POWER REVIEW: Borderlands 3 - PS4
Updated: Jun 8
I LIKE MY ENEMIES HOW I LIKE MY COFFEE, IN THE BUTT
Borderlands 3 pitches the player back into the role of a vault hunter. Scouring planets for vaults left by an alien race rumoured to contain technology and riches beyond comprehension. The story picks up where the second left out with a new set of playable characters. I can't say you definitely need to have played the previous two but it will help. Gameplay wise it's a looter-shooter through and through; A third RPG, A third FPS and a third just trying to quell the addiction of killing things to see what goodies they drop! It's been 7 years since the release of the well loved BL2 so this game was eagerly awaited and highly anticipated by both the gaming community as well as Me and Chris. The pressure was on Gearbox.
BL3 keeps the iconic cell shaded style from previous iterations and masters them. I noticed very little in the way of texture pop in which is impressive given the scale of the areas you are free to explore without load screens. It's clear from the menu and UI that the devs have packed in features, the shame is that they are hidden in obscure sub menus and can be easily missed.
+ The cell shaded graphics still make this game stand out, it's beautiful.
+ Technically impressive
- Menus are cluttered and a lot of important things are hidden deep in sub menus, none of which is explained in tutorials
BL3 is a return to pure looter-shooter goodness. The gun play feels responsive and controlled, there is a wide variety of enemies to keep things fresh and there are literally a billion procedurally generated guns to loot.
+ A billion guns which look, feel and shoot differently.
+ Character development feels meaningful based on skill point distribution.
+ Vehicles work well and are integrated into missions sometimes. When they are it's fun but doesn't happen enough.
- Unfortunately the lock-on function usually doesn't target what you want it to.
- Movement feels floaty, whilst they have added some parkour elements like edge grabbing, they are not great resulting in some awkward, rage quit inducing climbing sections.
- Very generic side quests which are predominantly either fetch quests or being sent to go kill something.
- Suffers from some big pacing and difficulty balancing issues. Areas are set to a level but do not escalate in line with story. You can be fighting in an level 36 area before the game sends you to a previous unvisited area which can be ten levels lower meaning enemies and loot are pointless.
- Bosses are uninspiring bullet sponges. In fact most enemies take a lot of bullets to put down. Leads to pacing issues as you have to search for ammo or buy more which interrupts the flow of missions.
A bland story of saving the world from an antagonist which tries to make comments on social issues but falls a bit flat. Go here, get this, then kill that. Repeat.
+ The playable characters are interesting and do not just fall into the tropes of tank, rogue etc. + Different planets add a new dynamic to each section of the story which helps keep things more interesting.
+ Casual references to LGBT relationships in known characters which avoid seeming token.
- Humour often falls flat but refuses to stop trying.
- Compared to BL2 the new characters are instantly forgettable.
- Side quests are even more forgettable.
+ True Vault Hunter Mode returns (NG+) as well as Mayhem Mode which mods the enemies difficult in line with exp and loot bonuses.
+ Four unique characters to run through the storyline. - Bland story and side quests may make multiple run throughs a bit of a chore rather than enjoyable.
Borderlands 3 is a victim of Borderlands 2's quality. When BL2 came out it was genre changing, and the same sense of momentum can't be felt here. It plays more like a 2.5 than it does a new entity. It's prettier for sure, but the new writers have failed to capture the charm and humour of the previous title.
The antagonist is not such a subtle comment on the perils of social media which feels a little heavy handed and doesn't really land as relevant. Newly introduced characters feel two dimensional.
The game is enjoyable overall as the gun play is smart and responsive, the looter-shooter "one more mission to see what guns I find" addiction still remains but I can't help but feel this is a one step forward, two steps back game for Gearbox.