Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Rating: M for Mature
I started playing the Borderlands series with Borderlands 2 back in 2013. Up to that point I had mainly played games on console like the original Xbox, but Borderlands 2 I got on laptop. I played it there for a few months then began plans to make my first gaming PC; I wanted to see Borderlands 2 in all it’s HD glory on a high-end gaming rig. When I heard earlier this year that Borderlands 3 was coming out, I was almost giddy anticipation. I obnoxiously posted update after update in our game reviewer’s chat group. Needless to say, I was pumped for the game’s release.
Borderlands 3 has a rating of M for Mature for gore, violence, sexual themes, and foul language. I consider the M rating on Borderlands 3 a hard M, not only because the of themes previously mentioned, but also because of the game’s cavalier attitude toward its violence and sexual themes. I am recommending Borderlands 3 only to adults eighteen and up.
Violence and Gore: When I write about the violence in Borderlands 3, I’m not just thinking about the gun violence or the scenes of torture. The culture of the Borderlands has violence ingrained into it. Part of the premises of the plot is that Pandora, the main planet, is known for its extreme level of violence and brutality. Killing someone on Pandora can seem comical as the NPCs talk about killing rivals as if they just pests. The player will encounter bandits/cult members who will attack sight unseen. When the player shoots the bandits blood spray appears from them, but often when the player scores a critical hit the bandit’s upper torso will explode, raining body parts all over.
On top of the violence and gore, bandits often will shout violent taunts at the player while fighting. I have heard bandits shout phrases like, “I’m gonna floss my teeth… with your face!,” or, “I made finger pizza just for you!” Bandits also have dead victims strung up around their camps much like a Mad Max film.
Sexual Themes: The sexual themes in Borderlands 3 appear as subtle as a freight train most of the time, though I have not seen any nudity. Characters like Mad Moxxi and Ellie both make very suggestive comments to the player’s character. Moxxi dresses provocatively in revealing outfits as she has since the first game in the series.
Foul Language: The dialogue in Borderlands 3 contains the f-word, s-word, and the a-word. Even though there is foul language, it’s not over done.
Borderlands is one of the most imaginative and fun series that I have ever played, presenting players with over-the-top, and sometimes goofy, characters and plots. I am glad to see Borderlands 3 continuing the story I have come to love, this time throwing some space travel into the mix as the vaults that the players want to open are spread out across the galaxy. As with the previous games, the plot of the Borderlands 3 revolves around vault hunters—men and women who are basically deadly treasure hunters trying to open alien vaults. The previous games centered around the world of Pandora, the only place where the vaults were thought to exist. At the end of Borderlands 2 the vault hunters learned that there isn’t one or two vaults just on Pandora, but hundreds of vaults spread out throughout the galaxy. Instead of fighting against a corporation this time the vault hunters are up against the Children of the Vault, a cult lead by the Calypso twins who want the vaults for their own ends.
Gameplay for this third installment takes what worked in the previous games and makes a ton of improvements. First, player movement gets a much needed boost of speed and a cool move added on. I went back to Borderlands 2 to make sure that I wasn’t just wowed by the new game. The vault hunters in this game move much faster and smoother than before. The second improvement comes from the addition of a slide move very similar to Apex Legends. One handy feature of sliding lets the player look around as they slide. I found it really fun to gun down the bad guys as I slid past their cover.
Borderlands 3 makes some great improvements to skill trees of each vault hunter. The game introduces two new class types with Zane (Operative) and FL4K (Beastmaster). I know that some players might consider Moze a new class, but she’s very similar to Roland and Axton from the previous games. Instead of only getting one skill to equip like in previous games, Borderlands 3 gives each of the vault hunters three different skills. The skills also get their own skill trees with side skills that only unlock as you progress down the tree. There’s an interactive skill tree builder at the Borderlands 3 website that is fun to play with to get a feel for the game.
My favorite part of any Borderlands game has to be the guns, and it is here we find the biggest improvement of all. The different manufacturers of guns have been in the previous games, but the guns have not been as distinctive as they are in this one. I can tell what brand of gun is on the ground just by looking at it. When it comes to shooting, a Dahl assault rifle behaves very differently from an Atlas or Jacobs rifle; Dahl guns come with selector switches, Atlas guns have homing bullets, and Jacobs guns all look like they came right out of a western. Another improvement that not everyone may appreciate, but I certainly did, is that point of impact with the sights seemed spot on this time. Point of impact is a term used when talking about where the sights are in relationship to where the bullet hits. In Borderlands 2 I got frustrated because none of the guns have realistic point of impact, which means that aiming down the sights is no more effective than hip fire. Borderlands 3‘s guns are realistic and accurate, with the point of impact matching the point of aim.
Borderlands 3 looks and sounds great, which I expected because anything less would have seriously cut into the enjoyment of the game. The voice acting is wonderfully exaggerated and got me laughing many times. The sounds of the guns are as distinctive as the looks, which helps add to my enjoyment. As for the visuals, I really like the cel-shaded animation of the series, which has been updated for this game. Even though I really liked the look of the characters and environments, I had some real problems with the frame rate. I know that not everyone has the same PC setup and some of you may want to play Borderlands 3 on a console, but my difficulties with the frame rate don’t appear to be unique to my setup. According outlets like GamesRadar+, there appear to be frame rate issues across all platforms. The game maintains a playable 30 FPS (frames per second) most of the time but it’s not consistent. My hope is that there will be a patch to fix the problem in the future.
Borderlands 3 didn’t disappoint in any way other than being a little annoying with frame rate issues. I tried to keep from reading any reviews before writing my own, but I have heard some friends state this game is more of the same. I don’t disagree with the assessment that Borderlands 3 continues with more vault hunting, but the improvements still make the game more enjoyable than previous entries. I am still going to be replaying the old games, but that’s the fun of the Borderlands series; is it keeps me coming back time and time again.
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The Bottom Line
Become a vault hunter and see the universe as you hunt for new vaults in the amazing Borderlands 3.