Launch Primer -- Borderlands


Posted October 19, 2009 - By Andrew Pfister

Ever find yourself in a situation where all of your friends are talking about the latest and greatest game, and you can't contribute to the conversation because you haven't been paying attention? Solve that problem with our Launch Primers: everything you need to know (except the spoilers) about a game that's about to be released.


Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: Mature

All Borderlands Content

Videos  |  Previews  |  Screenshot Galleries  |  News Stories

What kind of game is it?

A first-person shooter with role-playing elements. Aside from certain areas like towns, the game features randomly generated environments and countless permutations of weapon combinations and attributes. There are four player classes to choose from:

  • Berserker - Melee class, temporary invulnerability, good with explosives.
  • Siren -- Teleportation, invisibility, psychic powers.
  • Hunter -- Has a pet, adept with pistols and sniper rifles.
  • Soldier -- Can deploy a turret, generally good with most weapons, and is also the healing class.

Who's the Developer?

Gearbox Software was founded in 1999 and is located in Plano, Texas. Current CEO and president Randy Pitchford is one of the founders, and is the most widely-known representative of the company. Gearbox made their name with the well-received expansion packs for the original Half-Life: Opposing Force, Blue Shift, and Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. Their most prominent original property is the Brothers in Arms series, and along with Borderlands, they are currently working on Aliens: Colonial Marines for Sega.

What's the story?

The planet of Pandora was beset by colonists, who arrived believing that the planet held a vast amount of valuable resources. What they found was...nothing. Most of them left and continued their galactic gold rush elsewhere, leaving those left behind in a state of semi-lawlessness. At some point, somebody found out about a legendary stash of ancient alien tech, and that means it's time for people to start killing each other in pursuit. You are those people.

I'm scared of numbers and random things.

Borderlands looks like a shooter from the outside, but it doesn't play like a Halo or Call of Duty. The statistics of the gear you're carrying has a direct effect on your combat success, as Brian Leahy notes in his preview of the game:

You’re responsible for aiming your shots (remember: headshots = critical hits), but the stats of your weapon and skills will determine damage. As a result, get ready for some enemies to take a lot of fire in a very unrealistic way. This is where the game’s RPG core really comes out to play. Human enemies will eventually get their own shields, which helps explain why it takes 40 bullets to drop someone, but do not come into Borderlands expecting realistic damage models.

So even if you're scared of numbers (that's weird, by the way), as long as you like collecting guns and upgrading your character, you'll survive.


Four-player online cooperative play, where each player can choose whatever class he or she likes. You'll probably also have to like the people you play with, as there are no rules governing looting and ammo isn't shared among the group.

What'd we say?

Brian Leahy also reviewed Borderlands and gave it a 4/5 score:

"The on-foot gameplay of Borderlands is rock-solid. The guns feel great and the combat is extremely fun. Unfortunately, there are issues that hold this game back from being an instant classic. The user-interface is passable, but has some flaws. Comparing two items is more difficult than it needs to be and using health items requires some menu navigation, which isn’t so bad in singleplayer as it pauses the game, but in co-op you’re vulnerable."


Borderlands Story Preview »


Launch Primer -- Borderlands


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