Many Borderlands fans argue that it’s the holy grail of “looter shooters” and for a game that hasn’t released a sequel in five years, it’s easy to see why that argument still holds up in Borderlands 3. There is no game that has such a large arsenal of quirky and unique weapons…
What separates Borderlands 3 from other cooperative shooters, like Destiny or The Division, is it doesn’t fall under the games for service umbrella. It’s a mostly cooperative experience unless you engage in a short-lived duel with your co-op partner. This game can be played solo, co-op online, or split screen/couch co-op. However, where Blands3 outstands any other game in this genre is the amount of variety in their weapons and gear.
You’ll get weapons that can switch between corrosive and shock damage, or an SMG that can switch between automatic and burst fire. I’ve seen sliding abilities that shoot out blades or snowballs from your feet. Another gun will throw out a shield regeneration item every time you reload. One rocket behaves like a mobile mortar. Another legendary weapon creates a shield barrier when crouched. One gun even fires rounds in the shape of a heart! You’ll never see so many guns in any game that have such unique features. Think of how quirky Ratchet & Clank weapons are and imagine an exhaustive amount of that assortment in your loot. You can decide which loot to switch out through Diablo-styled inventory management or hearing the special “ping” sound when an epic or legendary weapon drops.
Gearbox Software makes many quality of life changes from the previous Borderlands games including the ability to trade weapons, items, and currency. You also pick up ammo and money automatically, making looting less troublesome. From the start of the game, you’re given the option to play classically where you and your co-op partner race to pick up loot. I think most players chose the option to play cooperatively where each player earns their own unique loot. This not only helped with fostering good camaraderie, but also helped with balancing if you’re playing with a co-op partner who’s not the same level.
The level balancing was mostly impressive where I didn’t feel bogged down by playing with a decently skilled level 9 at level 35, but I felt things were too easy playing with a level 50 player. Once I was in the field, movement and shooting felt refined and smooth. Additionally, a ping system was added to mark items, locations, and enemies. Overall, these changes are an evolution for Borderlands as a series but it’s nothing groundbreaking for video games.
Weapons are given more of a purpose than just items to loot, sell, and shoot. That’s because in BL3 we meet the corporate leaders of the different weapon types (Maliwan, Jakobs, Dahl), which adds some depth to the story. You can also customize weapon skins (shout out to space cats), but considering how you’re constantly swapping out weapons, changing your skin is just more time wasted in menus. I almost wish Gearbox would add a feature where you can set a default color to all of your weapons and customize individually if desired.
You’ll shoot away at a variety of enemies including different kinds of humans, creatures, guardians, machines, and zombies. There’s also stronger versions of these enemies that are distinguishable because they have the word “badass” in front of their name. Then there’s the boss fights, which I found to be the most fun as there’s some actual strategy involved in managing their attack patterns.
If you’ve played Borderlands, you’ll have familiarity with the beginning planet, Pandora. As time goes on, you’ll visit other planets that are each beautiful, distinct, and fun to explore. For example, Promethea is a bright futuristic metropolis, Eden-6 is a large swamp filled with lush greenery, Athenas is full of high peak mountains and pinkish/purple skies. I’m glad the series made planets that are distinguishable. Certain maps like Eden 6 gave me a really hard time with traveling due to the winding and multi-dimensional paths. I didn’t like having to constantly open my map to figure out where to descend or ascend, and where to turn next.
Every location is littered with loot and easter eggs. Many Easter eggs are discovered in dialogues with NPC’s, encounters with enemies, side missions and exploring hidden areas on the map. Some I noticed are One Punch Man, Rick & Morty, The Simpsons, Wrestling (Hulk Hogan pose), Ghostbusters, South Park, and more. There’s even some enemies called Tinks that yell out “excelsior” in the middle of battle. Much of the dialogue and overall humor is referencing pop culture or just straight up being gross. My favorite moment is being called a “pusswag”, “crotch rot”, and “shit dipped tortilla chip” by Pappy. Humor is different for everyone and while I would have found Borderlands 3 humor hysterical as a 15-year old, I still found a handful of it funny at 32, but some of it was just too cringey and forced. The humor did make somewhat redundant fetch quests and endless looting and shooting a lot more entertaining.
You’ll get to chose one of four vault hunters: Amara (mage-like), Moze (tank-like), Zane (tech-like) and FL4K (witch doctor-like). They’re all unique in ability sets, playstyle, and personality. I went with Zane but if it wasn’t for most of my friends list going for FL4K, I would of went for doggo attacks.
In Blands3, our main villains are twin siblings Tyreen and Troy Calypso, that fit the “millennial” stereotypes of having a large following of bandits and broadcasting their chaos. Think Screwball in Spider-Man (PlayStation 4) except way less annoying. Their aim is to get The Great Vault and other vaults known to be on other planets, so you endeavor to get them first. Even without comparing the Calypso twins to Handsome Jack, they’re not charming or very likeable.
Not only were the main baddies not as well written, the entire story wasn’t remarkable. Existing characters that were introduced in previous Borderlands games were either non-existent or not given a substantial purpose. Even certain deaths didn’t feel as impactful as fans would have imagined.
There are some performance issues that could be patched such as continuous frame drops especially when there’s a lot of players in your party and when explosions going off. These issues persisted while playing on performance mode. There’s also several glitches that caused me to quit my game to jump back into a mission checkpoint because an item I needed was non-existent. Another issue is the latency when opening your menu, which is frustrating for a game where you’ll be spending a lot of time in and out of your menu.
Endgame content includes a New Game Plus and Mayhem Mode, which is essentially a mode with stronger enemies and better loot. There’s also a horde mode called The Circle of Slaughter and trials called The Proving Grounds. While this seems cool, I would be more interested in playing it more to experience the other three characters.
Borderlands 3 is a game for players who like cooperative shooters, but most importantly, it’s a game for Borderlands fans. Although the story isn’t remarkable, you won’t find a game with a larger arsenal of interesting weapons. 4.25/5 Bibles.