Not Trying to Reinvent the Wheel
Pandora is as violent as ever as. Vault hunters and bandits fight over what awaits them inside the coveted vaults spread over the galaxy, but things are changing. The bandit clans are uniting under one banner, the Children of the Vault, led by twins Tyreen and Troy Calypso. It’s time for the Crimson Raiders, led by famed siren Lilith, to once again rise up and protect the borderlands, but at what cost?
Gearbox Software’s Borderlands 3 is, simply put, more Borderlands. The combat is wacky and chaotic, the bad guys are insane, screaming about a meat bicycle, and most importantly, the loot is worth fighting over. In their latest installment to their “shlooter” (shooter looter) series, Gearbox didn’t try to reinvent the wheel (except for the new vehicle that is literally a wheel). They recognize Borderlands’ strengths and weaknesses and polish as much as they can, giving the fans what they want.
While the core mechanics and identity of the game remain the same (shoot bandits, collect loot, profit), there are some small changes that improve the game in a big way. For example, when playing with friends, Borderlands 3 now has level scaling. In past games, playing with friends who were vastly different levels than you, like level 10 versus level 30, it would put the lower level player at a disadvantage. The enemy difficulty would be too high, and there would be a lot of dying and respawning. Sure, eventually you can level up your character while being carried by your uber-powered friend, but is that a fun experience? Now, regardless of whatever level your character is compared to your friends’, enemies and loot will scale to each individual level.
The second big change is the loot system itself. Again, in past games, players would find loot from weapons to grenades to shields and would have to decide who would get what, which can sometimes lead to disappointment. With Borderlands 3’s new cooperative loot system, every player gets their own loot. When you open a chest and see a new shiny weapon inside, your friend will see a completely different weapon, letting you both get new guns to play with. The same goes for ammo, health, and even money. These quality-of-life changes could convince previously casual Borderlands players, like me, to put more time into the new game. But don’t worry hardcore players, if you want the old system back, you have the choice of the coopetition loot mode.
Borderlands 3 is just fun to play and fun to look at, and my biggest critiques are only minor issues. If I had to get nitpicky, the ship that serves as your hub is confusing to get around in. Also, the Calypso twins aren’t the best villains ever. They’re more of an annoyance comprised of the worst millennial stereotypes. But to be fair, they had big shoes to fill after the fan-favorite villain Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2.
Borderlands 3 FEELS like a Borderlands game and not some attempt to change it into something it’s not. Even the small changes they’ve made with the level and loot systems, the wacky action, the witty satire, and lowbrow jokes, the BEST PARTS of the series, remain. Because of the variety of weapons with crazy effects like setting enemies on fire or a gun that shoots more guns (yes, that’s a thing), shooting your way through bad guys in Borderlands 3 is a fun, action-packed experience.