Review – Borderlands : The Handsome Collection (Switch)

Borderlands 2 is the epitome of the Ubisoft second game getting it right rule. The first Borderlands was a fun game with some fun new systems, but had just as many issues. Story, pacing, variety, basically everything outside of the absolute core mechanics were subpar at best. Even those could have use a bit of refining. Enter Borderlands 2, which came out right after Diablo III disappointed everyone, to make good on the original’s promise. Now eight years later Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition takes the looter shooter classic portable for a sublime experience.

The opening cinematic is one of gaming’s best and if you disagree, you’re just wrong.

This isn’t the first time Gearbox has tried to take this game portable. Back when people still thought the Vita would be a thing, a slightly cut down port of Borderlands 2 was released for it. The results were disastrous. It was one of the worst ports for the system, with bugs and performance issues galore. The port didn’t even include all of the already released DLC. Still the promise of portable Borderlands 2 remained alluring, and throughout the Switch’s entire life thus far it was one of the games I most wished for a port for. Now it’s finally out and it’s almost everything I could wish for.

Performance and graphics are rock solid. The game holds its target of 1080p 30fps religiously. No matter how hectic things got (in handheld mode), I never noticed a dip. Now while I would have preferred 60fps at the expense of that 1080p resolution, the game played smoothly enough that it was never really an issue in-game. Also new to this version are full motion controls, and they work wonderfully. The Switch has really gotten me in the habit of relying on motion controls to overcome my naturally poor skills at most FPS’, so I’m glad most shooters on the system take advantage of this functionality. Especially in handheld mode where the Joy-Cons can be less then ideal for the genre, they take it from technically playable to just plain enjoyable.

It’s just true. He’s the worst. Makes Navi look like Elizabeth.

For those new to Borderlands 2, the game is built on a simple premise: Diablo with guns. Set on a planet on the outskirts of human civilization called Pandora, you play as one of six unique Vault Hunters. They’re called that because legend says beneath the sands of Pandora are Vaults containing unimaginable treasure and power, and you hunt them. At least that was the legend, as the first game ended with the opening of the legendary Vault and all it contained was a horrible monstrosity locked away by the gods. Still, following those events a powerful element called Eridium was unleashed across Pandora which drew the attention of the Hyperion Corporation. Led by Handsome Jack, Hyperion began a search for a theoretical second Vault which supposedly contained an even greater presence and limitless Eridium.

The game starts with you newly in the employ of Jack heading out into the deserts of Pandora to begin searching for this second Vault. At least that’s what you think. You choose from one of six potential Vault Hunters (four from the base game, two from DLC), each with their own unique abilities and skill trees. While each one is loosely based on a standard RPG class archtype; it’s not exact and there’s a lot of customizability. While I personally prefer the first Borderlands’ set of Vault Hunters, 2 has a bunch of great characters in its own right. There’s a lot of great builds across all six, and a playstyle for everyone. There’s no class Gear restrictions either, so there’s a lot of room for theorycrafting.

Seriously, Jack is the highlight of the game. Great VA performance, great writing, more than what you expect from this genre.

Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition for Nintendo Switch is the portable edition we’ve been waiting for. Great performance, all the content, all the functionality, even some new motion controls to sweeten the deal. It’s also an amazing game on its own that fixes the previous title’s issues with variety in location with multiple new biomes, repetitive enemies with loads of new types, and an uninteresting story with one of gaming’s most interesting villains in Handsome Jack. ARPG fans shouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up, whether you’ve played it before or not. We can finally get over the PTSD flashbacks that the words “Portable Borderlands 2” caused because of that terrible Vita port.


Graphics: 9.0

Cel-shaded graphics never age, that’s just a fact of life. FPS is also rock-solid, the resolution is full 1080p, this port is the real deal. As it should be.

Gameplay: 9.0

Everything Borderlands did, but way better. Gunplay is smooth and fun, skill trees are bigger and more diverse, and the loot is so much more interesting.

Sound: 9.0

The music is even better than the first Borderlands’ and the voice-acting is well done. Even if Claptrap is the most annoying thing ever, his VA is professional.

Fun Factor: 9.0

The mark of a good ARPG is that the fun never truly ends. There’s always a new build, a new drop, a new way to play, and Borderlands 2 has those in spades.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition is available now on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.