It's safe to say you've probably already played Borderlands in some form. The open-world looter-shooter franchise has made an appearance on pretty much every console since the original game released in 2009. This isn't even the series' first appearance on a portable system – Borderlands 2 saw release on the PlayStation Vita in 2014. Thankfully, Borderlands Legendary Collection is a much better and more complete effort to bring the series' first three games and DLC to Nintendo's miniature marvel.
You're getting a lot of looting for your, er, loot. The Legendary Collection packs in the original Borderlands, Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! along with – almost – all their DLC. The final Borderlands 2 DLC – Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary – has not been included here, presumably because it was released to bridge the gap between Borderlands 2 and the sadly-not-on-Switch Borderlands 3. Everything else is here, though, and that's easily 200 hours of blasting action if you get hooked. Also, in a pleasing touch, the games install separately – no need to set aside 50GB of precious MicroSD space (it's worth noting that you can actually purchase the original game on its own on Switch, and the sequel and Pre-Sequel are also available in a double-pack that can be purchased separately).
If you somehow haven't played Borderlands yet, it's a genre-blending first-person shooter with a mission-based structure incorporating heavy, heavy loot elements; that is, there are many thousands of different guns to find and equip, each with different properties, stats and tweaks. This means that you'll always be on the lookout for another, better instrument of death, which gives the game a compulsive loop as you gradually increase in power.
You pick your Vault Hunter at the start of each game, then head out into the world of Pandora, progressing through the story either solo, in split-screen or online with up to three other characters. Who you choose determines the abilities you unlock as you level up. Each character/class has a different major skill – for example, the Siren can turn invisible, the Gunzerker can temporarily dual-wield weapons and the Lawbringer lets you automatically switch targets after a kill. Multiplayer brings these skills into larger focus as you'll need to use them to back up and complement the abilities of your teammates; enemies get stronger the more players are in the game.
This experience is observed across all three games on offer here, with the expected upgrades and new elements as you move through the series. That said, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! is exceptionally similar to Borderlands 2, and the original Borderlands on offer here is based on the recent Game of the Year Enhanced Edition, which backports features from its sequel. As a result, playing through these games can feel very familiar as they're all fundamentally the same kind of thing. But that's to be expected.
The original Borderlands is still fun, but feels like the vanilla experience after playing its follow-ups. It's samey looking compared to what comes later, but it's still worth a visit, if not a re-visit. This version includes quality of life features from its follow-ups (a mini-map replaces the useless compass, for example) but it's still very much a trial run for a series that would find its feet (and sales success) with its sequel. Which, as presented here, is still a treat to play.
Next up is Borderlands 2, a vastly superior sequel that takes everything from the original and cranks it up to eleven. More guns, improved diversity of the locations, superior missions and generally better everything. Unfortunately, this "more, more, more" philosophy sees Gearbox double down on the often-excruciating Borderlands series "humour", which effectively amounts to screaming, memes and screaming memes. That said, it's easy enough to mentally tune this stuff out of your head and just focus on the mission. Borderlands 2 is the main event of this compilation, and with all the DLC included, you'll be playing for a long, long time.
Finally, you've got Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, which – hopefully obviously – takes place between the first two games. It's pretty much exactly like its predecessor/sequel (this is confusing!) but, due to taking place on one of Pandora's moons, there's now the addition of an oxygen meter as well as enormous low gravity jumps which can be chained into satisfying downward slams. There's also a fun, quirky Aussie tone to the whole thing, thanks to being developed by 2K Australia. It lends a nicely distinctive character to your time with the game.
So what we've got here are three good games, and let's be honest, you probably already know if you like them. The most important thing, then, is whether or not the Switch can do them justice, and we're happy to report that they're a treat to play on the system. All three games look just as we remember them and run at a firmly locked 30fps both docked and in handheld – if there were any framedrops when things got busy, we didn't notice. It's very impressive stuff. Not as impressive as the PS4/Xbox One's 60fps Handsome Collection, sure, but better than the original PS3/360 releases and certainly better than the Vita port.
The games control well on Switch, too, with tons of options including the rather wonderful motion controls, which really helps with precision sniping. It's a responsive version as playable as any other. We'd recommend a solid grip for the system though, as the shoulder-button heavy controls could lead to a nasty case of claw-hand. Online play is as simple as it has ever been, though in our time with the game we encountered very few fellow Vault Hunters – an unfortunate casualty of it being a late port of a series many people have already rinsed through. When we did get connected, though, it was a smooth, lag-free experience, and a lot of fun to play in handheld.
Borderlands Legendary Collection is an excellent Switch showing for this beloved series, though it's difficult to determine if the price is right; sure, there's an enormous amount of content here so you're certainly not being ripped off, but it's old content and these games are routinely extremely cheap on other services. Still, it's a technically excellent port of three expansive, enjoyable shooters, and they're a perfect fit for the Switch. Whether played alone or with pals, the compulsive gameplay is terrific to dip into or get stuck into for a massive grinding session. If you've somehow never played Borderlands before, you can't go wrong with this set. If you have, but want to try a different character class on the bus ride home, now's your chance.