It’s been over a month since Borderlands 3 landed. It feels much longer because we were incessantly hounded by it during the build-up to launch. It took me that long to plough through the game, so it was appropriate to scale down the review. I mean, what don’t you already know from your Influencer Overlords?
Historians will note that being alive in 2019 inevitably meant unavoidable exposure to Borderlands 3. There were campaigns on all fronts, it was a war fought globally. Including watching from the sidelines as special people were flown around for international previews. Even having their ego stroked by being sent roses to crow about the launch of a trailer. Yes, a trailer. At the end of the day, whether you were ‘influenced’ or not – how did it play? That said, it has been the fastest selling title in the franchise.
It’s a Borderlands game Dave
Well, the franchise has been solid for so long. This year we got hands on with the remastered original, and you couldn’t swing a cat at Gamepass or PSPlus without hitting a Borderlands game. There are people that drink deeply from the puerile humour, there are loot fiends that desperately seek their next Legendary drop.
As is the norm, the game introduces 4 new playable characters. Each with their own multi faceted skill tree and quirks. Personally I plumped for Fl4k, (Flak in my brain). I had sympathy for the Beastmaster and knew from experience I would need his pets for support. Boiling the character types down they hold traditional DnD roles. A Tank, a Mage (Siren), a Trickster and a Warrior (that me!). The other thing I knew from experience was that my friends being in different time zones would be no use, random players were a risk. So it was going to be me, solo, saving the galaxy with my pets. I’m okay with that.
Seriously, how does Borderlands 3 play?
Borderlands 3 is smooth, there’s no doubt. The classic cel-shaded graphics are sharp and there is plenty of variety in the environments once you get off Pandora and its mid-nineties mid-brown colour scheme. You can run, jump, fall from any height and take a damn good beating. In fact, once I got over a grind spike in the early part of the game I felt damn near invincible pretty quickly.
Gunplay is good, the weight of weapons is tuned well and once you get to carry four at one go bringing the right one to bear is easier. The world layouts are good enough to keep you busy and if you want to, there are plenty of side quests.
Yes, there is an absolutely ridiculous potential number of weapons and equipment to collect. While the manufacturers breed similarities they are all randomly different enough to make it interesting. The grading of your loot also makes it easier to manage the stash. Once you get going you can start ignoring anything green and start collecting the good stuff. That said, regardless of tweaks or buffs applied post release I’m just not getting the rate of Legendary drops as other more ‘influential’ people. The same goes for character skins.
After the first few days when I was still languishing in the low teens with my default costume. Raging with jealously at people that were already knocking on level 50 with some stunning skin/head combinations. It might not be fair and it certainly doesn’t push you to keep going. Besides which, where do they find the time?
Weapons do feel very unique and some of the manufacturer traits quickly become favourites. That said, I do become numb to the wealth of options and soon only have eyes for Purple or Orange drops.
How does it perform in a crowd?
The game is built to be a social experience, four player co-op with buckets of mayhem. That’s fine, but with limited time available Borderlands has often quickly become a solo game for me. The sprawling levels across different worlds have a novelty factor and there is obvious room for DLC to slot in. The narrative that carries you across these worlds is nothing more than an excuse to travel. Encounters with previous Borderlands favourites spice up the journey, but getting to the end feels like a grind. Especially given the often dull (and un-skippable?) exchanges between your antagonists.
It’s not Bore-derlands
That’s for sure, there is plenty to do and while repetitive the combat is crisp and critical headshots pop with gay abandon. There is always the pull to improve your loot, find cool stuff and just be a badass. Especially at that crucial moment when you decided to turn in for bed, but a new legendary is begging to be tested.
Borderlands 3 is a satisfying ride and I’m glad I took my time with it, but I can’t see myself rushing back anytime soon.