Borderlands 3 is finally here and the Vault Hunters are back looting & shooting their way through enemies, guns and fun bosses in this continuation of the Borderlands franchise out now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
I have to admit something. I’ve not played Borderlands 1 or 2 (or Tales From The Borderlands). However, I’ve heard a lot about it over the years from streamers and friends who started their looter-shooter careers with the franchise from Gearbox. So when Borderlands 3 was announced I was excited to jump in and experience the world in all it’s cell-shaded glory.
We start the game on Pandora, it’s a wasteland of a planet that’s been overrun by bad guys and outlaws. Rather than stick to Pandora throughout the game (as in previous Borderlands games) we travel to new planets which provide a rich variety of environments like the Neon City Promethea and the peaks of Athenas. Each location is teeming with loot in every nook and cranny.
At the start of the game, we get to select from four Vault Hunter classes. We have Moze The Gunner, Zane The Operative, Amara The Siren and FL4K The Beastmaster. Each has its strengths and weaknesses but all are fun to play. Moze has the Mech, Zane can create copies of himself, FL4K controls a small army of monsters and Amara’s a Siren – the mystical beings of the Borderlands world. Each character has three skill trees of progression that provides variety to your play style. During my playthrough, I played as Amara The Siren, who’s phase abilities include Phaseslam, Phasegrasp and Phasecast. Slam allows Amara to jump and smash into the ground damaging enemies in her path, grasp creates a huge hand that comes out of the ground to trap enemies in her grasp leaving them helpless to immediate death and cast creates an Astral Projection that deals damage to everything in her path.
Each character has a three-pronged skill tree allowing for a good amount of customisation. Each Vault Hunter feels different enough from each other to provide a unique experience and a range of build options, especially as you progress through the game.
The campaign is fairly long but the pace is good and just when you’re getting tired of one environment Borderlands 3 mixes it up with new environments. Throughout the playthrough, you’ll be partnered with companions and NPCs that have their own unique brand of Borderlands humour, which is constant throughout. It’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I found myself chuckling along a few times. The humour is hit and miss but is consistent with the Borderlands universe and adds something different not found in other games. It’s a little like Marmite – you either love it or hate it.
The sheer amount of weapons in the game is fantastic and the big selling point of Borderlands 3. There’s a variety like you have never seen before and as you progress through the game the guns get crazier and crazier. The gunplay feels fast, responsive and there’s a heft to the shooting mechanics. It’s not quite on par with something like Destiny, but the gunplay feels good which is important in a first-person shooter. One thing you’ll have to get used to early on is inventory management as your storage will fill up fast forcing you to drop the guns you no longer need or want. The variety in ammo, scopes, barrels and weapon types will leave you with a huge smile on your face creating numerous ways to burn through the plethora of enemies that will try and get in your way.
The pace and feel of the game are very satisfying as you traverse through varied environments. You’ll be jumping, sliding and shooting your way through waves of enemies and big set pieces which ultimately feels a lot of fun. The boss encounters offer up enough of a challenge and variety that’ll keep you guessing. Bosses can feel a little bullet spongey later on in the game, but the fact that you can kill then and pick up the weapon they were trying to kill you with adds an extra sense of satisfaction to the battles.
The game can be played solo or you can play co-op with up to four players in total online. Playing together with friends is a whole lot of fun and is where some of the best Borderlands action can be found. Although with more people comes more carnage and sometimes coupled with the graphical style it can feel a little tough to know what’s going on as the environments get very busy. It’s very easy to drop in a play together with friends offering up level scaling a difficulty making it easy for friends to jump in together if they are on different levels.
Borderlands 3 isn’t a live service ‘living’ game with constant updates. However, there is an endgame offering up new game modes including Mayhem Mode, True Vault Hunter and Circle of Slaughter (Horde Mode) and Proving Grounds (kind of like Diablo 3 rift). These modes coupled with a lengthy campaign and different Vault Hunter classes and skill trees to unlock means Borderlands 3 is likely to keep you busy for some time.
Borderlands 3 is superb, silly fun. There’s a great variety in the gameplay through the weapon and character variation and the feel of the game will make you come back again and again. It’s a game that just feels good to play and each time you finish your play session you’ll leave with a big smile on your face. There’s a good campaign filled with memorable moments and great set pieces and an end game that will keep you busy for months on end. Borderlands 3 plays it pretty safe and sticks to the model that’s been successful in their previous games and provides you with a colourful, bombastic and fun experience.
Developer: Gearbox Software
Platforms: Xbox One, PC, PS4
Release date: 13th September 2019