Borderlands 3 Review
Shoot, loot, repeat. The tried and tested formula of Borderlands returns alongside the wacky comedy, larger-than-life characters, and iconic cel-shaded graphics. Borderlands 3 looks to build on the successful formula of its predecessors but times have changed. Does it stack up to the more modern take on the looter shooter genre? Let’s find out.
Borderlands 3 ReviewIn Borderlands 3, players take on the role of Sirens, expert treasure hunters of a futuristic era with some magical powers to boot. Traveling from planet to planet, you’re tasked with foiling a galactic plot to destroy the universe. Sounds simple enough. On the way you’re introduced to a cast of colorful characters and antagonists, each of which seems to be even more annoying than the last. While Borderlands 3 does have an intriguing story, it’s difficult to invest in world where even destruction on a galactic scale is mocked, a mere joke.
Unfortunately, that’s about as deep as the plot goes. While I’m sure many fans would disagree, I’ve never been a fan of Borderlands’ comedic approach to delivering the narrative. Poor one-liners, unnecessarily long dialogue for a crappy punchline, references to memes of yesteryear, it just felt required. It’s expected for the characters to not take anything seriously, for everything to be a bit of fun and a laugh but in terms of the latter, I failed to even snigger throughout the game.
Borderlands 3 does attempt to raise the stakes here and there, with the maniacal Calypso Twins making the odd appearance to conjure some level of emotional investment, but it’s difficult to care when you’re sidelined the entire time and everyone’s tossing around jokes. At the points you could argue as serious, my character simply disappeared. Following a tense boss battle the infamous twins appear to kill, capture, or otherwise maim an ally and where’s the protagonist? No idea, no explanation, you’re just not there. The events unfold as you’re powerless to stop them.
Distinguishing itself from the competition, Borderlands 3 still dominates the genre with its weapon variety and innovative mechanics, although unfortunately I am unable to verify the games claim to having over a billion guns. As with previous games in the series, Borderlands 3 uses a random generator algorithm to create guns and equipment on the fly. Some of these changes can be subtle, influencing things such as weapon accuracy or clip size, but others elements of RNG goodness can be much more substantial.
This random mixture of weapons can be fantastic, truly rewarding and exciting when you discover a devastating new weapon with a bundle of powerful perks but, it can also become quite frustrating in places. Throughout my entire time in Borderlands 3 I was searching for something simple, almost elegant in its simplicity compared to the arsenal of weapons at my disposal, an Assault Rifle. I wouldn’t consider that request unworldly, it’s a staple in the shooting genre, but could I find what I needed?
In a word, no. Not for a long time. Sure, the game was awash with Assault Rifle after Assault Rifle, but one would suffer with a magazine capacity of 12, another would fire single bullets that stick to targets and explode in a semi-auto fashion, while another would be a great Assault Rifle with an insanely ridiculous scope. Sure, I could shoot the hairs off the ass of a gnat but not quite what I was looking for.
It took me some time before I was able to submit to Borderlands 3’s insane arsenal. Once I’d stopped looking for my perfect go-to, I just started using whatever I found on the floor. Great stats, bad stats, stats I couldn’t understand, to hell with it all. While this meant I was rarely in my shooter comfort zone of mid to long range combat, it exposed me to a level of carnage and chaos that felt thrilling and challenging every step of the way.
Borderlands 3 is exactly the kind of game Borderlands fans are looking for. An astonishingly delicious variety of ways to destroy your enemies, versatile class progression with rewarding skills and abilities, hidden collectibles with worthwhile rewards, tons of replay value with Mayhem Mode and other multiplayer features, and a solid cast of annoying characters. But for me, it just wasn’t enough.
I began as a simple Vault Hunter with poor weapons and a lack of understanding of my Siren powers, I finished an unstoppable bad-ass that incinerated anything within 10ft at the single swing of my fiery fists. In my final moments before the games climax, I slid into combat releasing small grenades in my path, I punched an enemy into oblivion, which also released small explosives, before finally letting loose a round of my nuclear rocket launcher that not only launched a cluster of 10 smaller rockets, but it blanketed the entire area with hazardous waste. A massive explosion followed before the satisfying sight of multiple loot drops starting raining from above. That’s Borderlands 3, over, and over, and over again.
Borderlands 3 does very little to reinvent itself. It plays it safe, sticking to the tried and tested formula that made the original games such a success. A must-play for fans of the genre and past Borderlands games, but much of the same for anyone else.
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