|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, first-person shooter|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360, OS X, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Linux, Android, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, Nintendo Switch|
October 20, 2009
|Latest release||Borderlands 3 |
September 13, 2019
Borderlands is a series of action role-playing first-person shooter video games in a space western science fantasy setting, created by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games for multiple platforms.
The series consists of four games, each with multiple downloadable content packs: Borderlands (2009), Borderlands 2 (2012), Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (2014) by 2K Australia and Borderlands 3 (2019). Tales from the Borderlands (2014–2015) is a spin-off episodic graphic adventure game by Telltale Games.
The series has received critical acclaim and commercial success for its loot-driven multiplayer co-op gameplay and its sense of humor. As of August 2019, more than 45 million copies of Borderlands games had been shipped, with 22 million from Borderlands 2. An additional 5 million copies of Borderlands 3 were sold within five days of release, bringing the total series' net revenues to over US$1 billion. This makes it one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. A film adaptation of the series is in development by Lionsgate.
The main Borderlands games are first-person loot shooters, set in an open world, with some role-playing game elements. Players select one of the available characters, representing Vault Hunters that have traveled to the planet Pandora to try to seek its fabled Vault. Each Vault Hunter has a different skill tree and one or more unique abilities. Players then work on completing quests and exploring Pandora while dealing with the violent Pandora wildlife, crazed scavengers that have been stranded on the planet, and various military groups that attempt to stop them. Completing quests and defeating foes earns in-game money and experience, which is used for expanding the player's skill tree. If the player loses their health or falls into bottomless chasms, they respawn at the most recent checkpoint and lose some of their money. The games are divided into several maps, and once players have reached a waypoint station on the map, they can teleport to any other previously visited map. Otherwise, players must reach certain points on the edges of the map to move into a different area. Some maps allow the player to spawn an armed vehicle to help traverse large maps or to deal with more powerful enemies.
A core feature of Borderlands is the loot system, which generates a variety of guns (such as pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers), shield generators, grenade modifications, and class modifications. This equipment is randomly dropped by foes, found in containers around Pandora, or obtained as rewards for completing quests. The statistics of the equipment, such as the amount of damage and accuracy for a gun and special elemental attacks, are procedurally generated, and use a loot color-coding system similar to games like World of Warcraft to indicate rarity, ranging from white (most common), to purple and orange (most rare and powerful). The first Borderlands is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records to have over 17 million different possible guns that could be generated, while the latter games expand further on this. Other facets of the game use a similar procedural system: foes may have unique attributes and more powerful variants, such as creatures that can spit corrosive acid or flame, or scavengers with higher amounts of health and armor. Weapons and other equipment can be sold and bought at various vending machines scattered about the maps; nearly all vending machines include a rare piece of loot that is only available for a limited amount of in-game time, after which the machine's inventory is rotated for a new set of equipment. Borderlands 2, 3, and The Pre-Sequel! include the use of "SHIFT codes", which the player can obtain through social media or other promotions, and give players "golden keys" that can be used once to obtain an item of exceptional quality appropriate for the player's level; this feature was also added to the remaster of borderlands 1
As the player levels, the loot drops will become more powerful; at the same time, the enemies that the player faces on the map will increase in level as well. All three games feature a New Game Plus-type replay mode, where they can start with the same character at the same level they completed the game with, and continue to level up the character through the replay up to a fixed level, making the game more difficult. All three games support co-operative play for up to four people; the difficulty of the enemies as well as the quality of the loot drops scales with the number of players.
In Borderlands 2 and in the Pre-Sequel, a "Badass Rank" system was added. By completing certain challenges, such as killing a number of enemies with a specific weapon type, the player would be awarded Badass points; for every 100 points, they can then redeem these for one of several small buffs to the player's attributes such as gun damage or shield capacity. Selecting the same buff repeatedly on redemption while using a given character would provide less beneficial rewards. However, these Badass buffs are shared by all characters that the player has so that if the player starts a new character, they will retain all the existing buffs, and new buffs when the points are redeemed will be more beneficial; the "Badass Rank" system has been replaced in borderlands 3 by the "guardian" system.
All the games in the series use a comic book-like rendering approach, frequently mistaken as a cel-shaded technique. Instead, the games use fully realized hand-drawn textures and within the game engine, add noticeable outlines to create the appearance of a comic book setting.
