It’s not exactly a secret at this point that playing Borderlands 3 is like opening a foul-mouthed time capsule.
Though the game comes with the sheen and fluidity of a current-gen AAA title, it bears the undeniable markings of a game from a different era. The writing is immature, with characters spewing dick jokes and one-liners at a break-neck pace.
Likewise, the overall plot is hampered to the point of annoyance by a dedication to telling, not showing; namely, in characters explaining their intentions and motivations to the point of nausea-inducing repetition.
It makes the game feel like a relic of a different age, and that would have felt more at home years ago. For some, this has made playing through the game a chore, and stands as a reason to second-guess any wishes to check the game out for others.
And yet, for those willing to check the game out for themselves, a simple yet important discovery can be made: In spite of its flaws, Borderlands 3 is still a blast to play.
In spite of it coming off like a newly-graduated high schooler trying to fit in at a college party, the game still stands on its own as an experience fans new and old can get behind.
And it’s all thanks to the Borderlands 3’s phenomenal gameplay.
Like other entries in the series, Borderlands 3 is a masterclass in frantic, chaotic shootouts.
Bandits, corporate soldiers and other enemies flood areas left and right to try and take down your Vault Hunter of choice, and they’re armed with a variety of fire arms and blunt instruments to carry the deed out with.
This leads to some truly tense situations where enemies are bearing down on the player from all sides, hammering them with different types of gunfire and melee attacks that demand their own special responses.
Fortunately, players have no shortage of options for how to deal with these situations. In addition to being mobile enough to traverse areas at a breakneck pace, each new Vault Hunter comes with their own array of abilities that can mix up the gameplay like never before.
Amara, the game’s Siren, can tank hits and charge into the fray to throttle enemies with melee hits while utilizing supernatural powers. FL4K, the Beastmaster, can command Pandoran wildlife to attack their foes, sniping them from a distance all the while.
Moze the gunner can summon a mech to mow down enemies in an instant, and Zane the Operative can use technology to bewilder and confuse his targets while positioning himself in the perfect place to take them out.
Each has their own advantages that can turn a firefight around in different ways, and when paired together through multiplayer, the possibilities become all the more diverse.
And that’s to say nothing of the guns players can choose from. Touted as having over 1 billion guns to choose from – even if it is a bit of an exaggeration – the game offers players an absurd number of options to choose from in how they fill their enemies full of holes.
They can freeze them solid and shatter them into pieces with a melee strike; wait for them to enter a pool of water before zapping them with an electrified bullet; set them ablaze with a sniper rifle shot to their back-mounted power supply; run right up to them and blow them away with a shotgun blast; and on and on and on.
This only bolsters the variety offered by the characters and their abilities, and hunting down new guns to try out new methods of carnage is a great drive to keep going through the game.
And that’s always been a strength of the Borderlands games. Despite all of the changes to gaming over the years, Borderlands isn’t afraid to be itself. It isn’t afraid to be a chaotic, foul-mouthed thrill ride full of stylized violence, driven by a gameplay loop that can suck a person in for hours.
Yes, it’s writing is immature. Sure, it’s ham-fisted in how it wants you to see the world and its characters. At its core though, Borderlands 3 is still a fun game, and well worth checking out even if you’re not the kid you were back when the last mainline entry came out years back.