Dark Light

Borderlands gave birth to the sub-genre of looter-shooter when it launched almost 10 years ago. Its influence is felt ever the more apparently these days as ‘looter shooters’ has become one of the most popular genres in the industry. Borderlands was surpassed by the excellent Borderlands 2 in 2012 and we’ve been waiting for a worthy sequel for a long time. Finally, the ‘original looter shooter‘ returned with its third numbered entry, Borderlands 3 last month following great hype and excellent promotion. We’ve been hard at work on our exhaustive Borderlands 3 review since then. The time is finally here. Here’s our comprehensive review of Gunporn 3!

Story & Setting

Borderlands 3 is a direct sequel to Borderlands 2 and takes place 7 years after its events. Ancient Iridian Vaults have been discovered all over the galaxy and the race for immeasurable treasure is on once again. In the absence of Handsome Jack, two media personalities called the Calypso Twins haven taken control with the manpower of the Children of the Vault cult. The Calypso Twins seeks mother-load aka, ‘the Great Vault. The player takes control of one of four new vault hunters who, who with the help of the Crimson Raiders (led by Lilith obviously), are tasked with taking down the Calypso Twins and save the galaxy in the process.

Look, the Borderlands series was never known for its intriguing storytelling or nuanced writing. The first Borderlands barely had a story. But what the series did right was in the presentation of an outlandish world inhibited by even more outlandish characters. Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2 will go down the annals of history as one of the best video game antagonists of the last-gen. Sadly, Borderlands 3 is a complete disappointment in either regard.

The story is glued together by uninteresting and outright boring segments and plot devices. The set pieces Gearbox wants to convey as explosive comes across as nothing but underdeveloped storyboard sequences thanks to the terrible cinematic design. Then there is the humour, or its lack thereof. I never had any problem with the crass and edgy humour of the series earlier. In fact, I consider it a series hallmark. Sadly, the humor in Borderlands 3 is hardly enjoyable, let alone remotely funny. 5 minutes don’t go by without the player being bombarded with faeces jokes that ran their course out several years ago.

What takes the spoiled cake, however, are the Calypso Twins. Instead of coming across as menacing, they are presented as annoying and obnoxious who are in your face whenever they’re present on the screen. Makes you wish for Handsome Jack to be resurrected. There’s a fine line between being self-consciously crass and outright annoying. Borderlands 3 doesn’t tread that line well.

But while the main story stumbles along, it’s in the side missions where you will find depth and variety. Instead of fetch and shoot quests, not only do the side missions let you switch up the standard fetch and shoot formula, but they also delve into the world of Borderlands and pop-culture, enriching and satirizing it simultaneously. These side missions more often than not also coincide with Easter Egg Enemies, which means if you explore enough, you could run into enemies based on Norman Bates (Psycho) and Rick And Morty (Rick And Morty). Plus, travelling to different planets and meeting/encountering almost the entire cast of Borderlands both present and past makes traversing through the story much more bearable.

Gameplay & Mechanics

Borderlands 3 retreads familiar grounds when it comes to the gameplay. Almost nothing has been changed but enhanced and overhauled to a fine degree. It’s still a semi-open world FPS-RPG with a high focus on Diablo-ish loot gathering and class experimentation.

The movement and controls are smoother than ever with Apex Legends-like swag. The floaty gunplay of Borderlands 2 has been replaced in favour of a beefier and more satisfying gunplay experience. All four classes; The Siren, The Beastmaster, The Gunner and The Operative are much better balanced for campaign play (and the endgame to an extent) than the previous entries. While the Beastmaster is probably the class to pick if you plan to play solo, the Siren tends to reward itself and its allies with passive bonuses and is great when playing in teams. Each class brings its own perks to the table, and while its a jam to find a team and play all characters together, none of them is too badly balanced to make them inviable for a solo playthrough. Each character has 3 skill trees, with each tree unlocking an action skill right at the beginning. From that point on, every skill point spent will enhance your build irrespective of the tree it’s spent on. Points can be put simultaneously across all three trees, with a possibility to mix and match action skills in one tree with perks in others. If that was not flexible enough, there is also the option to re-spec your character.

