Borderlands 2: The last chance saloon for AAA gaming on Vita?

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With the launch of Borderlands 2 on Vita I thought I would add my 2 pence on the current situation as I see it.

Many people complain of a lack of games for the PS Vita, this of course is ludicrous when you take into account that there are over 200 PlayStation Mobile games available alone, but you have to ask yourself why do these people think that? The answer could be in the fact that traditional and online retailers appear to have very little in the way of physical games for the Vita. My local Game store for instance has 2 small 30cm shelves of physical Vita games, Brand new and Preowned and to be fair the second shelf is only half full. Now considering that most physical copies of games sold on the high street or online are generally considered by most people as AAA games, this would go some way to explaining why people believe the claim that there are no games available for the Vita. For those people, Borderlands 2 should at least keep them quiet for now but will it be the savior of AAA gaming on Vita that many want or feel is needed?

Once Borderlands 2 launched on home consoles in September 2012 one of the first questions asked of Gearbox was: When are we getting a Vita version? Gearbox, probably surprised by this, claimed that if Sony could help develop it, then Borderlands 2 could see a Vita release. Someone at Sony was obviously listening as Borderlands 2 was announced for Vita at Gamescom in 2013. I found out that you can bet on your favorite professional cs:go team at https://www.rivalry.gg/matches/csgo-betting. Excitement and hopes were high for a true triple A title making its way to Vita. Then… nothing but silence for at least the next 6 months. No trailer, no screenshots, nothing. This was slightly worrying especially once the announcement that Iron Galaxy Studios was handling the port and not Gearbox. Negative comments started to appear slowly but surely as the internet began to worry about the lack of information forthcoming. Some even questioned if the game had been cancelled! Then finally a launch trailer and some screenshots surfaced around March 2014. Along with the news that co-op would be reduced from 4 players to 2. The screenshots and trailer were torn apart piece by piece and high hopes had turned to sighs. We’ve been here before haven’t we and it didn’t end well before!

Sony itself has openly stated that the Economics simply do not support the traditional method of bringing AAA games to the Vita and that something different needs to be done. What this difference is, is anyone’s guess but if we think about Nintendo for a second and take a look at how they have managed to create new titles for each of their handhelds with their existing franchises. Most if not all make fantastic use of their hardware, employ new or finely tuned gaming mechanics and are generally classed as AAA gaming experiences. Are Sony now too focused on PS4 and the remote play function to care much about triple A gaming? With such franchises as LittleBigPlanet, Uncharted, Resistance, Killzone and a brand new IP in Tearaway along with the numerous HD remakes of hit titles, some may say that Sony and its 1st party studios has already done all that it can and with 3rd party titles such as call of duty, FIFA, Need For Speed and Mortal Kombat all available anyway, you could argue that enough has already been done! But still the cries of not enough games shrouds the Vita in a fog that most people cannot see past and it seems to be the lack of  physical presence in shops that leads to this assumption.

This is why, I believe, there is a huge amount of pressure on Borderlands 2 to not only deliver a best in class experience on Vita, but to also deliver on sales. I think it’s fair to say that Borderlands is the biggest AAA franchise to hit the Vita in all territories for quite some time now, and while I enjoy the steady stream of indie titles, as well as the JRPG’s that seem to be flooding in now, there can be no denying that there has been a gaping hole in the Vita’s release schedule for a bona fide AAA console experience in the palm of your hand. It is what we were promised right from the start and yet it has failed to become fully realised. I have said this before and I will say it again, what genre were we told those twin analogue sticks were specifically intended for?

Borderlands 2 on Vita feels like a crossroads. If it succeeds saleswise then many of the more ‘traditional’ publishers may be tempted to either port or expand on the franchises available on the home consoles to the Vita, a quality lineup of AAA titles from traditional publishers can complement the Vita’s extensive library and could bring new gamers to the fold which is always a plus. If however it fails to sell, then publishers may be tempted to remind us that this was a game we, as gamers, asked for but when it came down to, would not support. Big publishers may also decide to just focus on the fact that you can play the next Need for Speed or Call of Duty title via remote play as they worryingly are now rather than bothering with native Vita titles, and the same people that complain about a lack of games on the Vita will continue crying foul completely unaware of the treasures available online.

Borderlands 2 then, in my opinion, carries a massive weight on its shoulders, I just hope it’s not the tombstone of AAA gaming on Vita and its a loot chest of  what’s to come!

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3 Comments

  1. Good job that Borderlands 2 plays fantastically well on the Vita. Add to that the Cross-Save feature so I can carry on at home on PS3 and I’m pretty darn happy they brought it out. Now we just need the rest of the dlc to be made available 🙂

  2. Only played about 8 hours of Borderlands so far, and besides bodies exploding (to save on memory I guess) it’s brilliant, and to be honest the exploding bodies doesn’t bother me anyway, sure it’s not as pretty as the PS3 version, but for a handheld game, it’s an amazing accomplishment, and hopefully the shape of things to come.

  3. As a rule it’s not usually the sort of game that I’m interested in but I bought it a couple of days after release as usual to support the Vita and to show that there IS demand for games at retail… that aside, I’ve really enjoyed playing it, found no technical issues that some have complained about and think that it’s a worthy AAA game to add to the Vita’s lineup.

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