Gearbox Software has been in a bit of a rut recently. Their ambitions to expand their portfolio never managed to take off. Battleborn ultimately sputtered out in the face of brutal competition and their first major published game, We Happy Few, reviewed poorly. Thankfully, the company still has Borderlands and it’s happy to offer more. Borderlands 3 was at E3 2019 and it’s more of the same crazy action fans have come to expect.
That’s not to say more of the same is terrible. Borderlands has always excelled at delivering stellar gunplay wrapped in a vast open-world. The game’s charm comes from its quirky writing, over-the-top characters and nearly endless amounts of cool guns. All of this was on display during the demo as our Vault Hunter assaulted Holy Broadcast Center, home to Mouthpiece.
As expected, combat in Borderlands 3 is as tight and snappy as ever. A new sliding mechanic makes it easy to get up close and personal with enemies. The different weapons available to us in the demo was limited, but we did get the opportunity to try out a good amount of assault rifles, shotguns, SMGs, and revolvers. Players won’t be disappointed with how Borderlands 3 plays.
For the demo, we tested out new character Moze, who is similar to Roland and Axton from previous games. Her major differentiator is that she can summon a mech to lay waste to enemies. Her three upgrades paths revolve around powering up the mech in one of three ways; explosives, defense, and firepower. Gearbox showcased the many ways players can use their tech trees to craft a Moze to their liking. An explosive focused Moze would equip different types of launchers. Meanwhile, firepower focused Moze could equip a minigun that doesn’t require any reloading. There are lots of combinations, but Gearbox didn’t want to spoil all of them.
The demo weaved throughout the broadcast center to the boss himself, Mouthpiece. Like any good Borderlands boss, Mouthpiece comes with his own little gimmick. He loves his music and making loud sounds. The entire arena was lined with speakers that Mouthpiece would wind up and unleash blasts of sound. While fighting the boss was straightforward, keeping an eye on which speakers were about to unleash their torrent of sound became vital. In Borderlands 3, it’s clear players must stay on their toes or face defeat.
Borderlands 3’s demo was fun, but what would have made it more fun is co-op. Thankfully, the game, like its predecessors, supports up to four player co-op online. Gearbox didn’t elaborate whether split-screen multiplayer will return. If you don’t want to play with others, but want some of the benefits, however, Gearbox has you covered. New social features allow solo players to purchase some recently-scrapped weapons from players off their friend’s list. Essentially, when a friend discards an item, there’s a chance it may appear at one of the game’s many vendors. It’s a simple addition but is thoughtful for those who’d rather play solo and still have some interaction with friends.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also new social features that co-op players are going to love. A new mail system allows friends to send weapons and gear back and forth to each other whether they’re online or offline. It’s a new addition that makes trading easier.
Gearbox did touch briefly on customization in Borderlands 3. The developer showcased a wide array of character heads and skins and weapon skins players can collect. Based on what they said, it would appear that most of the content can be earned in-game. There may also be a way to pay for it, though. While we don’t fully know how Gearbox and 2K Games intend to monetize Borderlands 3, we do know there will be microtransactions in the game. Thankfully, we also know there won’t be any loot boxes or pay-to-win shenanigans. Whatever the two opt to do with monetization, hopefully it won’t be too egregious.
Borderlands 3 is more Borderlands. If you’ve never gotten into the franchise before for whatever reason, then Borderlands 3 won’t change your mind. If Borderlands is your jam, however, then Borderlands 3 is bound to tickle your fancy. The game takes everything about what made the previous three titles great, wraps it together in a fresh coat of paint and lets players blast apart enemies with millions of different guns. Borderlands 3 is familiar, but it sure is fun.
Borderlands 3 is out September 13 on PS4, Xbox One and PC. The PC version is timed-exclusive to the Epic Games Store until 2020.