There are problems though. For example the map, which is impossible to navigate, but somehow an improvement on how maps were implemented in Borderlands 2. Then there is the inventory. For a game that boasts of the bazillion of guns as loot, being presented with a clunky and unresponsive inventory that’s hard to navigate is embarrassing and frustrating on so many levels, it’s not even funny (Or maybe it is and is a sick joke played on us by the devs). Though the player can buy more inventory space by spending a lavish sum of money, it’s pretty ironic to have the player start off with a measly inventory size of 16. I think Borderlands 3 was so focused on creating a loot system for guns, that they completely forgot to build a system to store them efficiently, and hence offloaded that problem to the player. It’s like sending a kid to a candy store with billions of dollars but telling him he can come out with only 5.

Then there’s the issue of having too much loot. I know, I know, it’s gunporn, after all. But the way Borderlands 3 bombards you with crap loot at any given time is not a very pleasing sight. When legendaries drop, they do so like flies, and no, I’m not kidding. I got my first legendary at level 6 and before I knew it, I was swimming in them. Look, it feels great to get consecutive legendaries. I was tired of looking at duplicates endgame, as I had seen most of their variations during the campaign. I remember that the first legendary I got in Borderlands 2 was from the guaranteed final boss fight and it felt so rewarding. Borderlands 3 can feel the opposite some way sometimes due to the insane drop rates. Those that disliked the grind, however, will find this change favourable. The absence of a unique raid at launch is disappointing but there are quite a few endgame opportunities in the form of Circle of Slaughter, Guardian Ranks, Mayhem Mode and True Vault Hunter Mode.

I WANT MY CANDIES GEARBOX!!! I WANT THEM ALL… and by candies I mean Guns.

Borderlands 3 may not be what Borderlands 2 was to the first game. But it’s a damn fine looter shooter that satisfies the looting-shooting urges of the player by improving on its predecessor. It’s a game that never lets you get attached to your build. It’s a game that doesn’t want you to waste time doing inventory management, and it’s a game that doesn’t want you to be too stuck up in its economy. Borderlands 3 is extremely approachable and infinitely replayable in its core gameplay loop. If you use a gun more often, it rewards you with better guns of the same type. It lets you deep dive into the perks and reload rates of a weapon or just lets you pick up the one with more green arrows. Borderlands 3 like its namesake is a free lawless land where everything goes and all RPG class build tropes are thrown out of the window.

Visuals & Performance

Borderlands 3 is not the visual evolution the developers have been teasing but it is obviously a clear-cut improvement over its predecessor in the visuals department. Almost everything has been pushed to the next level of fidelity. From the barren deserts of Pandora to the neon-lit metropolis of Eden-6, the attention to detail in the visuals department is praiseworthy. The art style stands somewhere between the ‘not-yet-fully cartoonish but wacky‘ design of the first game with the ‘too-cartoony‘ looks of the second game to deliver an exaggerated visual design that takes the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately, Borderlands 3 is not up to snuff when it comes to optimization. It could either run perfectly well on your PC or run like absolute dog poop. We were not so lucky and belonged to the second group, at least before the most recent patch. Aiming down sight made the fps fluctuate like crazy, fps dropped when opening chests and opening inventory, random fps drops, frame skips, everything you could think of, we had to suffer through. Even though the game was running at high with above 70 fps on average on our GTX 1070, the random fps drops made sure it didn’t seem that way.

Even on the PS4 Pro, the problems were visible. Textures didn’t load in time. There is a significant lag when you open your inventory and switch between tabs. And the FPS comes to a standstill when you use your Action Skill, especially in a crowded firefight. Thankfully, the recent patch fixed a lot of these issues, especially the ADS problem. Still, Borderlands 3 is a few patches away from being a well-optimized game, just like Borderlands 2 at launch.

Music & Sound

Borderlands 3 is not Destiny 2 when it comes to sound design, but it gets the job done. The music mostly veers into punk/grunge rock with a lot of guitar riffs. You would however only be listening to the background music in slices because most of it will be drowned by the cries and curses of your enemies, and the cacophony of your guns blazing and your shield shattering. There is so much happening in a Borderland 3 firefight that it’s difficult to judge them individually.

What can be judged individually though is the voice-acting. Of which there is a surprisingly large amount. There are a lot of voiced lines, including for your selected character which adds a bit of personality. All voices also sound different which helps each character stand out and you can immediately spot who is speaking to you remotely, which is a good thing because most of the narrative and almost all of the lore is delivered through radio communications.


You will find yourself playing Borderlands 3 long after you are done dissecting its story, its crass humour, and its FPS drops. BL3 is as accessible and fun to play as ever. With friends or without. Whether you decide to purchase it now or wait till better performance fixes arrive, Borderlands 3 is a worthwhile investment. Happy hunting, Vault Hunter!
1 comment
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts