Borderlands 3

On the day Borderlands 3 was revealed, Ben Kuchera took to Polygon to bash it by writing a piece titled “Borderlands 3 Trailer is a disappointment” and asking the question, “are you sure I haven’t bought this game before?”

Thankfully, I limit my exposure to Polygon to once a week, so I didn’t see this drivel when he first posted it. Now that I’ve seen it, and thoroughly disagree with it, it seems like a good time to do an old fashioned BREAKDOWN!

Borderlands 3’s debut trailer may have made you happy if you just wanted new Borderlands content and, if that’s the case, I’m happy that you’re happy.

I’m not happy.

Of course you’re not. I’m very happy, as is every Borderlands fan I know, plus from what I can tell, so to was the overwhelming majority of the Borderlands community.

A good sequel happens when a development team takes all the things that defined the previous game, whatever those things were, and finds ways to bring at least a few of them to the next level. There might be a jump in visual quality and an introduction of new faces while existing characters go through some sort of change, and ideally, the mechanics themselves should evolve in some way. “More” isn’t a good excuse for a sequel; the best sequels are defined by a more complex word: “better.”

And I don’t see anything in the Borderlands 3 trailer that makes me think it’s going to be better than Borderlands 2.

I’m not sure how you can base any of this on what was essentially a teaser trailer. It certainly wasn’t a super in-depth trailer, breaking down new stuff or whatever, but it was exactly the trailer I think Borderlands fans, myself included, WANTED to see.

And Lilith, a major existing character, looks like she’s in quite the peril with the new villains. So I’d say this trailer showed off a jump in visual quality, introduced new characters, and showed existing characters going through change. This trailer checked those boxes of what makes a “good sequel,” and I’m not sure how the mechanics of a first person looter shooter should evolve, but either way this short trailer certainly wouldn’t show that.

I’m not sure anyone other than Kuchera here would possibly view a trailer to a just revealed video game, and expect it solely off of a trailer to be better than a full game that is beloved.

I would say though, for a Borderlands fan, this trailer was a reassurance that Borderlands 3 was going to be what players wanted… more Borderlands, and seemingly a bigger Borderlands game (since there will be multiple worlds).

Now, I’m talking about the marketing here, because that’s all I have to go on so far. The game might be amazing, and the “better” might come from small improvements spread across the entire game — the sort of quality-of-life improvements that are hard to communicate in a trailer. I’d love for Gearbox to either release information or another trailer in the future that does a better job of selling me on Borderlands 3, but Thursday’s first look at the game was a disappointment.

Well, at least he admits that the game might be amazing and even better because of changes that would be hard to communicate in the trailer.

Thursday’s trailer was a reveal, a teaser really, not a true “first look” at the game. Sure there was gameplay, but it wasn’t a Rockstar style 8 minute breakdown of features trailer. It wasn’t designed to be that.

We should have a release date announced Wednesday, but I’m sure Borderlands 3 is still aways off. There’s plenty of time for trailers and other forms of information to go further in-depth on changes and how the game will be better, or try to sell people on the game. The reveal Thursday wasn’t trying to sell the game to the masses, it was to give the community what they’ve been begging for for the past five years.

The trailer was a massive success to the audience it was aimed at.

There might be new characters, but we’re given very little reason to care about them. The quality of the visuals doesn’t seem to have improved, although the idea of playing across new environments helps to shake things up aesthetically; Pandora is too limiting a planet to support a third game in the series by itself. The trailer leans heavily on the idea of a nearly unlimited number of guns to collect as you play, but that has always been the series’ hook.

Why would you be given a reason to care about new characters in a reveal trailer? Are you one of those people who likes to see the entire plot of a movie shown in a trailer?

The quality of the visuals looked improved, but then it is still cel-shaded and so how much more improved can that art style get? So long as this one doesn’t have a ton of texture pop-in, I’d say that would be a massive improvement.

A Borderlands trailer, to be revealed in front of hardcore Borderlands fans, “leans heavily” on what has always been the series big appeal. Color me shocked. That’s what people wanted to see. Gearbox knows their audience here.

Part of my skepticism comes from the tepid trailer, but I also can’t remove myself from the meta-context of Borderlands 3. Gearbox Software released Borderlands 2 in 2012, and it was followed by expansions, spinoff games, a VR port, an adventure game, and compilations. Fans have been sold or at least offered an extensive amount of content that isn’t a numbered sequel, and that trend will continue: Gearbox also announced during Thursday’s panel at PAX East a remaster of the original Borderlands, as well as free 4K texture packs for Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

While a team has been developing Borderlands 3, other folks have been making The Pre-Sequel, expansions, and porting the game to VR and current gen consoles. Improving the visuals on those older games, so that the fans of those games can play them on current systems and have them look better.

This isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t take away from Borderlands 3 or its development.

But after this lackluster trailer, I’d welcome news about a battle royale mode, because what else is there? This looks like another expansion, not a proper sequel to a major franchise. Gearbox has told us to expect more Borderlands 3 news on April 3, and I hope there will be something new to get me excited about the game on that date. The first trailer looks like a rehash of what we’ve already seen and played, and that’s a terrible thing for a series that has already been chopped up and resold to us in so many ways.

I HATE this idea people have. Folks who stopped playing Destiny said the same thing about the Destiny 2 reveal. “It looks like an expansion, not a sequel.”

People who like the game WANT a new game that does what they liked about the game. Borderlands fans want Borderlands. You can call it an expansion, because that’s what players want… expanded content in a game they like. It’s a new game for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel because of it.

Someone tell me what a proper sequel looks like, and don’t base it on a sub-four minute trailer.

And thank God there won’t be a battle royale mode shoehorned into this game. This is a looter shooter, that’s what fans want more of. Not ideas other games already do that isn’t what Borderlands is about.

This first trailer looks like exactly what Borderlands fans want to see, and that’s a great thing for a series fans have been chomping at the bit for a new game of.

If you still haven’t seen the awesome reveal trailer, check it out below:

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