2009’s “Borderlands” wowed gamers with its mixture of first-person shooting and RPG mechanics. One sequel, a prequel and a spin-off later, and it is business as usual on the wild, dangerous planet of Pandora.
A devious pair known as the Calypso Twins is searching the galaxy for mythical vaults, which are said to hold unknown quantities of wealth and power. A group of treasure hunters teams up with the Crimson Raiders to find those vaults before the Calypso Twins do.
“Borderlands” is known for its black comedy and referential humor, and though personality is fine and dandy, the third entry’s writing is obnoxious. The dialogue feels like it was written by Generation X’ers who think they know what is considered funny, and according to “Borderlands 3,” funny means outdated references.
Every once in a while, a joke provides a chuckle, but the characters do nothing to help the juvenile dialogue. The villains are a missed opportunity. They are clearly a spoof of social media influencers, but never does the game take advantage of this concept, and the Calypso twins just end up annoying.
Look past the trivial humor, and beneath lies a satisfying shooter game. Each one of the four playable treasure hunters has their own special skills and playstyle, whether it is Moze’s ability to summon a pilotable mech or FL4K’s power to summon animals to back him up in combat.
Returning players will appreciate the quality of life improvements to the gameplay. For example, it is now possible to switch between main and side quests on the fly, and character mobility is a lot smoother, now allowing them to do things like slide or vault over cover.
It is not a “Borderlands” game without a bazillion guns, and this title does not disappoint. At every corner and every dead enemy, chances are there is a new weapon or another type of gear to find. Some loot is better than others, but always remember to sell off the junk loot at the nearest vending machine.
Visually, the game shines. Worlds are lush, vibrant and varied, with the action unfolding not just on one planet, but multiple ones. Said locales include dusty shantytowns, neon-lit cityscapes and swampy marshlands. Technical issues like framerate lag and subtitles not showing up happen, but not often.
At first glance, “Borderlands 3” is an iterative rather than an innovative sequel. Dig deeper, though, and one will notice many enhancements to the experience that easily make it the series’ best thus far. Also, fans of collecting a never-ending supply of loot will not be disappointed.
Though the gameplay is satisfying, the story and writing are not. References are fine in small doses, but when the majority of the jokes are based on internet memes and pop culture references, it only makes the experience feel outdated.
It has its problems, but the positives far outweigh the negatives, and “Borderlands 3” is easily one of 2019’s best games.