Borderlands 3 Review – A Beloved Franchise Tainted By Modernity

I'd rather take a hike than spend another minute seeing the Calypso Twins.

Borderlands 3 Review
Overall
3.5
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

Borderlands 3 has the worst video game narratives in recent memory but makes up for that with its stellar gameplay, co-op, and tons of loot.

Pros

  • Amazing Gunplay
  • Unique And Creative Weapons
  • Variety Of Fun Characters To Use
  • Fantastic Replayability
  • DLCs Better Than Main Story

Cons

  • Terrible Storytelling
  • Distasteful Villains
  • Lackluster Post-Game Content In Base Game

In my Borderlands 3 review today, I’m not just here to discuss how great the game is with its profound looter shooter gameplay but also to remind you how its other elements, such as the narrative, are ruined by redundant and baffling writing decisions.

I’m not trying to project too much hate here since the gameplay matters a cut above other aspects of the series, but as someone who’s put countless hours into the entire Borderlands franchise, either by myself or with friends, this third entry audibly makes you annoyed.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Gearbox Software
  • Publisher: 2K
  • Release Date: September 13, 2019
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows, Switch, MacOs
  • Game Length: 45-60 Hours
  • Time Played: 115+ Hours

Story And Setting

borderlands 3 review
The Story. (Screenshot Grab: eXputer)

The main story of Borderlands 3 takes place seven years after the events of BL2 and the original Telltale game since the latter entry has its characters appearing here.

Kickstarting you on the planet of Pandora like in previous games, you choose between four new Vault Hunters as they answer a call from the Crimson Raiders and their leader, Lilith, a familiar series character since the first game. As the Vault Hunter, you’re tasked with unearthing the secrets and treasure left by the Eridians, an ancient alien race across the different planets of the Galaxy.

Aside from the pivotal storytelling moments, Borderlands has always been known for its comical absurdity in everything.

Along the way in your hunt, you must battle evil corporations, bandits, psychos, and the Children of the Vault, a psychotic cult led by the Calypso Twins. Now, if you’re new to the series, while the story isn’t anything extraordinary or cinematic, the Borderlands franchise isn’t exactly known for its rich narrative.

Aside from the pivotal storytelling moments, Borderlands has always been known for its comical absurdity in everything. There’s tons of charm to be found here, and while I understand it always tries hard to be humorous, I also understand it’s not enjoyable for some audiences.

A Fall From Grace Filled With Mediocrity And Cringe

maya borderlands 3
Returning characters like Maya have their potential completely ruined in Borderlands 3. (Screenshot Grab: eXputer)

So, where does it all go wrong? Borderlands 3 does an awful job of delivering even a remotely decent narrative experience, completely ruining what made its previous games so adored by its hardcore fanbase.

The game utterly disgraces and spits on its legacy characters and their well-established development. Considering an example is Vaughn, now it’s understandable that he may be an annoying character, but that’s pretty much all of Borderlands 3 and its comedic direction in contrast to other titles.

The series has always been known to have a thing for pop-culture self-inserts, witty writing, and just a video game known for its obnoxious absurdity in everything.

But what really grinds my gears is how he falls to being completely unlikeable compared to his character in the Telltale game. That’s not even the tip of the iceberg because I hate how the game completely destroys other beloved characters, such as Lillith and Maya. Even those two aside, you’re forced to experience the most god-awful character in the series, Ava.

Now, I can explain why a majority of the community and I despise her, but what makes you have an equal disdain for the narrative is the Calypso Twins, the main antagonists.

borderlands 3 calypso twins
The Calypso Twins. (Screenshot Grab: eXputer)

Compared to Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2, the Twins, being wannabe trash-talking Twitch streamers, will make you want to uninstall the dialogue files for this game, which is the best way to enjoy it if you ask me.

It’s truly a shame that the game’s narrative beats are presented this way because you can’t defend it by saying that the gameplay matters more. The series has always been known to have a thing for pop-culture self-inserts, witty writing, and for its obnoxious absurdity in everything. But the main narrative itself is just a cesspool of poor direction and horrendous character decisions.

Gameplay

borderlands 3 review
The Gameplay. (Image credit: eXputer)

Are you looking to cause mayhem at the highest levels in a game without too many restrictions? Borderlands 3 fulfills that statement to the highest degree with its crazy gunplay, extremely creative weapons, and RPG-esque skills. Each of the four main vault hunters: Amara, Zane, FL4K, and Moze have their respective skill trees that can drastically change their playstyle depending on your chosen skills.

Overall, I think the gameplay is the saving grace here because how it showers you with legendary loot for the first time makes Borderlands 2’s first playthrough feel shallow.

