Review | Borderlands 3

Looting and shooting has never been this great!

As progressive as Borderlands 2 was, the sequel is that traditional. At a time when, thanks to titles such as The Division, the lootshooter consists of open online worlds with a constant stream of content, Borderlands 3 remains close to the roots of the franchise. And that is absolutely fine, because the game is a fantastic cooperative loot shooter and a wonderful parody on the stream culture.

Borderlands 3 is a tour through the rest of the universe, which has been hinted at numerous times in previous games. The Calypso twins, two evil streamers with crazy followers, force Lilith, the player and a lot of old acquaintances to scour the universe for The Great Vault: the ultimate power. For those who appreciate puberty humor and were looking for a fresh setting, this is the premise for a hilarious roller coaster ride!

Leaving Pandora, which has already been chewed out, is a pleasant release, as we see when we visit the colorful new planets. Promethea is a brightly lit, futuristic city, Athenas has calming Eastern settlements and Eden-6 is a green, dangerous swamp planet. During the story, Borderlands throws 3 players between different conflicts that give each environment its own identity. On Promethea, for example, a childish war is raging between armament manufacturers Atlas and Maliwan and your Vault Hunter is embroiled in a cowboy-like blood feud within the Jakobs family.

The design of planets is grand, although loading individual areas sometimes breaks the pace of the game. It simply feels a bit old-fashioned to have to load another world instead of just chugging on with one of the vehicles. The rigid steering of vehicles is otherwise unchanged, although this is compensated by the fast Cyclone engine and above all a greatly improved fast travel system.

The downside of this traditional setup is that players have no idea of ​​the scale of the planets, so the game often misleads you. Several times the story takes you back to a previously visited planet, where suddenly a new, large region opens up. Environments are richly filled with vegetation and all sorts of activities, so it is not striking that there are actually very few NPCs in the game world. Moreover, most of the action takes place in varied, well-designed environments.

Side activities consist of crew missions, such as finding parts for a friend for Claptrap, and a considerable amount of side missions. Some contain a fun environment puzzle, but in general they must have the fantastic Borderlands humor, of which you already know if you can appreciate it. As usual, some of the best moments of the game can be found in these side missions. Think of a lurid brain transplant, setting up a network for an old pro-gamer, a shooting for the coffee supply in Promethea and even sad glimpses in the lives of characters. Ice-T, who plays the AI-driven teddy bear Balex, also deserves a compliment for his comic acting performance.

Nothing in Borderlands 3 is really serious and everywhere you’ll find comic details and references to the current internet culture. This manifests itself especially in the bad guys, Troy and Tyreen Calypso, who are actually a parody of the sometimes foolish supporters of Twitch streamers. Donations, loot boxes: it is all covered, and in my opinion largely successful. Fortunately, the background of the twins is also well deepened by their constant presence during main and side missions and they’re not only present for a smile.

Ninety percent of the gameplay consists of endless popping on screaming bullet sponges, which thanks to a greatly relaxed feeling of shooting remains fascinating for much longer than before. At 60fps (note: on the original PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, the game runs on 30fps), the game even feels a bit like Apex Legends. Moving is faster, your Vault Hunter can now finally vault and sliding brings a pleasant flow to the gameplay. It feels like we can run, shoot, reload and switch weapons forever in circles.

Playing with the weapons themselves is also more fascinating thanks to a very broad randomly generated range. During your playing session you will find clearly several archetypes, but emotionally there is much more room for maneuver than in Borderlands 2. Some weapons are wonderfully exaggerated and each manufacturer brings unique bonuses, such as extra shields, reflective bullets in the event of a critical hit, infinite ammunition and shooting guns on legs. Even after about forty hours of playing, we still find plenty of new guns and with that, hunting for loot remains extremely fascinating after the story.

Weapons, as before,  have elements, which means that despite aggressive opponents, players still have to think about which bullets they use. Vault Hunters also offer a deeper strategic layer thanks to the extensive skill tree. Players can now expand and mix three categories to your liking, resulting in a variety of options. For example, Fl4k can focus on a solo playing session, where his animals can revive him, or on pure damage with critical hits. The choice of a Vault Hunter – Zane, Amara, Fl4k or Moze – is therefore more difficult, and that is a nice luxury problem.

The way in which players can set up their skills also depends on whether they regularly play solo or with others. Borderlands 3 is an excellent experience on your own, but traditionally it remains superior while playing in co-op. In many ways, the game has evolved into the ultimate cooperative experience thanks to the ease with which players can enter each other’s sessions.

Moreover, loot scaling ensures that every player hits enemies and loot of his or her own level. That means that players can now play with everyone regardless of their progress. Borderlands 3 has more options that improve the quality of life. For example, it is possible to skip missions you have played with others in your own game, there is a machine that collects abandoned loot, weapons can be shared between your different characters, and it is even possible to mail weapons to each other.

And you’ll need that, because the endgame content of Borderlands 3 is quite extensive. There are Horde-like challenges in the form of Proving Grounds and Circle of Slaughter. There are also higher levels of difficulty that yield extra rare shoots after the story has been played. Add up the upcoming events and paid dlc, and I expect that  i’ll continue to play Borderlands 3 for a long time.

Score:

9,0

– Loading of the maps sometimes breaks the pace of the game.

+ Planets are very varied.
+ Shooting feels good, smooth.
+ Profound skill trees.
+ Great cooperative options and gameplay.