Borderlands 3 review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox
Medium: Blu-ray/Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

Your enjoyment of Borderlands 3 will likely be dictated by how much you?ve enjoyed the games in the Borderlands series that preceded it. Did you enjoy Borderlands 1, 2, and the Pre-Sequel? Did you want more of that? Then Borderlands 3 will scratch that itch. It?s certainly in line with the previous Borderlands titles, and by and large the formula of shooting and looting feels mostly unchanged. That?s not to say it isn?t enjoyable, but you should also temper your expectations if you thought Borderlands 3 might try and re-invent the wheel. Basically, if any significant aspect of the other three Borderlands games felt flat for you, whether that was the gunplay, humor, or general looting mechanics, you can expect that Borderlands 3 won?t do much to change your mind.

That?s not to say that there haven?t been improvements, but by and large, it?s hard to argue that the improvements are super important. The biggest for me is not needing to press a button when picking up ammo and cash, which made looting the multitude of lockboxes, safes, and other objects a bit of a hassle in other Borderlands entries. Obviously this doesn?t sound like a big deal when it comes to basic shooter mechanics, but if you played through the other three games, you?ll likely understand where I?m coming from.

Another improvement is the ability to easily switch between active quests at any time using the D-Pad left and right buttons. This means you no longer need to visit the menu and access your quest log if you want to run around and complete side missions, which is great. However, you can?t do this from the map screen, and the mini-map doesn?t necessarily do the job when it comes to heading in the right direction for a quest marker. You get a general idea of where to go by the on-screen indicator, but it doesn?t account for different elevations very well, and the way most maps are designed in Borderlands 3, you can easily run into obstacles or barriers that don?t appear obvious without consulting the overall map. Which in turn means that ultimately you?re still going to end up visiting the menu screen, but then you can?t cycle between quest objectives to get an idea of which quest marker is closest to your current location. It?s a clunky way of dealing with things, and while not a huge deal by any means, it?s still something that feels like it could be improved upon.

Still, despite a few annoyances that mostly boil down to technical issues (slow loading menu, framerate drops, occasional weird bugs like audio drops) I found myself really enjoying the overall experience of Borderlands 3. It?s certainly a step up from a visual standpoint, even on a baseline PS4, which really helps the unique design of the series pop out even more. The gun variety here is top-notch, with all sorts of weird mechanics attached to the more unique weapons you?ll uncover, including the option to have alternate fire modes on most weapons now. The various worlds you?ll explore all generally feel big, with a handful of large, open areas that give you different collectibles to uncover, mixed in with more focused, somewhat linear maps that serve primarily as combat-focused sections in the game. There?s actually a pretty good mix between these two types of sections, which helps keep the game moving at a brisk pace despite the lengthy campaign.

I won?t try to argUe with anyone that the tone/humor of Borderlands 3 is good or improved, as I find a lot of it to be subjective overall. I?ll freely admit to smiling or laughing at different bits, but for every moment that sticks the landing, there are probably a dozen more that don?t. It?s still a series very reliant on meme style humor, which may or may not work for you. Separate from the jokes, the actual plot is decent, even if it does feel very reliant on bringing in just about every character from previous Borderlands games for a ?greatest hits? style set-up. I was happy to see that this included the excellent Tales of the Borderlands series that Telltale put out, which is clearly not forgotten in Borderlands 3.

The new playable characters here represent a few unique options compared to previous games. Yes, you have a Siren character present, but the mech wielding Moze is pretty rad, and I?ve enjoyed playing as the robotic Beastmaster FL4K throughout the campaign. One thing that I think the Borderlands series has done a good job with is the diversity in their character skill trees, and Borderlands 3 is no exception. Each tree for each class offers something different, with unique skills and abilities that help make each class feel wholly unique, while still generally offering the necessary variety that allows you to play however you prefer. Want to focus on melee, ranged combat, run & gun, or a mix of these? You?ll still be able to do so with Borderlands 3.

As it stands, the old tried and true ?fans of the series will like this game too? is honestly pretty accurate in regards to Borderlands 3. I?d say it?s a better game overall than The Pre-Sequel, and roughly on par with Borderlands 2. The post-game/end-game content is sufficient to keep you entertained well past the story, and the overall feel of the gunplay and looting is improved enough to make a difference. But if you?ve never enjoyed the series, Borderlands 3 won?t change your mind. Personally, I?ve really enjoyed my time with the game outside of the aforementioned technical issues and menu problems, and certainly suggest checking out Borderlands 3 if you haven?t done so already. 

Note: 2K provided us with a Borderlands 3 PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-