Which Borderlands Game to Play First

Borderlands has become a well known and beloved series over the years. Known as one of the pioneers of the looter shooter genre, each installment of the game is praised for its aesthetic, story, and gameplay.

Though, with a total of 5 games in the franchise and people always hyping up one game over the other, it is difficult to decide which game exactly to turn to as the first.

There are different approaches to getting into the series, depending on what you, as a player, value more in a game. Whether you value the shooter aspect or the story, Borderlands will certainly to have a game for you.

So, which Borderlands game should you play first?

The Story of Borderlands

Borderlands is very well known and loved for its story. The characters are wild, yet relatable, with timeless humor that keeps you entertained both through dialogue and actual gameplay mechanics.

The world has amazing lore behind its dystopian setting with many Easter eggs hidden throughout. Though, the series’ releases were not put out in chronological order of events.

Originally the games were released with Borderlands 1 and 2 coming out first, followed by Borderlands: The Presequel and Tales from the Borderlands, and then Borderlands 3.

If you were to play the games by their release dates you would feel like you were backtracking or even thrown out of the loop at times.

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The first installment in the series, simply named Borderlands, is where the story of the game originally started. There are not many events that happened before Borderlands that are referenced or important for the story.

However, it can be entirely skipped. To most, Borderlands serves more as a prologue or introduction into the universe, rather than a fully fleshed out story of its own.

The real story and most beloved arc of the franchise chronologically begins with Borderlands: The Presequel. Despite it being released as the 3rd installment in the series, Presequel tells the story of the events that lead up to the main arc of the whole series, Borderlands 2.

Both Borderlands: The Presequel and Borderlands 2 hold themselves up well as their own stories, but they’re connected by the franchise’s most beloved antagonist, Handsome Jack.

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Presequel tells the story of how Handsome Jack became the maniac who he is known to be in Borderlands 2. Because of this, I believe either of the two can be played interchangeably.

If you want to enjoy the mystery of who Handsome Jack is, you can play Borderlands 2 before the Presequel, or follow the story according to its events, starting with BTP.

Following the events of Borderlands 2 we move onto Tales From the Borderlands, a game that is an entirely different genre from all the other ones. Made in the Telltale style, Tales From the Borderlands tells the story of a man we don’t see until this installment.

It acts like an intermission between the events of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands 3, explaining the sudden changes the world goes through following the end of the second game.

Finally, there is Borderlands 3. Despite us seeing familiar faces from previous games, we are met with a new threat and story to follow in Borderlands 3, that isn’t necessarily dependent on the stories of the last 3 installments of the franchise.

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To summarize, the chronological order of events in the series are:

  1. Borderlands
  2. Borderlands: The Presequel
  3. Borderlands 2
  4. Tales From the Borderlands
  5. Borderlands 3

However, because of the order the games were originally released in, you can play Borderlands 2 before Presequel or vice versa.

Playing Borderlands for the Gameplay

Borderlands isn’t just renowned for its story, but it is an absolute joy to play. Even when you finish the story, you will be coming back to play it time and time again.

From fun classes with unique powers and perks to absolutely mind boggling guns at your disposal, every Borderlands game is better than the previous one.

Though, you shouldn’t immediately start with the best or newest one. Borderlands is definitely an experience that should undeniably be started with Borderlands 2.

Not only does it have an amazing story, but Borderlands 2 is what made the whole franchise so popular. Just like the story, the gameplay is completely oriented to be fun and wacky.

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Just how you can hear all kinds of weird dialogue, Borderlands 2 is the one that originally introduced all the wild gun mechanics. No gun was the same and you never knew what kind of loot you could expect, on top of the fact that the weapons are entirely random.

While you ran around killing on Pandora, you would get something brand new everywhere you went and the guns were fun no matter the rarity.

Weapons with funny voicelines, guns that explode upon reload, and snipers with full on explosive projectiles are practically the norm in Borderlands.

The next in line would have to be Borderlands: The Presequel. In some ways Presequel expanded on Borderlands 2, having added new mechanics such as Oxygen Tanks, the Grinder, and a Double Jump with a Slam attack.

