The story of The Pre-Sequel also has its issues. The game is actually a frame-story where Athena, the Gladiator class, is telling some of the previous Vault Hunters (Roland, Lillith) about Handsome Jack and his rise to power. That setup is true regardless of whether you're actually playing as Athena. If, for instance, you're playing as Nisha and you're standing in an elevator by yourself, you'll still hear Athena talking about how she rode up the elevator.
It's a small thing, maybe, but it took me out of the story every time it happened and finally made me wish I'd just played as Athena in the first place.
And on top of that, the story just feels unnecessary. Like Arkham Origins, I realized that I didn't really need to know the origin story of Handsome Jack. I liked him better when he was just an asshole for no good reason. Trying to make him (and characters like Nisha) into sympathetic figures just undercuts the strength of the writing in Borderlands 2 proper.
If this review feels overly negative, it's because the positives of Borderlands seem hardly worth discussing — we've already had two games (and countless expansions) worth of this stuff. This is a decent bit of fan-service, the loot grind is still addictive when it works, the writing is solid when it's not simply aiming for bottom-of-the-barrel meme and reference humor, and the shooting has a good feel to it.
But there's nothing innovative here, nothing interesting to bring back those who felt sated by the end of Borderlands 2, no real hook. It's a stopgap. It's more Borderlands. For some, that'll be enough. For others, well, I'm sure Borderlands 3 is on its way.
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