlands The Handsome Collection as their free game for the week. So it makes sense there was a sudden spike in the number of players going back to the game. But considering it’s an 8-year-old game, how has it aged?

My first experience with the Borderlands franchise was when The Handsome Collection went on sale on Steam. Luckily, I had friends who were inviting me to play so my first foray on Pandora was pretty fun as you can imagine. Unfortunately, the friends have moved on too other games and I find myself jumping back into Pandora on my own.

The Handsome Collection Handsomely Updated

It’s kind of impressive that the developers haven’t completely ignored the rest of the franchise even with the release of the latest gamer in the series. In fact, the most interesting update is that you can now cross-play Borderlands The Handsome Collection between Steam and Epic Games. So even though I have the game on Steam I can still play with those that got the free collection from Epic Games.

This is pretty cool after that whole Epic Games exclusive fiasco with the latest game in the series, but they did announce that Borderlands 3 would eventually be available in the Steam store. But going through The Handsome Collection on my own kinda has me wondering if it is worth the wait after all.

borderlands 2 the handsome collection gunzerker
Gunzerking a shotgun and a sniper rifle.

The Borderlands Flavor

The whole franchise has a unique tone that’s equal amounts of sarcasm and violence. So there is a good reason that it’s pretty high on most regulatory board assignments. Now story-wise there is a hefty single-player campaign and if you go through just that the narrative moves along with lots of interesting twists and turns.

The problem that I have with Borderlands The Handsome Collection is the progression. The game plays like an Elder Scrolls but in a very different environment and with an extremely strong reliance on RNG. If you’re skilled enough, you can probably get through the whole campaign with whatever you’re able to pick up along the way. But one of the biggest features of the franchise is the fact that there are supposedly millions of combinations of guns and items you can potentially acquire.

This therein is where the grind-fest sets in and it can get pretty deep. Granted, I’ve not gotten too far along with the story missions but even as early as now I can already tell I’m going to be grinding side quests and bonus missions for very random rewards.

The Pitfalls of RNG

When I started the game for the first time, I decided to try out the Gunzerker class based on the recommendation of my friends. ANd it was pretty fun playing with them. But the issues start to arise in singleplayer mode when you’re fighting on your own but not getting the right complementary guns for the Gunzerking skill.

The Gunzerker is basically a powerful dual wielder who has the potential of sustaining full automatic fire indefinitely if you select the right build. But the problem is that this skill depends a lot on the guns you choose to dual-wield. And if the RN-gods are not on your side, as they were not on mine, you’ll end up with some really poor choices.

In fact, for a time, I was Gunzerking a shotgun and a sniper rifle. Even without having to explain the other game mechanics already sounds real off. The next pairing was pistols that I was able to pick up from side missions. They make more sense until you realize they both eat from the same ammo pool. So the solution is to use up the special Eridium currency to increase my ammo pool but then what happens if the next few guns I get aren’t pistols?

borderlands 2 the handsome collection guns
The RN-gods keep giving me pistols.

Not Terrible, But Not Great Either

I even got the chance to introduce my brother-in-law to the game since he was able to pick up the free giveaway from Epic Games. Although he did enjoy the overall experience, I was able to get a clearer picture of some of the details that make Borderlands a bit of a hard sell for non-fans of the looter shooter genre.

So in a nutshell, yeah, Borderlands 2 is a great game and The Handsome Collection is undeniably a value package even if it weren’t free. But if you’re not really into the grinding aspect and walking all over the place just to be disappointed with the loot results, then you’re going to quickly lose interest in this game.

Maybe something like Warframe will be more to your liking since the RNG is more on the materials needed to craft guns, but at least you get somewhat of a choice as to what gun you want to use and how to mod it to your playstyle.

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