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It is also known for having more and better customizations, though its looting mechanics ended up lacking in many ways and the grind does not feel as rewarding in most cases. The Grinder tries to make up for it, but it is not nearly as satisfying.

Tales from the Borderlands is an entirely different genre, despite it belonging to the same story and franchise. Gameplay wise it is an odd one out, because it is not a shooter game at all, so for any FPS fan and can be completely skipped.

However, if you are a fan of Telltales type of games where you enjoy a much a slower pace where your dialogue decisions determine the outcome, then this may be just the game for you.

In the end, the games that perfected Borderlands’ looter and shooter are Tiny Tina’s Wonderland and Borderlands 3.

Borderlands 3 took everything we loved about Borderlands 2’s gameplay and expanded on it. By a lot.

Currently ranking as one of the best FPS games on Steam, with over 1 billion guns, you will never know what you will find. From a gun that is reloaded by a smaller gun to a gun that spawns robot legs and runs after enemies, and so much more, you will have an absolute blast.

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Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands isn’t as big on the number of guns, but it expands on one of the best-selling Borderlands 2 DLCs, by once again taking everything we loved and adding more.

It is definitely a cherry on top, especially if you have been itching to add some magic on top of all the gun fights.

There is a game that fits everyone’s tastes, but for the lovers of the gunplay the best suggested order to play the games in is:

  1. Borderlands 2
  2. Borderlands: The Presequel
  3. Borderlands 3
  4. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands

Borderlands: The Presequel

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When looking at just the title, it is hard to say if Presequel is, in fact, a sequel to the franchise, because once you get into the game you will certainly find that you are not directly continuing the story of Borderlands 2.

That is exactly how the creators had intended it to be. A sequel to Borderlands 2 that shows us the events that happened before we were originally thrown in the world of Pandora to fight Handsome Jack and his corruption.

Despite it not being as popular as Borderlands 2 and 3 in terms of its gameplay, Presequel is an absolute delight for its story.

Its greatest emphasis is character development and the details of how things truly worked behind the scenes for Borderlands 2. You get to see how there is really no black or white people in the unforgiving world that is Pandora and things may not be the way they seemed at first glance.

If you had loved Handsome Jack as a villain this is definitely a must play.

Tales From the Borderlands

Tales From the Borderlands, despite its differences, deserves quite some attention. It is certainly odd to see a franchise such as Borderlands take such a large detour in style.

While all other Borderlands games are praised and known for their combat and weapons, 2K takes a completely different approach with TFB by teaming up with Telltale Games and creating a choice based narrative game.

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Following the story of Rhys and Fiona, you experience a Borderlands story full of its trademark humor, but without being head first in the action.

Instead you focus on the relationships and choices you make, which in the end help shape the ending, out of which there are multiple ones you can receive.

The game feels like a warm coffee break between the 3rd and 4th installment of the series. Not only that, but it perfectly depicts the fall of Hyperion and other changes Pandora has gone through between the two games.

If you skipped from Borderlands 2 straight to 3, you will be perplexed who characters like Rhys and Vaughn are, as they seem like random new faces, but their characters were actually built up in TFB.

Therefore, albeit different, it is certainly a type of filler worth going through.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands

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Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a continuation of Borderlands 2′s best selling and most popular DLC: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep.

In the original DLC, Tiny Tina, a quirky little adventurer, invites you and the other Vault Hunters to play a game of DND that she hosts as the Dungeon Master. In this short DLC you step out of Pandora and enter a more fantasy-esque world of Tina’s making.

It is basically an entire game of its own, with none of the usual content or locations from the original game present.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands takes the fantasy and fun of being in a fun-filled DND game and meshes it up with all the quirkiness and fun gameplay that the Borderlands series is so well known for.

With full character creation and customization you get to play a character entirely of your own, which is a brand new feature for Borderlands games, where you previously always play as one of the many main characters featured in the story.

This game is one you will sink in many hours in, and enjoy it in all its fantastical glory.

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