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Co-Optimized: Borderlands: The Handsome Collection

Looking for a co-op game that worthy of some Mad Max violence until the actual Mad Max game releases? We've got you covered. The Borderlands: Handsome Collection has tons of gameplay, character, and guns to keep you and your teammates going.


If you want to keep the insanity from this past weekend's release of Mad Max going, then the clear game to turn to is Borderlands. It's got it all: craziness, violence, humor, vehicles, and EXPLOOOSIONS. Seriously, this is a series that loves explosions so much that there is an entire class of weapons that fire explosive projectiles, a company that is completely dedicated to making nothing but guns that do explosive damage, and an unstable 13 year-old girl who happens to be a demolitions expert.

The planet of Pandora might not be a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but it can sure pass for one. Players traverse across long stretches of desert, find outposts and towns, and find crazed bandits and violent creatures around every corner. Up to four players can come together to explore the huge open world in a variety of tricked out, heavily armed, vehicles. Then you set out to complete missions in pursuit of fame, fortune, and revenge. Doing so usually involves meeting a variety of interesting characters that often want to kill you, then dealing with them through the liberal use of violence and special skills available to your class. For example, the Gunzerker (a variation of the Berserker) has a skill called Sexual Tyrannosaurus, which enables high health regeneration for five seconds.

The Handsome Collection brings together both Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel along with all of their respective DLC content, with upgraded graphics fit for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. It also supports 4 player split-screen, so you could throw a Borderlands party weekend if you wanted to. You'll need all the help you can get, since the two games combined with their DLC come out to over 100 hours of play time, not including the arena matches. Between the two games and their DLC, there are a total of twelve playable characters, each with their own set of unique powers and abilities, including the infamous Handsome Jack himself. Or, at least his doppelganger, which works just as well.

The stories tell of the rise and fall of Handsome Jack, who doesn't really hate Pandora. He just wants to rule it and exploit all the treasures locked in its alien vaults. Despite having unwitting Vault Hunters to do all his dirty work, the wise-cracking Handsome Jack is really the star of the show. Whether he's taunting you or flushing a group of innocent scientists out an airlock, he's always the center of attention. In the Pre-Sequel, you help him come to power and take control of the Hyperion Corporation. In Borderlands 2, your team works to take him down. The order in which you play the two games is up to you. Just know that the Pre-Sequel is the only one with a butt-slam power.

As a first-person shooter and role-playing game, players must work together in order to succeed. Pandora is totally full of things that eagerly want to kill you, so you have to work to kill them first. You'll have to manage an inventory of crazy weapons and upgrade your character with new gear so that you'll be better equipped to take on powerful bosses. Both Borderlands games feature extremely challenging boss characters and creatures that require a ton of coordination and firepower to overcome.

Raid Bosses like Pyro Pete the Invincible will put your team's skills to the ultimate test, but rest assured that the game's loot makes the fight worth the effort. If nothing else, Borderlands is very liberal with handing out loot and weaponry. Its random weapon generator means that everyone will be treated to a huge variety of death dealing devices like guns that do toxic damage and grenades that home in on enemies and steal away health.

All the mayhem comes packaged in Borderlands' signature brand of macabre humor, which include cannibals that exclaim, "I smell delicious!" as they burn to death. When it comes to bringing players together for one blast of a game, you can't go wrong with Borderlands. Also, there's Claptrap, who is his own thing altogether. So, start beat boxing, butt-slamming, and shooting your way across Pandora and its moon, Elpis.

There's nothing like the thrill of competitive multiplayer, but sometimes it's better to kick back and play alongside your friends and family instead of against them. With Co-Optimized, we highlight and discuss games that are best played together.

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