A lot has changed since 2012. So much so that Borderlands 3 seems like a jump into a different time and a different era in the industry, Borderlands 3 has stuck itself to the blueprints that it made the franchise so successful all the way back in 2009, so much so that the game feels very dated but with all the new bells and whistles and the familiarity of it all makes it totally okay.
In Borderlands 3, the game skewers internet pop culture and the corporate landscape, so much so that it satirizes the inherent narcissism and selfishness with the franchise’s trademark wit and this is where the game seems to be take a hit. Majority of the time, the jokes fail to land which is weird considering Borderlands is very funny and this weird tone in writing can be felt in the game’s plot and characters as well. The plot is more epic this time around as our heroes jump around planets which is a nice change of pace but the plot ends up not being all that great and falls short by the end which is a bit of disappointment but the story was never really the key focus of the games as much as the loot drops and the trademark satire humor that the franchise is so well known for.
Borderlands 3 lives in the shadow of Borderlands 2 and is more of the same which there’s nothing wrong with and it’s all good but you would think there would be more than just delivering the same. You would think after nearly 7 years, Gearbox would deliver something more but it’s all good and fine, there is a mentality of “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it” here in Borderlands 3.
The weapons here are the star of the game as it always was, with an unreal assortment of weapons and unlimited choices at your disposal. I enjoyed the varied weapons and the solid gunplay across the board ensures that you won’t ever be bored and there’s endless experimentation to have here. There’s no downside here except it might be a little overwhelming and slow down the pace a little bit which is nothing more but just nitpicking.
The movement system in Borderlands 3 feels great. Sliding over obstacles and vaulting over pieces of cover feels smooth and keeps the action going. Combat is frenetic and you’re always on the move which keeps the gameplay flowing although many enemies are bullet sponges which kills any flow and extending fights in a way that’s really frustrating. Several bosses and enemies are guilty of this, especially Killavolt, a boss that you encounter a little bit later in the game; it becomes a miserable slog as you run around in circles.
Gearbox hit a home run with the vault hunters, each are unique and really cool. I’m a big fan of Moze, whose ultimate brings a mech into the fight that can be customized with a boat load of weapons. Zane is a hitman with drones and can deploy a hologram that can confuse and attack his enemies, and Fl4k is a robot that can summon dogs; Finally, there is Amara who is a siren with telekinesis and lets her grab enemies. Each vault hunter comes with three skill trees that allows you to mix and match upgrades as you level up.
While Gearbox hit the vault hunters out of the park, they completely stumbled with the villains. The villains are presented as Youtubers and they’ll do whatever it takes to gain control of the vaults. The problem with them is that they’re annoying and very boring. They definitely aren’t no Handsome Jack, that’s for sure.
The Calypso Twins taunt you but everything they say is just annoying. Their motives are quickly forgotten and they become forgettable villains after a few hours. Plenty of older characters return here, including Lilith and Maya but they end up struggling to make any sort of impression which is disappointment after waiting 7 years to see these characters again.
Mission structure in Borderlands 3 is also lacking, which has been reduced to going somewhere and killing something and coming back. The missions do feel stretched out and are very tedious, especially certain side missions and many missions are dull and boring. It honestly was hard for me to get through the game and that’s sad to say since I’m such a huge fan of the series.
To end on a positive note, Borderlands 3 is just more Borderlands and that’s fine. It evolves in certain areas but it’s more of the same, if you enjoyed Borderlands 2 then you’ll like Borderlands 3. I certainly did but you won’t find something groundbreaking or revolutionary here, Borderlands 3 serves its’ purpose which is just to give you more of Borderlands and that’s completely fine.
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