Borderlands 3 is exactly what I wanted it to be, more of that borderlands mayhem but refined. These refinements have left some areas a little too sharp leaving some players with pricks and cuts, but more on that later. These few areas have done nothing to slow down Borderlands fans from enjoying one of the best games in 2019.
There is a lot I could gush about in Borderlands 3. From the loot system to the gun feel and even the power trip Gearbox has created with its new roaster of Vault Hunters. This is just the natural progression of the series as a whole. I wasn’t a fan of the original borderlands, it had it’s moments but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. Borderlands 2 though was a massive improvement to the series, not only visually with more colours in the colour palette but in the delivery of the story. Borderlands 2 still stands as one of my favourite games and Borderlands 3 has out shined predecessor.
I’ve already covered a lot of the changes made to Borderlands 3 at the reveal event. Though you don’t really feel the weight of it all till you get the game in your hands. Instantly I felt the changes to movement, your character isn’t a lump of flesh anymore but an actual part of the environment. Flowing from one area to the next as they climb and slide past cover. It all feels natural in a way I haven’t experienced since Mirrors Edge. Though running around is one thing the real juicy part is when you mix in combat. Saying that gearbox has improved gunplay is an understatement as even early level guns feel good. While the amount of detail added to reload animations and firing effects always left me wondering what new and interesting means of destruction would my new loot exact upon my foes.
The arsenal of weapons you gather play a big part in how you approach and adapt your playstyle. The biggest factor to your slaughter of everything in your way is hands down your Vault Hunter. Gearbox has created a fantastic roaster of interesting characters. That no matter who you choose fulfills the power fantasy I’ve always wanted to have from Borderlands. I main Amara the Siren though the campaign. While I tinkered with the others and have seen them at work while playing with friends. It is by far the strongest cast and no matter who you choose you’ll be in for a good time.
Picking a vault hunter is a hard choice. I personally recommend picking one you like aesthetically as you will be spending a lot of time with them. With how different the Vault Hunters are this time around you shouldn’t feel pressured to play a specific character because they have some crazy end game build. Play how you want and enjoy your time soaking up the story and that loot.
Though at the moment the good times don’t always keep on rolling. As Borderlands 3 is currently affected by technical difficulties that range from simple frame rate drops to lost saves. The lost saves in particular were caused by Epic Launchers cloud saving. Which has been addressed with a hotfix. Personally I won’t be turning it back on, though just as annoying was losing all of my legendaries in my vault. This hasn’t deterred fans or myself from playing what is otherwise a fantastic game. Gearbox and the Borderlands twitter have acknowledged the issues facing fans. They’ve created a troubleshoot guide (Tweet below) so to give some relief. While there are plenty of guides aimed towards optimisation for PC for some added help. Gearbox have also stated they are working on a patch that hopes to fix these remaining issues though no ETA on when we will see it.
Bugs are one thing but the most disappointing aspect of Borderlands 3 was it’s main villains the Calypsos. This isn’t Gearboxes fault but the affect of their own success with Borderlands 2’s villainous CEO Handsome Jack. Jack owned your attention in a way I hadn’t experienced before from a villain. It was that performance that made my many hours in borderlands 2 enjoyable again and again. Troy and Tyreen on the other hand just don’t live up to Jack. I love the idea behind their creation, especially their commentary on streaming. They even have some moments where their brother sister relationship shines. Even then those small moments just can’t save them from the third act. During said act all motivation I had to stopping them cause they wanted to destroy the universe ceased. Leaving me more interested in exploring what endgame had to offer.
I’m glad to say that endgame has seen some great improvements and some new additions that will keep it fresh in the months to come. The two big changes are Guardian ranks, this replaces the old Badass ranks from Borderlands 2. The other is Mayhem mode, which gives the game a new challenge every time you load into a map. These both unlock at the completion of the story along with endgame activity proving grounds.
Guardian ranks (GR) works as a secondary exp bar and every level up gains you a token to use. Players spend the token level up a stat related to one of three skill trees. These stats range from improved gun damage to extended time on fight for your life and can be infinity upgraded. When enough points are added to a tree a permanent perk will unlock you. This gives players the ability to further customise their builds. While GR gives players the ability to continue improving their Vault Hunter, Mayhem mode is the other side of the coin.
Mayhem mode adds the challenge and rewards players will be looking for after their triumph of the story. There are three levels to Mayhem, each upping the difficulty and possible rewards. Gearbox also has added an extra spice to Mayhem with mods that either buff or debuff your character that change every time you load into a new map. It adds that extra ounce of randomness that makes each run for loot or attempt at endgame activities that little bit more interesting.
There is so much that Gearbox has added that I haven’t even talked about. Echocast is an amazing extension and works right off the bat. While the new cooperative mode is a fantastic addition and I don’t see myself playing the game any other way. Then we have fast travel which has seen a massive improvement. It not only allows you to fast travel anywhere anytime without having to go to a Fast Travel Station but also to your vehicle. These are just a couple of the smaller changes Gearbox has added to the game and they don’t stop there. Gearbox has put a lot of attention into every aspect of the game showcasing their love for the series.
Gearbox could have innervated and changed the Borderlands formula to create something that appealed to more people. Instead they created something that they knew fans wanted and kept what made up the soul of the series intact. Balanced out by quality of life changes the series needed for it to stand alongside other modern shooters. Borderlands 3 is the apex of looter shooters and showcases that it’s not ready to give up it’s crown anytime soon.
Borderlands 3 was played on PC with a purchased copy.