Fans have long been requesting Borderlands 3. After all, Gearbox had designed the previous games for the last generation of consoles. This means there have been no new entries in the franchise made specifically for modern hardware.
Despite the popularity of the series, this is also the first installment since 2014. So, Borderlands 3 has a lot resting on its shoulders. A misstep here could mean that the franchise takes an extended hiatus. Unfortunately, Borderlands 3 doesn’t do enough to justify a new installment any time soon.
Despite the fact that the series has never had a nuanced narrative, the story has played a big role. That doesn’t change in Borderlands 3. In fact, the story may have a more prominent role than ever before. With characters brought together from across the franchise, including spin-off games, there’s potential for something special. Yet, the writers don’t really use any of them in a meaningful way.
Even worse is the fact that a lot of fan-favorite characters are limited to small roles. It begs the question of why Gearbox, the developer, went to the effort to bring everyone together in the first place.
The story also suffers because of the new villains. They don’t have the charisma of Handsome Jack and are far less interesting to explore. Things wrap up in a satisfying manner but the narrative is nothing to write home about.
There’s also plenty of endgame content to keep players occupied after completing the main quest. None of it is story-based, but rather extra quests and difficulty modifiers. The lack of a proper raid boss is also disappointing, as it means there is nothing to aim toward other than getting better loot.
Anyone who has played a previous Borderlands game will be familiar with the basic gameplay. You are a vault hunter with special abilities who must take down enemies and complete a series of quests. Players use the distinctive capabilities of their characters along with ever more elaborate guns. If you were expecting a significant shift in that formula, Borderlands 3 will disappoint. The plus side of this is that if you are a big fan of the previous titles, this entry will be exactly what you want.
In terms of changes to gameplay, the biggest alterations come in the form of the new vault hunters. Each of these characters plays in a very different way to each other. FL4K and Moze are the two best to use, as they have such unique mechanics. You can jump in a giant mech or use a variety of creature pets to attack enemies with. However, other titles in the series have had better vault hunters in my opinion.
Borderlands has always been known for its wide array of guns. This time around, the weapons are far more distinct from each other than ever before. It makes searching for loot and finding new guns an exciting prospect. Players have a lot of motivation to go and check every chest when they know something special could be hiding inside. It could even be a gun that grows legs and chases after enemies.
One excellent quality of life improvement is the ability to scroll through quests via the d-pad. No longer do you have to go into the menu to switch up which objectives you are tracking. Instead, you can press the left and right directions to switch through your available quests. Little upgrades like this make this game more accessible and less frustrating than its predecessors.
The voice acting is good but some of the characters can become annoying, especially if you don’t get the humor. There’s also a great range in the sound effects used for the wide variety of weaponry. Meanwhile, the music never gets stale and adds some extra intensity to important moments.
On the other hand, nothing has changed when it comes to the visuals. The distinctive cel-shaded style looks a tad more polished but the real upgrade comes to the environments. These are now more diverse and colorful than ever before, even if the visuals are not all that better in terms of quality.
Since Borderlands 3’s release in September 2019, Gearbox has released a variety of patches. These updates have addressed several issues with the game. Some of the first reduced the power of legendary items and re-balanced other elements of gameplay.
However, more recent patches have made more sweeping changes. They have fixed a large number of the bugs that were present at the launch. The updates also alter the spawning rates of certain items and mobs to make them more frequent.
Overall, the changes mean that Borderlands 3 is now a more enjoyable and less frustrating experience. Unfortunately, framerate stutters and lag during online co-op is still prevalent.
Borderlands 3 may not be the very best entry in the series. In truth, very little has changed between this and its predecessor. While there are some improvements to certain mechanics and gameplay features, the action is very much the same. Some problems still remain unfixed as well.
Out of all the complaints, the biggest offender is the story. It fails to be fun or compelling, with the new villains verging on unbearable at times. If you love the series, you’ll still enjoy Borderlands 3 but it does little to attract new fans.