Borderlands 3 Review

Buy Now on the Epic Store

The wait is finally over. Borderlands 3 is out, and the hype has been worth it. Thought Borderlands 2 had a hook? Well guess what, Borderlands 3 just might be better.

Major Spoilers Below for the Borderlands Franchise

Where We Left Off

At the end of Borderlands 2, we found out a lot of ridiculously crazy information. Not only did Handsome Jack have a daughter, but she was Angel, the Siren talking to us throughout the entire game. We also lost one of our favorite Crimson Raiders, leader Roland, which left many wondering what would happen to the Raider’s or Sanctuary. Gearbox did a wonderful job filling in these gaps with the temporarily free DLC Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary. It bridges the gap between the events in Borderlands 2, Tales from the Borderlands, and leading into Borderlands 3. We face a lot of hard truths about the game without Roland, and where the Raiders’ are planning to go with the new holographic map that displayed planets with Vaults.

Heading into Borderlands 3

We’ve all known Borderlands 3 was going to happen, especially with the Gearbox and 2K announcements. The only question that many wondered about was if there would be a time-skip, who the main Vault Hunters would be, and how it would connect with the previous games. While the Vault Hunters are fresh to the franchise, along with many ‘main’ characters and of course the Calypso villains, they all truly belong in the universe.

If you haven’t played Borderlands 3 and want to see it for yourself without spoilers, scroll no further.

Plot

Borderlands 3 starts out like any other game in the franchise, with an intro video-story, by our favorite storyteller Marcus. He explains the world, and welcomes us new Vault Hunters to Pandora. What we have learned is that Pandora is being taken over by the Calypso Twins who are forming a cult called Children of the Vault. Lead by Tyreen and Troy, they’re using the ECHOcast system to broadcast streams to their followers. These two baddies are the main villains, and they are looking to open The Great Vault. Stealing from the Crimson Raiders, they get the map of the universe. What we also learn is that Tyreen is a Siren, and so is Troy (who was born attached to her). What is very unique is Tyreen and Troy can absorb people’s energy, and specifically Siren powers.

Plot Spoilers

Beginning

Throughout the story we learn more about the twins, and specifically that they feel as though they deserve the Vaults and the powers. It’s as though they’re entitled and feel it’s their destiny to be the monsters in this universe. Within the game, their main goal is to open every Vault leading to The Great Vault, no matter what cost and to what end. In the beginning of the story, it shows Tyreen sucking Lilith’s Siren powers out of her, leaving her without them for almost the entirety of the game. This happens one more time with Maya on Athenas, except Tyreen actually kills her.

As the Vault Hunters travel to the different planets, from Pandora to Promethea, to Athenas, then Eden-6, more information unfolds. While it is optional to pick up the extra collectible items, the ECHOs of Typhon DeLeon are insightful to the plot, and provide further questions. It’s known he was the first Vault Hunter, but he’s been missing for decades.

Whilst travelling to every Vault in hopes of being ahead of the Twins, the Calypso Twins seem to always be one step ahead due to their acquiring of Siren powers, cult followers, and ability to predict the Crimson Raider’s next move. They are true villains who only want what’s on their agenda, without consideration for the rest of the universe. In their wake of travels they leave behind destruction, death, and more mess for everyone to clean up.

Nearing the end of the game, the Twins learn exactly where The Great Vault is located – inside Pandora. This leads to an ensuing battle with Troy Calypso, ultimately killing him while Tyreen goes free to open the final vault. What is most surprising is that the key to this venture is located on the fabled planet Nekrotafeyo.

Nearing the End

While on Nekrotafeyo, it’s learned that Typhon DeLeon is alive and well on the planet, and that the Twins are his children with his deceased Siren-wife Leda. He wanted to hide them away on Nekrotafeyo to protect them from the bandits and ruckus on Pandora, his home planet. While bringing them up as a single father after Leda died, he told them of his travels and this sparked their interest in the rest of the universe, and made them feel as though it belonged to them.

