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Let Me Tell You A Tale Vault Hunters

/ Nov 6th, 2014 No Comments

With the release of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, gamers have been able to sink their teeth into even more of the Borderlands’ lore, more specifically the Handsome Jack aspect of it. In the original Borderlands, players got to enjoy the rich history of Pandora, the concept of sirens, and the disappointing mystery of the vault.

Borderlands 2 introduced one of gaming’s greatest villains in Handsome Jack and showed just how big the Borderlands’ universe really is. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, the latest entry into the franchise, has filled in the gaps that lead Handsome Jack from Johnny Go-Lucky to Egomaniacal Asshole, but with all the main plot points aside, there is still a lot of speculation left to be had on future DLC for The Pre-Sequel and a potential Borderlands 3.

Annnnnnnnnd Open!

In the same way Star Wars Episodes I through III can be viewed as the story of Anakin Skywalker, and Episodes IV through VII can be seen as Luke’s tale, the Borderland’s trilogy can be viewed as the tale of Handsome Jack. The original Borderland’s ultimately focused on the vault hunters Roland the soldier, Lilith the siren, Brick the guy who punches stuff, and Mordecai the sniper/bird handler (R.I.P. Bloodwing), as well as the history of Pandora itself. The game sees our heroes seeking wealth from a fabled “vault,” which they ultimately succeed in finding only to be attacked by a one-eyed tentacle vagina, or something close enough.

You Have Died.

You Have Died.

In Borderlands 2, it is revealed that Handsome Jack helped the vault hunters through his daughter Angel in a bid to have them open the vault so he could attempt to harness its power. The vault of Borderlands leads to very little gain for anyone, but the eye of the beast guarding the vault is used by Handsome Jack as a weapon in The Pre-Sequel, and a new material called eridium spills forth from the vault and seems to enhance siren powers and offer a way of opening more vaults (not to mention making some badass guns).

Ah yes, General Soonded and his Gunnadi Army.

Ah yes, General Soonded and his Gunnadi Army.

The DLC for Borderlands provides mostly just good fun (such as with good ol’ mindless zombie killing), but a few plot points are present, mostly the introduction of Moxxi, Athena and General Knoxx. Moxxi serves as an ally throughout the three games as the ultimate village bicycle/idol of lust, but don’t let her sexuality distract you too much as she is not to be trifled with. Athena/General Knoxx serve to show the final fall of the Atlas Corporation as well as introduce characters to Athena — who comes with her own tragic backstory — as she ultimately becomes a playable character in The Pre-Sequel. There’s also this robot revolution that happens, but nobody cares about Claptrap so let’s skip that.

Welcome To The Moon Mate!

Although it is the third entry to the series, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel serves as the second game chronologically. Players take control of the extremely hateable robot Claptrap, the aforementioned “villain” Athena, the gun-toting Nisha or the cybernetic-enhancement addict Wilhelm. The vault hunters are in a struggle to save the moon from crazed former Dahl soldier Zarpadon. Players must work alongside Jack (or John depending upon who you ask) as he attempts to gain back control of the Hyperion space station that orbits Pandora’s moon while still keeping an eye on the planet. Inevitably, the vault hunters are able to wrestle away control of the moon base, but are immediately betrayed afterwards by Roland and Lilith (on vacation after the events of Borderlands) as well as Moxxi.

Mysterious as... the dark side... of... THE MOOOOOOOON!

Mysterious as… the dark side… of… THE MOOOOOOOON!

The following events lead Jack to a mad scramble for the vault hidden on Pandora’s moon (that Zarpadon just so happens to claim must be protected). Jack’s descent into madness takes height at this point in the game. At the beginning, Jack comes off as a hapless do-gooder, but he ultimately turns into a full rage-a-holic egomaniac. Upon opening the vault and allowing Jack to see the future events of Borderlands 2 (namely the existence of another vault as well as hundreds of others throughout the universe), Lilith appears. Having been invisibly stalking the team, Lilith destroys the vision emitter, branding it to Jack’s face.

Many will note this moment comes off very similar to the creation of Two-Face in the Batman comics, and can even be argued to simply be a trigger of a side to Jack that has always existed, but the disfigurement of his face merely allows it to surface.

Is that his gun, or a cybernetic penis? Either way someone's getting a load in the face.

Is that his gun, or a cybernetic penis? Either way someone’s getting a load in the face.

While at the time of writing, no DLC has been officially announced, but there still exists the promise to play as Handsome Jack (or at least one of his body doubles), and some hidden game files imply a later “Baroness” character with fan-theories pointing at her being another siren character, considering the past two games have all allowed for a playable siren.

Warriiiiiiorrr, Come Out And Playyyyaaayyy

A new game and a new set of vault hunters takes us back to Pandora for more carnage. Axton the commando, Maya the siren, Zero the (possibly) alien assassin and Salvador the gunzerker (spoiler: he loves guns) team up with the vault hunters from Borderlands to take down Handsome Jack and Hyperion. While Wilhelm and Nisha both serve as bosses (Wilhelm being a story mission and Nisha being optional), Athena stays out of the fight and Claptrap (previously fragtrap, previously leader of the robot-revolution) serves as a dimwitted guide and quest giver. Long-story short; Jack is looking for another vault on Pandora, reveals how he’s orchestrated the events of Borderlands and now Borderlands 2, has had his daughter Angel (also a siren) held hostage and plans to kill all bandits (this means you “vault hunters”). Also Roland is killed, but hey, we cared more about Bloodwing anyways (R.I.P. Bloodwing).

You can tell it's not Skyrim by the cel shading, also Skyrim isn't populated ENTIRELY by hicks.

You can tell it’s not Skyrim by the cel shading, also Skyrim isn’t populated ENTIRELY by hicks.

The final confrontation is the vision of the future seen at the end of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (except Jack couldn’t see himself getting killed) which then leads the vault hunters left alive to be regaled with an image of vaults hidden throughout the universe, two of which are found in the Borderlands 2 DLC. This by itself merely lends itself to the possibility of many more Borderlands games, but when combined with the visitation by a guardian (read: defender of the vaults) to the vault hunters at the end of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel spells a possible 3rd game that will allow for far more playable characters and a far larger villain than previously seen.

Behold the recently married man, headless.

Behold the recently married man, headless.

The DLC for Borderlands 2 consisted of the aforementioned two vault openings (one in a pirate themed DLC and the other in the f*&king awesome Mr. Torgue DLC). A Pandorian hunter named Hammerlock gets his own “Big Game” DLC, but ultimately it serves merely as fluff (considering the bad guy breaks his neck on some stairs at the end), however Tiny Tina’s DLC (read crazed explosive pre-teen) serves as one of the most heartbreaking bits of gaming as she is forced to deal with Roland’s death at the hands of Handsome Jack. Also noteworthy is of course the additional DLC characters of Gaige the mechromancer and Kreig the psycho. While neither offers specific story advancement, Gaige proves as a lot of fun to play while Krieg serves as the first playable bad guy in the series.

A Pony Made of Diamonds

The Borderlands trilogy offers a lot of compelling gameplay and great dialogue/characters to boot, but as the series has dragged on the lack of writer variety (read the same writer handling all three games) has begun to show on some levels, but nothing serious enough to deter players.

Let's just stay here... in this moment... forever...

Let’s just stay here… in this moment… forever…

Whether for the rise of Handsome Jack, the lore of Pandora or even the psychotic ramblings and hilarious references to other works: Borderlands, Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel are all well worth multiple play-throughs and will keep gamers new and old fully engaged with the well put together plot. (R.I.P. Bloodwing)


Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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