Remembering Borderlands 2 on the Vita – #PortMemories

The Playstation Vita had some great ports, and some not-so-great ones. For every Metal Gear Solid collection, you got a bunch of Caligula Effects. Gearbox Software’s amazing Borderlands franchise would make its debut on the Vita with its second entry. At first, it was a mess. But later in its life, thanks to constant updates, the game became better and better. Today, we take a look at the story of Borderlands 2 on the Vita.

Announcement and Special Edition Console

Everybody was hyped about Borderlands 2 coming to PS Vita after the announcement in 2013. We were all still under the illusion that Playstation cared about its handheld by then. The game introduced many improvements over its predecessors, including a slew of content, better weapons, better characters, and a whole host of slot machines the likes of which could only previously have found on casino en ligne crazy vegas or some other specialized digital parlor.

The hype got even bigger once Playstation announced a special edition Vita for certain territories. Sure, it was only a white OLED model, without any branding, and with a downloadable code inside. But we were all on-board: the white OLED Vita is probably the best looking handheld ever made. We were ready to get onto the wastelands and join Claptrap and the gang. And then, May 2014 came around and it brought utter disappointment.

Launch Issues and Outrage

How much can the gaming industry change in 6 years? A lot. The release of Borderlands 2 on the Vita is very much akin to what we’ve seen recently with Cyberpunk 2077. Horrendous frame rates plagued the port on launch day, and the multiplayer network was about as reliable as a 1950’s weather forecast.

Crash’s bespoke dock looks suprisingly familiar for Borderlands fans. From our Vitadock Homebrew Special.

Iron Galaxy, the studio responsible for the port, are actually tremendously skilled. They developed the Destiny port to PS3, and the Nintendo Switch ports for Skyrim and Diablo III, as well as Overwatch. But they just couldn’t get the port to perform well under the time constraints. Better performance would follow, but had this port been released in a climate similar to the one we’ve got now, Gearbox might have gone under due to the sheer pressure of refunds and angry fans.

Iron Galaxy Saves The Day (Mostly)

Over a period of two years, possibly the longest support period for a Vita title in history, Iron Galaxy kept releasing bug fixes and performance improvements. The last of those helped Borderlands 2 to make better use of idle system memory, giving the game a huge boost. It is by no means the best port out there, but a near-steady 30 frames-per-second can now be achieved in most circumstances. In terms of content, though, there are no new casinos within the game itself.

It really speaks volumes to Iron Galaxy’s commitment to supporting their ports. I think this played a huge role in the studio securing more big-name franchises despite the initial stumble.

Borderlands 2 on the Vita: Homebrew Takes Over

We’ve featured homebrew development before. Though we do not advocate for piracy on any level, performance increases are certainly welcome. An overclocked Vita is able to run Borderlands 2 much better than a stock one, albeit consuming much more battery power in the process.

You’d think, then, that the best place to play the Vita port of this now-classic game is the PSTV. However, Borderlands 2 on the Vita simply does not translate well to a big screen. It is rough.

I would actually argue that the original handheld is still the way to go on this one.

Regardless of how you choose to play it, Borderlands 2 on the Vita will forever be remembered. First, because of the disappointing launch, but also after, due to Iron Galaxy’s continued commitment to improving the experience on our beloved handheld.

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About Marcos Codas 341 Articles
Lover of portable gaming and horror cinema. Indie filmmaker and game developer. Multimedia producer. Born in Paraguay, raised in Canada. Huge fan of "The Blair Witch Project", and "Sonic 3D Blast". Deputy head at Vita Player and its parent organization, Infinite Frontiers. Like what I do? Donate a coffee: https://www.paypal.me/marcoscodas