Past all of this extremely heart-felt and shocking plot, Tyreen accomplishes her goal and fuses with the Destroyer and tries to open The Great Vault, ultimately destroying Pandora. After defeating ‘Tyreen The Destroyer’, it’s noted that The Great Vault is continually opening and that the only way of preventing it is to destroy Pandora’s moon. Taking on this mission alone, Lilith destroys the moon, leaving behind a Firehawk symbol in the sky. The team is looking for her, but no one knows what happened.

Vault Hunters

New Vault Hunters

Borderlands 3 introduces four new ‘main’ characters that are playable. These include the new Vault Hunters:

Siren Amara

Amara is a very badass brawling Siren who is looking for a fight. She’ll use her Siren powers to smash her enemies apart.

Beastmaster FL4K

FL4K is always on the hunt with his loyal beasts by their side. From the Skag, Spiderant, and Jabber, enemies are the prey they have in mind.

Gunner Moze

Moze is the Gunner in Borderlands 3, and between herself and Iron Bear she’s incredibly deadly.

Operative Zane

Zane, fond of his gadgets, can create a clone of himself or shield his team. Either way, he’ll be up for a pint once the shooting is over.

Returning Characters

While there is an introduction of four new Vault Hunters, Borderlands 3 is also bringing back some of our favorite characters:

Returning Characters
  • Lilith – Firehawk, Crimson Raider, leader of Sanctuary
  • Moxxi – mother to Ellie and owner of her bar
  • Ellie – Catch-a-Ride Owner
  • Zer0 – assassin extraordinaire
  • Rhys – CEO of Atlas
  • Vaughn – Bandit Leader on Pandora
  • Sir Alistair Hammerlock – big game hunt missions, and partner to Wainwright Jakobs
  • Lady Aurelia Hammerlock – sister to Sir Hammerlock, minor villain
  • Maya – Siren, preparing Ava to become a Siren
  • Tiny Tina – grown up, still blowing things up with Kaboom Bunny
  • Brick – still lovable, and punching everybody
  • Mordecai – hunter, and has his faithful bird Talon
  • Claptrap – silly Claptrap robot, calling Vault Hunters recruit and building a girlfriend
  • Patricia Tannis – Eridian expert, newly discovered to be a Siren (when Angel died in Borderlands 2 she became a Siren)
  • Kreig the Psycho – still a crazy psycho, but has an inner monologue (Borderlands 2 DLC Character)
  • Marcus – still selling ammo and guns, now sells backpack upgrades

New Characters

Some new characters have been added to Borderlands 3 to bring more missions and stories. Below are some of the major characters added to the game:

New Characters
  • Ava – Siren in training, and wanna-be Vault Hunter
  • Wainwright Jakobs – Heir to the Jakobs line and partner of Sir Hammerlock
  • Typhon DeLeon – the first Vault Hunter
  • Troy & Tyreen Calypso – villainous Calypso Twins

Missing Characters

While Borderlands 3 brought a bunch of new characters, there are some that we’ve certainly been looking for.

Missing Characters
  • Mr. TorgueBorderlands 2 DLC for Campaign of Carnage
  • GaigeBorderlands 2 DLC character
  • Dr. Zed – Med Station
  • Nurse Nina – Med Station (Borderlands Pre-Sequel)
  • Salvador the GunzerkerBorderlands 2 character
  • Axton the CommandoBorderlands 2 character
  • AthenaBorderlands Pre-Sequel character

Game Improvements

When going into Borderlands 3 there were some expectations regarding the previous installments in the franchise. Seeing how the game has improved from Borderlands to Borderlands 2, there were some expected quality of life changes. Now that we’re in 2019 there are certainly some improvements that were expected, and Gearbox did not disappoint.

Game Improvements
Pinging System

Similar to the system in Apex Legends, you can now ping locations, loot boxes, loot, characters, and enemies for other teammates to see and focus on. When doing so, your Vault Hunter will say a voice line.

Emotes

Emotes have come to Borderlands! Using the arrow keys on PC, your Vault Hunters can now do four emotes that you can buy with Eridium.

Sliding

Borderlands now has sliding, something that makes the game seem more fast-paced and fluid. You can shoot while sliding, and ping to your teammates.

Mantling

Get your parkour ready, cause Borderlands now has climbing. It’s become ever-more necessary to check every nook and cranny for secrets, Easter-Eggs, and loot!

