Borderlands 2 VR Review – A Perfectly Decent VR Adaption
Borderlands 2 VR captures you with its fun and ridiculous world, but doesn't do much to propel itself into the must-buy VR game category.
There are some games that should probably stay in the realm of regular video games and not try to hop in on the VR hype train. The idea of running and blasting demons in DOOM VR sounds incredibly fun and terrifying at the same time, but the restricted movement takes away from the action-packed first-person shooter that normally would have you bouncing around areas at high speeds and mowing those demons down. Then there was Skyrim VR which, in the regular game, the movement didn’t need to be fast, so the headset adaptation felt a lot more comfortable and dropped you into that world at an easier to handle pace.
This leads me to Borderlands 2 VR, the game that dabbles in both of those experiences described above. While the world of Borderlands is still chaotic, beautiful, and funny as hell to be in, the VR adaption never does anything truly special to separate itself from the pack of regular games that have dipped into the virtual reality world.
To point out first, I have only put about 5-10 hours into the original Borderlands 2, so I won’t have any nostalgia goggles on at all. Additionally, most of this review will focus just on the new VR features and technical aspects. You can read a more in-depth review of the original game here.
I know that Borderlands 2 is special to many people, and I can understand why the virtual reality adaption of it would sound so tantalizing to those people. Some might be satisfied with hearing that the game is just Borderlands 2, but in VR — I get that. Hell, if Nintendo came out and said that they were creating Ocarina of Time in VR, I probably wouldn’t care how it reviewed (well maybe just a bit) and would pick it up anyway so I can fill my nostalgia meters to the max. So, I would say if you have a strong affinity with Borderlands 2, you will probably enjoy just being in this world so it might be worthy of a purchase on that alone.
What Borderlands 2 VR does right and what I believe is one of the most important characteristics of a virtual reality game is making the player feel apart of its environment. After about five minutes, I lost track of where I was in and I felt that I was in Pandora. The beautiful cel-shaded graphics look that much cooler while wearing the headset. Anytime I engaged in conversation with an NPC, it still blew my mind that I was basically looking at them eye to eye. If there is one thing that Borderlands 2 VR absolutely nails, it’s capturing you in its world.
However, the problems with the game start to stand out when you try to move through its environments. There are about three different movement styles. One is teleportation which has never really been something I am too fond about. Another is direct motion, which will have you moving freely but with short and snappy quick turns at the press of a button. Finally, the third is a combination of the two. There are additionally two different ways to play the game. One, while holding a DualShock controller, and two, with the PS Move controllers. The former definitely made movement feel easier, but, rather than using motion controls to aim with your hands, the reticle is controlled by the movement of the headset and that just never felt natural.
On top of that, whenever I would play with the DualShock controller, I would get extremely nauseous and would need to take a break. And yes, I did go into the options to adjust some settings to make me feel more comfortable. Nonetheless, I couldn’t find that sweet spot of calibrations that made me feel at ease when using the normal controller. Plenty of other players have had no trouble with the game playing this way so I think it’s just a personal issue.
Using the PS Move controllers is a totally different story and their use made me feel much more comfortable. With the DualShock, the movement was tied to the left stick just like a normal game, but with the Move controllers, you would need to point in the direction you’d want to traverse and press the middle button on the left controller. While it never felt completely natural or that comfortable, it was much easier compared to teleportation and also didn’t make me feel sick at all. Additionally, aiming your weapon was tied to the right move controller, so aiming felt much more natural to me. However, it never felt as tight as some other VR shooters such as Firewall: Zero Hour or even SuperHot.
Lastly, I was saddened that Borderlands 2 VR doesn’t support the Aim Controller. The actual design of the peripheral does look a little weird and might feel a bit weird to hold at first, but after a few minutes, I believe it makes VR shooters much better and allows the game to take that next step in immersion levels. Hopefully, support will be added at a later date.
Once finally accommodated, you will find a perfectly decent VR shooter. You point, aim, and shoot, all by using the Move controllers. I have to say that the effect of VR still makes me grin every time I use it, and Borderlands 2 VR is no exception. There are no super badass moments where you are dodging incoming bullets and projectiles like in SuperHot, but shooting in Borderlands 2 VR is still enjoyable due to the magic of the Move controllers.
Borderlands 2 VR is exactly what you think the original would be like in the early days of virtual reality. It never does anything to separate itself from the pack of decent VR adaptions, but, can provide a fun point and shoot experience once you get accommodated with your preferred controls and comfortability settings.