The Borderlands saga has undoubtedly marked the way in which the genre of first-person shooters is seen by the public. The exaggeration of his narrative, the adaptation of RPG elements such as the loot or the statistics in FPS mechanics, the original interactions with the environment and the cooperation between the various heroes were the most innovative elements. Not because of their already evident singularity, but because of the way in which they were masterfully orchestrated together.
A somewhat explosive mix that with the first chapter was perhaps a bit pungent to the palate of the masses, but then largely finished with its sequel and subsequent variations, creating that expanded universe so strong that fans are eager for the third chapter recently announced. Borderlands 3 , from the first trailer, shook the entire industry and presented itself with great fanfare, bringing all the characters from the previous titles back into fashion. Just the latter were the highlight of the movie broadcast by PAX, leaving everyone in raptures to see the beautiful Lilith and her fiery wings or the giant Brick that plays the Sax: a clear sign of how the story and the setting are extremely attached to the imagination of the users.
To honor this common feeling, we want to retrace our five best moments in the franchise’s history , following the trail of Borderlands Game of the Year Edition on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Of course the following could be spoilers for those few who have not yet played the saga, so if you are among these we recommend returning to this article only after having experienced your crazy Pandora experience.
The opening sequence of the adventures of Brick, Roland, Lilith and Mordecai went down in history almost as much as the Mad World trailer for Gears of War or the beginning of Assassin’s Creed II. An epoch-making moment that combines the wonderful song by Cage the Elephantwith a sequence with a strong authorial imprint.
From the first seconds you can understand the fundamental elements of the soul of the brand: profanity, profligacy and bias . Supernatural weapons, muscles and powers are enhanced within the visual description of the characters in the good Marcus Van, leaving them to set foot on the cruel Pandora. The backstory of the abandoned space colony full of bandits remains evident in that almost post-apocalyptic scent, induced by the desert scenario and the precarious state in which the vehicle and the various equipment pour.
The sequence is a perfect example of an essential communication technique for a new IP that tries to propose itself to the world in which it enters, always keeping in mind the context in which the first Borderlands appeared. Yet even after many years and with a succession of new transpositions, listening to and reliving that moment still causes a shiver down my spine. Part of the reason is attributable to the evolution of the protagonists over the years and the events that involved them, from their struggle against the Atlas company to the founding of the Crimson Riders.
Such is the effect of the nostalgia that pushes on the emotional bond between player and avatar, the same that then led us to live with more involvement Borderlands 2 because of that sense of continuity that we will see again also in the title coming on September 13th.
No matter how messy and humorous the Gearbox brand may appear, we must never forget that Pandora is a land where murder and terror are the daily bread of the hundreds of bandits and beasts that inhabit it. In Borderlands 2 was then introduced one of the most charismatic and ruthless villains that ever appeared on the videogame scene, far from the bandits left behind by corporations: the infamous Jack the Fair .
Jack was introduced wisely, letting his humorous approach – direct and indirect to the player – act as a mask for his black soul. It is no coincidence that this second removable face has become his trademark, precisely because we immediately realize how cruelty flows in rivers from the folds of his fake smile . The greatest testimony of his ruthlessness derives from the act most heard by anyone who played at the first Borderlands.
In one of the many main missions of the game, after having assaulted a sort of big laboratory together with the cover of Mordecai , you will find yourself fighting against Bloodwing : the most precious ally of Pandora’s most lethal sniper. The same that, playing since the original quartet of the series, you have commanded to take out your enemies. How many times has your attack saved you from certain death? Or has he distracted an enemy long enough to allow you to reach an advantageous position?
A paradoxically profound link to a sort of passive “ability” of the animal world, but which is enough to make us feel ill when Jack the Fair decides to subject it to an irreversible mutation, leaving us the burden of stopping his fury . As much as we will only work to stun her, once on the ground the CEO of the Hyperion will blow her head off with one of her usual striking jokes, turning a Hunters victory into their most suffered defeat.
Anger and pain unite perfectly with Jack’s mocking and comical manner, which is so devilishly brazen as to arouse in the player the desire to close his mouth forever. Not so much for a matter of personal emotions, but for what the reaction of the characters involved in the affair flows in us. After all, the Crimson Riders had already lost their leader just to put a stop to Jack’s madness. Bloodwing’s disappearance is the classic drop that made the bloody vase overflow.
At the turn of the first and second chapters, The Pre-Sequel told us behind the scenes of the narrative premise behind the rise of Jack using the perspective of some of his “henchmen”. Employed by the most beautiful employee of the Hyperion, the players were asked to find the Eridian Crypt on Elpis , Pandora’s moon. A formidable mission but which in the end really brought to the depths of the greatest mystery of the universe, creating a contact with the alien race as fatal as mystical.
This search for the lost artifact changed Jack into his intimacy, although the starting point was already crazy enough of his own. The power corrupts and getting too close would be like dressing Icarus in the desire to touch the sun. Jack the Fairy loses his wings when, at the end of The Pre-Sequel, his entire face is horribly disfigured because of the fury of Lilith , the Hunter of the Crypt Mermaid that we all love. All but Jack, who swears revenge on all his enemies for his vision of the Warrior Crypt obtained on Elpis.
It is not so much the specific moment that makes this scene worthy of the mention of honor, but all the more or less devious changes that have led Jack to become the Beautiful and to conquer the whole Pandora with the sole will to acquire power. Living directly from the ranks of his servants, it is possible for the player to even empathize with the villain par excellence, the same one who committed the terrible deeds observed in Borderlands 2.