A familiar marketing strategy for Borderlands 3’s release from the previous game was that it has “a billion guns” in the loot pool, which (obviously) isn’t true, but my main point is that Borderlands’ guns have always been the most unique weaponry in looter shooter titles, ranging from guns that can shoot actual guns to even the ones that can shoot out money.

borderlands 3 characters
The four main playable Vault Hunters. (Image by eXputer)

Not to mention, Borderlands has a variety of gun manufacturers that add another layer on top of their unique effects, giving them a personalized playstyle. Guns from Hyperion mainly have a futuristic flair, while Tediore weaponry can explode by throwing at enemies upon reloading, among other effects.

Exploration is a key detail in Borderlands 3, from the countless side quests to collectibles ranging from Radio Towers, Echo Logs, Dead Claptrap Bots, and even Typhon Deleon, the First Vault Hunter’s logs. Acquiring them can be optional, as you get Eridium, which helps you get some unique cosmetics for your characters and other unique items back at the Sanctuary.

The Magnum Opus Of Chaos And Mayhem

Borderlands 3 Mayhem Mode
The Mayhem Mode. (Image by eXputer)

Borderlands 3 offers the best replayability factors in the series, not just with its True Vault Hunter Mode after the initial playthrough but also via its Mayhem Level Modes. To be brief, Mayhem lets you pick between ten levels, each with a rising difficulty level but, at the same time, increased rewards and other benefits.

However, since it is a risk-reward mode, you’re also given modifiers that, depending on their difficulty, can be either slightly beneficial or another headache to worry about.

For me, Mayhem was the best way to experience the post-game content, whether it was the Maliwan Blacksite and Guardian breach Takedown missions or the Circles of Slaughter survival missions.

Borderlands 3 review
Tons and tons of sweet loot. (Image by eXputer)

Overall, I think the gameplay is the saving grace here because how it showers you with legendary loot for the first time makes Borderlands 2’s first playthrough feel shallow. Moreover, the gunplay feels satisfying; every weapon hits like a truck to enemies and bosses with the right perks.

For many of my friends, the gunplay was the only factor that kept them engaged in our co-op playthrough. This also led me to invest in the first season pass because some of the DLCs, such as Moxxi’s Heist and Bounty of Blood, are actually incredible in both storytelling and content.

Visuals And Performance

borderlands 3 visuals
The Visuals. (Image by eXputer)

Borderlands has always been a unique series due to its comic-book-esque visuals and cell-shaded attention to detail, which makes everything so pleasing to see if you’re new to the series.

Not to mention, the game is heavily influenced by the original Mad Max movies, further selling the visuals of roaming deserted wastelands as you battle psychos and bandits on weaponized Buggies.

The game can be slightly demanding, but the optimization is greatly done here since one of my friends still had a GTX 1070, and the game ran smoothly at 60FPS on medium settings.

As for me, who had an RTX 3060Ti, I encountered little to no issues running it at high settings, with an unlocked framerate at 1440p. However, remember that there are occasional frame drops during chaotic gameplay instances.

Verdict

borderlands 3 review
The Verdict. (Screenshot Grab: eXputer)

Borderlands 3 has the worst video game narratives in recent memory but makes up for that with its stellar gameplay, co-op, and tons of loot. It’s baffling that the game tries to enforce its own risky storytelling ideas onto the player, along with a mismatched duo of antagonists; it almost feels as if Gearbox deliberately wanted to destroy fans’ expectations and become one of the most hated developers.

While I eagerly respect the rest of the work put into this game, I’ll never forgive what the writers did to the most well-adorned elements here or the fact that they chose a path to make the most hated and illogical modern video game characters in the form of Ava.

This concludes my Review of Borderlands 3. If you enjoyed reading this, then be sure to check out similar articles below:

This is box title
Get This Game
If you’re a fan of amazing looter shooters with minor RPG elements and fantastic co-op gameplay.
Dont Get This Game
If you don’t enjoy first-person shooters or a game with an over-the-top comedy and characters.
Buy/Wait For Sale/Don't Buy
I recommend waiting for a sale and grabbing the Deluxe edition, however, do not buy the director’s cut upgrade at all costs.
Alternative Games
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Usama Mehmood is a Games Specialist, and writer on eXputer who's either hunting for the richest loot in Destiny 2 or endlessly playing his favorite games such as Yakuza or Final Fantasy. Usama has been gaming for 15+ years during which he has accumulated 4000+ hours on Destiny 1 & 2. His constant adoration for video games has allowed him to pursue eXputer as a platform to showcase his striving talents in writing helpful articles. Get familiar with Usama's extensive gaming library on his Steam, PSN, and Xbox profiles.

Experience: 2+ Years || Mainly Covers Reviews And Guides || Education: Bachelors in Physiotherapy.

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