My gaming days go all the way back to playing Pong and, today – thanks to my baby, Linda, I have an Xbox One after trading in my Xbox 360 and my PlayStation 3. A few years ago, my daughter and son-in-law talked me into playing this crazy-assed game called “Borderlands,” a first person shooter (FPS) game and a type of game I used to suck at; I tried to play “Halo” when it first came out and got my ass handed to me because I couldn’t coordinate what I was seeing with what I was supposed to be doing… so I avoided these kind of games… until I was finally convinced that I had to get Borderlands so they could teach me how to play it.
Since I didn’t have a working Xbox 360 headset, we coordinated my training over Skype… and I got hooked big time and eventually conquered Borderlands… then it was on to Borderlands 2… then Borderlands: The Pre Sequel. And along the way, I learned that I just love killing things and blowing shit up – it is strangely relaxing as much as it can raise my blood pressure. So, when I got my Xbox One – without Kinect – since it didn’t come with a game, I needed a game… and got Borderlands: The Handsome Collection which is Borderlands 2 and The Pre Sequel in one package and includes some downloadable content (DLC) that I would have had to pay extra for.
Now, before giving up my PlayStation, I had already beaten The Pre Sequel with three of the four available characters so having to start over on the new Xbox platform wasn’t a big deal; I choose to play as Handsome Jack (thanks to the included DLC) and quickly finished the game… but along the way, I noticed two new locations I could travel to: The Holodome and Deck 13 1/2 so I said to myself, “Before you move on to True Vault Hunter mode (same game, higher level of difficulty), let’s check out Deck 13 1/2!”
And I wish I hadn’t. Oh, I finally beat that part of the game… but it wasn’t easy and by far one of the craziest game modes I’ve ever played. I was spending hours with controller in hand, constantly fighting (and killing) bad guys and with weapons that were barely equal to the task; every night, when I had reached my endurance limits – read this as I was either very frustrated or frustrated with the beginnings of a major headache – I’d turn off the Xbox, shake my head, and wonder why I choose to subject myself to this madness, like playing the game itself wasn’t bad enough. As I’d climb into bed with my last actions (and brutal destruction) still reverberating in my head, I’d tell myself that I’m not even gonna play the game tomorrow.
And found myself doing it anyway. To play Borderlands – any version – you not only find yourself playing with weaponry that’s pretty cool but, often, not equal to the level of bad guy trying to make you respawn and start the level over again. You need strategy and some ingenuity and a bus load of luck as you increase levels and the bad guys get harder to kill. It’s not unusual for you to wind up facing, say, a Level 35 bad guy/boss but you’re only Level 30… and your available weapons might only be up to Level 25. So, as I’ve found throughout my Borderlands experience, firepower alone isn’t going to help.
I started the Deck 13 1/2 debacle at a respectable Level 35 – the boss, which I had to defeat twice was Level 38, and my weapons averaged Level 32 and you can imagine that I spent a lot of time respawning because I not only had to face the boss but more bad guys than I could keep track of. I was running out of money to keep myself stocked with ammo for the weapons it took me a while to figure out would put a dent in the big bad boss’s health meter; my weapons – and I was carrying 30 of them – were proving themselves to be barely effective and everything I tried resulted in a respawning – which was taking chunks out of my available cash as well. The good thing was that I was still leveling up; some of the bad guys I was killing were dropping better weapons than what I was carrying; so I could sell the ones that weren’t working so I could have respawning funds and to buy ammo.
I was getting closer to defeating the boss every time but my frustration levels were off the chart because I’d get close to offing him… then either get killed in spectacular fashion or make what would be a rookie mistake and get cornered by a flocks of the other bad guys I couldn’t pay attention to – but I had to. After two days of getting my ass kicked, I got up to Level 37, just one level below the boss’s strength and, oh, I was doing better… but he was still wiping the board with me. I died many deaths; once, I took a rare moment of rest and saw that I had maybe four shots left to kill this worst boss I’ve ever faced… and only got in three of the before, once again, having to respawning.
I almost screamed loudly out of sheer frustration; I gently put the controller down – I leaned a long time ago not to throw them – got up, took a piss, drank some water – ate my last doughnut – and said, “Okay, motherfucker, your ass belongs to me; I’ve had just about enough of your shit!” Two hours later – and somehow managing to not get killed, I defeated the boss, did a lot of fist pumps, shit the Xbox down and went to bed very happy…
Oh, I have to mention that the folks who got me addicted to this game do not have this version (and Borderlands 3 was just announced for a 2017 release) and I’ve been riding their asses to get caught up so they can suffer and have their ability to play the game challenged. I still need to get a headset adapter but I can still video conference with them on Skype…