Review: Borderlands 3

Image from Gearbox Software

After the fall of Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2, Gearbox Software released their latest addition to the award-winning multiplayer and shooter series, Borderlands 3, on September 13, 2019. With the Calypso twins Tyreen and Troy being the main antagonist, the playing field is set for players to embark on an adventurous journey filled with loads of action and humour. Get ready to free up your loot bag and show the twins who the real bonafide badass really is.

Just like every Borderlands series, players are able to select one of the four newly vault hunters, each equipped with their own action skill, allowing for an extensive and dynamic playstyle for players. Each character delivers different interactions and creates exciting moments for players to enjoy. I was very impressed with the revamped talent tree system. There are different versions abilities for the respective vault hunters allowing customization for players to create their own identity. They also introduced Integrated Augmentation, an innovative feature that enhances the vault hunter’s action skill, allowing for a more diverse style of gameplay for players to explore.

Image from Gearbox Software

Difficulty-wise, Gearbox has now introduced Easy and Normal difficulty, unlike previous games. Once players complete Normal mode, the “True Vault Hunter Mode” which is the game’s Hard Mode will be unlocked. Borderlands 2 players who enjoyed the increased challenge from the game’s Overpowered mode will find Borderlands 3’s Mayhem mode familiar as the mode rewards players with more satisfaction from completing some of the game’s hardest challenges, with loot rewards as well.

When talking about the Borderlands franchise, we can’t forget the firearms and manufacturers. These features constitute a core aspect of the game, essentially making the Borderlands franchise very unique amongst first-person shooters. The developers have done an amazing job in creating a unique identity for the different weapon and shield manufacturers and introduced a new manufacturer called Children of the Vault. The firearm allows players to continuously shoot until the firearm is overheated and can only be used again once the firearm has cooled off. Alt-Firing modes have also been introduced, allowing vault hunters to be creative in their approach in combat. Weapon balancing was something I personally feel that developers struggled the most with the Borderlands series and I have to say that Borderlands 3 is a huge improvement. The advantages and disadvantages of each different weapon and shield complement one another, removing the “Best-in-slot” for each individual class which was something that I hope to see more often.

Image from Gearbox Software

Item score is a new feature to help out players who are unable to decide which firearm is superior. Personally, I didn’t quite understand the developer’s intentions for such a system as I feel that players should be looking at the secondary stats such as the damage, fire-rate and accuracy instead of relying on a simplistic item score for a better judgement. A new cool feature besides weapon skins is the weapon trinkets which is something that allows players to enhance their favourite firearm. Something that majority of players may have missed is the game’s new currency system. With cash being the main currency for Storage Deck Upgrades where players expand their ammo capacity and bank storage capacity, in-game cash feels more significant, unlike previous games where cash pretty much didn’t have much utility when players ventured late into the game.

Unlike previous games where the majority of the story took place on Pandora, Borderlands 3 expands the game world with three new planets namely Promethea; a metropolitan world, Athenas; a misty tranquil planet and Eden-6; a backwater swampland. Each planet is unique, showcasing a breath-taking environment and a story to tell. Like what Marcus would say, “It’s a land of opportunity!”.

Image from Gearbox Software

The overall storytelling in Borderlands 3 was rich and smooth, allowing players to fully understand the sequence of events that were happening. The environment and the choice of music were nicely set in place, creating a different ambience depending on what was happening, allowing players to fully immerse themselves. The artwork and model updates were a very nice touch and I personally like that the developers introduced many different variations of enemies including genders. It made me feel that there were more things to challenge myself with besides the same few bandits such as the pyschos and goons. With the ability to slide and vault, creativity for combat will definitely be there. Who doesn’t like pull off cool moves like what they see in movies?

For multiplayer mode, Gearbox brought in the personal loot instance and levelling scaling features which changed things up a lot. Friends are now able to play together with the enemies scaling according to their character levels. Personal loot instance rewards every player with their own set of loots, creating a healthier multiplayer experience. The quality of life in Borderlands 3 was something worth noting as players are now able to fast travel to any unlocked fast travel station via the Echo Device. Players are also able to purchase health syringes and ammunition refill with just a click of a button, reducing the downtime spent in the vendor.

Image from Gearbox Software

Bosses in this instalment were plenty and nicely paced, giving players a hurdle to jump over, except that some of these hurdles weren’t exactly hurdles. Throughout my journey in Borderlands 3, I personally felt that there were some scaling issues when it came to boss fights in terms of the health pools of the bosses and the firepower I had. All of bosses in Borderlands 3 were unique in their own ways, introducing us to new mechanics enabling us to see what the developers had installed for us. However, some of these bosses simply died too quick before I was able to fully witness the true potential for each individual boss.

Overall Borderlands 3 is a very thrilling game, filled with innumerable interactions and customization such as weapon skins. The overall experience after completing the game has left me pretty satisfied. My money has been well-spent. With boss fights and adventures that can be explored alone or with friends, there’s always something new to expect, and definitely new memories to forge.

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