Borderlands is built on its classes, and the interplay between them. But for those who’ve never experienced the series in co-op, Borderlands Legends offers an intriguing solution. Who needs friends when you’ve got a top-down perspective and four characters on the go at once?
Legends makes clear just how much of an RPG Borderlands really is. With the business of aiming at things taken away from the player, the rhythms of progression – tap an enemy, watch as its health bar is whittled down, collect the loot and experience – more clearly emerge. It’s a well-calibrated grind, with just enough variety in objectives and level design to stave off fatigue.
Legends’ problems lie in its execution, however. The squad’s movement and abilities are all activated by easily muddled taps and drags, making it far too easy to jog over to someone when you intended to heal them, for instance. Before long you’ll start keeping all four vault hunters in a tightly-packed huddle – a tactic that means downed allies get a near instantaneous second wind, but one that ultimately makes battles (each mission is essentially a series of attack waves across multiple arenas) feel less like tactical encounters and more like wars of attrition. Do this, though, and you expose another flaw: the Vault Hunters’ character designs may have worked in an FPS, but they’re far too easily confused on a smaller screen, even an iPad’s.
Like Borderlands, the promise of fresh guns, equipment and powered-up skills offers an incentive to press on. But unlike its parent series, the combat in Legends means it’s not worth doing so.