Borderlands 3 – bigger, better and even more polarising than ever before
One of the best games of all time is back. That’s what’s up—giving the people what they want. There are four new vault hunters, loads of returning characters and more than a billion guns. Let’s not forget about whole lot of lootin’ and shootin’ to do. You can read a ton about Borderlands 3 here in our comprehensive guide. By the way, it’s exclusive to the Epic Games Store for six months.
The humour, the guns, the loot, everything is more divisive than it’s ever been.
Borderlands 3 and I don’t seem particularly compatible; not on paper, anyway. We don’t have a whole lot in common. The eleventy gazillion gun options in its predecessor? That overwhelmed me more than it intrigued. The in-your-face hyper-meta edgelord humour? Nah, I’m good, ta.
I’d ventured to Pandora before, but they were little more than fleeting visits, really. Though a fervent FPS fan, Pandora’s beige world of anarchy and excess just didn’t click for me. So, as I stepped back into Pandora for Borderlands 3 I was open-minded if a tad hesitant. It’s always daunting, stepping into a well-heeled universe, especially one this loved. Would I understand the plot? Will there be too many in-jokes?
It turns out my fears were unfounded, and it’s to Gearbox’s credit that while I’m waiting for the novelty of this sequel’s balls-to-the-wall mayhem to wear off, it still hasn’t.
Whatever your PC platform of choice, that time is going to go by pretty slowly, but we’ve got plenty of Borderlands 3 details to chew over before it arrives – such as if you want to stump up the extra cash for any of the Borderlands 3 special editions.
There’s too much of everything here, though; too many guns, too much loot, too many bandits, too much driving, banter, talking, and way too many irksome, irritating villains. This sequel wears these excesses proudly, like a Day-Glo badge of honour tattooed in shades of shocking pink. No, it’s not a particularly cerebral experience, but nor is it trying to be; while stuffed with gore and violence and frankly infantile humour, Borderlands 3 is a solid shooter with a meaty 30-ish hour campaign, plentiful – if repetitive – busywork, and a colourful cast of hard-to-forget characters.
That said, it deviates little from the blueprint that grew the franchise such a devoted fandom, and it’s entirely up to you to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad one. Whilst your skills and weaponry evolve as you progress, the mechanics of the game – shoot, loot, manage your inventory; shoot, loot, manage your inventory – essentially remain the same whether you’re ten minutes or ten hours into the campaign. It’s a hypnotic loop and one that’s deliciously satisfying given the game’s stunning presentation, fantastic soundtrack, and rock-solid gunplay.
You play as one of four Vault Hunters in a story that takes place after the events of both Borderlands 2 and Telltale’s excellent narrative adventure, Tales from the Borderlands. The chief antagonists – Calypso Twins Troy and Tyreen – are a throbbing embarrassment of cliches and facepalm-worthy one-liners, and their “Children of the Vault” cult lackeys are no better. I loathed them on sight and not once found their anarchical patter and demands for viewers to “Like, follow and obey!” amusing. The writing veers wildly from corny to gut-wrenching cringy, but I suppose if the plan was to make me want the nauseating duo dead: mission accomplished, Gearbox.
Whilst you’ll spend a good time trudging across the beige, lawless landscape of Pandora, Borderlands 3 invites you to other places, too, such as the neon skyline of ultra-futuristic Promethea. They’re gorgeous places, stuffed with colour and detail, and whilst the busy work on each planet varies little and you’ll continue to complete similar fetch quests and battle the same cookie-cutter selection of bandits, mutants, grumpy wildlife, and ne’er-do-wells, you can’t help but feel invigorated by the change of scenery.
The story is woven in between the firefights, but the game’s endless quest for better guns and loot meant my grasp of what’s going on was slippery as I was often distracted by looting or going through my inventory. I’ll admit it’s hard to follow anything whilst in a party of pals, but the emotionally-charged moments felt a little too contrived at times, especially when peppered either side of humdrum missions, combat sequences, and a lot of backtracking.