“So, you want to hear a story, eh?”
The opening to every game starts the same way, and “Borderlands 3” is no exception.
Released on Sept. 13 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, “Borderlands 3” is the fifth entry into Gearbox Software’s series, including “The Pre-Sequel” and “Tales From the Borderlands.”
This new entry in the series once again returns you to the titular borderlands of the planet Pandora as a Vault Hunter in search of hidden alien treasure vaults.
This time, though, the Vault Hunters are presented with a new threat called “Children of the Vault,” or referred to as COV.
The COV is a cult dedicated to hunting down vaults across the galaxy and opposing any who get in their way.
The leaders of the COV, Troy and Tyreen Calypso, are designed to resemble those who livestream on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.
The Calypso twins stream their vault hunt to the galaxy and recruit people into their fold through the use of subscriptions with different donation tiers: gold, platinum, iridium, etc.
Once again, you get to choose from four different Vault Hunters, each with their own set of skills and perks.
The Hunters include Moze, a gunner who can summon her mecha Iron Bear; Zane Flynt, an assassin with an assortment of illusion tech; Amara, a siren who uses her psychic powers to damage enemies; and FL4K, a sentient
AI who befriends and uses various animals to aid it in battle.
The combat formula for “Borderlands 3” is quite similar to previous installments, with emphasis on the “run-and-gun” technique, rather than taking cover behind objects like in other first-person shooters.
To allow even more on-screen chaos, several weapons now have an “alternate fire” mode, allowing players to use abilities like homing bullets or turning bullets into sticky grenades.
Unlike its predecessors, this game introduces the ability for different action skills to be equipped at a time.
In previous games, each Vault Hunter could only activate one specific skill, such as a hologram or summoning a companion to fight. In “Borderlands 3,” several skills can be chosen and unlocked as you progress through the skill tree.
For fighters like Moze, this means you can choose between two of the three different weapon loadouts on Iron Bear, or for FL4K, you gain the ability to augment your pets with different elemental powers and strengths.
Another change that has been implemented is the ability to travel to several different planets in the galaxy, rather than being confined to Pandora.
While the story has never been the primary draw of the “Borderlands” series for most players, several characters do return.
Lilith, one of the player characters from the first game, is now the commander of the Crimson Raiders, which your Vault Hunters will eventually join up with.
Alongside Lilith, we see the return of characters from mainline games, such as Tannis, Ellie and Tiny Tina.
Even Vaughn and Rhys Strongfork from the spin off “Tales from the Borderlands” play a pivotal role in the plot.
However, not everything about “Borderlands 3” is well-polished and enjoyable.
Gearbox Software is no stranger to a large amount of bugs and glitches in their games, and this one is no exception.
Players have experienced a significant amount of crashes across all platforms.
Even small UI elements, such as mission trackers not loading the correct mission or getting stuck between mission objectives, can lead to frustration for players.
Character portraits that display over the ECHO device’s radio transmissions can also display incorrect characters at times, causing much more confusion when the subtitles flicker or don’t display altogether.
The humor is not for everyone, either.
The series has never shied away from crude humor and darker jokes, which can be a big turn off for potential buyers.
“Borderlands 3” has its highs and lows, much like every other game in the series, but in comparison to 2012’s “Borderlands 2,” it shows a large improvement in both scale and graphical updates.
While the story lacks an arguably perfect villain like Handsome Jack, the Calypso twins are a force to be reckoned with and provide their own brand of villainy.
The gameplay is essentially the same as it has always been, with various improvements, making it enjoyable to play solo or with friends.
Ultimately, “Borderlands 3” is the resurgence of the “looter shooter” genre that we needed to see after the failure of games such as “Anthem.”