The games in Borderlands primarily take place on the planet Pandora. Pandora is believed to be rich with mineral wealth leading several interstellar megacorporations to send colony ships there to capitalize on it, but once they arrive, they find little of value outside of undecipherable alien artifacts from a long-extinct race known as the Eridians, and numerous native lifeforms make it too dangerous. Many of the corporations abandon the planet, leaving behind their workforce, former prisoners coerced into employment, who take over much of the planet as bandits and raiders. However, a study of the alien artifacts leads to the discovery of mythical Eridian Vaults filled with untold treasure and wealth, which are guarded by extremely powerful and ancient monsters. Corporations and military forces return to the planet, along with a number of Vault Hunters who seek to find the Vaults themselves. The settings are expanded to include the moon of Pandora in Borderlands: The Pre-sequel, and other planets in Borderlands 3.
Several characters appear in multiple Borderlands games. The small yellow robot Claptrap (voiced by David Eddings, with Jim Foronda in Borderlands 3), the de facto mascot for the franchise, has appeared in all games as a non-player character (NPC) and in the Pre-Sequel as a playable character. The megalomaniacal CEO of the Hyperion Corporation, Handsome Jack (Dameon Clarke) is first encountered as the principal antagonist of Borderlands 2, while the Pre-Sequel features him as an NPC whose rise to power is assisted by the player. After his death at the end of Borderlands 2, Jack reappears in Tales from the Borderlands as an AI personality. The enigmatic "Angel" who guides the players through Borderlands (voiced by Jennifer Green, portrayed in the video by Brittani Johnson) is in the sequel revealed to be Jack's daughter. Handsome Jack's likeness also appears in Borderlands 3's "Moxxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot" DLC.
In each main game, the player chooses one of several player characters – "Vault Hunters" drawn to Pandora by the prospect of the alien riches contained within the Vaults – but as the games support up to four-player co-op gameplay, their continuity presents these characters as having witnessed the events of each game together. The player characters of the first Borderlands appear as NPCs in the later games. They are Roland, a stoic soldier (voiced by Oliver Tull in Borderlands and Markus Lloyd in Borderlands 2), Lilith, a "Siren" with magical powers (Colleen Clinkenbeard), Mordecai, a hunter and sniper with a pet bird-of-prey (Julio Cedillo / Jason Liebrecht), and Brick, a strongman brawler (Marcus Mauldin).
The main protagonists of Borderlands 2 are Axton, a renegade soldier (Robert McCollum), Maya, another Siren (Martha Harms), Salvador (John Swasey), a short-statured and short-tempered "gunzerker", and Zer0, an enigmatic masked assassin (Michael Turner). Through DLC, two additional characters were added: Gaige, the "Mechromancer" (Cherami Leigh), a young girl with a flying killer robot, and Krieg (Jason Douglas), a deranged wanderer with a split personality.
All but two of the player characters of the Pre-Sequel appeared in earlier games as NPCs. Athena is a renegade assassin, and was encountered in a DLC campaign in Borderlands. Nisha Kadam (Stephanie Young), a bounty hunter and eventually Jack's girlfriend, goes on to be killed by the players in Borderlands 2 – as does Wilhelm (Bryan Massey), a cyborg mercenary obsessed with transhumanism. The other two player characters of the Pre-Sequel, available through DLC, are Timothy (Dameon Clarke), a body double of Handsome Jack, and Lady Aurelia Hammerlock (Kenneisha Thompson), Alistair's sister and big game hunter.
Tales from the Borderlands, set just after Borderlands 2, introduces two protagonists: the Hyperion company man Rhys (Troy Baker), and the con artist Fiona (Laura Bailey). Other characters introduced in Tales from the Borderlands include Vaughn (Chris Hardwick), Rhys's best friend and a Hyperion accountant; Sasha (Erin Yvette), Fiona's sister and fellow con-artist; Gortys (Ashley Johnson), an Atlas robot; and Felix (Norman Hall), Fiona and Sasha's father figure.
Borderlands 3, set years after Tales from the Borderlands, features four new Vault Hunter protagonists: Amara, a Siren (Zehra Fazal); Moze, a gunner who pilots the mecha Iron Bear (Marissa Lenti); Zane, an operative with a variety of gadgets (Cian Berry); and FL4K, a robot beastmaster (Sung-Won Cho). The antagonists are Tyreen and Troy Calypso (Elisa Melendez and Max Mittelman).
Also appearing across multiple games are several NPCs who act as vendors and quest-givers. They include the erratic researcher Patricia Tannis (Colleen Clinkenbeard), the garage owner and mechanic Scooter (Michael Neumann), Scooter's younger sister and mechanic Ellie (Jamie Marchi), the buxom bartender Mad Moxxi (Brina Palencia), the 13-year-old demolitions expert Tiny Tina (Ashly Burch),[a] the gun company founder Mr. Torgue High-Five Flexington (Chris Rager), the gentleman hunter Sir Alistair Hammerlock (J. Michael Tatum), the junk dealer Janey Springs (Catherine Moore), the shady surgeon Dr. Zed (Ric Spiegel) and the gun merchant Marcus Kincaid (Bruce DuBose), who also narrates the opening cinematics.
