Borderlands Legends Hands-On Preview

Between iOS reviews, several of our staffers have spent the last month fighting their way through the console version of Borderlands 2, a sci-fi shooter/RPG. Now, they won’t have to choose between iOS gaming and the Borderlands universe, because 2K is bringing an original Borderlands game, Legends, to iOS next week.

Borderlands Legends takes place between the first two console games, with a cast of characters straight from the first game. Mordecai, Brick, Lilith, and Roland will all be playable characters, and you’ll control each of them at the same time.

You do this by dragging each character to the point where you want to them to go, or to the enemy that you want them to target. It’s identical to the gameplay mechanics of games like Battleheart and Epic Raiders, so if you’ve played either of those, you’ll have an idea of how Borderlands Legends works.

The game consists of a series of arena-style encounters, with your quartet moving from stage to stage in a randomly-designated number of shootouts. In our hands-on demo, the crew started outside of a garage, where mutant dogs and heavily armed mercenaries sprang up all around us. After we cleared that wave, the team moved inside, where they fought from behind randomly-generated cover. Then, we had to blow up the controls on a falling elevator in order to cap off the last mission and receive our full completion bonus.

One uniquely Borderlands-style addition we appreciated was “fight for your life”, a feature that lets your character come back from nearly dying if they can make one last kill. Otherwise, you’ll have to move another character next to them to heal them, which can disrupt your offensive strategy. Watching a dying, desperate character get their second wind from a well-timed attack is fairly exciting.

The Borderlands series is known for having a lot of RPG number-crunching and strategic depth, and this mobile version seems to be following suit. You can buy different guns using the in-game currency earned by completing missions, and outfit each character with special armor and upgraded abilities. In a surprising move, there is no option for in-app purchases– but 2K said they would consider adding it later if there was a demand, like Infinity Blade did after launch.

While each character is stuck with their particular weapon (for example, Roland always uses an assault rifle), the multiple action skills and abilities give you plenty of ways to customize your characters. You’ll even encounter the occasional vending machine between levels, which will sell you new gear.

Borderlands Legends will launch at a premium price: $4.99 on iPhone, and $6.99 on iPad, but there’s no level cap, so you could potentially play it for a long time. Also, there are no in-app purchases, so the in-game currency is awarded generously to let you upgrade your characters. We’re fans of the series, so we’ll be sure to bring you a full review as soon as we can. Look for Borderlands Legends to launch next Wednesday night on the App Store.

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