IMO, Yes, the badlands are worth the extra $$.
Another option are the Duratrax. They have many offerings for rough terrain, road, and track.
One thing I did, and some will disagree as there are pro's and con's, but I bought several sets of Pro-line bead loc rims. I have a set for street tires and a set for off road. This way, I can swap out tires for different track conditions or easily swap old tires for new. That's the positives. The cons is that they are initially more expensive and the wheels will weigh more.
So in sticking with your budget friendly, I suggest looking at Duratrax.
Although you might get a good used set of tires, depending on age and abuse, they can sometimes be drying out and cracking. So just be careful.
Slash 4x4 - HCG
Kraton - Basher (4s)
Raider Mega ('14) - strong chassis/weak electronics
Dromida Ominus - consistent and dependable.