A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! is a sci-fi first-person shooter/role-playing game with frequent, intense gunplay and lots of violence. Players use a broad range of rifles, pistols, machine guns, grenades, and other weapons to destroy robots and kill human enemies, who gush blood and scream in pain before dying. The story follows a character from a later period in the series' time line and shows how he transforms from a somewhat decent fellow into a villain, suggesting that worthy motives don't always result in virtuous actions. Mild profanity ("bitch," for example) and sexual references are used in the game, which is the third title in the franchise. Online cooperative play means players can join together and communicate with strangers with the option to engage in open, non-moderated voice communication, which could raise safety and privacy concerns.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Set between the first and second Borderlands games, BORDERLANDS: THE PRE-SEQUEL! -- the first game in the popular sci-fi shooter/RPG series not developed by franchise creators Gearbox Software -- reveals the origin of Handsome Jack, the primary antagonist of Borderlands 2; turns out he's actually a pretty decent guy at the start of this game. Players begin by choosing one of four characters, each representative of a specific class with distinct special abilities -- ranging from a shield that absorbs attacks and turns into a weapon to a bizarre computer program (executed by the franchise's always witty robot ClapTrap) that has unpredictable effects when executed (such as spawning a disco ball or bouncy rubber-ducky suits). The action is set on a low-gravity moon, introducing a new dimension of movement to the series by allowing players to leap much higher, control their direction in midair, and easily bypass smaller environmental obstacles. Players can opt to work through the campaign alone or join with up to three additional players online in team-based cooperative play.
Is it any good?
Despite tweaks such as low-gravity movement and a healthy dose of comedy courtesy of ClapTrap, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! is less a full-formed entry in the popular sci-fi series and more -- as its name suggests -- an extended filler episode designed to patch up a few narrative holes while giving series fans more of what they enjoy. The firefights are just as slick and intuitive as in previous games, and collecting loot is as addictive as ever, thanks to the introduction of oxygen kits, which are necessary to breathe on the moon's surface, come in various capacities, and offer different kinds of bonus effects.
All that said, a heavy blanket of sameness is draped over the proceedings. Mission and character progression feel very similar to that of previous games, and the story and characters tread ground that's already been covered. It's largely only more of what players have already experienced and shorter than they might expect. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! could have been an amazing piece of downloadable content for Borderlands 2, but as a full-priced standalone sequel, it falls short.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online safety. What precautions do you take when playing online games? What sort of behavior from other players do you actively avoid?
Discuss the draw of speculative storytelling, especially with games such as Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! What is it about science fiction that continues to appeal to our culture? The alien worlds? The advanced technology? What do you like most about stories set on distant planets or spaceships in the future?
Talk about violence in games such as Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! Is the violence OK because of the art style and tongue-in-cheek nature of the game, or is it hard to justify a violent game like this?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 2K Games
- Release date: October 14, 2014
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Topics: Adventures, Robots, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Language, Sexual Themes, Violence
- Last updated: April 14, 2020
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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.