Borderlands 3 is the most recent addition to the genre-defining looter-shooter franchise. The game, in this third instalment, takes the formula of a group of unlikely heroes armed to the teeth with an endless supply of weapons to its fullest potential. Tweaks to gameplay mechanics, updates to weapons, and an improved skill system make the game more engaging and interesting than its predecessors. A slightly bland storyline and technical glitches, however, hold the game back from being truly great.
For this review, the game was played on a standard PlayStation 4, which runs the game at 30 frames per second in 1080p. It is also available on Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia. The standard edition of the game retails for Rs 3,999 but is available for around Rs 3,000 through Amazon and Flipkart.
Borderlands 3 introduces a group of four new vault hunters to the desolate planet of Pandora. Vault hunters are the protagonists of the series. Their motivation is simple, they are out to loot treasure from mythical caches of weapons and powerful artefacts called Vaults.
Amara, Zane, FL4K, and Moze are then drafted by Lilith, commander of the Crimson Raiders. The Raiders are a group of adventurers and ex-soldiers who are currently at war with a cult called The Children of the Vault. The cult’s leaders, Tyreen and Troy Calypso, are video streamers who have used their influence to unite different clans of bandits under their banner. The battle between Lilith and the Calypso twins is the primary conflict in Borderlands 3.
The main story, which clocks in at around 30 hours if you don’t do any side-quests, sees the crew leave the planet of Pandora and explore other worlds. Despite the game’s promise of an open-world experience and the added ability to fast-travel between places at any time, long loading times and technical hiccups make it a less than ideal situation. I encountered a bug in which the screen would freeze as soon as I reached my destination after fast traveling. The textures wouldn’t load and I would be stuck waiting for something to happen. While this could be attributed to the limitations of the PS4 this game was reviewed on, reports suggest that issues like this are common across platforms.
Having played an extensive (100+ hours) amount of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, I knew what to expect from the game. Enjoying these older titles in the franchise a great deal did colour my opinion of Borderlands 3 a little bit and made the bugs more bearable. However, a visit to the world of Pandora (and beyond) may not be as exciting to new players if the same technical hiccups mar their experience of playing the game.
Aside from the disappointing faux open-world setup of the game, even the overall plot has its drawbacks. It seems more like the story of Lilith than any of the four playable characters. Every mission that the player undertakes seems secondary to Lilith’s character development. This is fantastic if you have an emotional investment in the returning character. If not, you are in for a game that makes you feel like a side character in someone else’s story.
Nothing else about the game sidelines you though. On the contrary, Borderlands 3 empowers the player to choose exactly how they want to play the game. Each vault hunter comes with unique abilities that are suited to different play styles. Amara, for instance, works best at close range and FL4K makes the most sense as a bruiser (a tank who deals high damage). Characters are also provided different active skills that can be modified with perks on three different skill trees. This means that it is possible to have two builds of the same character but have completely different play styles.
Borderlands 3 also allows you to make minute changes to gameplay based on your choice of weapon. The game boasts of over a billion weapons in-game. The weapons are loosely categorised based on their manufacturer as well as their specific type. Each manufacturer brings something special to the table, and those familiar with weapons from previous games will be able to tell pretty easily what each manufacturer’s weapons are like. For instance, Maliwan specialises in elemental damage, Vladof in high fire rate, and Tediore’s blow up when you reload them.
Add to this new mechanics like sliding and slamming as well as the option for split-screen couch play, and you get a game that is fun to play and easy to switch up if you ever get bored.
All in all, Borderlands 3 is a game that is best enjoyed by people who are familiar with the series. You will be googling the game’s lore and characters every time something new happens if you haven’t played the previous titles. Its gameplay is engaging, and while the story isn’t the greatest, it is sure to provide some laughs and be enjoyed by returning players. If you can get a full squad of friends together to play with, you’re likely to have a better time than taking on the more than 30-hour-long game solo.