Ah, Borderlands. One of the most popular FPS series worldwide, and the original example of the combination of FPS, RPG and looter shooter mechanics. The latest entry comes seven years after 2, although there have been side-games in the meantime to tide us over, but there’s nothing like a main series entry. Especially when that entry lets you soar beyond the mayhem of Pandora to… The mayhem of space and every other planet, because no one in the series knows what it’s like to sit down over a nice cup of tea and hash things out.
Vaults, Vault Hunters and Vault Keys, oh my!
Borderlands 3 opens on the harsh, familiar wastes of Pandora. The latest Vault Hunters are tasked with joining the Crimson Raiders and tackling two new foes. The Vault Hunters themselves are amazing this time around, with Zane, a retired corporate hitman, Amara, a Siren who can flip you off and then smash you to pieces with a bunch of cool Siren fists, Moze, a Vladof specialist with a big ol’ mech/best friend that can shoot you to pieces and FL4K, a beastmaster who loves their pets (look at those butt wiggles!).
After choosing the Vault Hunter that best suits your style and tastes, our old friend Claptrap leads us through a basic tutorial before meeting up with Lilith, who players will remember from previous games. She now leads the Crimson Raiders against the dangerous cult, the Children of the Vault. Seemingly popping up out of nowhere, this cult makes Pandora even more dangerous than usual, because rather than the bandits and psychos shooting each other, they’re now all working together with one goal in mind. Namely, to please their ‘Twin Gods’, the Calypso Twins, a pair of Sirens who are after ‘the Great Vault’.
Naturally, this is something that would probably be best to put a stop to. And luckily for us, that means a greater scope than just Pandora, with Sanctuary III, an intergalactic home base space ship, taking us to all kinds of never before seen locations in the Borderlands universe where we’ll encounter all kinds of old friends as well as making a few new ones. And some of those old friends, not naming names (Rhys), have returned with really bad facial hair that kind of embarrasses you to look at.
As always, Borderlands thrives on its humour, reveling in the wild and obscene. Some jokes are pretty clever, but some are just kind of fart jokes or memes, which honestly, I gotta admit I smiled at. Borderlands doesn’t claim to be a serious shooter or have high-brow humour, it knows what it does well, and what it does well is giving me quests to shoot people in the ass or giving me a gun that says ‘yeet’ as I throw it, before it sprouts tiny little legs and starts shooting people while I also shoot people.
I have a gun that shoots hamburgers
Spray-painting butts on walls and sex jokes are only half the game. The other half of the game is, of course, the gameplay. So, how is it?
A huge step-up from the previous entries, to put it simply. The game takes everything they did well and adds to it, providing more guns, but also more ways to customise your character. Skill trees are back, and they’re incredibly important as always, but they have much more of an impact on just how you play.
For example, I play FL4K the beast-master. I have three skill trees to choose from, each of which focuses on a different play style, and even offers me a different pet to use. Each skill tree even offers its own action skill ability, when previously you had one action skill through the game, and you stuck to it. I can choose whether I want to unleash a swarm of Rakks on my foes for an aerial assault, super-power my pet for a rampage, or I can turn invisible for a health regen boost and guaranteed crits.
But the best part? I can change these at any time, and even respec my entire skill tree to try different styles of play. Borderlands 3 is a game that encourages experimentation to discover what kind of play-style best suits you, or even best suits a specific situation. I would regularly switch out skills to deal with certain bosses as a way to switch up my strategy.
Though there is a new easy mode for players who might need a little help, the normal mode is absolutely a challenge for those who want it. I found myself dying a lot, perhaps even too much, as enemies are plentiful and will absolutely tear you down if you let them. Or even if you don’t.
See the sights
The other thing Borderlands 3 strongly encourages is exploration. Due to the game not having an open world, and instead opting for bite-sized areas, the game wants to make sure you explore every nook and cranny of those areas not just for loot, but also for the shiny new side-missions it has to offer. There are assassination missions to tackle, broken Claptrap units to salvage, fancy vehicles to steal and unique beasties to kill in every map, as well as ECHO logs to uncover to learn more about the lore of the world you’re in and the plot itself.
And on top of that, there are the traditional side missions which will reward you with all kinds of neat extras. And you’re going to want to do all of this. It’s a very unforgiving game if you’re even slightly underleveled, so you’re going to want to do everything you can to get a leg up. Although I found this an absolute joy to do because I love the world so much, and each quest offered a fun way to learn more about the characters and get my hands on more of that sweet, sweet loot. It’s why I play these games, to begin with.
So for those who like blasting through the story, it’s possible if you’re good at the game, but you’re going to definitely have to work for it. Also, a lot of the side missions will offer some of the best unique weapons with some of the craziest skills.
Although some of those extras, such as the rewards you’ll receive through the mail, or figuring out some of the bonus challenges, are hidden behind layers of UI that can be difficult to navigate at times.
Border those lands
Borderlands 3 is perhaps the best entry in the series so far. It ups the stakes on every level and doesn’t disappoint if you’re a fan of previous titles. Even if you’re not, it might take a little getting used to, but it’s a wild ride that twists and turns in all kinds of fun and creative ways.
From the biggest plot points to the smallest side details, everything has been thought of. And it’s not over, with the upcoming free Halloween update coming soon, as well as future announcements about major DLC.
I can’t wait to shoot even more dudes right in the dick.
Keen to play the newest edition in the series? Buy it here!