Gearbox went all out on the PC version of Borderlands 2, and it’s the best way to play the game
Borderlands 2 is out now on the 360, PS3, and PC. The game may play great on the consoles, but I wanted to be sure that I talked about the PC version, because Gearbox has spent some time to make that version of the game exceptional. Let’s take a look at all the options given to PC gamers. There is a slider so you can adjust the field of view without having to go into the console. All the key bindings on the keyboard and mouse are remappable, but you can also use a gamepad if you want the console experience. There is a LAN mode so you can play with your friends in the same room, and you can do so offline. Multiplayer just works, unlike the first game you don’t need to worry about port forwarding or any of that mess. I’ve been playing exclusively online since I’ve received the review code and have had no issues. You can turn mouse smoothing on or off, take advantage of a number of resolutions, and adjust just about every damn option you can think of to get the best mixture of graphical fidelity and performance out of your system. Think about how revolutionary this is: if you're playing with your friends in the same room, and you lose your Internet connection, NOTHING happens! Take that, Blizzard! “Supporting multiple platforms always adds additional work and complexity to the development process - PC or console,” producer Matt Charles told me when I asked about the love given to the PC version. “The team played PC on a near-daily basis from the start, so we were constantly aware of how our systems were working (or not working) on the PC. Having said that, our goal was always platform parity - we didn't want anybody to feel like they were playing an inferior version of the game just because of their preferred platform, so we tended to take a slow-and-steady approach to make sure a platform wasn't clearly lagging behind another one. PC improvements in Borderlands 2 was a huge focus though which is why we sent out Claptrap's Love Letter earlier and wanted to ensure fans we got those features in for them this time around.” It’s sad that these features used to be standard on PC versions of games, and now they’re so rare they’re worth pointing out and celebrating. I asked Charles if he thought this would give the game an advantage over other titles. “I suppose it's nice if it turns in to a selling point, but the truth is that the team felt there were simply some PC features we couldn't ship the game without - and they needed to be clearly exposed in the interface rather than buried in the console,” he said. “In addition to collecting feedback from the community about what would be desired from the PC version, many of the PC-specific features such as the FOV slider and drag-and-drop support in the inventory menu came from efforts started by our development team before we had even seen the community requests, so that gives me a certain degree of confidence that the PC community will be pleased with the options we're providing out of the box.” This isn’t the end of the PC-specific features, as Gearbox will be monitoring how people play the game and learning from their behavior. “After the game launches and we are able to learn more about the specific desires from the community in the context of Borderlands 2, it's conceivable that we'll want to continue to expand PC support beyond what we've delivered on-disc,” Charles explained. “Before launch, it's a balance between 'every feature imaginable' versus 'what will actually be useful to people,' so it will be nice to have more data post-launch to help guide our focus and to make sure we're spending time on things that are actually valuable to players.” The game looks absolutely stunning on my system, and plays like a dream with the mouse and keyboard. If you have a higher-end gaming PC, or even a middle of the road system, consider the PC version. It’s going to look better and, in my opinion, play better. Looking out at the vistas of Pandora with draw distance set to “ultra high” is amazing, as are the higher resolution options running at 60 fps. Gearbox went to a good amount of work to give PC gamers what they want in this sort of game, and I’m hoping they’re rewarded for it. Everyone else working on PC versions of big budget games, take notes.