The wait is finally over Vault Hunters! Five years after the release of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, developer Gearbox Software and publisher 2K Games transports players back to the wasteland planet Pandora for an action-packed adventure filled with danger, even more danger, and of course – lots and lots of loot!
Borderlands 3 takes place shortly after the events of Borderlands 2 – with Lilith taking command of the Crimson Raiders and assembling a team of Pandora’s finest to track down a series of Vaults scattered across the galaxy. That’s right – for the first time in franchise history, Vault Hunters will be leaving the iconic setting behind and discover NEW locations including Promethea: the home planet headquarters of the Atlas Corporation and Athena: a calm and misty planet inhabited by a group of monks called the Order of the Impending Storm.
Players take control of a NEW group of Vault Hunters: FL4K (the Beastmaster), Moze (the Gunner), Amara (the Siren), and Zane Flynt (the Operative), each with their own set of special skills and abilities to level up and explore over the course of the game. Skill Points can be used to unlock and upgrade Passive Abilities, Action Skills, and Action Skill Augments – allowing players to create a character that suits their own particular play style; increase health, chance of critical hits, weapon damage etc. Don’t like the current skill tree(s) you’ve invested all of your hard earned skill points with? Fear not, simply reallocate them and try something new – the choice is yours Vault Hunter!
Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel) was arguably one of the BEST villains in video games history, with notable similarities to the likes of Walter White from AMC’s Breaking Bad; it was possible to both love and hate him at the same time. For SPOILER reasons, everyone’s favourite egotistical maniac is out of the picture in Borderlands 3 and Pandora has now been taken over by sibling duo Tyreen Calypso and Troy Calypso, leaders of a new media cult with their followers – The Children of the Vault – obeying their every command without question like mindless minions.
In short, the Calypso Twins are a pair of streamers who believe that all of the Vaults belong to them as their birthright. Perhaps this was meant as a joke all along – what would Pandora be like if content creators and social media influencers ruled the wasteland? However, it might have been better suited as a side quest rather than incorporated into the antagonist’s storyline and personalities. You can only listen to “be sure to like, follow, and obey” so many times before wanting to hit the non-existent UNSUBSCRIBE button.
The narrative is a lot more cohesive compared to previous entries as the Vault Hunters feel like they are part of the story from the beginning rather than roaming Pandora on their own in search of glory and riches! In Borderlands 3, FL4K, Moze, Amara, and Zane have answered the call from Lilith to join the Crimson Raiders and help find the Vaults before they fall into the hands of Tyreen and Troy. Cutscenes are also plentiful this time around – Vault Hunters are fully voiced and respond to everything that other characters both say and do in the world; a nice change from the silent treatment in previous years.
Visually speaking, the graphics of Borderlands 3 are absolutely gorgeous – colours are vibrant and look fantastic on the Xbox One X console; used for this review. The mapping system has seen some improvements including an upgrade to a 3D perspective of the terrain which greatly helps with navigation and finding paths to those tricky and out of reach locations. Players can switch between Zone View, Orbital View, and Galaxy View to quickly Fast Travel between locations within a certain local area, geographical area, or entire planets altogether. The addition of interplanetary travel was a smart decision as it feels like the Borderlands series is rocketing into new and exciting territory that’s just waiting to be explored.
A few hours into the game, players will be able to leave the Skag invested Pandora behind and take to the stars for some interplanetary Vault hunting aboard the aptly named Sanctuary spaceship. This location acts as the primary hub throughout the game and houses the likes of Marcus Kincaid, Mad Moxxi, Ellie, and even Crazy Earl is along for the ride – did you pack your Eridium? Your favourite NPC’s aren’t just there for show and tell, as they will also provide players with additional side quests either by talking to them directly, discovering locations and landmarks, or randomly when interacting with various objects scattered across the wasteland.
The game captures the same fun, excitement, and humour that’s been a staple of the Borderlands series and takes it up a notch even further; despite the tired and overused streamer references. The launch, however, hasn’t been as smooth of a ride as we’ve seen with Gears 5 as players are already reporting issues with lag, co-operative play, and even performance issues and dropped frame rates. Gearbox has commented on Twitter stating that they are aware of these issues and report that a current fix is in the works.
Full Statement can be found HERE.
Borderlands 3 is a fantastic experience that was well worth the wait and sets the stage for an exciting future for the series. Despite some technical issues and disappointing antagonists, the game offers up a unique experience that will satisfy both new and returning Vault Hunters alike. It’s exciting to see the franchise branch out and try something different – like interplanetary travel – and who knows where it can go from there; we’ll have to wait for Borderlands 4 to find out!
Borderlands 3 is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and SOON for Google Stadia.
You can find Chris on Twitter at @ChrisZaiser if you want to chat more about Borderlands 3 or anything else in gaming!