Are you ready to party like it’s 2012? We’re here to dust off one of the biggest games of last generation and slide it into virtual reality. The PlayStation VR version isn’t the first oddly timed port for Borderlands 2, it was also squeezed onto Playstation Vita way back in 2014 and shares a lot of similarities with this most recent release in terms of 2K trying their hand at pushing a dodecahedron into a square hole.
I’m not going to spend a heap of time going into the finder details of Borderlands 2 as it’s been available on a myriad of platforms at this point. It’s already released on PC, PS3, 360 and Vita as well as getting a re-release on PS4 and Xbox One. What you are getting here is basically the PS3/360 version of the original release with VR controls melded in with fairly successful results.
This is a game designed at its core as a run and gun first person shooter, where strafing around rushing enemies while bullets, rockets and explosions fill the screen is the meat and potatoes of your enjoyment. Shoehorning VR elements means a more Skyrim VR experience rather than Doom VFR. Straight off the bat you are hit in the face with 2D cutscenes up on a screen, these require cuts in and out whenever a cinematic introduction takes place which is very jarring, a reminder of the nature of this port.
Gearbox has clearly put a lot of effort into giving plenty of options in terms of avatar and camera movement, with tons of tweaks available to avoid motion sickness and hopefully make it an enjoyable experience. At no stage did I have issues with sickness or headaches, even while playing with standard Dualshock controls, which is a great achievement. In terms of control options it is very disappointing to see no support for the Aim controller, I expect a future patch will remedy this rather large omission as it would be the best of both worlds of the 2 controller options currently supported. Despite a great range of variables for the Move controllers it just felt like you are fighting against the flow of gameplay to use them over the Dualshock controller (which the game was actually designed for). I could stomach the Move style in Skyrim due to the slower nature but here the game screams out for throwing caution to the wind and getting up close and personal, especially since you are likely to achieve a higher level of accuracy in VR with head control in any case with long range weapons losing some value in that regard.
Visually the game is a very mixed bag with the art style being a blessing to hit the frame rate required to maintain a good level of immersion. With some very large draw distances in the open world the textures aren’t fantastic but get the job done fine, the bigger issue is the aliasing and the shimmering that comes with it. In open areas with more a more muted colour palette the jagged edges can make for a really messy experience, again showing how far retrofitting existing titles into a VR framework can go. The UI cannot be moved or adjusted, which led to the minimap basically being useless to me unless I stared up at the sky to bring it into focus. Framerate is generally fine for VR with most bugs being due to the issues in the original release rather than VR related.
It feels a bit strange to complain considering the core Borderlands 2 game is a good 25-30 hours long but for such an old game that has been re-released 3 times already it’s disappointing that the DLC mission packs aren’t included, especially since at the time they were one of the best examples of post-release content. The next complain though is a very mind boggling one. For a series that become extremely successful due to it’s co-op focus it’s quite confounding that there are no options available whatsoever. I can’t see this releasing on PC without at least co-op implemented so again, fingers crossed this is another feature that will be added eventually as it would be a huge incentive to dig through the less compelling content in the game. At $75 this is almost a regular full priced release so missing 3 features that most interested gamers would expect is a hard pill to swallow.
Hopefully 2K feel the port is worth some post release development time to clear a few of these issues. As it stands this VR port is one very odd duckling, certainly not aimed at the majority of the 13 million people who made the game a success, but more a statement of what can be achieved working with a very limited goal in mind, similar to the release on Vita way back when. Hopefully we can see a more VR designed and crafted Borderlands experience hit the platform at some point as there is so much potential here, especially for co-op.
A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER FOR THIS REVIEW.
The VR port of Borderlands 2 (a game from 2012) falls short of what could have been a fantastic release. This is due to a lack of polish and the glaring omission of co-op.
It's Still A Great Game
Solid Framerate With Plenty Of Movement/Camera Tweaks