Borderlands 3 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 26.09.2019

Review for Borderlands 3 on PlayStation 4

The conclusion to Borderlands 2 left a compelling hook. With Handsome Jack and the Vault Warrior put down, a map of vaults appeared in the air; a map not just of Pandora, but of numerous planets. Now, years later, that map is the prize between the remains of the Crimson Raiders and a new coalition of cuckoos, a new syndicate of psychopaths, a fraternity of freaks. The Borderlands have always been dangerous, stuffed to bursting with innumerable bandits, but at least this multitude of maniacs was unfocused. Fighting amongst themselves, and more often than not, a danger to themselves more than others. Now though, they're being united under a single banner, and the slim remnants of Crimson Raiders are going to need fresh blood to stand against them.

These Bandits are being united by the worst of the worst, the scum of humanity, beings with no morals, no compassion, no empathy. Beings of pure ego. Social media influencers. Known as the Calypso Twins, Troy and Tyrene claim the Vaults are their birth right, what with Tyrene being a Siren and all. The psychotic siblings have named this new army the Children of the Vault, and they're leading them on a quest to find ,not just the Vaults on Pandora, but across the Galaxy. All that's left to stand against them are this multitude of maniacs is the middling remnants of the Crimson Raiders. Led by the savior of Pandora herself, Lillith, some new blood is needed to strengthen the cause. Up step the new Vault Hunters…

Once again, there are four Vault Hunters to choose from. As always there's a Siren available, this time it's Amara, with the ability to summon huge phantom fists to smash her enemies. The Beast Master is represented by FL4K, a robot with an obsession with death and the hunt. FL4K is accompanied with one of three pets into battle, a Spiderant, a Skag, or a Jabber (a literal monkey with a shotgun). Then there's Zane, a former hitman with powerful gadgets up his sleeves, including a holographic clone to keep enemies busy. Finally, there's Moze. This diminutive darling of destruction is a former soldier with the ability to summon an Iron Bear mech she can ride.

Whichever character is chosen, the new Vault Hunter is welcomed back to Pandora by Marcus once again, though that familiar land is just the appetiser as soon enough the Crimson Raiders and the Children of the Vault racing to open the Vaults for the wonders… and horrors within. This story is hardly anything new: Vault Hunters chasing after Vaults while nefarious villains try to beat them to the punch. The story isn't the only place where the same steps are taken as Borderlands 3 is so confident in its gameplay that it is happy to stick with what it knows, mostly.

Screenshot for Borderlands 3 on PlayStation 4

When it comes to sequels of games, there are two ways to succeed. To either innovate or to perfect. Those who fail to do either end up remembered for the wrong reasons. Borderlands 3 keeps the same tone, the same core gameplay mechanics, the same basic plot points. It's easy to see that innovation won't be much of a focus here. This is expanding the universe quite literally by giving a spaceship known as the Sanctuary to act as the hub between missions, and a whole new set of worlds to explore, with their own factions, enemies, and histories to explore.

These other worlds are distinctly diverse enough to make them actually feel like different worlds as opposed to just new areas. The swampy fens of Eden-6 are reminiscent of the Zombie Islands of Doctor Ned, though with enemies straight out of Jurassic Park. The zen planet Athenas offers up some gorgeous temples to fill with explosions and gore. Then the Bladerunner-esque cityscape of Promethea gives the opportunity to take on the high-tech, heavily armored soldiers that speed through back streets on Monowheels.

The worlds also have the bonus benefit of each being focused on a different weapon manufacturer from the game. These purveyors of projective penetrations have long been a key element of the series, and each player likely has their own favourite flavour of gun, giving a little extra lore to each is a nice touch. There are also some new little features like alternative firing modes on guns, a method of clambering up onto ledges, split-screen co-op and a few other little innovations, but it's clear the focus here is not to innovate - it's to perfect. On the perfection front, the game takes everything the series is known for, and ramps it up to 11. It's completely doubling down on what it knows, and in doing so it succeeds in making the perfect game for Borderlands fans.

Speaking of ramping it up to 11, the arsenal in Borderlands 3 ramps it up to 1,000,000,000. There are over one billion guns. One. Billion. Guns. Admittedly most of these have small differences, but there are enough unique special features and alternative fire modes to make them feel unique. There are guns with AI that talk back, some that seem to feel more pain than the individuals they're emptying hot lead into. As with previous entries, the guns come in the classic ranking systems of common, uncommon, rare, epic, and legendary. The gap between these rankings can be considerably vast. The Legendary guns feel so insanely powerful that they tend to still be used even after they have long been out-levelled. Explosive rounds, homing bullets, armour penetration - they tear enemies to pieces with little effort, and when replacing a legendary then moving back down to a rare or epic the enemies suddenly take much more to put down.

