Borderlands 3 Reviews

Neo Ethereal
313,518 (173,630)
Neo Ethereal
TA Score for this game: 775
Posted on 17 October 19 at 16:30
New solutionThis review has 3 positive votes and 2 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
The return of a zany, frenetic franchise, with a few speed bumps

Borderlands 3 felt like a pipe dream for a long time. Having ravenously partaken in the three previous main entries, as well as Tales From the Borderlands—what seems like another life ago—I was certainly ready for this round, and was hopeful that the long wait meant that we'd get a finely tuned, highly polished product.

Some of you who are super critical of the game are probably already laughing after that last sentence. The thing is, I think Borderlands 3 is in many ways a polished, smooth beast. The general movement feels weightier than before, it's solid, running and strafing feels good. The slide mechanic is great. The guns feel awesome, especially the shotguns. The sound effects for movement, firing, and reloading all have gravitas and ooze badassery. The enemy behaviors are all improved, adding more unpredictability to combat and forcing a little more strategy on the player's part. The environments are more destructible and you can blast your way through some cover, which is a welcome addition and makes the game a little more immersive. Climbing is neat, when it works as intended. Though, DOOM 2016, this is not.

If I judged on first impressions alone, I would've given Borderlands 3 a rousing ovation. But going on first impressions by themselves seldom works out. Anyone who has watched The Phantom Menace or played the Too Human demo can attest to that.

The chinks in this new game's armor revealed themselves to me slowly. First was the inexcusably small text. I had to double the size of the subtitles to be able to read the dialogue comfortably. The rest of the text, especially for the weapon descriptions, is absurdly tiny. I have 20/20 vision, playing on a 32 inch television from about 3 meters away, and I still had to get up and walk to the screen to see what in the world Gearbox had written at times. I shudder to think how bad it would be on a smaller unit.

Cooperative mode is a laggy mess, especially when looking at items or accessing the menu in any way. My local coop buddy got killed a lot simply due to high lag, causing enemies and shots to appear and disappear with abandon. There is also no support for guest profiles, which is not a huge deal but the previous games supported them, so I don't see why that couldn't have continued. The lag unfortunately carried over even into singleplayer, with an ECHO menu that loads at a turtle's pace. During a critical, action-heavy sequence in the story, I also was hit with such extreme lag that the whole game dropped to what must have been 5 FPS or worse, causing a lot of cheap deaths. I can't believe people playtested this game and said "this is fine."

And next among my chief misgivings is the quality of the story and writing overall. The trademark Borderlands humor is here, and a lot of it works. But more of it misses the mark than previous games. Almost as much as I laughed, I also cringed. I also felt like there were times Gearbox was taking a shot at other game companies or the industry in general, when they themselves are precariously close to committing the same grievous behaviors they're satirizing. The characters are also a mixed bag. Whether we're talking newcomers or returning faces, some of the people here are developed well and I felt a connection to them. Others were either underdeveloped, or were not written in consistency with how they behaved in past appearances, creating one of those buzzwords critics like to throw around: dissonance.

But I enjoyed my time with this game enough to soldier on and see what else it had to offer, especially in the endgame. I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending but I still got a good case of the feels. I'm enjoying the optional objectives and missions, and I dig how much there is to explore. The variety of environments is great. The game looks gorgeous without having lost its signature art style. The music is pretty rad as well, though I would like for it have kicked in more often and been more of a presence like it was in Borderlands 2.

TA says I've played this game for about 53 hours as of this writing; I just finished the last story mission not long ago and I'm at 540/1000 gs. You can get a majority of the achievements in a single playthrough but to get most or all of the points you need to be a completionist. I spent more than a few hours just mindlessly faffing about with different guns and trying stupid things to get to out of reach places, so realistically the campaign is probably closer to the 20 hour mark, if not less.

