Game Reviews

Borderlands 3: Run, gun, Claptrap.

Welcome to Pandora, vault hunter. Your mission? Unlock the Vaults. With four Vault Hunters to choose from, how you do so is up to you.

Released back in 2009, Borderlands combined the fast shooting gameplay of Doom with the loot chasing mechanics many ARPGs have. Since then it has evolved greatly while keeping true to its core gameplay mechanics. The action-packed loot filled shooter is back better than before.

What’s it about?

The story begins with you leaving Pandora in hunt of our villainous duo, Tyreen and Troy, referred to as the Calypso Twins. Much like the previous titles, the story has you chasing the villains from planet to planet while shooting and looting everything in sight along the way. Despite not having the most exciting plot, the story does have several unexpected twists which keep you glued to your seat in your desire to find out how it all ends.

If you’re not a fan of the main plot, the side quests are countless and continue in the theme of previous Borderlands titles – They’re filled to the brim with pop culture references and plenty of corny jokes to make you a laugh (or make you cringe). References to Penn & Teller, Rick & Morty, South Park, even Tommy Wiseau’s ‘The Room’ – These are but a few things you can expect to find in Borderlands 3.

Pain & Terror

How does it play?

What really carries the game and turns it from a good game to a great game is the gunplay. Run, jump, and slide your way through enemies while unleashing a never ending arsenal of weapons and grenades, bursting enemies in an explosive display of blood and loot. Pistols, shotguns, machine guns, snipers, and bazookas – This game delivers regardless of what your playstyle is. A lot of weapons also offer an alternate fire mode which lets you tailor your kit to suit your playstyle.

Legendary items take this further and provide additional benefits. Some are hopeless, such as a sniper rifle with the range of a shotgun, while others spawn additional guns to shoot at your enemies. One of my favourites (and one which I found early on) was a grenade which calls down a series of airstrikes, filling your screen with explosions – It went from 0 to 100 real quick.

Make it rain, baby!

This theme flows through to character progression. There are four characters, which several skill trees each, allowing you to craft them to suit your playstyle. Whether you want to focus on melee or ranged, single target or aoe, elemental or support – Borderlands has you covered.

I personally chose Moze, a gunner class that can spawn in a mechanical robot with two weapon slots. I had a choice of railgun, minigun, or grenade launcher. Wanting to blow everything up, I went with the dual grenade launchers. At the start this I was launching homing rockets, but toward end game when I progressed further down the skill tree, I unlocked nuclear bombs. Cool, right?!

All of these explosions and special effects are captured perfectly in the world of Borderlands. The graphics are a large improvement over previous titles. Each world feels unique, the explosions light up their surroundings, elemental damage is vivid, debris flies around during gunfights – It all comes together to create a bright, beautiful, artistic gameplay experience.

Vibrant, to say the least

What’s new?

A new edition to Borderlands 3 is Mayhem Mode – A new risk vs reward mode which unlocks upon completion of the main story. This adds to the games charm and allows for a fun post game (other than the traditional new game plus). The higher the Mayhem Level, the more experience and loot you earn. However, enemies will have modifiers applied to them. There are 25 modifiers which can apply – Pools of acid spawn, fire raining down from the sky, death orbs fill up the screen – They really ramp up the challenge of some fights. Be sure to bring a friend or two along, you’ll need it.

Co-op with a Unicorn

What can be improved?

Not all is as perfect as it sounds. My biggest gripes with this game relate to the main story, and the side quests found along the way. While enjoyable, the story fails to feature any truly evil villains – They’re annoying at best, and at no point do you feel a sense of urgency to defeat them. This is a massive let down as Borderlands 2 delivered in this aspect. Everyone knows who Handsome Jack is, and years later, I can still remember lines of his dialogue. Tyreen and Troy on the other hand are both easily forgettable.

My second issue relates to the path the main story follows. You’ll run from objective to objective, ignoring large sections of the map. At first this is fine, but should you decide you want to complete all the side quests, you’ll find yourself hopping back and forth between spawn locations and planets. This gets tiring, fast.

It’s over… Or is it?

Final thoughts

Overall Borderlands 3 is a great game which has built upon the previous titles. While it outshines its predecessors in some respects, in others it lets the audience down. If you’re a fan of the previous games you’ll enjoy what 3 has to offer. Haven’t bought it yet? I suggest picking it up on sale – Bundled with the DLC for maximum enjoyment.

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