I am not a fan of shooters. I have tried a number of games in the genre, from Halo to Call of Duty, and never enjoyed them. Despite this, there has been one series that I have enjoyed: Borderlands. The wild, explosive action and wacky characters and stories have stuck with me over the years, allowing me to enjoy a genre that I usually keep a good distance from. The latest entry in the franchise, Borderlands 3, keeps the traditions of the past titles, once again providing intense shooting action and a bit of comic relief.
When I first logged into Borderlands 3, I instantly knew that I was playing a Borderlands title. The series' art style has not changed, and is recognizable to anyone who has played any of the games in the franchise. Things are a little more detailed, but the game keeps the cel-shaded cartoon look of the other titles in the series. The Borderlands franchise has always had distinct visuals separating it from other video games, and the third entry continues this tradition. I for one have always loved this art style, and am glad that Gearbox has stuck with it throughout the years. It really helps separate the game from other shooters, and helps it keep an air of uniqueness that you do not get from other titles out there.
The plot of Borderlands 3 sees players trying to defeat the Children of the Vault, a cult seeking out vaults and the power within them. The leaders of the cult, the Calypso Twins, look to discover the "Great Vault." Where past games kept players on the planet of Pandora (and its moon), Borderlands 3 takes gamers on a trip throughout the galaxy as they try to find and open various vaults. There are plenty of planets and locales for players to visit, giving a lot of variety to the areas that the shooting will take place in.
While the plot is pretty straightforward, there were some twists that I was not expecting. As the story is about opening vaults, which is what the other games were about as well, the plot twists helped me stay invested. Had the story not been good, I would have found it hard to really care and want to play. The game does take over 30 hours to beat, and like other Borderlands titles, gives players a reason to stick around after completing the game once.
The characters found in the Borderlands games are always one of the biggest highlights, and the cast of the third entry is a wild one. Many characters from older games show up, playing different roles within the plot. It was nice seeing a lot of my favorite characters from past titles in the series show up, and being able to interact with them once again. Borderlands 3 continues the series' penchant for humor, even in serious situations. Minutes after something serious would happen, characters would start popping jokes, quickly lightening the mood. Borderlands 3 does not take itself seriously at all, and that is probably one of the best things about it.
The main aspect of Borderlands 3 is the gunplay, and there is plenty of that to go around. Like previous games in the franchise, players will come across a lot of different types of enemies and bosses that need to be put down, and they come en masse. Gamers will enjoy blowing away these foes, especially if they enjoyed past Borderlands titles. The shooting is very similar to past entries, and just as chaotic. Tons of bullets will be spent, and many armed forces and wild creatures will be blown away. The gameplay is quite fast, as the game does like to send large numbers of enemies at you all at once, and players will be moving the entire time. The boss fights were incredibly hectic, and were at times difficult. I found myself dying several times against some of the bosses that I faced.
It was a lot of fun to shoot my way through the game, especially with friends. Borderlands 3 is best when played with others, as they become partners in chaos. It was easy to drop into someone else's game and start blasting away with them. The game handles the loot system well, as each player receives their own loot when it is dropped, rather than having partners fight over guns. While it is optimal to have everyone play as a different class, multiplayer was still fun even when multiple people played the same class. Borderlands 3 can be fun when played solo, but if it is possible to play with others, go for that option.
Borderlands 3 gives players a lot to murder, and plenty of guns to do it. There are many weapons for players to find, giving them numerous ways to dispatch all that the galaxy throws at them. Every encounter left me with several guns to pick up, oftentimes leading to me dropping or selling something in my inventory. I was often swapping out a current weapon for a new toy that I had found or been rewarded with. Guns come with a number of different effects and qualities to them, from the way they fired and reloaded to the amount of critical or melee damage they did. I always had the right gun for the situation that I was in, and I had a lot of fun blowing everything I met away.
Along with the weapons, Borderlands 3 throws a lot of loot at players. I was constantly finding weapon and character skins, weapon trinkets, vehicle parts, hats, grenade and class mods. Gamers are constantly rewarded for taking out enemies and exploring. Weapon manufacturers would send me guns just for consistently using their brand of weaponry. As I was playing the game, I was changing my character's skins and headgear often. I kept finding and purchasing new items. Borderlands 3 throws a lot of loot at players, to the point that sometimes it was overwhelming. Players will find themselves constantly in their menus changing their loadouts. There is a lot to discover, and plenty of rewards for those who take the time to look for them.
While I did enjoy Borderlands 3, I did run into the occasional bug. This came in the form of quest enemies not showing up. I would show up to the marker on the map, and regular enemies would appear. However, the main quest target would not. This was annoying, as I would have to restart my game whenever it happened.
Overall, Borderlands 3 is a fun shooter packed to the brim with guns and mayhem. It was a crazy time of shooting bad guys and picking up loot. It was a great shooter packed with intense gameplay, one that rewarded me as I continued on. I do not like shooters, but Borderlands 3 showed me a good time.
Mike reviewed Borderlands 3 on PC using a copy he purchased. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.