It’s been about three weeks since Borderlands 3 released, and thus far I’ve put in around 54 hours into the game on one character. Within the first week, I had completed the main campaign twice; once on normal and once again on True Vault Hunter Mode.
The current inability to skip cutscenes means I’m in no rush to play through it again to experience the other three characters (I’ve played FL4K mostly, with a little bit of Zane as a second character).
I can play through Mayhem 3 solo with little problem; I’ve done all the Proving Grounds, the Circle of Slaughter. I’ve not yet done all of the side missions or collectibles/challenges, but I’m at 70% completion on my Galaxy Progress. I will eventually get to 100%, because it’s a pretty easy Platinum (I am reviewing the PS4 version on a Pro).
My playtime of Borderlands 3 slowed considerably after hitting it very hard for the first week and a half. We’ll get to the why of that in a little bit.
Borderlands 3 has some performance issues. Luckily, for me at least, I’ve experienced practically none in actual gameplay when playing solo. There’s some lag in multiplayer sure, and that can be a little frustrating, but it’s still largely a good experience. Framerate is solid playing in Performance mode on a PS4 Pro. I play on a 1080p monitor, so resolution doesn’t matter to me. I can’t speak for the 4K experience.
The main issue the game had, in my experience on console, was the sluggish menu when switching from the map to your inventory or from your inventory to the Guardian Rank. I said had because when returning to it this past weekend for this review, it seemed a lot better.
Borderlands 3 is of course a first person looter shooter, and the shooting is the best in the franchise yet. The gunplay is absolutely on point, and I’d say is right up with Destiny.
Running around the worlds in Borderlands 3 shooting the various enemy types feels fantastic. Doesn’t matter what type of gun you’re using, it feels good. I’m a pistol/SMG/shotgun guy in this game, and they all are just a ton of fun to use.
I come from console Destiny 2, and let’s just say the ability to use an SMG at long range with little recoil nailing crits is phenomenal. I rarely use SMG’s in the other game, aside from Huckleberry, but it’s my favorite type of weapon in Borderlands 3.
So the shooting is great, the other aspect of the genre is the loot. It’s here I find it rather lacking. There’s good weapons, and they were easy to come by. I have no chase. There’s nothing, that I’ve seen, that has made me want to grind many hours to try and get or get a better roll on.
The game has thrown legendaries at players, with most drops being world drops, at a ridiculous pace even if it has been walked back a little bit. And I’m not, nor would I ever, call for a nerf of that. I don’t even get excited when I see a legendary drop, because it’s happened so frequently. What I have shreds as well as I need it to. I’m not a speedrunner looking to instantly delete a boss.
Aside from Mayhem 3, and the modifiers that penalize players, Borderlands 3 has very little challenge. Swarms of enemies are thrown about, but even if you go down there are weapons that make second life a joke. Even if you die, it doesn’t matter (especially once you’ve bought all of the upgrades from Marcus).
The gameplay is fantastic, but the challenge isn’t quite there to sustain the rather unexciting loot chase.
And on a short note for the gameplay, the addition of sliding and mantling has been very much appreciated. Makes traversing the worlds on foot so much better.
Borderlands 3 doesn’t just have excellent gunplay, but it also has excellent graphics. The cel-shaded art style looks better than ever, with plenty of vibrant colors across the varied landscapes.
You might want to turn the brightness up just a little bit, because sometimes certain enemies can be a little hard to see otherwise.
The worlds are a joy to be in; the looks and the fun shooting alone make for a fun time. The addition of different looking enemies (like pyschos with different hair, gender, attire, etc.) makes for a more visually appealing game as well.
Much like the graphics, the audio is also very strong. The vast majority of the voice acting is great, the soundtrack is pretty good, and the main thing for me is that the guns sound great.
My favorite shotgun is The Butcher; it’s a fully auto Hyperion shotgun that melts enemies and is one of my main weapons to use against bosses and when needing a second wind. It reminds me of the Ikelos shotung in Destiny 2. Firing this gun in full auto sounds amazing; it sounds like something that’s about to just destroy an enemy.
And of course I have to point out the ability to change the FOV in the Borderlands games is always appreciated it, and that option is included here where you can put the console FOV up to 110. Combined with the ability to have different sensitivities for moving and ADS, this makes for a really fun experience that certain other games in the genre sadly don’t deliver on consoles.
I won’t spend too much time talking about the story; yes, the game has one, and no, it isn’t that good.
I don’t play Borderlands games for the story, much like I don’t play Destiny or Diablo for the story. I don’t care. I like the RPG side, the gameplay side, and the looting chase (though it could be better here). If I want a story, I’ll play a single player game like Last of Us or some epic RPG.
Throughout the game, I just found myself wishing I could skip the cutscenes. The only thing that made the wait during the scenes remotely enjoyable was the humor present in some of them. Some of the scenes were just a chore to sit through. For example, any scene with Ava in it I didn’t like. God, what a terrible character.
The story will take you to five planets; Pandora, Promethea, Athenas, Eden-6, and Nekroyafeyo. Your quest is to open the Vaults and try to stop the dastardly Calypso twins. I found both of these boss fights to be a little too easy considering how powerful the cutscenes were trying to make these two goofs out to be. They’ve got nothing on Handsome Jack.
My favorite planet is actually a toss-up between Promethea and Athenas (I know, sadly that’s where we encountered Ava for the first time and ruined the story for the rest of the game). All the locations are great though, and you’ll certainly have a lot of fun exploring them when you’re tackling the side missions and the planetary challenges.
Right now, I find the endgame in Borderlands 3 to be somewhat lacking. I rushed through the campaign on normal mode, and then rushed through it a second time in TVHM to unlock Mayhem in that, and I just don’t see how it’s worth it. I don’t see the point of True Vault Hunter Mode, and feel like my time was wasted even plaything through it.
The reward from the the Slaughterstar 3000 aren’t nearly worth it for the amount of time it can take. The Proving Grounds are fun, but they are also aren’t what I expected and also aren’t all that rewarding compared to other stuff. You can farm bosses much faster and efficiently, and get more drops in the process.
I don’t know why, and I know it’s on me, but I envisioned Proving Grounds as being more like Rifts from Diablo. Instead they’re more like Strikes from Destiny, and they’re about as useless.
We’ll see what happens when the first raid comes, but right now the endgame, thanks in large part to the lack of a real chase in loot, is kinda meh and is the only thing holding the game back from being excellent.
The game does have some paid DLC coming up, but first there’s a free limited time Halloween event coming sometime in October called Bloody Harvest that will have a new boss, some challenges, and exclusive loot. Free themed updates that go away after a limited time is a great way to get people to return to the game, so I’m all for it.
Borderlands 3 is close to be an excellent game, right now it’s great but not what it could be. If I would’ve reviewed this the first week it was out, it would’ve been a five star for sure, which is why I don’t review games like this until weeks later. I started to sour some during the second week when it started to hit me that the endgame and loot chase were kind of shallow.
Borderlands 3 gets a four out of five: GREAT.
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