The rebirth of a beloved spin-off. A film adaptation (whose casting makes no sense). A main entrance (which unexpectedly feels surprisingly fresh). Yes, it’s safe to say Borderlands is back and having its biggest year in a long time.
Borderlands, arguably developer Gearbox’s flagship series, has enjoyed a few bouts of popularity over the years. The first entry was released in 2009 and stood out for espousing first-person shooter and Diablo-looting style with cel-shaded visuals – a creative decision that has no doubt helped the series stand the test of time – and a performatively secular sense of humor. In 2012, Gearbox released a sequel and seriously improved the quality of the script; in addition to presenting a true villain of all time, Borderlands 2The story of was loaded with real-life emotions that retroactively gave personality to the first game’s playable avatars. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequelnot developed by Gearbox, was released in 2014. It was good. The three games received a ton of extensions.
The series cooled for a few years, while developer Gearbox worked on the unfortunate Born warriorbut reappeared for Borderlands 3 in 2019. This game was supplanted by four major expansions. In the meantime, it has adopted a kind of live service model: at a seemingly unpredictable cadence, Borderlands 3 would run time-bound “events” when performing certain tasks, for example, fight his way through a cocaine smeared villa– had a higher chance of rewarding you with rare loot.
Borderlands 4 is still untraceable – despite, uh, cryptic remarks made by Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford last year, but the series caused a stir at E3 2021 with news about a spin-off: The wonders of Tiny Tina. Set between the events of the second and third games, Wonderland takes place in a fantasy tabletop RPG, wrapped in the same in-game playsheet as Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keepone of the best received Borderlands 2 expansions.
I’ll be the first to admit that I imagined Wonderland, which hit consoles and PCs last month, would just be more of the same. No. Wonderland introduced a number of changes that make it an elevated sequel instead of a phoned filler between mainline entries.
Borderlands games have always featured tedious driving segments. Wonderland has no vehicles at all, but rather an RPG-inspired overworld. Borderlands 3 received fair reviews for devaluing the thrill of finding legendary weapons. For The wonders of Tiny TinaGearbox has toned down the drop rates of his rarest weapons, the game’s creative director, Matt Cox, told me recently, but declined to get into the details of the behind-the-scenes math. It also features new combat tools (spells and melee weapons), top voice talents (Will Arnett, Wanda Sykes, Andy Samberg), and a hugely engaging endgame loop (a roguelike-light mode called Chaos Chamber ).
Read more: Why The wonders of Tiny Tina Ain’t This An M-Rated Borderlands, Series First
But Wonderland is only the beginning of Borderlands‘2022 domination. In addition to a series of brief expansions – which have already started to unfold one month after the release of the game, there are another fallout along the way. Last week, Gearbox announced a revival popular Tales from the Borders series of adventure games. The original, which was developed and published by Telltale Games in 2014, was widely praised for its sharp writing. If there’s reason to worry about its resurgence, it’s because the next entry is being made in-house by Gearbox. Hopefully the script retains the spirit and depth of its ancestor. We’ll see when it comes out later this year.
Perhaps the least known quantity is next Borderlands movie adaptation. Directed by horror author Eli Roth and written in part by Craiz Mazin (known for Chernobyl and horror movie 3), it should be released later this year. The cast is anchored by Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Jamie Lee Curtis; all are megawatt stars, of course, but if you’re even moderately familiar with Borderlands lore, it’s hard to imagine any of these actors in their respective roles (except perhaps Jack Black as Claptrap’s terminally boring robot). However, in much the same way Jumanji propelled into visibility based solely on star power, this is probably the Borderlands the film has a stab at making a splash.
All that Borderlands might seem like overcrowding to outsiders or those who consider themselves passing fans‚ people who dive into the main entrances to fuck around for a bit before jumping on the next thing. But for those of us who have been craving a true resurgence for years, 2022 is shaping up to be a pleasant surprise. Like my colleague Zack Zwiezen noted last weekit is the year of Borderlands. We’re just here for the ride.