Borderlands 3

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Release Date: Sept. 13, 2019


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Borderlands 3'

by Redmond Carolipio on July 18, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Borderlands 3 is a story-driven, non-stop galactic thrill-ride, filled with colorful characters, epic enemies and boss fights, and literally billions of guns.

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The first time I saw Borderlands, it felt like space cartoon fever dream. It was a party of action role-playing wildness, with a bonkers sense of humor, some of the most inventive character personalities and a nearly infinite arsenal of weaponry. Some people might see it as one of the godfathers of loot-shooter culture, gathering friends and strangers alike for hours upon hours of trigger-pulling fun.

My samplings of early Borderlands 3 felt like a grand return to form, one of the best-selling franchises of all time coming back to reclaim territory. It's stunning to remember that Borderlands 2 was released back in 2012. There have been spin-offs in the years since, while other kinds of shooters like Destiny have carved out their own space. Would Borderlands 3 be able to find room in a more crowded field? From what we saw at E3 2019, it looks like Gearbox wants to make room.

It's obvious this will be the best-looking Borderlands ever made, but even jaded eyes needed a second or two to take in the style and color that gave this series its visual soul. As one of four new Vault Hunters, you're facing the Children of the Vault, a cult that's starting to take over the Borderlands piece by piece. The cult's leaders are the Calypsos, a pair whose sheer obnoxiousness doesn't seem to have limits. They are attempting to fill the Handsome Jack-sized hole in the Borderlands antagonist ranks.

The four Hunters are Amara (a wizard-like "siren"), Fl4k (a beastmaster), Moze (known as a gunner) and Zane (the well-balanced operative) and. I was able to try out Zane and Moze, both of whom were pretty fun to use. Zane, as the operative, had a variety of gadgets at his disposal, like a device that creates a digital clone of himself of a drone that shoots his enemies. Moze is pure power, able to summon a mech called Iron Bear that comes packed with things like railguns and grenade launchers. Iron Bear also has things like an extendable fist and, of course, a minigun. I was able to retool the mech's whole ordnance to find a combo I liked, and outside of the mech, Moze wasn't too shabby, either.

Anyone with experience playing Borderlands or any other loot shooter will be able to dive right in and excel, which was the case for many of the people in the row I was playing in. A couple of them hadn't even really heard much of Borderlands before E3, and they ended up facing down the same boss character I did at the end of the demo.

That boss was an offbeat, psycho warrior known as the Mouthpiece, adorned in a mix of tactical gear, spiked gauntlets, a demonic-looking skull helmet and a shield that featured an LED sound bar display. A lot going on, and exactly on brand for something like Borderlands. In my playtime, I noticed how these editions of the Vault Hunters seems a little more agile, as they can slide and climb stuff. Also, every gun I encountered had some kind of alternative firing mode, which adds yet another wrinkle to what's already a pretty wrinkly combat experience.

Other things we were shown in the game were death with social repercussions. You can actually "mail" weapons you find to your friends, or make them available in the store to purchase. Also, if a buddy of yours manages to track down some kind of epic target (for a potential sweet loot drop), you can benefit from their find and join the hunting, too. There's also going to be a ship for interplanetary travel, as your adventures will now take you beyond the series' signature world of Pandora.

Borderlands 3 looked practically done at E3, and a chance to play it was one of the biggest draws of the show. It could be one of the bigger draws of the year for everyone else when it drops on Sept. 13 of this year.

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