Game Review: Borderlands 3 delivers

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Game Review: Borderlands 3 delivers

Duc Ngo, Staff Writer

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Borderlands 2 was a cult favorite, a classic, a critically acclaimed game when it came out in 2012, a refreshing and unique RPG looter-shooter created by Gearbox Software. With its comical, cell-shaded look, pairing the game with crude language and jackass-esque humor that reminds the players of their middle school self (ie; fart jokes) was appropriate, and featuring an amazingly fleshed out, three dimensional, and emotional antagonist, Handsome Jack made it even better.

Now, after seven long years of waiting and months of carefully building up hype towards the release date, Gearbox finally released the third installment of the Borderlands series on Sept 13. Upon release, one question inside most player’s heads are “Will Borderlands 3 be able to live up to its role as a successor to Borderlands 2?” I certainly think it does, although it still has some expected shortcomings. 

Borderlands 2 was marketed to have “87 bazillion guns,” but in actuality, the numbers are closer to 17.75 million unique guns. Not only was it false marketing, the large numbers of gun didn’t matter, although the stats or name on each gun may differ, and they may look different, they felt all the same in the player’s hands. Moreover, these guns felt like toys, they looked like toys and they sounded like toys, plasticky, bulky, and insubstantial.  

With Borderlands 3, however, things are much better, the sound design of these guns are loaded, full of bass, heavier, and there’s much more variety in their sound design, an expected result from having 25 times more gun sounds than its predecessor. The investment in more gun sounds is a wise decision that Gearbox made, because guns themselves are what the most players focuses on when they play a looter-shooter franchise like Borderlands. This attention to detail definitely helps them retain the old fans, while simultaneously pique the interests of new fans , showing these demographic that Gearbox is passionate about this game, and the sustainability of the franchise as a whole. Points for Gearbox.

The graphics of the Borderlands franchise also got an upgrade in Borderlands 3. I would like to congratulate and thank the artist team of Borderlands team for working so hard to decorate, redraw, and generate so many different textures and details in the Borderlands universe; from a pile of dirt, to an NPC, to the backdrops of levels (not to mention the level design itself). The lighting effects, the god rays (sun rays), the muzzle flashes of the guns, and the effects of different elemental damage on the player’s UI (user interface) is much more polished than Borderlands 2, but the water leave much to be improved upon, granted, Borderlands 3 isn’t about water, but it would have been nice to see that aspect upgraded. 

The antagonists of new installment seems promising enough, an evil twin duo. Tyreen, a woman who possesses magical powers that could steal life energy of living beings, and Troy, her parasitic brother, who possesses no powers, and needs Tyreen to feed him life energy. On my first (and currently only) playthrough, their background story seems fleshed out enough, but they don’t hold a candle next to Handsome Jack. Their lines made me feel that hatred and disdain that any readers, viewers, players should have, but ultimately, the duo came off as annoying, and rather than loathing them, I loathe hearing them talk to me! However, this is to be expected, Jack was his own character, and there’s a thin line between creating an antagonist that the audience love versus rehashing Handsome Jack, which would be lazy and much worse. Better to change up the pace a bit than staying stagnant, even if it that means less appeal or less than perfect product.

In total, Borderlands 3 carries on the legacy of Borderlands 2, instead of being revolutionary and taking risks, they took it upon themselves to improve the tiny details and little aspects of what made the Borderlands franchise what it is. I’m glad that it’s not just a reskin of its predecessors. Gearbox themselves also tries to introduce so many more things that I didn’t get to mention in this article; relating to the expansion of lore, for example you can travel to different planets instead of staying on just one like the previous game, and each planet is owned by huge corporations that frequently fight each other to gain an edge in competition. All in all, you should definitely try out the game yourself, it’s a AAA title so the price of $60 is quite steep, but I bought it, played it, and would continue to love it as much as I did with Borderlands 2. 

Score: 8/10

(Use this qr code to see the borderlands 3 art/character design webpage)

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