Screenshot for Borderlands 3 on PlayStation 4

That's especially noticeable during the explosive boss encounters. These are the best in the franchise thus far, filled with absolutely wonderful and insane characters right from the very beginning. The very first boss is a sound-based psychopath named Mouthpiece, who utilizes the most deadly type of sound waves: Dubstep. Huge damaging shockwaves boom with the bass drops requiring constant movement. Later in a side-quest for Moxy, the Vault Hunter has to face off against one of her old flames named Killavolt, in an arena where the floor is made up as electrifiable segments. It's not just marauders with big guns though, as there is always the nightmare fuel sealed within the Vaults. The mammoth monstrosities within deserve not to be spoiled.

A huge part of Borderlands has always been the comedy and the writing, and fans of the series will know exactly what to expect here. While certain elements have long since jumped the shark and progressed from obnoxious funny characters to just so obnoxious it hurts like Claptrap. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are moments like a side-quest with the 'Buff Film Buff' who bears an uncanny resemblance to the legendary Tommy Wiseau in both voice and appearance. Then there are the Slaughter arenas where Mr. Torgue provides words of encouragement. Gearbox has stated that no new Vault Hunters will come with DLC. Hopefully, this is a lie. Mr. Torgue is an absolute joy thanks to an iconic performance from by Mr. Satan himself the incomparable Chris Rager. This gorgeous mass of muscle and moustache is amazing and needs to be in the game so much more.

The impressive campaign clocks in at over 30 hours, but, just like every other Borderlands title out there, there is plenty more to the game after the credits roll. Like the previous entry's Badass Rank, this iteration has a Guardian Rank. After completing the game various challenges and achievements can be racked up to progress through the Guardian Ranks, and these then reward various buffs like increases to various stats, increases in fire rates, reload speed and the like. Best of all these buffs apply to every Vault Hunter, great for replays as other characters with friends. Those replays have some extra features in this iteration too, including two-player split-screen for couch co-op, and then to help with differences in levels, level syncing and loot instancing.

Screenshot for Borderlands 3 on PlayStation 4

To acquire a higher Badass Rank the game offers a New Game+ style experience, entitled 'True Vault Hunter Mode.' In addition, there is Mayhem Mode, activated via a console on the Sanctuary. This mode adds modifiers to the game that levels up the enemies but also the rewards for taking them out. On top of all this, there are a metric ton of side-quests to play through, horde modes, arenas of death, mass amounts of Legendary weapons, and special "Anointed Gear" to track down. There is a lot to keep this playable long, long after the credits roll, not to mention the upcoming DLC.

As much as this perfects its formula, it is not a perfect game. There are some technical issues which are slowly being dealt with through patches, but many still remain - the worst of which are the frame rate issues. When things get busy, usually as large groups of enemies are dropping in for an ambush, the quality dips considerably, highly noticeable and very annoying. It's much worse in multiplayer and hopefully something Gearbox can get resolved. Similarly, the Echo device refuses to open from time to time, presumably due to some background loading, but yet another annoyance when the game is prompting to spend the new skill points from a level up, yet is prevented from doing so,

There have been many worries about loot boxes and micro-transactions in regards to Borderlands 3. The genre of looter shooters has become one of the worst examples in an industry plagued with abuse of these "mechanics." In their worst cases, games purposefully butchered to force the use of experience boosters or excessive grinding. So, when Randy Pitchford announced Borderlands 3 "[i]Won't have microtransactions or microtransaction-y, free-to-play junk[i]!" the audience erupted in cheers… until news broke that this quote may not be entirely true. Queue panicked fans. Thankfully, the gameplay does not suffer for the micro-transactions here. There are micro-transactions here, and plenty of them - but they're not necessary. The pacing is solid, it never feels grindy, and there are plenty of cosmetic additions without paying extra.

Screenshot for Borderlands 3 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Borderlands 3 has been crafted from the ground up with fans of the series in mind. There is a mammoth amount of Easter Eggs and cameos from every single previous entry - even from Tales from the Borderlands! The term love-letter to the fans is overused but it feels apt here. Gearbox long ago managed to make pure concentrated gaming compulsion and they've perfected it here. Insane amounts of fun, blasting across multiple worlds with some of the craziest guns ever imagined, and even more fun with friends… when the frame-rate keeps up, something hopefully the developer will address. The humour may not be to everyone's tastes, and while some elements are obnoxious - again, Claptrap needs to stay dead - and there are just too many jokes, there are plenty that work, and work well. The Borderlands formula works, and has inspired countless other pretenders. Borderlands 3 shows that the original is still the best.

Developer

Gearbox

Publisher

2K

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Dragon0085, Ofisil

There are 2 members online at the moment.