2K Games’ efforts in virtual reality (VR) have been limited but are undoubtedly a good sign of things to come. Having bigger publishers pushing the VR agenda can only be a welcome thing for the youthful medium, and bringing heavy-weight videogame franchises into the fray is most certainly a good strategy for increasing adoption amongst existing fanbases. Borderlands 2 VR – essentially a revision of the already re-released Borderlands 2 – is 2K Games’ challenger for 2018, and it’s proving divisive amongst the VR early adopters.
There’s no denying that 2K Games is a fantastic VR experience, as demonstrated in VRFocus’ Borderlands 2 VR review, however, there’s more going on under the hood that’s worth paying attention to. It’s not a straight-forward case of ‘Borderlands 2 in VR’ as the frantic pace of the action simply wouldn’t work. Instead, developer Gearbox Software has invested significant effort in ensuring that Borderlands 2 VR has been carefully adapted for VR play. That in itself brings with it a number of design decisions that might prove hard to swallow for some.
First-Person Control in VR
Borderlands 2 VR’s control systems have been designed to incorporate a plethora of options adjustable to suit anyone’s taste. Full locomotion is included as standard on the DualShock 4 controller as a testament to the demands of more experienced VR gamers, however, PlayStation Move control includes a somewhat frustratingly implemented teleportation scheme, and though full locomotion is available it’s a significant step back from that featured in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR’s design. Still, even this slight blemish on motion-controls is not as disappointing as…
Borderlands 2 VR Does Not Support PlayStation Aim Controllers
Exactly why the decision was made not to offer support for the PlayStation Aim controller is baffling. Borderlands 2 VR could have easily integrated the peripheral in a similar fashion to Firewall: Zero Hour or Arizona Sunshine, but instead the design team has completely ignored the device. Could it be that including support for a peripheral that only works with another peripheral was considered too niche for Gearbox Software’s time investment? VRFocus has hopes that support may be offered via a patch down the line.
Bad Ass Mega Fun Time
One of Borderlands 2 VR’s biggest new additions is Bad Ass Mega Fun Time (B.A.M.F. Time) which is both an interesting ability combined with a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Essentially the player (regardless of chosen character class) is able to slow time to the point of almost pausing the videogame to allow them to line-up some headshots or outwit the enemies. However, it’s a pretty thin veil dressed over the fact that it is obviously also intended to fix any mid-game issues incurred by the hardware; teleporting against a wall and being shot from behind, enemies too far in the distance being marred by the low resolution of the PlayStation VR. B.A.M.F. Time is undoubtedly welcome, but also feels a little cheap at times.
So, while B.A.M.F Time has been brought in to address certain issues, another change that has been made is a significant reduction in the speed of the combat. Enemies will still outnumber the player at almost all times, but the pressure is now more on prioritising your targets over our maneuvering your adversaries. Some enemies will still be crackshots taking to your head from long range, others will still incessantly charge towards you in a panic-driven fury; however all of this can be taken in your stride as Borderlands 2 VR allows a few additional moments of respite before any potential death may befall you. Whether or not you think this is a good thing will largely depend on your level of experience with first-person shooters (FPS’) in VR, but odds-on that most players will welcome the change of pace.
Borderlands 2 VR Multiplayer
Or rather, the lack thereof. Every bloodline Borderlands videogame has always been designed as a multiplayer experience, so it comes as something of a shock that Borderlands 2 VR omits this aspect entirely. Of course, it’s still a hugely enjoyable FPS experience regardless, but much of the franchise’s fanbase might question whether or not it will hold-up when going it alone. Of course, as with all VR, the proof can’t be seen in videos or articles such as this, but rather in experiencing it for yourself.
Borderlands 2 VR DLC
And again, the omission of it. Borderlands 2 VR does not include any of the downloadable content (DLC) made for previous editions of the videogame: it is an adaptation of Borderlands 2. It’s not a ‘Game of the Year’ edition or a port to a new console. It’s quite simply a recreation of the original PlayStation 3 release in VR. It is a massive videogame in its own right, but as with Fallout 4 VR, one has to wonder what plans may lay ahead. Do 2K Games intend on offering the DLC at a later date? Will it be free, or carry a premium price tag? No details have yet been made available regarding this, but you can bet that much of the decision making process will depend on Borderlands 2 VR’s sales numbers come the new year.
A Mixed Bag? Still fun though.
So yes, Boderlands 2 VR isn’t without flaws. It’s a videogame that has been designed to offer something new to something old, and with that it makes for a wonderful, engrossing VR experience in its own right. However, when directly compared to the original editions of the videogame – something which a core VR audience may not often wish to do – there are still some cracks that need to be filled rather than simply painted over. Despite the issues Borderlands 2 VR is still an easy recommendation for any VR gamer, and a good sign that 2K Games is taking the medium seriously.
UPDATE: The original version of this article inaccurately stated that PlayStation Move based control schemes were limited to ‘teleportation-only’. This has been corrected, and further adds to the argument that the control methods in the videogame have mostly been well implemented.