Two months late to the hunt…
After hearing my friend sing its praises for two months, I finally took the plunge and bought Borderlands 3 – My decision was actually fully made by my hands on recently at EGX. I hadn’t been putting off playing it, I just didn’t really have much interest in it. I’ve played the previous titles but never to completion, I just got bored of the number of fetch quests and gave up on them.
So, what makes Borderlands 3 different? Not a lot; this game is somewhat of a paradox to me. The fetch quests are still there, but this time ’round, I enjoy them. The main things that made me lose interest in the previous titles drew me into the latest iteration – The game has the almost identical genetic make-up as all its ancestors; four Vault Hunters to choose from, all with different skill trees, all rushing to either close of open mythical Vaults before the main antagonists get there first (more on those later)… And yet this time round, things are somehow… Different.
Gearbox is still sticking to its tried and tested cel-shaded style that has made the Borderlands style iconic now – The various locations don’t deviate too much from the desert, neon city, alien landscape formula it uses time and time again… And yet, as you’re reading this, it paints the new Borderlands title to sound tired and unimaginative. But somehow, you’re wrong, I was wrong. We’re all wrong.
The same witty conversation between characters is there; something Gearbox has always got right was the tone and sense of humour – And it comes at you by the rusty axe wielding psycho-load. As I made my way through the different locations, I began enjoying the variety of characters the game presented me with. I soon came to love a certain gun manufacturer and playstyle; my excitement was enhanced even more when I realised I’d be travelling to the various manufacturers’ home planets, meeting the famous Wainwright Jakobs (my favourite manufacturer was Jakobs; their guns made feel like a cowboy) and others from Maliwan and Atlas. The game does an excellent job at creating back stories behind the various weapon types you use and the corporate – and sometimes, personal – reasons these manufacturers are against each other… And I loved every minute of it.
I was drawn into the narrative very early on and in doing so, the game introduced the two main antagonists; The Calypso Twins, Troy and Tyreen.
This is where my one, and only real complaint of Borderlands 3 comes from. The twins. They’re basically a satirical look at how social media can influence the masses. Through their own version of being ‘influencers’ they have created a cult that worship them and follow them on their highly stylised type of social media, broadcasting literal death matches, live to their followers. I appreciate the humour behind this, and the way its dealt with by the writers is very good… However, the twins themselves begin to grate quite early on. Their vacuous personalities become plain annoying in the way they pop up in video chat screens as you’re completing missions, blurting nonsense or simply acting like spoilt children as you thwart their plans. At first, I thought this was another shot taken by the writers at the notion of influencers lacking real personalities, and that’s probably why the twins didn’t become annoying instantly. But this musing soon subsided, and I saw the Twins for what they really are. Bloody annoying. And in a way, looking back on my play time now…
WARNING: SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
It made the last boss battle all that more satisfying. Knowing they’re both dead… So, whether intentional or not, congratulations to the writers for creating bad guys, I REALLY hated.
And that’s not quite the end of my story. I have now done something I’ve very rarely ever done in a video game. I’ve begun the campaign again. This time in something the game calls True Vault Hunter Mode, an option only available to those that have finished the main campaign. This mode ups the enemy difficulty, provides them with shields and increases the number of them that will spawn. It also increases the drop rate of Legendary items by 200%, but this hike in difficulty really makes you feel like you’ve earned these items. I’m playing through again with the same character, Fl4k, the beast master, and it allows me to carry across all my gear from the base game, as there is now a new levelling up tree that opens up even more skills through earning Guardian Tokens. I’m actually really excited to play through again with more of a challenge, and its extremely rare for me to say that!
So, in conclusion, I can now say with full conviction that I’m proud to call myself a Vault Hunter… And with three more DLC’s on the way – one dropping very soon – now is an ideal time for you to take a trip to Pandora and beyond. And allow Marcus to tell you a story, a tale of adventure, across the stars…
I give Borderlands 3 an 8.0/10 – A surprising paradox of familiarity.