New Vehicles & Customization

There are a few new types of vehicles in Borderlands 3, alongside the ability to customize them beyond shaders. You can equip different wheels, turbo boosters, main weapons, and gunner weapons; all unlocked in the game

Map & Mini-Map

The map system is much more enhanced, giving you the ability to see collectibles in maps you’ve been through, and 3D elements to locations, especially when on Sanctuary III.

Looting

Now when you loot chests in-game for money and ammo, it automatically gets put in your inventory. You no longer have to click the stuff individually to take it.

Competitive and Cooperative Mode

Play your way. Have instancing with enemies on your level while playing with a higher-level friend, with loot that only you can see. Or, play where enemies are all the same level, and loot is shared. Much more user friendly when playing in groups of random people.

Social Menu

There’s a new social menu while in-game. In this menu you can group up with friends on LAN or online, and also receive ‘mail’ from different people in the game. This is also where you can redeem SHIFT codes for Golden Keys.

Bad Qualities

Like with any game, there are some downfalls that have to be mentioned. With Borderlands 3, it mostly lies with performance, broken AI, and other smaller pieces that downgraded the experience.

Bad Qualities
Performance

The specs for Borderlands 3 came out very close to the release of September 13th 2019, and while the game can run on low, there are certainly some spots where it doesn’t want to work. Mostly in the swamp area did I find that my FPS dropped quite a bit. This is something that Gearbox has been working on.

Broken AI

There was one mission in particular when you rescue Sir Hammerlock from prison where you need Brick to help you fight away Children of the Vault. We encountered one problem where Brick’s AI broke and wouldn’t go to the mission marker. Our solution was re-logging and re-loading the area, which worked but we had to take on COV again. This was the only time the AI was so broken we had to re-log.

UI Breaking

There have been multiple times when the UI has broken. For example, there is one issue where if you die, or something related, during the re-spawning your name will start hovering over your gun in the air as you walk. This has personally happened to myself multiple times, and the only solution is to shut down the game and restart.

Another situation is where name-tags in my group completely disappeared for one another, and we had to re-log.

The last major situation that is sort of UI related is when you’re in a menu and a cutscene happens. In this situation, the cutscene plays but your UI might be in-front of it, or filtering it out.

Good Qualities

Aside from the game improvements for quality of play, Borderlands 3 also has some great qualities that make the replayability very high.

Good Qualities
Collectibles

Throughout Borderlands 3, there are numerous collectibles that you can get for completionists. You truly won’t have a fully done playthrough without getting:

  • Car Parts for Ellie
  • ECHO Recordings
  • Typhon DeLeon Logs and Loot Caches
  • Claptrap Parts for his Girlfriend
  • Mad Moxxi Satellites
  • Eridium Markings for Backstory
Side Missions

There are a TON of side missions in Borderlands 3. While the main hub on Sanctuary III gives you plenty of NPCs, the map for the many planets and regions are huge. Among some of the side missions we know about that are consistent include:

  • Zer0’s Assassination Missions
  • Sir Hammerlock’s Trophy Room
Vault Hunter Trees

All four Vault Hunters in this game are compelling to play. Personally, I’ve started a playthrough on Amara, FL4K, and Moze. I want to see all their abilities, and what kinds of Class Mods, and skills that they unlock. Eventually I’ll do a playthrough on Zane, but I’m saving him for last.

Mayhem Mode

In Mayhem Mode the game is enhanced with specific difficulties and parameters. This is something I’ve seen with Destiny 2 having modifiers in specific quests and Nightfalls. For Borderlands 3, this gives you a higher chance to get better gear, along with increasing stats such as health, shields, and armor for enemies. This also ties into Guardian Ranks that are another form of stats. Going on the scale 1 – 3, this makes the game much more difficult. This unlocks once completing the main story.

True Vault Hunter Mode

This is a returning feature from Borderlands 2, and it’s basically New-Game-Plus. This is only unlocks after completing the campaign once. When starting over you keep all your gear, points, stats, and Guardian Ranks.