Shortly after the Dahl corporation leaves the planet Pandora at the start of Borderlands, four Vault Hunters arrive to seek out the Vault – Lilith, Roland, Brick, and Mordecai. They are guided by a mysterious entity, the Guardian Angel, that lives within the planet's communication EchoNet system, to collect pieces of the Vault Key, but warned that the Vault can only be accessed every 200 years, and that time is soon approaching, urging them onward. They eventually complete the Key, but immediately come into conflict with the Atlas corporation coming back to claim Pandora and the Vault. The Vault Hunters fight Atlas back and locate the Vault, but upon opening, it releases a giant monster, named the "Destroyer". They fight off the monster and push it back into the Vault, which then closes, leaving Pandora safe.
In the Pre-Sequel, Jack, a low-level programmer for Hyperion, discovers another Vault on Pandora's moon, Elpis, and hires four more Vault Hunters, including Athena, to seek it in the wake of the First Vault's closure. With the Vault Hunters' help, Jack is able to seize control of Helios, the Hyperion space station in orbit between Pandora and Elpis, and uses its resources to secure the Vault with the help of the Hunters. Inside, there is only a strange artifact in the shape of the Vault symbol, but when Jack touches it, he experiences visions of the "Warrior"'s imminent release. Jack starts to go mad with power, and Lilith punches the artifact into his face, disfiguring him forever. Jack assumes his mask, becoming Handsome Jack, and takes over Hyperion as he swears vengeance on the Vault Hunters.
In Borderlands 2, four new Hunters have arrived to find a new Vault that has been discovered on Pandora, but Handsome Jack uses his vast array of Hyperion resources to try to stop them. The new Hunters – Axton, Maya, Zer0 and Salvador – are aided by Roland and his former Vault Hunters, now leading a resistance known as the Crimson Raiders, secured in their base Sanctuary, and further guided by the Guardian Angel, who is revealed to be Jack's Siren daughter, dying from excessive usage of her powers. Jack had used Angel to trick the former Vault Hunters into opening the Vault on Pandora to gain access to Eridium, a special alien mineral with untold properties. After The Vault Hunters kill Angel in an act of mercy and to disrupt Jack's plan, Jack appears in Angel's chamber and proceeds to kill Roland. Lilith teleports The Vault Hunters to safety before being captured by Jack and used to finish charging the Vault Key. While they find the Vault, Jack arrives and joins them as they open it, and he summons forth the gigantic Warrior, which he wants to use to control Pandora and beyond. The Vault Hunters defeat the Warrior and leave Jack to his death before discovering that the Vault Key contains a map leading to Vaults across the galaxy, with Lilith stating 'there's no rest for the wicked'. As more DLC has been released since the Borderlands 2 has been released, the number of "new" vault hunters is 6, to include Gaige and Krieg.
Sometime after these events, in Tales of the Borderlands, the absence of Jack's control leaves a power void on both Pandora and Hyperion. A Hyperion lackey, Rhys, and a con artist Fiona get caught up in events over the sale of a fake Vault Key to Rhys' superior for ten million dollars. They discover that there is another vault, the Vault of the Traveler, controlled by an Atlas prototype robot named Gortys. As they collect the scattered parts of Gortys, Rhys inadvertently downloads an AI copy of Handsome Jack's personality into his cybernetic mind. Rhys and Fiona's group makes to Helios in a makeshift spacecraft, and Scooter sacrifices himself to assure they get there. Once back on Helios, Jack takes over the entire station. Rhys and Fiona stop Jack and cause the station to crash into Pandora, wiping out Jack's personality for good. After going their separate ways for a while, They reunite to help defeat the Traveler, another giant Vault monster, freeing Gortys and leaving the Vault to be explored.
