Game review by
Brett Molina, Common Sense Media
Borderlands Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Stylish but super-gory shooter where you kill with abandon.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 38 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 70 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Players pretty much kill anything and everything in their sights (with the exception of mission-providing humans, who cannot be hurt) without much consequence. Also, players can loot the money and possessions of others, even when the character is standing right in front of them, with no consequences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players assume the role of mercenaries on a search for a legendary vault while amassing as many guns and as much cash as they can get their hands on.

Ease of Play

The game begins with a quick tutorial that helps players learn the shooting controls. As you discover new items, the game will explain what they are and how each is used. The game is good at offering instruction throughout the adventure.


Players will use a large array of weapons to kill both human and non-human enemies, including assault rifles, shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles and rocket launchers. Some weapons have elemental effects that deal more damage. For example, the bullets of some guns will set enemies on fire or electrocute them. Enemies scream after dying, with final attacks resulting in spewing blood, loss of limbs or decapitation. Prepare for lots of gore.


The worst words used are "f--k", "s--t", and "p---y".


The game has fictional gun manufacturers that create the weapons players will use. However, you'll only notice this when you acquire a new weapon.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Borderlands is a very gruesome first-person shooter meant for adults only. Besides using strong language and mature humor, the game is quite violent. Players amass a large collection of weapons which they use to kill humans and creatures native to the planet they're visiting. When enemies are killed, blood often shoots in the air. In some cases, limbs fly off bodies and heads can be decapitated. Prepare for plenty of blood and gore. The game is also playable online, a feature Common Sense Media does not recommend for children under the age of 12.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGamerTears September 25, 2012

Violence, Guns, and Meaty Flesh Blood

A masterpiece of action, over-the-top violence, and original adult humor. It is the best adult game for multiplayer gun-looting on Xbox 360. Not for kids as it... Continue reading
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byFerrari_Fanatic July 8, 2010
Teen, 13 years old Written byjake brown June 10, 2020

not to bad

the game has a couple of cruses here and there but you kids probably here more at school it is kind of violent but you can turn off the blood and goure the vile... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byWobert202 April 17, 2020

Not so violent

Well, while it is a first person shooter, it is set on another planet from what seems to be another galaxy. It has a somewhat cartoonish animation style and is... Continue reading

What's it about?

Borderlands follows four mercenaries -- Brick the Berserker, Lilith the Siren, Mordecai the Hunter, and Roland the Soldier -- as they visit the planet of Pandora in search of a legendary alien vault believed to contain rare technology and infinite wealth. Guided by a guardian angel and the inhabitants of Pandora, players choose a character and begin their journey. The game is best described as a first-person shooter with some role-playing elements, such as gathering experience points and boosting specific combat skills. The story is open, so players can choose to take on quests linked to the main adventure or accept side quests to earn cash or experience. Players can tackle the adventure solo, with another player in split-screen mode, or in four-player cooperative action online.

Is it any good?

Borderlands' big draw is its huge arsenal, which consists of thousands of guns randomly generated throughout its environments. The weapons feel quite different compared to other shooters and are really fun to use. Ammo contains elemental properties that can add acid, fire or electric damage. The urge to test out newly discovered firearms is often enough incentive to march through the lengthy campaign.

Complementing the unique arsenal is a vibrant world that employs a cel-shaded animation reminiscent of a comic book. The game features a wide variety of enemies, both big and small. They're not always very smart, however. While you would expect animals to run toward you without a thought, it's hard to watch human enemies present themselves as such easy targets. The game also includes an impressive, seamless online experience where up to three players can join your game at any time. Alternatively, you can join anyone else's game. Groups of players can also enter arenas for four-player competitive multiplayer, making it very easy to get lost in the world of Borderlands.

Online interaction: Players can join others games at any time in cooperative and competitive play, and the game includes open chat with others. That means the range of language and ideas (good or bad) that could be encountered online is unknowable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the game's artistic style, which gives it the appearance of a moving comic book. Do you think it enhances the experience? Do you wish other games used similar graphics?

  • Do you think the game's comic book aesthetic alters the depiction of violence in any significant way? Does it make the violence seem more cartoonish, and hence more tolerable? Or is it just as intense as the violence found in games striving for a more realistic look and feel?

Game details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
  • Price: $59.99
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: 2K Games
  • Release date: October 20, 2009
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Strong Language
  • Last updated: October 3, 2016

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fun without guns, gore

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate