Borderlands Legendary Collection assembles three entries in the world’s best looter-shooter franchise for a thunderous first appearance on a Nintendo console. Players can dive into Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, with plenty of DLC to boot, all assembled in one glorious portable rendition. Hundreds of hours of solo challenges, co-op fun, and a ceaselessly addicting grind await. It won’t be as easy to get a team together, and there were some necessary technical sacrifices to get the compilation working on Switch, but this is largely one of the most enticing last-gen ports you’ll ever find on Switch.
The phrase “perfect for Switch” is thrown around a lot nowadays, almost to the point of hyperbole, but let me assure you that Borderlands Legendary Collection is perfect for Switch. While the series is traditionally known for its rambunctious co-op play, Borderlands games are carefully scaled to preserve an excellent single-player experience. The core loot-’n-shoot gameplay loop works very well in short bursts, as a matter of fact, perfectly complementing the portable Switch. With tons of short missions with easily approachable objectives, quick hideouts to take over, and a world peppered with points of interest and deliciously lootable gun chests, it’s quite easy to grab your Switch and check a few boxes, ice a few bandits, and get just a little bit stronger.
The Borderlands series has been around for a while now. A ton of the folks interested in Borderlands Legendary Collection have probably already played some or all of its packed-in titles, and even if you haven’t had the pleasure to try the series yet, you know the deal. You shoot stuff. You loot stuff. You shoot stronger stuff. You loot stronger stuff. Lather, rinse, repeat for hundreds of hours and dozens of characters and playthroughs if you so choose.
At its core, Borderlands games are about getting stronger so that you can gradually overpower tough enemies and obstacles. I just covered one way to dwarf your enemies — finding more deadly loot hidden throughout the game world in obscured chests and enemy drops — but players also have the pleasure of leveling up their character, unlocking new skills, and upgrading weapon proficiencies. With so many ways to sharpen your character, you’re never too far from finding a better weapon or earning another incremental stat boost. And while a 3% bullet damage increase or a 1-second cooldown reduction for your special might not feel like much, you’ll notice a hellish, snowballing surge of power very quickly.
Thankfully, and predictably, the games all hold up quite well. With the fantastic Handsome Jack and the killer gameplay, Borderlands 2 remains the obvious apex of the series, while Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel both boast a wide variety of characters, quests, and loot to keep you occupied. The humor, style, and core gameplay loop all succeed.
One of the main downers with Borderlands Legendary Collection is finding people to play with. The games on display range from six to eleven years old. Millions of interested players already spent the past decade taking in several hundred hours’ worth of Borderlands. As such, there isn’t a huge online community, and your buds who raved about the game in high school might not be interested in dropping the coin to start from scratch for another round. Fortunately, the games are all perfectly enjoyable single-player experiences (save for a few specific fights and scenarios, like the final boss in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel), but they’re certainly at their best when you’ve got a buddy or three to share a vicious boss or quest with.
Otherwise, these are still fantastic games, and they’re quite well optimized for the Switch. In my time with Borderlands Legendary Collection, I haven’t had any trouble with stability in online play or local co-op, and save for one annoying freeze in the first game, I hardly noticed any technical issues (unless you count huge download requirements as a technical issue, which I wouldn’t blame you for!). The only other sticking point for some will be the Joy-Con controls, which can be a little bit choppy, but it didn’t take long until I was operating my sniper-heavy arsenal with perfect comfort. Otherwise, the games are conveniently equipped with gyro aim, the cel-shaded art style translates well to Switch, and if you can handle 30 FPS, (I did just fine.) you’ll have an awesome time.
If you’ve played Borderlands games before and are raring for another go, then rest assured — Borderlands Legendary Collection is an excellent way to re-experience these titles. If you’re new to the series, the compilation is also perfect for an inaugural run (or seven) through each of these lovely games. The collection offers a wide range of experiences suitable for any shooter fan. In solo play, the Switch combines an absurdly addicting grind with true pick-up-and-play functionality, and if you have a few friends who grab the games as well, get ready for some long, intense sessions full of wacky humor and action-packed quests. I’ve enjoyed some Borderlands in my time, but now that I’ve gotten a taste of the fully realized flexibility of portable loot-’n-shoot action, I’m not sure I ever want to play the series a different way again.
A review code was provided by the publisher.