Borderlands 3 is a familiar game in look and play style but has so many improvements and new elements that it will appeal to fans and newcomers alike. It can also not be overestimated how great it is to have a game where loot boxes are free and you get exactly what you pay for.Each weapon feels unique and the combination of aesthetic differences and clever use of your controller’s vibration function really lends to the total immersion. You’ll end up tapping the “switch weapon” button and instantly knowing what your character is holding just by how it “feels” when you fire it.It’s stuck in a time when memes lasted months rather than days, when referential humor was still a novelty and not exhausting, when you could point at something the slightest bit abnormal or gross and call it a joke. Simpler times, not necessarily better times.
Borderlands 3, Gearbox Software’s return to their most popular franchise, is a bag of potato chips. It’s the series that popularized the loot shooter genre, marrying first-person gunplay with Diablo-style loot and skill trees. You collect gun after gun with the same mindless, dopamine-pumping pleasure of popping chip after chip in your mouth.This world and its weapons are designed to be best enjoyed with friends. As with Borderlands 3’s predecessors, it’s easy to invite up to three friends along to shoot everyone and everything you see.Players earn loot at an almost obscene rate, constantly unlocking new weapons and abilities with which to battle through stylized environments. Borderlands 3 doubles down on everything that makes the franchise great, but also maintains some of the series’ less enjoyable idiosyncrasies.Refined movement and shooting, a legion of enjoyably challenging enemies, and the single largest arsenal of mechanically distinct firearms I’ve ever seen in a video game easily make this the best in a great series of co-op shooters. Its trademark stylized art, on-the-nose humor, and tattoo-fueled storyline are all enjoyable enough in their own right, but what really makes Borderlands 3 excellent is the addicting item chase that unfolds over the course of 30 hours’ worth of lovingly crafted main and side missions.
Thankfully, in its jump to the current generation, Borderlands 3 offers more exciting locales too. While Pandora has its own charm, it’s exciting to leave the wasteland behind in search of more exciting climates. Each of the new environments stand apart from each other, from Promethea’s huge structures and urban streets to the swampy depths of Eden-6 that widen the franchise’s color palette tenfold.Zane is a hitman with drones and a deployable hologram-like copy that can confuse and attack the enemy, while FL4K is a robot that can summon one of three pets to fight with them.Borderlands 3 proves why. It is a funny and frenetic FPS that more than impresses even without a PVP mode. It also does so without purchasable loot boxes or any of the other trappings of modern triple-A titles.The new space travel setup takes the player on a tour of the galaxy in search of yet more vaults, each stop an excuse to roll out an old character only for them to disappear or fade into the background as soon as they say hello, shoot some folks, and crack a few one-liners in sidequests that do little to reveal anything about them or test them in any way. You can always jump in and out of each other’s games without any muss or fuss. Up to 4 people online or 2 offline in split-screen mode can play through the entire story mode and several other game modes.
If you’re shooting and your partner uses a menu it causes your screen to freeze for a few seconds. This also happened in Borderlands 2 and the Pre-Sequel. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but it’s incredibly immersion-breaking.There’s not much more to them besides long, obnoxious monologues about how much I suck. Even as a parody of livestreamers, they offer no cultural commentary. They’re just shitty, power hungry people who will do anything to rule the universe. Moze, the Gunner, can summon a giant mech to pilot and outfit that mech with different cool weapons and upgrades. Amara, the Siren, can deal elemental damage by conjuring magical arms. And FL4K, the robot Beastmaster, has tamed a number of wild creatures who fight alongside them.I’ve enjoyed strategizing with friends as I upgrade the vault hunters to complement each other. You can also respec your character for a small cost if you want to experiment with different builds, or set up a vault hunter one way when playing alone and another way when playing with others.
Borderlands 3 feels like a time capsule of sorts. Despite the prevalence of on-going service games and shared world shooters like The Division or Destiny, Gearbox Software’s first game in three years feels refreshingly comfortable – the videogame equivalent of your favorite movie being on TV on a rainy afternoon.Borderlands 3, if it works well at launch, is a competent game that feels like a passable continuation of the franchise instead of an evolution. It’s the same general idea with new vault hunters, but with little of the joy and danger that I fell in love with in earlier entries.