In the past two weeks, Switch has seen a quantity of ports of triple A titles coming from the other consoles on the market, some of which, frankly, we would not have expected to find on essentially portable hardware like that Nintendo.
Among these, the Borderlands Legendary Collection, collection containing the first two numbered episodes of the famous saga 2K e The Pre-Sequel, the unprecedented interlude between the two.
If you thought that certain titles could not be enjoyed on the move, you may have to change your mind.
The return of the crypt hunters
We are sure that all our readers know about the franchise Borderlands, from direct experience or even in name: born in 2009 on the last generation of consoles, the Gearbox brand has been able to conquer millions of players with its irresistible mix of unbridled action, rich loot, role-playing mechanics and, above all, humor demented.
Although the merits of the first chapter are undeniable, having the forerunner game in a market at the time saturated with first-person shooters with a tendency to look a bit too much like it, it was the sequel – bigger, sloppy and bad – what consecrated the saga in the eyes of the general public.
Even without changing the formula, a few years later it also arrived The Pre-Sequel, set between the first and the second chapter and focused on the origins of Jack the Beautiful, one of the most charismatic and recognizable characters of the whole series.
In the year 2020, it is objectively difficult that among our readers there are those who have never played at least one of the three titles included in this collection, but there is a good chance that someone has missed the first chapter (which is now eleven years old on the back …) or Borderlands The Pre-Sequel, the one received less warmly by both specialized critics and the public.
There would be much to say about the lore of the title and the goodness of the writing, unusual for a first person shooter, but you can find exhaustive reviews of the titles and their various re-editions on our pages, and therefore, in the absence of unpublished content, we will focus our analysis on purely technical aspects, of fundamental importance when carrying titles of this size on a machine that is decidedly weaker than its competitors in terms of brute force.
Among the reviews in our database, players with the longest memory, lovers of the game on the move, will also find that of the limping version for Playstation Vita of Boderlands 2, written by myself: we anticipate that the quality level of these ports is not even remotely comparable to that edition, a slave to the hardware limitations imposed by an even less performing machine than Switch.
But let’s see in detail how the Borderlands Legendary Collection on the Nintendo machine.
Port with spangles
The work done by the development team is, qualitatively speaking, at least in line with the best ports seen on Switch since its launch, by Dark Souls Remastered to recent The Outer Worlds is Metro Redux: all three titles they run at 1080p in docked mode and at 720 in portable mode, with the frame rate always fixed at thirty frames per second, even during the boss fights and the most excited moments, which certainly will not be missing.
All three Borderlands have enjoyed the inclusion of anti-aliasing filters, to smooth out some corners that are a little too angular and to improve the general view: playing in portable mode, the second chapter in particular appears really in perfect shape, thanks also to the cel graphics -shading of the game, aged much better than that of many other titles of the last generation of consoles.
Like many of the aforementioned ports on Switch, the hours of testing have revealed how the portable experience is probably preferable to that on the TV at home because, despite the decrease in resolution, the diagonal of the screen’s smaller width of the Switch hides some of the graphic compromises necessary to make the title run so smoothly even on a less powerful machine like the Nintendo one.
The first chapter, probably the one that was worse aged due to the repetitiveness of the secondary quests and the level of general humor, consists of all the improvements made to the Game of the Year Edition, mostly from the second chapter, such as the very useful mini-map at the top right and the lock on on the enemies, absent in the basic version launched in 2009.
The rich package includes the presence of controls based on Switch’s motion sensors, which can be activated at will from the options menu even when the game is in progress, a good use of the HD Rumble function of the Nintendo controllers (including Pro Controller) and, above all, a very useful slider that regulates the amplitude of the field of view, both in the first chapter how much in Pre-Sequel.
At the time of writing this article, oddly enough, Borderlands 2 it does not have this option, but, to be honest, even changing the values in the other two titles, we have not noticed any hiccups in the performances, further proof of the goodness of the work done.
For all three ports, net of the physiological halving of the frame rate compared to Xbox One, PS4 and PC, there is only one to report a lengthening, not too dramatic, of the loading times, which however remain largely in the bed of sustainability.
Purists (or the more picky) could object that the draw distance in the wide open spaces is slightly less deep than elsewhere and that the anti-aliasing filters, although present, are overall less effective than seen at the time of the publication of the Handsome Collection on PS4, PC and Xbox One, but the general glance is excellent, especially when playing in portable mode, probably thanks also to the quality of the native N console screen.
The acclaimed, lesser run of the analogs of Joy-Con, which could have caused difficulties in pointing enemies, is brilliantly counterbalanced not only by the aforementioned possibility of using Switch’s motion sensors to aim, but also by the introduction, already seen with the recent The Outer Worlds, of a partially assisted aiming system, which helps the player without detracting from the challenge rate.
Sporadic bad clipping phenomena and one or two seconds of delay in loading surface textures are all we can attribute to what Turn Me Up Games did, and this speaks volumes about the quality of the porting work performed by the US team.
Bang for your bucks!
As for the multiplayer, we report with pleasure that all the modes present on the other consoles are not only present, but also perfectly functional, from the online multiplayer up to four players, which we tried on the most intense days (those of the launch) without encountering problems of lag, offline split screen mode, which incredibly maintains the framerate on the standard thirty frames per second set by the campaign.
Sorry that no cross-play functions have been enabled with the other versions of the game, but this is a renunciation acceptable in the bigger picture, however partially counterbalanced by the presence of an internal voice chat, without needing to rely on external applications.
Once the performance and quality of the three ports are highlighted, there are other scattered considerations to be made, related to the size of the downloads, the commercial model proposed and the relationship between the quantity of content and the asking price.
In all honesty, we can only complain in the first case: for those who want to buy this collection, including those who will opt for the physical format, it is necessary to free fifty giga of space, not exactly a few for a machine like Switch.
The cartridge version however requires the separate download of the second chapter and of The Pre-Sequel, adopting a practice that, although it is spreading more and more for these ports, we continue to find unpleasant.
On the other hand, it is undeniable that 2K offers here a package that is practically unbeatable in terms of content and, consequently, in the relationship between quantity and price: for around fifty euros it is possible to take home not only all three titles, but also each of the numerous post-launch DLCs released over time, which, especially in the case of the two numbered episodes, turn out to be of quality at least equal to the main campaign.
In total, counting the individual campaigns, the downloadable content and a few online games, we are talking about about one hundred and fifty hours of play at a price lower than the average of the new releases on the Nintendo machine.
The offer, practically indispensable for those who have never tried the franchise in first person, can also be attractive to those who have already played one or two of the titles contained herein, provided that they are aware of the aforementioned technical limitations and do not expect exclusive content for this version.
In theory, it would also be possible to buy the games separately, but here we are faced with a commercial model that made us scratch our heads for a long time: Borderlands 2 is The Pre-Sequel they can only be purchased in pairs for around forty euros, whereas the first chapter can be downloaded separately for around twenty.
If you find a logic in these choices, please let us know: on our part, the advice is to opt for the complete package or, if you have already finished the titles elsewhere, completely postpone.