Borderlands 3 follows 7 years after the events of Borderlands 2 and Tales. After being forced to destroy Sanctuary to protect Pandora from a doomsday plot by former Dahl commander, Colonel Hector, Lilith and the Crimson Raiders recover the Vault Key/Map to discover the many Vaults that exist across the galaxy, and travel among planets via their new spacecraft Sanctuary III. However, the Calypso Twins, Tyreen and Troy, have claimed themselves the rightful owners of the Vaults, creating a cult of personality, the Children of the Vault, from the remnant bandit factions of Pandora to secure these Vaults themselves, and making a strategic partnership with megacorporation Maliwan for military support. Lilith recruits new Vault Hunters (Amara, Moze, Zane, and FL4K) to help secure these Vaults before Tyreen and Troy can. They learn that the pair are Sirens themselves, seeking to absorb the power of the Vault monsters for their own to open the "Great Vault", revealed to be the planet Pandora itself, unaware that it still contains the "Destroyer", which is further explained to be a being intent on destroying the universe. With the help of former and new allies, the Crimson Raiders managed to stop the Calypso Twins and kill the Destroyer but at the cost of Maya and Lilith's lives, although the latter's fate is ambiguous.
|2014||Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel|
|Tales from the Borderlands|
|2015||Borderlands: The Handsome Collection|
|2020||Borderlands Legendary Collection|
Borderlands was released in 2009, and combines traditional first-person shooter gameplay with character-building elements found in role-playing games, leading Gearbox to call the game a "role-playing shooter". Players choose to play as one of four characters: Lilith the Siren, Mordecai the Hunter, Brick the Berserker, and Roland the Soldier. The game awards experience points for enemies killed and objectives completed, as well as encouraging skillful gameplay by granting bonuses to more difficult actions such as headshots. Earned experience builds toward the threshold of the next level. Leveling up provides the player with additional "skill points", which are used to select various skills that allow character specialization.
In addition to various melee weaponry, the character can wield an array of firearms, grenades, and specialized weaponry, which are procedurally generated to provide a rich variety of loot. The game supports solo play as well as a cooperative mode for up to four players. A New Game Plus mode allows players to replay the game with the same character at a higher difficulty level.
The game is set on the planet Pandora, contested by bandits, mercenaries of interstellar corporations, dangerous wildlife and, eventually, eldritch alien abominations. As a "Vault Hunter", guided by the mysterious "Guardian Angel", the player is searching for a fabled vault full of alien loot. Borderlands is characterized by its offbeat humor and a cartoonish, cel-shaded art style.
About 4.5 million copies of the game had been sold worldwide by 2011, an unexpected success for Gearbox. Borderlands received positive reviews, with an aggregate Metacritic score of 81 to 86, depending on the platform. It was complemented by four DLC packs: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, and Claptrap's New Robot Revolution.
A remastered version for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition – was released on April 3, 2019. It was released for Nintendo Switch version, which released on May 29, 2020.
The sequel to Borderlands, released in 2012, picked up the setting and gameplay mechanics of its predecessor. Again, players control one of four (or, with DLC, six) Vault Hunters, while the four-player characters of the original game re-appear as non-player characters. The story, written by Anthony Burch, focuses on the players' struggle with Handsome Jack, the megalomaniacal CEO of the Hyperion corporation, who seeks control of Pandora's mineral riches and alien artifacts.
Gearbox released five DLC campaigns that continue the main game's story (Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty, Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage, Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt, Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep and Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary). In addition, several DLC packs introducing two new player characters (Gaige the Mechromancer and Krieg the Psycho), more character development possibilities and quests have been released.
Even more so than the first game, Borderlands 2 was an unexpected critical and commercial success. It was one of the best-selling games of 2012, and has become the best-selling game in the history of its publisher 2K Games, with 8.5 million copies sold by February 2014. The game received aggregate Metacritic scores of 89 to 91, depending on the platform.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
Announced in April 2014, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel was developed by 2K Australia and released for PS3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC in October 2014, as well as for Mac OS later in 2014. It is set on Elpis, the moon of Pandora, and its story – occurring between the events of the first two games – covers the rise of Handsome Jack to power. The game features four of Jack's henchmen as playable characters: Athena the Gladiator, Wilhelm the Enforcer, Nisha the Lawbringer and the robot Claptrap, "the Fragtrap". Jack's body double Timothy Lawrence and Sir Hammerlock's sister Aurelia were added later as DLC player characters. New game mechanics include the use of oxygen tanks and a boost jump.
Borderlands 3 was released on September 13, 2019 for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game had been in development at Gearbox as early as 2015, and was revealed at PAX East on March 28, 2019. Borderlands 3 was the best selling game in the Borderlands series, selling over five million copies within the first 5 days of its release, and reaching 8 million by the end of 2019.
As with past games, players select one of four new Vault Hunters – Amara the Siren, Moze the Gunner, Zane the Operative and FL4K the Beastmaster – as they try to stop the Calypso Twins from acquiring the greatest power in the universe, including on planets other than Pandora.
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection included Borderlands 2 and Borderlands the Pre-Sequel for release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as on Microsoft Windows and macOS, in March 2015. Both games were remastered by Iron Galaxy Studios and Armature Studio respectively to support the newer consoles, and included support for importing saves from either original game into the Collection to continue those characters.
