So if you don’t know what this game is then let me explain the premise. You do missions, you shoot baddies and you loot. Borderlands 3 is developed by Gearbox Studios and published by 2k Games and has been released for Xbox One, PS4, and Epic Games Store on PC. It is a AAA game with a very big budget and with five years in the oven according to Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford. Borderlands 2 was one of the most critically acclaimed and most successful games of 2012, so naturally, we were bound to get a third one, even if it is a lot later than people had originally hoped. (Thanks Battleborn!) Since this game took 7 years, the anticipation was at an all-time high, and despite all the controversies surrounding the games’ release it somehow still managed to be arguably the most anticipated game of the year for many. Does it live up to the hype and was the wait worth it? Well I have put lots of time into the game as I am level 50 (Max Level) and have completed the story and done most side objectives on every planet, so I have experienced most of what the game offers now and I must say that only some aspects are worth the wait. The game in some areas excels and it amazing, however in other areas, it simply falls flat on its face.
Let’s start with the best part of the game, the gameplay. The gameplay is phenomenal and a blast, I enjoyed playing this game far more than I did any of the others. I will note that a majority of the game I played solo, whereas the Borderlands 1, 2, and Pre-Sequel I played entirely Co-Op. And the fact I had more fun playing it solo is just a testament to how fun it is. The gunplay is the best in the series, without question and not even debatable. The guns and bullets feel like they have real weight and many of them are unique since there are several types of manufacturers. It can’t be understated enough how good they feel, because the main thing you do in the game is shoot enemies and if the gunplay felt bad then the game wouldn’t feel fun, but thankfully it feels stellar. So shooting people will likely be something you love doing! Even if it feels a tad demented when put that way.
I have heard of people saying conflicting things about this, but I think the loot rate is great, especially compared to the other games. This game uses the usual loot tier system of common, uncommon, rare, and legendary guns. You get a legendary from every other boss I feel (On normal difficulty, which is what I played) and you get some from missions, although very sparingly. In Borderlands 2, which I recently replayed in anticipation of this, I found that I rarely got legendary weapons unless I was specifically farming for them. So despite the controversy of people online being mad they nerfed the legendary rate close to launch, I think it was necessary because you got far too many at first and they’re supposed to feel special and even now with the tweaked odds you get a good amount.
I found myself also switching guns, A LOT. I have seen people say they haven’t switched guns as much in this one, and maybe it is just my playstyle, but because the enemies are constantly dropping guns I often find guns that are better than my current ones and switch, which led to a variety in what I was different. Which upon my replay of Borderlands 2, I found myself switching guns far less than I remembered, so this is also an improvement. Thanks to the much-improved shooting mechanics, I also found out that this game has great targeting. What I mean by this is that if you shoot at someone’s head, their head will then explode, if you shoot at someone’s feet as they are running at you, then they will fall. It leads to cleverness in gameplay.
The User Interface is actually pretty polarizing for me though because I love the new map UI, it is much improved and it is like Doom 2016 where you can see levels and know clearly where to go. However the actual menus are atrocious, and frankly, I don’t know how this is the final design they went with. They overcomplicated the vending machine UI and the Inventory UI and it just makes it incredibly frustrating that the UI in the menus is that bad. You have to sort by score, manufacturer, or type and the issue with this is that I just want to look at my shotguns and figure out which one I like the most. The vending machines have also been updated and are hard to navigate. A cool thing about the new UI is that you can switch quests without looking at the map menu, but the bad thing about this is you cant switch quests WHILE looking at the map menu. So if you’re trying to see where the closest quest is it takes much longer to figure it out, but if you’re simply trying to switch quests it is much quicker.
Driving returns in this game, with Ellie in charge of the ‘catch a ride’ system after Scooters sad demise in Tales From the Borderlands. The driving itself is great and responsive, however the issue previous Borderlands games had is still apparent, the lack of vehicles. There are only three vehicle types in the entire game. However, the caveat of this is that around the maps there are many variants of these vehicles for you to collect. You can hijack vehicles from opponents, or find vehicles that are “hidden” around the map, and if you take it back to the ‘catch a ride’ system you can use whatever unique part the vehicle has.