I still think Borderlands 3 is a pretty cool game and there is a lot to enjoy for newcomers and fans of the series, but you'd be best served by setting your expectations lower. This game improves some things but then fails to hit the bar its very predecessors set in many aspects. We know there is DLC coming and that may clear up some misgivings I have with the story's sense of satisfaction, and it might give some neglected characters a chance to shine, but I must score this game based on what it is on its own. It's good, but it is not as good as what came before, and given the long wait, it does make me a bit sad to have to say that. If you're on the fence, I say check it out, but wait until it goes on sale or until you can get a bundle with all of the DLC for the same price.
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250,648 (143,095)
TA Score for this game: 1,052
Posted on 22 September 19 at 01:42
This review has 14 positive votes and 83 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Borderlands 3 is the 4th game in the series, because counting is hard.

With the prerequisite 4 vault hunters, Twelvety Bazillion Guns, and Looter-Shooter gameplay, one would assume this formula is fairly hard to muck-up, yet muck-up seems to be Gearbox's M.O. currently, and Muck up they have.

But first the good stuff, Areas are expansive, far more so than the first 3 games, and the scenery is well crafted, with plenty of detail wherever you look.

Gameplay is good for the most part, with the classic borderlands "feel" still very much on display, and the new running slide move is also a welcome addition to the formula.

The Vault hunters seem varied, I've only given Zane a go so far, but if the variety in his skill tree is anything to go by, then one of the 4 shall suit almost any play style.

Missions come in the standard Borderlands flavour of "Go here and kill stuff, possibly collect a thingy or two while you're there" and are fun for the most part.

Vehicles are varied, and can be customised with parts from other vehicles, which are scanned into the nearest Catch-A-Ride.

AND THE GUNS! Possibly the best bit of the game, the new Shotgun physics are a joy to behold, lots of weapons have alternate fire modes (Auto/Burst, Fire/Corrosion, ETC) and some even have shields of their own and can also boost your action skills.

Now to the bad stuff.

Movement can be generously described at "Twitchy" with precision feeling just a hair out of reach when trying to get to the myriad of collectibles and audio logs hidden about the maps, also not fun is the new movement tech of "Mantling" or "Climbing on boxes" to you or I. Seemingly copied by a guy who saw 20 seconds of Halo 5 gameplay one time, like movement, mantling is twitchy at best, often denying you climbs that you should have easily got, yanking you up to ledges you missed by a mile thanks to the twitchy controls.

The voice acting is fine for the most part, despite the new Claptrap, but it seems nobody bothered to check which lines go where, as more than once a civillian has talked over a mission line, confining that line to the void, never to return, and Echo logs which seem to have finished, so you activate something else, only to have the echo continue, and instead of the lines Queueing, they're just discarded too, possibly making speedrunners happy, but leaving the rest of us wondering where the dialogue for their mission just went.

Enemies are fine in the early game, but to ramp up "Difficulty" later enemies are immune to certain weapons or elements, which seems like a great idea until you come across one that has such a combination of skills, you have hide round a corner and whittle them down bullet by bullet or their AOE weapon will turn you into the consistency of canned potato salad.

Bosses are probably the biggest offender, from feeling like you did well against a difficult but well matched foe, to feeling like a raid boss with how crappy and unfair their gimmicks are, the bosses are probably the biggest disappointment, as they just feel lazy and untested, especially the last few.

The UI has taken a huge step backwards as well, with no "North" indicator on the map screen, which now rotates to whichever way you're facing, just to confuse you, the Inventory screen feeling more cluttered than it should, and the skill tree screen feeling more unnecessarily complicated than the screens of Borderlands 1 and 2.

The writing is a huge letdown from the first games too, with lazy "humour" and irritating unlikable characters, 90% of the jokes just failed to land for me, and I found myself not giving the slightest crap about these people, despite the game forcing me to to progress the plot, which seems to have more holes than Osama Bin Laden's jumpsuit.

Quest rewards sometimes go into the "social" tab in your pause menu, because they can't just GIVE you a gun, you need to go into a menu and click stuff, because everyone LOVES extra steps to do stuff!

AND THE BUGS! Which I'm sure will be patched, but currently the framerate slows to a judder if several enemies die at once, there's a notable pause bringing up the skills/equipment menu's, as the game presumably loads them, Weapon icons and info stay stuck on screen if you pan too quickly, obscuring your vision, kills often fail to count during "fight for your life", Mission critical characters get jammed in scenery, the list goes on.
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