Borderlands Legendary Collection
Borderlands Legendary Collection includes Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands the Pre-Sequel for the Nintendo Switch, it was released in May 2020.
To coincide with the release of Borderlands 2, the iOS spin-off game Borderlands Legends was released on October 31, 2012, for iOS devices. It is more of a strategy game than a RPG and is played from a top-down perspective with players controlling all four Vault hunters from Borderlands. The game received mixed reviews and an aggregate Metacritic score of 52 out of 100. IGN gave the game a review score of 6.5/10 saying that the game was "a good idea dragged down by its inconsistent execution and lack of content."
LootTheWorld was a free mobile app available for iOS and Android released on December 12, 2013 and shut down on October 18, 2015. The app allowed users to scan barcodes and QR codes which unlocked items for Borderlands 2 that could be transferred to the users game through their ShiFT account. The app was only available in the United States.
Tales from the Borderlands
Tales from the Borderlands is a more narrative- and character-driven, episodic game developed by Telltale Games with collaboration from Gearbox Software, featuring returning and new characters from the Borderlands games. Its five episodes were published between November 2014 to October 2015 for multiple platforms.
The game follows two protagonists, the con artist Fiona and the Hyperion company man Rhys, as they somewhat questionably recount the plot of the game. Telltale Games aimed to incorporate two characteristics of the Borderlands series, gunplay and offbeat humor, into Tales from the Borderlands.
Borderlands Online was to be a China-exclusive online shooter game for PC and mobile devices, developed by 2K China and Gearbox Software, and published and operated by Shanda Games. It was slated to be released in 2015, but was cancelled in November 2015 when 2K China was closed because of profitability concerns.
The soundtrack for the sequel, by the same composers, was published as Borderlands 2: Original Soundtrack in 2012, featuring 23 tracks. Soundtrack albums for several DLC campaigns were released separately.
Four issues of a comic miniseries, Borderlands: Origins, were published in print and digitally in November 2012. The series was written by Mikey Neumann and the artist Agustin Padilla, published by IDW. It tells the story of how the original four Vault Hunters came to be together at the beginning of Borderlands, filling in their backstory and setting up the events of both games. Those are the titles:
- Borderlands: Origins Roland
- Borderlands: Origins Lilith
- Borderlands: Origins Mordecai
- Borderlands: Origins Brick
- Borderlands: Origins Collected Edition
A second series, Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone, also by Neumann and Padilla, was published in eight issues between July 2014 and April 2015. It followed the events of the first Borderlands game.
- Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone #1 (July 2014)
- Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone #2 (August 2014)
- Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone #3 (October 2014)
- Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone #4 (November 2014)
- Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone #5 Tannis & The Vault Part 1 (December 2014)
- Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone #6 Tannis & The Vault Part 2 (January 2015)
- Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone #7 Tannis & The Vault Part 3 (March 2015)
- Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone #8 Tannis & The Vault Part 4 (April 2015)
A video game art book, The Art of Borderlands 2, is available.
- Borderlands: The Fallen (November 22, 2011), ISBN 978-1439198476
- Borderlands: Unconquered (September 25, 2012), ISBN 978-1439198483
- Borderlands: Gunsight (October 1, 2013), ISBN 978-1439198490
A film adaptation of Borderlands is being developed as a tentpole movie by Lionsgate, with Avi and Ari Arad producing together with Erik Feig. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford and Take-Two Interactive's CEO Strauss Zelnick will serve as executive producers. Craig Mazin is to write the script and Eli Roth is to direct the film, which is expected to be R-rated. Cate Blanchett was signed on in May 2020 to star as Lilith.
A May 2015 media report summarized the premise of the film as follows: "When a nearby star's gravitational pull unearths horrifying alien creatures hidden deep below the surface, the surviving colonists retreat to a vault rumored to contain advanced alien technology". In 2019, reporting by Full Circle Cinema suggested that the plot and characters of the film would only vaguely resemble those from the games. Reportedly, the film is to follow the "legendary thief" Lilith, who has to rescue the Atlas Corporation's CEO's daughter, Tiny Tina, assisted by Claptrap, Tina's bodyguard Krieg, and a group of vault hunters.
Alongside the reveal of Borderlands 3, Gearbox presented a card game called Borderlands: Tiny Tina's Robot Tea Party. Designed for two to five players and taking 15 minutes a game, the goal is to collect the necessary cards to assemble a specific Claptrap model, but which can be waylaid by action cards played by other players. The game is being published by Gearbox, XYZ Game Labs, and Nerdvana Games.
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