Is it a bad game? No. Not entirely, anyway. And it tries. And a lot of it’s ideas are actually superior to the ones found in Borderlands 2 and it’s DLCs. But “making it all work” is where it often fails and fails miserably.
For the good – the addition of low-gravity mechanics and jumping and slamming and all of that actually makes the basic shooty-shoot Borderlands gameplay more fun. Incredibly more fun, in fact, as Borderlands 2 can get boring pretty fast in terms of the basic gameplay, but Pre-Sequel is fun to play, fun to control, fun to move around. It’s no Tribes, but it’s closer to how faster paced more old-school FPS games used to be. Though, sadly all other mechanics are still the same, so bullet-sponge enemies are same as ever.
Soundtrack is also pretty cool, with very 70-90s Sci-Fi vibes to it. The overall design and ideas are also pretty cool – more often than not game looks much more interesting to look at than previous games in the series just because of smart use of colors, contrast some TRON-like bloom and other stuff. And quite a lot of levels get rather creative visually and, sometimes, mechanically.
But that’s when you start switching to the bad stuff. While levels look good, they are more often then not a chore to play on. Boring, sometimes confusing, sometimes just dumb in terms of the death pits – they are not fun to play. In fact, the very last level made me have some serious Halo’s infamous Library level flashbacks so stupidly designed AND copy-pasty it was.
And where in B2 some of it’s boringness of the overall gameplay got softened because of the writing, Pre-Sequel mostly falls flat in terms of dialogue and humour. It doesn’t know when to start a joke, when to let it go, what works as a joke, what doesn’t. Most of the new characters are annoying at their best, insufferable most of the time. Vault hunters and Jack usually have all the best things to say, but everyone else and almost every cutscene is just bad.
And the quests and pacing… I mean, B2 had similar issues – sidequests weren’t as much “side-” as you’d hope – getting underleveled meant boredom and frustration. But that’s taken to a whole knew level in Pre-Sequel, where sidequests can be extremely boring and designed without any understanding of why and how people play these games and some encounters are just ridiculous even if you’re at a recommended level. Final bosses in both main game and story DLC are just plain examples of “war of attrition” – there’s not real strategy, no tactics, you just spend up to 40 minutes fighting an enemy with hopes that he dies faster than your health and/or ammo runs out and if he doesn’t, you don’t really feel like trying again because there’s no challenge or difficulty just waiting until the boss finally dies. Except those bosses have a bazillion of forms, so it’s even more stupid. One post-game sidequest revolved around a raid boss, a usual for the series. So me and my friends took that quest after finishing game together, went to the boss place, saw that it was the final boss AGAIN and just said “no”. Note that I did kill him later, after finishing DLC and being overleveled and it still took a long boring pointless amount of time, except now I was in no danger of dying whatsoever.
Pre-Sequel has lots of great ideas. It had potential to be better than Borderlands 2, but it failed. Writing is pretty bad, attempts at humour almost never work, improved gameplay mechanics suffer from horrible map planning and quest\encounter design. And it’s a real shame.