Speaking of the maps in this game, at first I found them quite daunting and very big. However as I played the game I realized while they are big, they are not scary. There are five planets, each planet has many areas you can go to in them. With the exception of Athenas, as it is only a planet you go to once and it has one area and one side mission. So although technically there are five planets, I will say four since one of them is so lackluster, the remaining four are good though. So my issue with the areas are this, they are big areas and it theory that is a good thing, but MANY of these areas are used to the pact, so while it is open, it feels linear in the sense that there is no “white space” for things to exist outside of a mission, whereas compared to Borderlands 1 and 2 the areas felt more open even though they were smaller. This issue is compounded by the fact that there are barely fast travel point IN the areas, mostly at the start of them with few exceptions, same goes for vending machines which makes it frustrating when you want to buy ammo or sell loot.
So with the different planets, you would expect lots of enemy variety, yes? Well, you kind of do, but not totally. Certain planets will have different native creatures, the issue is is that for the most part, it is only one or two creatures per planet. For example, Eden 6 has Monkeys and Dinosaurs mainly with a few minor creatures sprinkled in, because it is a jungle planet. Pandora has the usual Skags, Varkids, and Rakks. So while in theory, this leads to more variety, I honestly feel like in practice it doesn’t, especially compared to Borderlands 2. It felt more varied despite being on one planet as it had things like Bullymongs, Ice, and stuff that isn’t in this game. Although it is just a nitpick and nothing that should seriously turn you off from the game.
The graphics of the game are good, like other games in the series it is cell-shaded, so it has improved in the ways it can graphically while retaining the art style, with things like the dismemberment I mentioned earlier. You can also shoot metal off barriers, although you can’t completely destroy them. The AI of the game is also fine, not too dumb but not too smart as they will hide behind cover and stay in the open and shoot at you depending on the situation. There was one instance where I was underground and a guy came running towards me, but the issue with this was I was on the other side of the train tracks, and there was a train on it, so he ran right into the moving train and died trying to get to me. So take that as you will.
What should turn you off from the game however is the atrocious story. I did not like the story at all. This goes for main quest, and side quest (which there are a lot less side quest anyways) Borderlands 2 has what I would consider to be a good story, good villains, and good side quest. I’m not talking about the structure, purely the writing. Borderlands 3 has an issue with all of these. The story is badly written, the villains Tyreen and Troy are not memorable.
Let’s start off with the issue of the villains, Tyreen in Troy, in theory, are good villains, as the idea of them is mocking social media stars and to provide a commentary on them, however in execution they are not. The biggest issue is they suffer what I want to call “Joseph Seed-ism” from Far Cry 5, they disappear for chunks of the story, if you are on a planet and doing side quest and exploring, or even doing the main quest associated with the planet like liberating the Promethea from the Maliwan invasion, they disappear and don’t talk to you, and only talk to you during main story stuff. So they like to disappear, and even when they are there, I don’t think they are written fairly well and they just feel lackluster and underdeveloped.
Another issue is the humor and characters, the humor is frankly all over the place. Some of the writing is spot on and classic Borderlands and funny. But other parts of it just aren’t, for example, the amount of poop and butt jokes in the game is asinine. I get these can be funny, but I felt like I heard one every five seconds, one important character specifically always has to talk about his “turd farm” which was funny at first, but many hours into the game it is just like give me a break. It is like some of the writers know what they are doing and some should never write jokes again, and the majority of the humor is the latter.
Another issue with the story is the disconnect of gameplay and story, in the cutscenes you the player disappear entirely and it is like you don’t exist. So even though you’re the one driving the story and even though you’re actually voiced in this game, you just disappear and have no real effect because things you should be able to stop in cutscenes you just can’t. I will also say Gearbox likes to kill characters for no reason, and replace them with unlikeable characters. The story picks up immediately after the Borderlands 2 DLC Fight for Sanctuary, so if you are interested in understanding what is happening I recommend you play that or at least watch a recap video on YouTube. Another issue I have is that Borderlands 3 is missing many characters, and just ignores many plotlines directly set up by the Pre-Sequel or Tales From the Borderlands, so be warned, if you cared about the story prior to this you might be insulted by the lack of picked up storylines and missing characters, and the cringe ending which I am not going to talk about due to spoilers.
After you beat the game, you unlock mayhem mode which essentially ups the difficulty of the enemies in the world and makes them drop better loot. You can also replay it on True Vault Hunter Mode.
So even though the gameplay is good, the game has quite a lot of bugs. The missions won’t display on your map, some enemies didn’t spawn for me, the menus are extremely laggy in multiplayer, I had a glitch where the sound just stopped on my vehicle, etc. This game is buggy, and all these issues have not been patched yet. So be warned that you WILL have to restart your game several times due to annoying things like enemies not spawning.