Give me loot or give me death. I want guns – shiny and fantastical, shotguns that shoot rockets and pistols that shoot mini-nukes. I want cosmetics that shine and glow, grenades that hover and bounce and spin. I can’t get enough of the loot. Borderlands 3 adds personality to the tedium of loot grind games. Get your nose out of the spreadsheet and talent tree and dive into a cell-shaded world that pulls no punches.
If you’ve played a Borderlands game before, you’ll understand the sentiment. It’s a deliberately hyperbolic representation of the average looter shooter. The heroes and villains are exaggerated to the point of satire. The basic enemies are babbling, club-wielding maniacs, and their personalities get more over the top as you climb the difficulty hierarchy. The tongue in cheek nature of the game and the cartoony graphics let the sordid story play out without the horror that would be there if the game took a more serious tone and visual representation. Cannibalism, genocide, war, are pursued with farcical motivations and methods that make their manifestation in the game world blend seamlessly with a world that takes these subjects as mere footnotes. And I think that’s the point. Gritty and realistic games deal with the same subject matter, but they are never quite self-aware enough to realize how difficult it is to be a hero when you have a body count to your credit that is higher than some real-world armies. In Borderlands, as you trample the ravenous hordes of flesh-eating psychopaths and liberate planets from their locust-like descent, the corpses of your enemies drop loot – guns, cosmetics, grenades, and skill boosters. Each one of these is unique in function, like the shotgun mentioned above that shoots rockets.
It’s a good thing Gearbox got this part of the game right as Borderlands released with some glaringly unacceptable technical issues. The worst of which is periodic hitching when you aim down the site of your gun at a target. The hitching was something I mentioned in an earlier blog post, and while I’ve found a way to make it less severe, it has not been fixed. It’s not a frame-rate issue; my frames are stable. The bug only occurs when I aim at a target. For a first-person shooter, this is an unacceptable issue to have. If I can’t aim at enemies, how am I supposed to play?
The story is interesting and thematically relevant to the modern era. It features a villain that has weaponized social media psychos to carry out her murderous intent. Most of her cult members are some variation of the Borderlands psycho, either a miniature version, normal sized, or hulking Lou Ferrigno types. The exception is the bosses who have a bit more personality to them. Thankfully, they’re not the only faction in the game, as you also battle corporate mercenaries, robots, monsters, and all kinds of other quirky creatures.
The humor is a bit over the top, but it’s Borderlands, so that’s to be expected. Some moments made me chuckle, and others were grating:
This character’s voice was like nails on a chalkboard, and the whole exchange made me cringe, though I didn’t run into many moments like this. Most of the characters were more on the endearing spectrum of quirky than the run for the hills kind.
Some of the side quests are transparent fluff. One of them was a literal grocery run. I found myself skipping most of those in favor of the main story quests, which were far more interesting. The story content didn’t outpace my level, so the devs don’t punish you for bypassing quests you dislike. I’m not sure why Gearbox didn’t cut some of these quests, as the bad ones range from tedious to the eardrum piercing cringe from the video above. The pacing of the main quest line has a gradual incline with the difficulty ramping up exponentially as you get farther along in the story. Some of the fights can be quite challenging, but the sparkle of loot at the end is rewarding.
On the whole, Borderlands 3 is a solid looter shooter marred by technical issues. If you’re a fan of the franchise or a fan of looter shooters in general, give this game a try once a patch comes out, because it’s a fair bit of fun.
Some extra game footage for the Coil subscribers: