We're not going to bore you by reiterating how much we love Borderlands 2, as we've shared our opinions many times since we reviewed it back in 2012. With a fascinating world filled funny characters and a zillion cool weapons, it's kind of surprising that Gearbox didn't bring this great game to virtual reality earlier. The reason doesn't matter anymore though, as Borderlands 2 VR has finally arrived, which leaves the question; was it worth the wait? Well, we're not going to be shouting yes from the rooftops, but we won't go all out Darth Vader from Revenge of the Sith either.
Let's start with the good stuff. This is Borderlands 2 in virtual reality, not some kind of experience or an inferior version. You get to explore the cel-shaded world while killing psychos and weird creatures that have weapons pouring out of them to your heart's content. Experiencing the beloved/hated slapstick humour and jokes when it feels like you're actually in the world really takes it to another level, even if it makes it all the more annoying that we're not able to strangle the ever-so-chatty Claptrap. Being able to choose between using the Move controller and a DualShock 4 while also having a wide variety of comfort and movement settings to choose from makes it very easy to lose yourself in this universe.
This being said, Borderlands 2 VR isn't a game made from the ground up for virtual reality; this is basically just a port of a game that was clearly made for our two-dimensional televisions. Both the cinematic sequences and menus are still rendered in 2D, leading to a few irritating things. Going from exploring the world in 3D to suddenly sitting in your local cinema when new characters are introduced absolutely ruins the sense of immersion. On top of that, we have menus that disappear behind the vending machines when you try to buy or sell something from what we consider a natural distance. Having to position yourself in certain ways once in a while might not sound like a big deal, but quickly becomes annoying in a loot-driven game such as this.
It doesn't help that the frame-rate struggles fairly often, especially when aiming down your scope. Doing this doesn't work like most other shooters either, Maybe the developers feard it would be uncomfortable shifting to the usual scoped perspective, because they've decided to add a smaller screen on top of the regular UI when you want to use the scope instead. Do you know why some games don't have split-screen even if the developers wanted to? Because processing two screens at once is extremely demanding, and Borderlands 2 VR is a perfect example of that. Using the scope always lowers the frame-rate in a very noticeable way, even to the single digits in some cases. That doesn't just make it very difficult to hit your target and play as Zero, but has also made our otherwise strong VR stomach turn a little.
This is a real shame as the core gameplay is still aces. After making some minor tweaks to the comfort and movement settings (we chose full motion and no filtering), exploring Pandora was a lot of fun. Finding new weapons and slaughtering enemies is just as engaging as it is in the regular version. Some might even say better because being in VR version allows us to slow down time with the "BAMF Time" system. Activating this makes you feel even more of a lean, mean killing machine while obliterating the poor souls around you. Some very minor tweaks to the different skills have also been made to take advantage of BAMF and compensate for the lack of multiplayer, but these and first-person driving aren't enough to justify a new purchase if you're looking for new content, even if they are welcome additions.
Borderlands 2 VR is a lot fun when everything works, so it's definitely worth a consideration if you've always dreamt of actually being on Pandora. Just remember that you need a strong stomach as the shift over to virtual reality is far from flawless. 2D elements ruin the immersion and might force you to think about what you're doing, while a generally lacklustre frame-rate warrants bundling the game with a bucket for those of you who get queasy when playing in virtual reality. Those of you who are hardened to VR and willing to overlook these shortcomings can look forward to feeling like a real vault hunter when diving into a world we've spent hundreds of hours exploring in 2D.
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