Since 2009 Gearbox Software has been entertaining players with their cell-shaded graphics, loot-boxes and coop gameplay. Now Borderlands 3 is out and it feels like the developers have managed to yet again surprise me with their solid gameplay. The campaign sports about 35 hours of gameplay. I have done about a third of that. While the game itself is great I do have some gripes about the setting, which may not be for everyone. But you can read that for yourself in my review / first impression.
So what is Borderlands 3 all about. Just like before the game is set on the planet Pandora. It sports a science fiction / western setting in which weak die gruesome and slow deaths. You play as one of four vault-hunters, tasked with finding the greatest power in the universe. You are by Lilith who has tried since the first game from preventing this power from falling into the wrong hands. Pandora sports numerous enemies, but a also a number of friends and familiar faces.
On the face of it there is little wrong with Borderlands 3. After spending about 10 hours with the story campaign I feel like I have settled into a rhythm. The game sports quick progression and levelling up. That said, it is not an easy game to beat. There are sections were I died numerous times before I managed to shoot my way through the hordes of cultists.
So there are mechanisms in place to prevent players bypassing objectives. No being able to pass by a checkpoint is a good moment to explore the game’s other side-quests. Luckily within an hour of playing you are given a ride. In fact, it is fair to say that this game is almost car-based game. Certain aspects of this gameplay remind a me of Red Faction: Guerilla.
The cons of Borderland 3
However, there are number of problems. Initially the story can be a bit overwhelming. The intro scenes cannot be stopped and there is a lot of information to take in. All that I remembered after playing the first few hours was something about a map. While all that is going the developers ensured the player gets a double dose of Borderlands humor. The monowheel-droid is also back. Yet the jokes have become noticeably more juvenile since the last game. There is a ass scratching besides the familiar dark humor.
Other aspects I don’t particularly like are the procedurally generated items. That with the over-emphasize on loot boxes meant that the developers played too much to the strengths of the first two games. This aspect, the endless loot, feels far less innovative than what it could have been.
A counter argument to this is the beautiful world of Pandora. Never before has it been this gorgeous looking. Of course, the game is not solely on this planet. Before long the player can use the Sanctuary 3 to travel to other destinations. With the larger décor also comes a larger story. After the introductory hours the game’s story comes back to the fore.
While this criticism may not be too severe, it isn’t it does feel like the developers forgot what made the first two games so great. The humor of Borderlands 3 is more than just off-beat, it feels targeted at 12-year olds. However, this did not interrupt my gameplay experience, which is smooth as silk. While I played it with Nvidia RTX 2060 the FPS rarely dropped below 70. Only when the game has finished loading does it briefly keep to a low framerate.