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Borderlands: The Handsome Collection — Everything You Need to Know

Say what you will about the general trend of remakes and remasters in the gaming sphere, but there were an awful lot of good games in the last console generation, and they look pretty snazzy in full HD.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection combines two fan-favorite titles into one convenient package, and adds a handful of useful new features. If you're debating whether to pick up The Handsome Collection, or have already done so and need a little guidance, look no further than this handy primer.

What Is Borderlands: The Handsome Collection?

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is a compilation of both Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, now remastered for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. (The original Borderlands is not part of the package.) Previously, these games were available on the PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PlayStation Vita (Borderlands 2 only). The Handsome Collection costs $60.

What Is Borderlands?

Borderlands is an incredibly popular series of cooperative games (up to four players at a time) that span multiple genres. They're sci-fi–themed first-person shooters, like Halo. They're sprawling action/role-playing games with lots of quests and character-building, like Mass Effect. They're frenzied online loot-fests, like Diablo. They have the anarchic humor of an old LucasArts adventure game, beautiful cartoonish graphics and tight, action-packed gameplay.

Borderlands is definitely not for everyone, but it's easy to see why the series has become a fan favorite in the six years since the first game came out.

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Can You Play the Games Solo?

Sure. The games were designed with cooperative online play in mind, but the difficulty scales depending on how many players there are. You can play through the game by yourself without too much trouble, although some character classes are better suited to the task than others.

Why Re-Release Two Fairly New Games?

Borderlands, as a series, has a long shelf life, thanks to its exciting cooperative multiplayer, high level-caps, and high replayability with multiple character classes and builds. Fans still wanted to play Borderlands games, but didn't want to be tethered to their old systems. Developer Gearbox Software wanted to let fans keep playing, and if the company happened to pick up a few bucks in the process, surely, that wouldn't hurt, either.

What's New in The Handsome Collection?

Truth be told? Not much, but the additions are all welcome ones. The Handsome Collection includes every piece of downloadable content for both games, from postgame story missions to character-customization skins. You can also play cooperatively with four players on the very same screen (previously, only two players could do this).

Perhaps most importantly, The Handsome Collection runs at full 1080p and 60 frames per second, something the older consoles couldn't quite manage.

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Why Is There No PC Version of The Handsome Collection?

Save for four-player local co-op (which PC players probably don't want anyway), PC gamers already had access to everything The Handsome Collection offers. Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel can already run at 1080p and 60 fps (and even higher) on PCs.

The only problem is that PC gamers don't get a price break; buying Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel and all associated DLC costs more than $100 on Steam right now. On the other hand, Steam holds sales on the titles frequently, and Gearbox may drop the price to be more competitive with its console brethren.

Can I Pick Up Where I Left Off on the Xbox 360/PS3/Vita?

Absolutely. The Handsome Collection makes use of cross-save functionality; you can continue your adventure, bringing all of your story progress, equipment and cash along for the ride.

Simply boot up the console where you started playing, choose Cross-Save and Upload Character. Then, load up The Handsome Collection, choose Cross-Save and Download Character. You'll be good to go.

There are two caveats: You can only transfer files within the same console families (you can’t Cross-Save between a PS3 and an Xbox One, for example), and if you transfer your Xbox 360 save to an Xbox One, there's no going back to the older hardware. PlayStation saves, on the other hand, can transfer among all three systems.

Do I Need to Play the First Borderlands?

The answer is a resounding "maybe." Borderlands actually has a fairly strong setting, cohesive narrative and interesting world, so if you’re on board for the much-better-than-it-has-to-be story, you should definitely play Borderlands before jumping into The Handsome Collection.

If you're just in it to shoot and loot, the opening cutscene of Borderlands 2 explains the story so far pretty well. Just keep in mind that Borderlands is not available on next-gen consoles, so you'll need an Xbox 360, PS3 or PC handy.

MORE: PS4 vs. Xbox One: Which Console Wins?

Where Does The Handsome Collection Fit Chronologically?

If you don’t mind copious amounts of spoilers, Gearbox has actually assembled an exhaustive timeline of where all the Borderlands games and DLC packs take place. Otherwise, the general progression is Borderlands — Borderlands 2 — Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel — Tales from the Borderlands (a point-and-click adventure game from Telltale Games, the company behind The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us).

Technically speaking, The Pre-Sequel takes place between Borderlands and Borderlands 2, but it's told in flashbacks; the framing story takes place after Borderlands 2's credits roll. Chew on that one for a while.

Why Should I Buy The Handsome Collection?

If you've played the first Borderlands, but never got around to the other two, you might as well get them at one lower price on a current-gen console. Even if you've already bought one of the games and some of the DLC, it might be cheaper to purchase The Handsome Collection than to buy the rest piecemeal. Similarly, if you're a Borderlands die-hard and intend to keep playing online, you could benefit from playing on the latest hardware with the best graphics and frame rate available on a console.

Why Shouldn't I Buy The Handsome Collection?

If you've already purchased Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel and all their DLC on a last-gen console, The Handsome Collection won't offer you much beyond a prettier face and enhanced local co-op. Similarly, if you just want to blow through the main games and don't care too much about DLC, it's considerably cheaper to buy the standalone last-gen games. Of course, if you've already played through Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel and feel as though you've had your fill, there's nothing in The Handsome Collection to pique your interest.

Marshall Honorof is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.