Circle of Slaughter and Proving Grounds

Being more into the plot and replaying the missions, I haven’t yet delved into Circle of Slaughter and Proving Grounds. I do know that they are definitely post-campaign that are missions about killing and completing parameters. Once I have more hands on experience with this section of Borderlands 3 this will be updated to reflect it. That being said, adding more post-campaign things to be done in Borderlands 3 I find to be very compelling due to more content being available in the base game.

Soundtrack and Voice Acting

The sound and voice acting for Borderlands 3 is amazing. The franchise has kept the same sense of humor that we expect in a Borderlands game, but making it feel more relevant and up-to-date. Within Borderlands you find speakers all around that feature dialogue from COV and music, along with natural ambiance environmental music. They all are very fitting for the surroundings depending on what planet you’re on, and where within it.

Potential End-Game Spoilers

Regarding the humor of Borderlands 3, when you kill Troy Calypso, a black screen cuts saying “To be Continued in 4” and then does a countdown, going back to the actual game. This was a huge joke, and actually had me concerned for a moment.

As an example of having a beautiful soundtrack, when Lilith goes and takes the moon down leaving a Firehawk imprint afterwards, the credits roll to “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.

Another really great voice acting that I hadn’t expected was Tyreen and Troy Calypso. Based off the trailer, I was genuinely worried they would be cringey streamers. In reality the dialogues were very well written and clever. Not only are they actually villains with a sense of humor, I hadn’t actually started hating them until the end. Now, I’m not saying their writing was better than Handsome Jack, but I have to say they really made Tyreen and Troy bad-asses with their cult and how they handle themselves.

Overall, if you liked the voice acting of Borderlands 2, Borderlands 3 will not disappoint. In fact I would say there was more dialogue and interacting with the characters than in the previous games.

Graphics & Design

The world of Borderlands is beautiful. It’s a difficult life full of bandits and psychos, but it’s made well. Borderlands 3 brings us to so many new planets, all with their own aesthetics. Promethea is a booming city with Atlas Corporation, Eden-6 is very swampy with outskirts, Athenas has monks and is very Asian inspired with pagodas, Pandora is still a wasteland, and Nekrotafeyo feels very ancient full of historical relevance. They are all very distinct and have their own design, and it adds so much more to the game. Though I ran Borderlands 3 on low graphics the game was still vivid, and someday I will run it on high-end graphics just to see what has changed.

Alongside the world design, the character and item designs were extravagant. There is a ton of variance between the different kinds of guns (pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers, assault rifles, snipers, and SMGs) along with the class mods, grenades, shield mod, artifacts, trinkets, gun skins, echo skins, etc. Overall there’s just a ton of customization and an abundance of options when playing the game.

One major aspect to note about the design is that for every gun you can inspect it to learn more about the parts, weaponry, and overall information about the gun. This is a huge menu that can easily be overlooked if you didn’t know it existed.

Final Thoughts

When Borderlands 3 was announced, fans had a lot of expectations. Knowing how much time Gearbox spent on the game and invested into the franchise, there were definitely expectations. I can say, Gearbox delivered. Going back and playing the previous Borderlands games will certainly become a struggle after seeing how great Borderlands 3 is, and the great changes that were implemented into the game.

Borderlands 3 is officially out, and you should certainly go play it if you enjoyed the other games. You won’t be disappointed.

Make sure your PC can run Borderlands 3 with the specs you can find here!

Also check out our unboxing of the Borderlands 3 Collector’s Diamond Loot Chest here!

Good

  • Great Quality of Life Additions
  • All Vault Hunters are Interesting
  • Intriguing and Interesting Story
  • Tons of Gameplay Beyond Campaign
  • Graphics and Soundtrack are Great

Bad

  • Some UI Breaking
  • Menus Appearing in Cutscenes Bug
  • Occasional Frame Rate Drop
  • Supposedly No DLC Characters
9.5

Amazing

Story - 10
Characters - 9
Campaign Gameplay - 9.7
Game Mechanics - 8
Graphics - 8
Soundtrack - 10
Length of Campaign - 10
Post-Campaign Gameplay - 10
Replayability - 10
Connection to Franchise - 10
An avid gamer, journalist, literary reviewer, and lover of all things Marvel; wrapped in a colorful hair-do.
Average User Rating Write A Review 0 User Reviews
0
0 votes
Rate
Submit
Your Rating
0