Borderlands 3 is a game that is likely to divide people. If you’re already a fan of the Borderlands games then you’re probably going to like Borderlands 3 as it’s essentially all of the other Borderlands together, on steroids, times a million. If this is your first time venturing into the Borderlands franchise it could be very overwhelming and the style of humour could be something that puts you off.
The story of Borderlands 3 takes place after the events of Borderlands 2 and Tales from the Borderlands. The Calypso Twins Troy and Tyreen sit at the head of their cult The Children of the Vault and they are hellbent on taking over Pandora. It’s very easy to hate these guys as they are quite possibly the most irritating villains I’ve ever met in a video game. If I have to hear them say ‘like, subscribe and obey’ one more time I’m going to throw my console through the window. Having said that, they are the villains and it’s my job to hate and kill them so fair play to the writing team if this was your intention.
View the official Borderlands 3 trailer below:
The rest of the writing is as you would expect from Borderlands. The humour is crass, dying dwarfs will ask you tell their friends that they died one foot taller for example, and the one-liners just keep coming one after the other. They don’t all quite hit the mark but they are so frequent that something is bound to make you chuckle at least every twenty minutes or so.
You get to play as one of four new Vault Hunters, FL4K, Moze the Gunner, Amara the Siren and Zane, each bringing their own playstyle and skillset to the game. Each character is fun to play and each has their own unique skill tree so you can tinker to your heart’s content getting your build just right. Each character feels very distinct from the others so I’d recommend giving each a try before you commit to completing the game on any particular one. There is also a skill tree tool on the official Borderlands 3 website to help you pre-plan your choices before you commit your skill points.
As you might expect there is a lot of loot in Borderlands 3, there are supposedly over a billion guns in the game so you’re going to spend a lot of time trying out new shooters. The sheer amount of loot available can be very overwhelming and I found myself spending a lot of time rummaging through my inventory trying to decide if the new guns I’d just picked up were worth using or not. Many of the guns come with an alternate fire mode which adds a nice bit of variety and some of the guns are simply mental. Who wouldn’t want a pistol that screams in pain each time you reload it!?
Visually, Pandora itself is pretty bland and the environment can quickly get boring. Thankfully, in Borderlands 3 you are no longer restricted to one planet and the new environments have allowed Gearbox to stretch their creative legs to great effect and providing a nice break from the beiges of Pandora.
Where Borderlands 3 shines is when you enter combat and you’re going to be doing that a lot. Firefights are fast and frantic and your limited storage space for ammo will have you frantically searching every crate, and probably toilet, to find anything that has a full clip. Even the most basic of enemies provide a reasonable challenge, they work together intelligently and there is usually a whole lot of them. The boss fights are also very challenging whilst you get the mechanics of the fight down but once you’ve figured them out they can feel like bullet sponges. That said, each boss is very distinct from the last and they are some of the most memorable characters I’ve come across in a long time.
There are also a few things I find annoying about Borderlands 3. The first is the sheer amount of loot on offer can have you spending an awfully long time in your inventory screen checking out the characteristics of the god knows how many new guns you’ve just picked up. After a while, I found myself simply sticking to the guns I’d taken a liking too and only bothering to check out the new ones every now and again. This constant diving in and out of your inventory has a big impact on the flow of the game making it feel very stop-start which for me is a direct contrast to what the game is all about. I also really, REALLY hated the driving elements within the game and would actively avoid getting into a vehicle if given a choice.
To sum up, if you’re already a fan of the Borderlands games then I see very little that you’re not going to like in Borderlands 3. It retains all of the things that the franchise is famous for i.e. great combat, toilet humour and lots of guns. If you’re new to the franchise then you’ll either love it or hate, I don’t think there’s any middle ground here.
Borderlands 3 was reviewed using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Publisher: 2K Games Developer: Gearbox Software Release Date: 13th September 2019 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also available on: PS4, PC