Simply put, Borderlands 3 offers more of the addictive loot shooter gameplay that fans have loved since the first title debuted 10 years ago. It’s more of the same, but offers enough novelty to make it feel like an improvement over its predecessor rather than a carbon copy.
My time with the sequel began with a brief theater presentation showcasing one of the game’s new worlds, Eden-6, and one of its four new playable vault hunters. Moze is described best as the Borderlands equivalent of Overwatch‘s D.Va, as she wields the ability to summon a mech called the Iron Bear at any given moment. Each one of the machine’s arms can be customized with accessories that include Gatling guns, lazers, flamethrowers, honing missiles, and energy shields. That’s not to mention that the pilot herself can unlock skills from perk trees that represent distinct playstyles.
The presentation went on to highlight Borderlands 3‘s social features. Outside of being able to form four-player online parties, the game allows users to gift their friends with weapons and receive them in return. While the feature may be limited due to the Epic Games Store’s wonky platform, its addition makes sense given the franchise’s emphasis on cooperative play.
When I finally got a chance to pick up a controller, I opted to check out the aforementioned gunner, Moze. Though it’s been some time since I’ve sat down with a Borderlands game, I found gun play to be just as fast and frenetic as I remembered it to be. This entry may offer the series’ most fluid movement yet, as one is now able to slide into cover while firing.
Pounding Psychos and Tinks with shotgun rounds as I slid around a swampy battlefield felt fun and satisfying. The new mantling mechanic also came in handy, especially when I wanted to climb atop storage units to escape an enemy’s line of fire. Transitioning to Moze’s Iron Bear was as easy as pressing a button, and watching the mech’s missiles explode a group of foes in the distance was nothing short of spectacular.
As soon as I was done annihilating goons under a moonlit sky, I entered what looked to be a shoddy fortress of sorts. One of the Calypso Twins, Tyreen, instructs her army to “Like, share, murder for my pleasure, subscribe” over the radio before another group of lunatics pelts me with gunfire. Hopefully this is a sign Borderlands 3 will preserve the tongue-in-cheek comedy that today’s internet denizens thrive on. The game’s villains may very well be worthy enough to follow in Handsome Jack’s footsteps.
Sadly, my session ended without offering me a glimpse of the crazy weapons the sequel will undoubtedly include at launch. This being said, I witnessed other players wield knifes, laser guns, and revolvers as I exited the demo space.
My time with Borderlands 3 made me confident that longtime fans of the series will have a lot of fun with the game when it releases this September. It may not completely overhaul the franchise’s gameplay, skill trees, or class structure, but that’s perfectly fine. Borderlands 3 is more Borderlands, and that’s really all that people want right now.