Here we go again, yet another game series that has eluded me in the past. Borderlands 3 is my first adventure in the Borderlands universe, something that has been a long time coming. The original game first released in 2009 and over the past decade has seen a huge rise in popularity which has resulted in two sequels, a pre-sequel and a few spin-off titles, not to mention the absolute enormous amount of merchandise the brand moves. What is Borderlands though? Quite a lot of things, so let me tell you about Borderlands 3.
Pandora, something about this word I just love, I don’t know what, but it feels magical, and then there’s the planet Pandora in Borderlands which is not so much magical as it is desolate and filled with freaks. The plot itself is straight-forward, take down the baddies, explore different worlds, uncover amazing secrets and ultimately save the day. Being the vault hunter seems very impersonal at a glance but even just being able to choose your own class and some minor aesthetic customisation goes a long way in making the adventure personal and tying you to your character.
It’s difficult for me to just try and pick one thing after the next because everything comes together and brings all other aspects up with it, the characters, world, narrative and more. Going from an unknown to the Vault Hunter is a rewarding journey, being tasked with killing one villain after another brings a real sense of honour and justice, you know? Actually, it’s just straight up fun, one mission to the next is a complete blast of adrenaline fuelled madness. Throughout there are plenty of twists and turns I hadn’t expected which drew me in closer to the many characters I was exposed to on my 30+ hour Borderlands bender. For being such a fun, laugh out loud type of story there are moments that certainly tug on the heart strings which goes to show that wackiness can sometimes get serious and of course the other way around.
Before jumping into the games I didn’t quite anticipate just how much I would go on to enjoy the combat, perhaps because it is incredibly simple to learn and it takes some time to master. Weapons are the bread and butter for sure, but then you get the jam, meat, and other accompaniments like grenades, abilities, shields all that can take a huge variety of forms and when combined together there are lethal results, to the enemy, not to yourself. Tinkering with all aspects of my loadout is something I did frequently to ensure I was well equipped for all manner of fights, close quarters, long range, damage type advantages or disadvantages etc, smart design that favours the creative.
Satisfaction comes with every shot as each bullet hitting its mark pops up a number letting you know the damage and when you hit those devastating critical shots, you are made aware by the word critical being plastered above their head in capital letters and an exclamation mark for good measure. It’s an addicting gameplay loop that urges you to go on and deliver more damage. If that wasn’t enough, there are a variety of weapons that comes with their unique sounds, feel and some bring their own special mayhem, each chance I got I loved to try out the new guns I obtained along the way to see how it performed.
It goes without saying that the comic book art style is synonymous with the Borderlands universe and produces a different kind of stunning visuals as opposed to games with a more hyper realistic art-style, differing methods but still great results. The vibrant colours and effects come alive on screen which is pleasant to witness.
Many characters, locations and weapons have their own unique designs that set each person, area and gun apart from each other in their respective categories. A characters appearance is often indicative of their behaviour and tells a story without any dialogue having to be exchanged, they all look interesting in their own special way, some more than others anyway.
Sound is one of the most important aspects of world-building and atmosphere for Borderlands, particularly when it comes to the exceptional voice-acting and gritty sound effects. The characters’ voices exude this crude charm that puts a smile on my face and causes me to laugh, sometimes quite uncontrollably. At times, it gets serious and that tone is absolutely conveyed, showing the range that many of the voice actors possess. On top of that, the sound effects piggyback on the charm train, adding so much more, to the weapon sounds, abilities and enemies I got submerged in this world whether I wanted to or not.
OVERALL: 8/10 – GREAT
Borderlands is larger than life characters, an endearing universe and a wild ride of fun. It has memorable moments and characters, a story that’s easy to keep up with and an interesting world to explore and dive into. So yes, Borderlands is many things and I look forward to what comes next.
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.