This is one of the greatest strengths of the often underrated narrative of The Pre-Sequel, which stands almost as a revelation for the narrative making us reflect on the extreme fragility of the status quo that applies to Pandora . The madness intrinsic to the planet’s society is as contagious as it is changeable, especially if at the center of the search all over the globe there is an object so mysterious and alien as to corrupt minds at a single glance. The fate of some of Jack’s new Crypt Hunters, first seen in Borderlands 2, is an important testimony to the climate that hovers over the lifestyle of anyone who chooses to sacrifice himself in the name of alien wealth.
The last canonical chapter before Borderlands 3 is precisely the title released by the deceased TellTale Games , which tells the story of a Hyperion employee named Rhys and the bandit Fiona. Willing or not, they will be implicated in the umpteenth search for Eridian technology, involving characters from some of the originals and most of the iconic Hunter of the Crypt.
Of all the most significant extras, it is impossible not to remember the greatest hero of all: Scooter . Essential figure for assisting hunters, he has always helped through the commissioning of Sanctuary vehicles and the fantastic Catch-A-Ride system . A crazy genius of the mechanics and a lover of shapely motorcycles, frank but intimately closed, as generous as he is unaware. His last feat was to produce a space rocket of luck absolutely necessary for the salvation of the protagonists of all Borderlands.
Yet, despite his unquestionable skill, there was a hitch in the middle of the mission and only a mechanic forged in Pandora’s adversity had the necessary attributes to get out of the cab, repair the fault and have the module unhooked before the leak was fatal also for all other passengers. Scooter was the only man to make such a gesture , a real hero who did not hesitate in the moment of extreme need, sacrificing himself for the good of all.
His death is impactful for two reasons: the first is mainly scenic, the team did an exceptional job in creating the right mix of predetermined events and player interaction . The choice of being able to decide the message with which to crown the memory of Scooter was essential to make this moment a choral instance within the community, favoring sharing and giving the idea of being personally involved in the narrative construction of the future of the franchise .
The second reason is attributable to the same phenomenon examined with Bloodwing. Scooter has always been a voice present in communications for the player, whether they were tutorials or story dialogues. Like Claptrap and the Angel of the situation, the mechanic has a not inconsiderable value in the imagination of the player and this allowed the former development team TellTale to drop hard and let their product give an indelible mark in the memories of the ‘user.
The problem with this operation, especially in the perspective of Borderlands 3, will be to get around the various variable details of multiple choices, trying to include Scooter’s death as a memorial independent of previous production and individual events. Rhys, in the recent trailer, seems to have grown a lot since the last time we saw him, but there is no doubt that in his heart he still keeps alive the memory of his friend from the easy wrench, as did the player too . See you, Space Cowboy .
The Fantasy DLC featuring Dungeons & Dragons and the entire physical / digital tradition of RPGs is widely considered the best additional content of any Borderlands. Within the fantastic scenery of castles, enchanted and secret haunted forests, citations to any such work have been wasted and all deserve to be integrated into this list.
Among these, however, the most memorable is the amusing scene linked to the famous series Il Trono di Spade , or The Chronicles of Ice and Fire for purists, which was in full blast during the period of the release of the DLC. Towards the final area of the game it is in fact possible to enter a large hall in which an NPC named Prince Jeffrey sits on a throne made of rifles. Upon the arrival of the Hunter of the Crypt, he will have you attacked by enemies in the hall, then unleashing his two bodyguards with names clearly similar to those of the Mastiff and the Mountain of the original work.
Once he has killed the two caricatures of armored warriors, he will prepare himself for the battle, presenting himself as one of the many bosses on the level. Unlike the others, as soon as he suffers any damage he will run away and hide behind the throne in the grip of acute cowardice. It is nothing more than a clear mockery of the eponymous character in the series, who is widely hated by any spectator or reader who has seen him appear at least once.
What is striking about this Easter Egg is not so much its presence – interesting in itself for the analysis of the popularity of the series – as the way it is inserted into the game as a real mission with lots of enemies, Boss, dubbed dialogues and references from all the cast of the series (excluding Mordecai who is out of step with the times). And in Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragonkeep this behavior is the norm , emphasizing how the Gearbox development team is skilled in dealing with humor closer to the player as an element outside the scenario of their own production.
At the same time it also emphasizes the increasingly centrality or need for these media to break the fourth wall , letting the cast interact with elements related to the real world and not purely coming from the fictitious dimension. Although the purpose is purely humorous, there is also the intent to arouse a cultural closeness with the player, making him feel less observant of a detached reality and focusing on keeping the attention high with cleverly positioned calls. Borderlands is a master in this and it will probably be a style that we will not see at all abandoned in the next adventure, already very much referring to current trends.
Yet the always fitting and present humor in this DLC is used to hide the true nature of the story behind it: Tiny Tina’s pain processing for the loss of her friend Roland . References such as Prince Jeffrey, players of Dark Souls and Stallone da Culo are enormous attempts by the little narrative voice to go on, to be able to make up for the lack of a loved one with immoderate laughter, so loud to make up for the bad feelings. Fortunately, Tina is not alone and this DLC reminds us just how important it is to stay together in times of need.
The saga contains many other topical moments, but these five represent some of the key sensations that most remain in the memories of the fans. Of course, there could be an infinite number of moments that bring to mind significant memories related to Borderlands and this phenomenon is the natural consequence of a production as rich as it is cured like the one in question. Continuing to amaze one’s audience and create truly memorable scenes becomes more and more arduous the more the chapters of the series increase. Yet, if the two trailers have already managed to evoke a wide range of emotions in their viewers, the chances of being amazed are still more than rosy in the future Borderlands 3.