It’s been a good seven years since Borderlands 2 came out back in 2012. You know a game is good when people are STILL playing it, and Borderlands 2 is one of those games. Amazing storytelling, characters, loot, you name it, it had it. Right off the bat, it’s been established that Borderlands 3 has some big shoes to fill. How does it fare? Let’s find out.
Borderlands 3 – The plot
The story is one of the weaker elements of Borderlands 3. If you think about it, it’s not really that surprising, Borderlands 2’s story was pretty amazing, and it’s hard to think anyone could top Handsome Jack. The Calypso twins feel pretty try-hard compared to Handsome Jack, and they’re definitely not as memorable. We don’t even remember their individual names. Although, we will say that their whole evil online streamer thing is pretty cool. “As always, like, follow and obey!”
In addition to the twins, once again, you’ve got the evil corporation trying to take over the universe shtick. In Borderlands 2 it was Hyperion, who isn’t the bad guy this time, as your “New-U” station will sometimes tell you. This time around you’ve got Maliwan being the big bad corporation. Borderlands 3, in addition to continuing after the events of Borderlands 2, also pulls a lot from the Tales of the Borderlands games. It’s not necessary that you have to have played them in order to follow what’s going on, but if you have, there are some tie-ins and nods here and there.
Beyond that, we’ll try to avoid spoiling the story, but while it may not be as good as Borderlands 2’s story, we’re not saying it’s horrible. It’s decent. If not for the story, there are other, better reasons to play the game. Which we’ll get to in a bit.
One of the best things about Borderlands 2 was the characters. Gearbox is aware of this, and so they’ve brought back just about everyone for Borderlands 3. From the very first Borderlands, to the Tales games, to Borderlands 2, there are familiar faces everywhere in Borderlands 3. Which is kind of nice. It’s nice to actually see what they’ve been up to after the end of Borderlands 2. What we’re interested in however, are the new characters of course, the new vault hunters.
As is the norm, there are four new Vault Hunters, who are endearingly referred to as VH by everyone, including us from this point on. You’ve got Amara, the new Siren, Flak, a robot beastmaster, Zayn, the operative, and finally Moze, the gunner.
Personally, we think the classes from Borderlands 2 were the best. However, the new VHs are not bad at all. They also talk a lot more, and feel more involved in the story and conversations this time around. When an NPC such as Lilith (well, she’s an NPC now, though one could argue that at one point she wasn’t) is talking to you, your character actually responds and doesn’t stand around like a mute.
Let’s get into the classes. The siren this time around is Amara, and unlike previous sirens who seemed to have more of a support or utility type role or power, Amara is straight up power and dishes out the pain up-close. She’s like the brawler class of Borderlands 3. She literally summons magic fists to punch you in the face.
Next you have FL4K, the beastmaster. Like the name suggests, he can summon his pet skags to fight for him, and they’ve got different elements and everything too. He’s also got a pet Rakk that can attack stuff and he can go invisible. Our choice for the best class to solo the game with if you haven’t got any friends.
Moze can summon an armoured power suit which she can hop into to cause total mayhem. This thing is a powerhouse that can churn out different elemental damage. If specced right, Moze could be the next Gunzerker class. By which we mean completely overpowered and broken.
Finally you have Zayn, the operative. His kit suits his title, he can summon a drone, create a clone of himself, and deploy a shield that amps damage. He’s got plenty of utility to him, and he can use two of those abilities at the same time, making him an invaluable team player.
The skill trees are slightly more complex compared to Borderlands 2, but other than a few small additions, it’s almost the exact same interface and UI as in Borderlands 2.
Other than the new skills and VHs, gameplay is pretty much the exact(italic) same in Borderlands 3. The fact that you can sprint slide now is nice. You just have to hold down the crouch button while you’re sprinting to start sliding. You can also ground slam by pressing crouch mid high-jump. There are a few quality of life changes as well, like now, you automatically pick up ammo and money from off the ground and from containers you open.
Then there’s shotguns. They’ve changed them up a bit so they feel more powerful. Shotgun shots can actually send enemies flying and stagger them. Definitely makes it feel like they pack a wallop.
The UI is somewhat snazzier and looks nicer, there’s definitely s#!ttonne of guns in the game, they weren’t kidding about the bazillions.
They revamped the ‘Catch-a-Ride’ system quite a bit too, and you can now collect new vehicles, by finding them out in the wild and bringing them back to the Catch-a-Ride station. Ellie will unlock them, or a particular vehicle part or mod, for you permanently.
Other than that, there’s really nothing new. Boss fights feel pretty meh compared to Borderlands 2, with most of them just being bullet sinks. If you were just hoping for more Borderlands 2, well, you’ve got it. If you were hoping for more, we’re sorry to disappoint.
This is important, considering how many people still play Borderlands 2. Borderlands 3 already has a LOT of end-game content, in the form of a True Vault Hunter Mode and three Mayhem levels. These amp up the difficulty, but naturally, also amp up the loot you’ll get. And there’s a lot of loot to be had.
Graphics and audio
Borderlands cell-shaded aesthetic is timeless. It still looks great and feels unique. Some characters look slightly different from their Borderlands and Borderlands 2 variants but that’s fine. Overall, the colours look sharper and more vibrant, definitely an improvement.
Then there’s all the different planets that you can visit and explore too. For the first time, Borderlands has left Pandora, and there’s a whole new Universe to explore. It’s unfortunate that the planets feel pretty dead and empty for the most part. It almost feels like instanced raids in an MMO, where after you’re done with a raid (planet), you return to the lobby, which is Sanctuary.
We played the game on a GTX 680, which is a pretty old card, and we got decent frames at pretty much all times, save a few moments. Of course, this was on the lowest settings. We were surprised that we got a constant 60 fps at all, considering the complaints we were seeing online about the game taxing high-end cards and consoles.
Audio was great. The Heavy was back at it again with the new intro song, we’re big fans. The OST doesn’t feel as memorable as the one in Borderlands 2, but it’s decent. Voice acting is great. No complaints there either.
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Played on: Microsoft Windows
Rig: Intel Core i7 4790K
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
Borderlands 3 – Conclusion
Borderlands 3 is a great looter shooter. There literally isn’t any other game series or franchise that does what Borderlands does as well as it does. The quality of life and gameplay changes are nice, however, they feel like so little after seven years of waiting. The game’s story also falls short, and tries too hard at times to be crass and funny. Great end-game and gameplay keeps the game alive. The gameplay is still the exact same, but it was really fun in Borderlands 2 and you know what they say, don’t fix what ain’t broke. Ultimately, Borderlands 3 just feels like a huge expansion to Borderlands 2. If that’s what you wanted, great, but for us, after seven years of waiting, that simply doesn’t cut it.
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