To answer your initial question 2K's next installment in the Borderlands franchise is called The Pre-Sequel because it takes place between the original title and the recent Borderlands 2, therefore making it a prequel and a sequel all in one. While our preview of the title left us anxious to get our hands on it we couldn't help but formulate our own question: are we even ready for another lengthy Borderlands installment?
There's one indisputable fact that keeps our stomachs from settling on 2K Australia developing The Pre-Sequel: any time a studio outside has developed DLC for Gearbox's series it has resulted in mediocre or bland content. While it's true that creating a full fledged title lends the team much more creative freedom, to find their own respective niche and humor in the franchise, we couldn't help but have some reservations going into our first eyes-on preview.
Handsome Jack is back and that's perhaps the best news for fans; though he's slightly different to begin with. Would you believe us if we said he's a good guy?
You start off as one of his minions (Athena, Claptrap, Nisha, or Wilhelm) all of which have appeared in previous installments. Each of them have unique classes, the likes of which have never been seen before. If you've played The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, you may very well remember Athena. Dubbed the Gladiator, Athena utilizes her shield to absorb damage before throwing it out (a la Captain America) and damaging foes with it. We were also informed that Wilhelm would start off human but as you level him up he slowly upgrades his body with mechanical parts, becoming the boss you faced in Borderlands 2. Gearbox wouldn't say anything about Nisha or Claptrap but they did tease us with an appearance with a brief appearance or two.
Had you asked anyone where the series would go next, undoubtedly someone would have jokingly remarked, "What about Borderlands in space!?" It would seem like a cop-out and perhaps in any other franchise it would be but with Hyperion's Moonbase there is a significant amount of backstory to tell. With this territory comes the expected - low gravity, air level management, some additional mechanics, and...Australians. Everyone on the moon is Australian. We never would have guessed.
When outside of buildings your character will utilize their new Oz Kit (Oz looks similar to O2). Rather than make it a simple resource management system of - Do I have enough oxygen to cover this distance? - 2K Australia made the creative choice to add other mechanics. You can double jump now. Want to do so? It's going to cost you some oxygen. Want to slam down on the ground? You guessed it, more oxygen. All of this stands as something that could get old over time but Gearbox promises that it opens up a ton of interesting possibilities that players will enjoy. (There are some oxygen vents scattered throughout the moon that you can utilize to restore your reserves, allowing the developers to fine tune the resource).
Low gravity means explosions send foes flying through the atmosphere before they slowly drift back down to the surface. We're slightly worried that the bland landscape of the moon will be a little too dull but again Gearbox says that 2K Australia is making each and every environment unique and memorable.
All of this also means that your favorite fire weapons are significantly weaker. Without oxygen there can't be fire, so until you are indoors or activate a mobile oxygen generator, you shouldn't expect those to work at their full potential. However, there are a couple of new factors as far as gun-play goes. Cryo weapons slowly freeze your enemy with each bullet, and large ones will require more to be stopped, before becoming fully frozen. Once that point is reached however, all it takes is a single melee attack to explode them into ice chips. Perhaps you could warm them up with the new Laser weapon type which come in two styles: consistent beam or repeater.
Gearbox is adamant that this isn't Borderlands 3 so we shouldn't expect the amount of innovation and overhaul that we saw with the latest installment. However, as fans of the franchise and those that have played the majority of the content released we can't but help be skeptical that our attention will be held much further than the initial playthrough. And with The Pre-Sequel only releasing on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, having to boot up our old consoles only serves as an additional barrier for us returning to Pandora. Uh, Pandora's moon.