Claptrap would be utterly devastated to learn that he hasn’t been able to take his ninja skills or his minions to this generation’s resoundingly popular Nintendo Switch console. Ports of past generations’ games seem to be an enduring trend on the Switch and are performing well because of the Switch’s commercially popular status. So, should Gearbox Software’s star player, Borderlands, see the light of day on Nintendo’s platform? In my mind, that’s a rhetorical question. If I’m being completely candid, it should have already been announced for the Switch months ago.
Handsome Jack’s empire
Borderlands started something big when it landed on PC and consoles in 2009. Uniquely, Gearbox created a shooter and RPG amalgamation that would prove to be the roots of today’s big loot shooters such as Destiny and The Division. In fact, the game’s design and the term “loot shooter” all started with Borderlands. While the game could be a lone wolf affair, it was designed for vault hunters — the moniker given to the avatars of all players — to band together in a cooperative fashion to take on the hazards of the planet Pandora.
Countless smiles free with purchase
Borderlands and its sequels, Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, are known for quirky commentary on pop culture, and the series is by and large one hilarious dark comedy. Comedy executed well is a bankable business model. Just ask Deadpool.
As Vault Hunters embark on a quest to secure the mythical contents inside a legendary vault, characters emerge from the wastelands to confront or cooperate with them. And when I say characters, I mean characters. Fans are familiar with the likes of sultry, entrepreneurial Mad Moxxi, the crazed physician Dr. Zed, and the greedy weapons dealer Marcus Kincaid among so many others. The corporate villain Handsome Jack made his debut in Borderlands 2 and is, perhaps, the most popular character in the series to date for his sarcastic wit, devilish charm, and ruthlessness.
Each and every NPC brings a certain eccentricity to the table, twisting the plot into a tale steeped in hysteria. For instance, in Borderlands 2 a mission sees players preparing a tea party for a preteen girl who is also an explosives expert. You need the proper explosives to advance the main storyline. So, players must humor her and put on the quirky event that sees her bandit enemy, Flesh Stick, roasted at the end of her dinner table much to her delight. These are the sorts of gems littering the Borderlands series. The twisted joy that makes the game so enduring and popular is reason enough to expand its reach on the Nintendo Switch, potentially for newcomers to the series.
Speaking of newcomers…
Not only would fans jump at the chance to purchase the games a second time on Nintendo Switch, but it’d possibly introduce others to a franchise that feels a bit obscure today. It’s been a while since the last installment, and “Borderlands 3” could use some pre-market buzz — even if it’s not planned for Switch. Granted, a Borderlands 3 isn’t official yet. But it’s a no-brainer that it’d be taking center stage over at Gearbox, with many anticipating an announcement sometime in the near future.
Bandit killing is fun for the whole family
In an age where loot shooters are popular among the Xbox One and PS4 communities, why not bring the original loot shooter to Nintendo Switch? It’s perfect for local or online co-op play. Just imagine getting together with a few friends for lunch or a drink, then whipping out your Switch consoles and gunning down the creatures and bandits of the lawless Pandora.
The loot shooters available now that include shared worlds and player hubs as we’ve seen in Destiny, Anthem, and The Division might be a bit much for the online wares of the Switch system. Nintendo Switch Online’s chat feature is not up to snuff for the shared worlds of these games. However, the level of online interaction is significantly tamer in Borderlands where players simply join public games or invite friends to their own. The leader of each game chooses the missions and waypoints that the group will pursue; it’s as simple as that. It’s more of a typical co-op affair than the more network-heavy loot shooters we’re seeing on other platforms.
The games also offer plenty of content. There are countless hours of story and side missions between all three titles and the DLC available for each, and players will keep coming back for more for quite some time. I’m almost positive that there isn’t any game in the history of my gaming career that I’ve revisited more than Borderlands 2. With the promise of countless hours of fun, fans and newcomers will surely see the value in a purchase on the Switch.
Dear Gearbox, in the words of Shia Labeouf, “Just do it!”
I could go on all day about my love for Borderlands. But in the end, Gearbox and 2K need to take note of the development studio’s star franchise. If they connect the dots between this successful series and the highest-selling platform last year, then the obvious conclusion only makes sense.
Borderlands 2 received a port to the PlayStation Vita years ago and failed spectacularly from a technical standpoint. This was only because several corners were cut when bringing the port to the handheld. But I’d venture to say that the Switch will be an entirely new ball game and that there is a market for a proper port to a mobile platform. Nothing has ever made more sense since the time the crazed bandit Face McShooty begged and challenged Vault Hunters incessantly to shoot him in the face. Just pull the trigger, Gearbox.