Title: Borderlands 3
Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Interactive
Genre: Action, First-person Shooter
Version Tested: PC
Official Site: Borderlands 3.com
Release Date: September 13, 2019
Where to Buy: Microsoft Store, PSN, Epic Games Store
What’s Old is New Again
It’s a safe bet that anyone playing Borderlands 3 knows what they are getting. There’s a reason the game has sold five million copies in its first week on store shelves.
Those who were hoping they’d be getting more Borderlands, are getting their wish. It is most definitely, undeniably more Borderlands. That in and of itself is not a bad thing. Borderlands 3 is the continuation of a much-beloved series. Gearbox never claimed or hinted that it was anything more or less than that.
Why make a game in the series if you don’t want to remind people of the titles that came before it right? In the sense that it’s a return to the popular series, it’s a massive success.
Vault Hunters are back. Those crazy dudes in their crazy masks are back. Guns that are… a blast to shoot are back. Claptrap is (kind of) back! Being a fan of the series, someone who has been looking forward to Borderlands 3 for a long time, this should have been right up my alley. In some ways, it absolutely was. In others, it really wasn’t.
Art Style Still Delivers
One of the things that are both old and new again is the art style in Borderlands 3. Certainly, some over the years don’t like the cartoonish appearance.
For those who do and did like it, they’ll definitely get more of the same. Despite the series being on hiatus for several years, Gearbox made sure not to change much in this regard. There are some sharper edges here and there. That’s likely got more to do with the 4K picture all games are striving for these days. This is one of the winning aspects of the new game as that same art style can be stunning at times.
This is also one of those things that stands out as something that could have been tweaked a bit to be made to look even better. The good news is the many different pieces of scenery that pop up throughout the story look amazing.
Jokes Fall Flat
When putting together Borderlands 3, it’s clear Gearbox has decided it wants to bring old and new together. The art style and the settings are both new and very similar to what we’ve seen before. There are new places to fight and some new characters, but there are plenty of throwbacks to the first couple of games in the series.
That desire to be quite a bit like the older games in the long-running series hits a very big snag. Jokes that were laugh out loud worthy 10 years ago are simply not that humorous at all when being told in 2019. The story itself has a had time getting going.
There are jokes here and there that are supposed to remind people of the first games in the series. Claptrap is still there, as a kind of Jar Jar Binks of Borderlands 3. He’s been around a bit too much these days and doesn’t really come off as slapstick anymore. He comes off as just annoying.
Certainly, some of the lack of funny comes from everything that has surrounded the creation of Borderlands 3. There was a bit of a stain around the game when it was being created. That includes the replacement of the man who used to voice the little robot. Is it possible overcoming some of the issues that surrounded the creation of the game put a little too much pressure on the writers?
Maybe. It’s also possible the humor just wasn’t very good because it wasn’t very good. When talking about a game like Borderlands 3, you’re talking about a game that has everything laid out for it before. That includes the tone and tenor of the jokes and dialogue. What worked so many years ago, when that tone and tenor were new to the video game world, doesn’t work the same way in 2019.
The problem is that the way the story is laid out, the dialogue and the jokes are every bit as much a part of what makes Borderlands 3 a part of the larger franchise. When it falls flat, it drags the rest of the game down. It’s still worth playing, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise. With a few risks taken here and there, Borderlands 3 could have been a Game of the Year contender. Instead, it’s a good game that is likely going to get lost in the shuffle of a ton of games releasing this Fall.
Verdict: Borderlands 3 is a very good game that harkens back to everything that made people fall in love with the franchise. There’s a ton of looting, shooting, psychos and interesting anti-heroes. In the end, it’s just another installment in the franchise rather than a game can take the series to new heights.
Borderlands 3 Review
- Borderlands 3 is definitely another Borderlands game
- Combat is still a literal blast
- There are all new guns for you to collect and figure out how best to deal a ton of damage
- The extra planets make for interesting new playgrounds
- Jokes that might have gotten a giggle 10 years ago fall flat
- Not much is new or revolutionary
- Mini-map system is more annoying and inaccurate than ever.