Borderlands is a science fiction first-person shooter with RPG elements that was developed by Gearbox Software for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It was first revealed in the September 2007 issue of Game Informer magazine. The console versions of the game were released in North America on October 20, 2009, and were released in PAL countries on October 23. The console version release for the Japanese market was made available on February 10, 2010. The Windows version was released on October 26 for North America and then on October 29 internationally
The original Borderlands, released in 2009, combines traditional first-person shooter gameplay with character-building elements found in role-playing games, leading Gearbox to call the game a "role-playing shooter". Players choose to play as one of four characters; Lilith the Siren, Mordecai the Hunter, Brick the Berserker, and Roland the Soldier, earning experience by killing foes and completing challenges, and skill points to allow character specialization. The character can wield various ranged weapons and utility items, which are procedurally generated to provide a rich variety of loot. The game supports solo play as well as a cooperative mode for up to four players. A New Game Plus mode allows players to replay the game with the same character at a higher difficulty level.
The game is set on the planet Pandora, contested by bandits, mercenaries of interstellar corporations, dangerous wildlife and, eventually, eldritch alien abominations. As a "Vault Hunter", guided by the mysterious "Guardian Angel", the player is searching for a fabled vault full of alien loot, which requires them to kill a lot of all of the above. Borderlands is characterized by its offbeat humor and a comics-like, cel-shaded art style.
About 4.5 million copies of the game had been sold worldwide by 2011, an unexpected success for Gearbox. Borderlands received positive reviews, with an aggregate Metacritic score of 81 to 86, depending on the platform. It was complemented by four DLC packs: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, and Claptrap's New Robot Revolution.
The sequel to Borderlands, released in 2012, picked up the setting and gameplay mechanics of its predecessor. Again, players control one of four (or, with DLC, six) Vault Hunters, while the four player characters of the original game re-appear as non-player characters. The story, written by Anthony Burch, focuses on the players' struggle with Handsome Jack, the megalomaniacal CEO of the Hyperion corporation, who seeks control of Pandora's mineral riches and alien artifacts.
Gearbox released four DLC campaigns that continue the main game's story (Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty, Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage, Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt and Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep). In addition, several DLC packs introducing two new player characters, more character development possibilities and quests have been released.
Even more so than the first game, Borderlands 2 was an unexpected critical and commercial success. It was one of the best-selling games of 2012, and has become the best-selling game in the history of its publisher 2K Games, with 8.5 million copies sold by February 2014. The game received aggregate Metacritic scores of 89 to 91, depending on the platform.