We at Kotaku have long been in the habit of ranking all the games worst-to-best in a major series, whether it’s Pokémon or Halo or Assassin’s Creed. At a glance, it’s possible to read those posts as reductive. Most every game has at least one redeeming quality. On the other hand, every “perfect” game probably has something to hate about it. Hence the start of a new series here at Kotaku, wherein we cover the singular best and worst aspects of every mainline game in a popular franchise. First up: Borderlands, Gearbox’s cartoonishly violent series of loot-shooters.
Best: The core concept. When Borderlands came onto the scene more than a decade ago, it was genuinely revolutionary. Combining first-person shooting with the rarity-tiered loot grind of Diablo proved an intoxicating combo. Distinct classes with unique abilities and robust skill trees gave the game some RPG bona fides, like you were always working toward something. Borderlands also knew exactly what it was and didn’t try to be anything else, giving you a confidently basic premise—go, uhh, find lost ancient treasure or something—to justify the grind.
Worst: Heroes lacked personality. Gearbox sketched out four playable characters for Borderlands: the brawler Brick, the generic soldier Roland, the hunter Mordecai (joined by a little bird friend), and the magically enhanced Lilith. But like many first-person games at the time, they served as generic ciphers for the player, not really having well-defined personalities of their own. For a game that was otherwise sharply written, it was a shame not to see that biting wit apply to the folks you played as. (Gearbox quickly remedied this with subsequent entries, though.)