After waiting SO many years, we finally get to play Borderlands 3 but a long wait means a lot of hype. Did it live up to our dreams?
Title: Borderlands 3
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publishers: 2K Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One (version reviewed), Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: September 13, 2019
I remember playing the very first Borderlands on Xbox 360. I played with my friend and we worked as a great team throughout the entire game, sharing ammo and weapons. And then we got to the final boss and the creature knocked me out of the battle zone and instead of waiting for me or coming to help me, my friend took the LAST WINNING SHOTS at the creature from the vault, claiming the victory and I have never forgiven him for that. It haunts our friendship to this day. But this isn’t about Borderlands, this is about Borderlands 3, so why did I tell you that story? Maybe you should stop asking so many questions…*ahem* The hype for the game was real and fans had waited for a really long time but was it worth the wait?
The answer to that is a little complicated and before we get to it, let’s run down what Borderlands 3 is actually about. Seven years after the end of Borderlands 2, a cult called Children of the Vault (COV) has formed being led by twins (sure, why not) Troy and Tyreen Calypso, aka the Calypso Twins and they seek The Great Vault. You play as a Vault Hunter who joins the Crimson Raiders, which is led by the Siren, Lilith. You are tasked to find a Vault map that the COV has and once you get that, you find yourself bouncing from planet to dale finding key pieces, doing side quests and collecting more weapons than you can shake a stick at.
The game isn’t perfect by any means but overall, yes Borderlands 3 deserves the hype it was given. But let’s look at the things we didn’t really like about the game before we get to what we love. First and foremost is the lack of love for some of the best characters in the franchise. Ellie, Moxxie, Tannis and Tiny Tina (excuse me, it’s just Tina now ’cause she’s pushing twenty, ya’ll) aren’t showcased nearly as much as they should be. Even though Ellie shows up throughout most of the game, she’s basically a glorified tour guide showing you how to get to a new planet, and the same goes for Tannis. There are other cameos from loved characters but mostly that’s all they are: cameos. Even Claptrap was done wrong in this game. Yeah, sure, he’s annoying but when they give him the time of day, he’s hilarious. Tina, well that’s just a travesty.
She is another cameo and there isn’t nearly enough time with her. She is by far one of the funniest and craziest characters in the series and even though she isn’t as ridiculous (and slightly more existential) than she has been in the past, she is still easily the most entertaining character in the series. Instead, we have a new tweenager full of piss, vinegar and angst called Ava that looks to be a character they are building to lead future installations. In my personal opinion, I have never been a huge fan of the Sirens. I think so much attention in the games goes to the Sirens and they never are as interesting as the supporting characters or the Vault Hunters themselves.
Ah, the Vault Hunters. We get to choose from four more characters and these are my favorites so far. You can choose between Amara the Siren, Moze the Gunner, Zane the Operative and my personal favorite, Fl4k the Beastmaster. In my experience, and at the suggestion of a friend of mine, if you are playing solo, Fl4k is your best friend and boy, was he right. When you pick Fl4k, it’s like a buy-one-get-one-free character. You always have a beast with you and you have the choice of a few. My personal favorite is the skag. He’s the strongest, goes down the slowest and he loves the pets!
Borderlands 3 is GORGEOUS, and I mean truly stunning. It’s hard to even know the differences between the first and third installment until you see them side by side and the differences are glaring. Borderlands 3 is so colorful and as you hop from planet to planet they all look different. Athenas was the most beautiful of them all. The blues and purples were so quietly lovely against the insane violence that it was such a fun area. You expect Pandora or neon cities to house crazy violence, but a serene planet of passive monks… it just made such a fun contrast that it stood out so much.
The gamplay is like butter. Gunplay is fast-paced and fun as hell and goes so smooth. While the guns themselves are mostly mediocre, once you find your favorites, you hang on to them. Legendary weapons aren’t guaranteed to drop with bosses, so unless you farm the boss fights, you may have to loot every possible nook and cranny to get a gun that kills like a champ.
One of the best things about Borderlands games are the villains. Handsome Jack was one of the best villains of any game ever. Yeah, I said it and I’m not sorry. Think about it. He was funny, manipulative, sarcastic and so very handsome. The Calypso Twins are the villain du jour and they aren’t the villains that I was hoping for. They are more like social media-obsessed teenagers than villains and they are constantly popping up. I only wish they had taken some of the screen time away from Tyreen and Troy and given it to some of the characters we wanted to see.
While Borderlands 3 was funny, it almost felt like they were trying too hard. Some of the jokes didn’t land and felt forced which made you slightly chuckle but cringe a little at the same time. It felt like someone flirting with you unsuccessfully that you already liked. Like, dude, it’s okay. You don’t have to try so hard, I’m already into you.
Borderlands 3 has so many ups and downs but it cannot be denied just how fun this game is. It is an absolute blast. Oh! And if you play with a friend, you can choose to share loot like in games of the past or make it so you each get our own individualized look, taking away the competitive nature. That’s a nice gesture especially if you play with the one douche bag that feels the need to loot EVERY SINGLE box in an area while you get your butt handed to you trying to fight off enemies. I’m not saying that happened to me but I’m saying it happens.
Overall, Borderlands 3 was a win. Sure, it highlighted some tedious characters and glossed over the true superstars of the franchise. Yes, the jokes didn’t quite hit the mark but this game plays so fast and fun that once you really get into it you don’t give a rat’s fart in space whether the NPCs are grade A comedians. The gunplay, game mechanics and graphics only get smoother and more buttery with each installment. Borderlands 3 is available to play now and I recommend that you do.