Stylish but super-gory shooter where you kill with abandon.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable

The worst words used are "f-ck", "sh-t", and "p-ssy".


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
Not applicable

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.

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.

Families can talk 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:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
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

This review of Borderlands was written by

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


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 14 year old Written byfatherteacher December 25, 2009


This gae is fine for mature 13-14 year olds to play. sure their is a little violence, but it isn't like these kids are now going to grow up and be mass terrorists when they grow up. hopefully this helps strict parents let their kids have a life and play vidio games.
Parent of a 11 year old Written byPlayerdad December 28, 2009

Perfect for ages 12+

My son bought Borderlands the other day because all his friends had it. So while he was at school, i played it to see what it was about. Then i found that it is about 4 people who try to find gold and technolgy. I can't really find a fault in the game except that your child might play it alot but, hey thats normal.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
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 includes loads of blood, profanity, and sexual innuendos. It is not Call of Duty. the violence is more cartoonish, but Call of Duty doesn't have bandits screaming "I'll cut the flesh from your bones" or supporting characters that promote incest. For the strange parents who are okay with anything so long as it doesn't have nudity-it does not have nudity (just good old murder, revenge, offensive language, alcohol consumption, blood, and sexual humor.) If your innocent child person wants to kill bad guys with their friends get them Halo or Transformers Fall of Cybertron. Those games have similar cooperative modes and are free of incest and liquor induced cannibalism.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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