Friday, June 21, 2024
Coming SoonOpinion

Borderlands 3 preview confirms it’s all kinds of awesome

Last week, I had two hours of hands-on play with the new Borderlands 3 title and, as you were expecting, it’s all kinds of awesome. We all knew that Borderlands 3 was going to be a BIG THING, but I don’t think any of us knew it was going to be this good. Gearbox has just about improved every aspect of the game that needed improving while living under the huge pressure that is ‘delivering Borderlands 3’.

It’s been ten years since the world of Pandora opened to the masses and people began discovering this amazing world of RPG action comedy with its unique animation style. It’s been five years since the last major Borderlands game, The Pre-Sequel, which met with mixed reviews and some criticism from fans. So, you can imagine the weight of responsibility the developers must have been under knowing that for five years fans have been begging for a proper Borderlands sequel.

As Return of the Jedi is to Star Wars and Return of the King is to Lord of the Rings, this third entry in the series is the best of them all! I’m not counting Pre-Sequel or Tales of the Borderlands mainly because that ruins my analogy, but it’s still the best of them all.

Look

Borderlands has always had this quirky and unique animation feel, but now this has been improved immeasurably with the advent of higher resolution graphics and a much larger depth of field. This allows the game to retain its style while allowing much clearer gameplay and adds a richness to the world in terms of what’s around you.

We can all name games where you might just want to stop and enjoy the view, Red Dead Redemption 2, The Witcher 3 and The Last of Us being some, but we wouldn’t necessarily think that Borderlands would be on that list. Well, now it can be! Even in the animated Borderlands style, there are some breathtaking vistas you can just stop and admire.

The world of Borderlands has grown into multiple worlds with a number of planets being playable, I played on Pandora and Eden-6, a bayou-inspired planet with dinosaurs! The idea of multiple worlds picks up on the story point from the ending of Borderlands 2.

https://youtu.be/CPBCK50enU4

Feel

This is the area of the game where most improvements have been made. Looking back at previous entries, there have been issues with shooting and aiming mechanics, as well as some of the jump and run actions too. Well, they’re both dealt with nicely in Borderlands 3. Shooting and aiming, while not being easy, are now at least more intuitive and offer some intelligent gameplay options. You now have weapons with multiple fire modes and multiple action skills available to skill up in.

Jumping and running has been a bit simplistic in previous installments, but now we have options including climbing and sliding. No longer do you have to find multiple boxes to leapfrog between to scale a simple building, you can just approach it and with one press of a button, your character grapples up on to objects. Similarly, running to cover just got better. Now you can slide into cover, offering not only a way to protect your health, but if you get it right, sliding and performing a headshot gives you a massive smile!

There are other little points that you can’t help but enjoy: loot nudging itself towards you as you open boxes, or kill enemies, meaning you don’t have to oddly contort your character to pick up that annoying last bit of ammo, being able to stock up on ammo at vending machines with one button now, and having a ‘gun score’ which lets you compare two guns at a glance… It just adds more playable value to an already amazing game.

Oh, and did I mention… 1 billion guns?

Characters

The four main playable characters in Borderlands 3 offer another unique selection of characters, each with their own set of skills and differing play style. They are Zane the Operative, Moze the Gunner, Amara the Siren and FL4K the Beastmaster. With a multitude of action and passive skills to choose from, these characters are the most customizable characters to ever be playable in the series to date (you can preview the character’s skill trees on the Borderlands website). Also, unlike in previous Borderlands games, Action Skills in Borderlands 3 can be augmented, turning them into stronger, more devastating attacks. 

I focused on FL4K in my preview gameplay. They are an engaging hunter character who is joined on the mission by one of three beasts, each with their own augments. I played FL4K because it has been made clear they are non-binary and uses them/their pronouns. While there is some debate about the relevance of this as they’re a robot, it is true that we might be looking at the first-ever playable non-binary lead character in a AAA game!

Of course, this isn’t by any means the first LGBTQ+ character the Borderlands franchise has featured, check out my Pride on Pandora piece to find out more. In one beautiful moment, when FL4K’s pronoun choice was met with criticism, co-writer Sam Winkler defended the choice and the community:

NPCs in Borderlands have always been colourful and diverse characters who occasionally help out with missions, but mainly stay out of the way. Well now, they get much more involved in the action alongside you, including helping to revive you when you lose health (good news for me who regularly needs a little helping hand!)

The Borderlands queerness also extends to the NPC cast with the return of queer favourites Sir Hammerlock, Tiny Tina and Moxxi, as well as the introduction of an out and proud trans character Lorelai, voiced by trans voice artist Ciaran Strange!

If I wasn’t excited enough already about Borderlands 3, this preview has made me even more excited for the big reveal on September 13th!

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