Developer Gearbox Software and publisher 2K Games released Borderlands 3 in 2019 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. After Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel saw less than favorable reviews from gamers, would the series get back on track and reach the peak of the series as it did with Borderlands 2, or would the developers fail to produce a game that the fanbase craved?
Something that I’ve realized while reviewing the Borderlands series is that the story kinda sucks. The first game has a mysterious vault and while Handsome Jack is a great villain, the rest of the plot is…well it’s kind of stupid! It’s the gameplay and the characters that make the series fun but with the release of Borderlands 3, was the magic taken away? Short answer, yes.
Let’s take a look at the plot for Borderlands 3 and the characters.
The game takes place seven years after Borderlands 2 and the death of Handsome Jack. Previously discovered in the series, there are multiple vaults that are across the galaxy. These vaults hold incredible alien technology and valuables which is why the planet of Pandora was looted throughout the first two games. There’s one vault that is supposedly better than the rest and of course, that vault is called “The Great Vault”. This vault is so great that it has garnered the attention of super-evil twins consisting of Troy and Tyreen who make up the Calypso twins. Here’s the first fault in Borderlands 3, these twins are lame. They remind me of a whiny Anakin Skywalker or emo teens who are pissed at the world because they aren’t popular. Troy is the weaker of the twins and latches onto his sister for power which further makes their relationship weirder. The Calypso twins now run all the bandits, psychos and midgets WHOOPS, I meant “tinks”. Gearbox has deemed the term “midget” offensive and replaced it with the term “tink” which sounds even more offensive. Again, this is an issue where Borderlands clearly caves to the PC culture that has invaded every media outlet. I loved Borderlands and Borderlands 2 for their humor and depiction of characters. Borderlands 3 is censoring its previous humor by calling the beloved midget fighters, “tinks”. The Calypso twins need to be stopped so four new vault hunters are recruited to help the resistance.
None of these characters grabbed ahold of me or my wife. Instead of being excited to play a character, we each reluctantly chose one. In Borderlands I played Roland, a bad-ass soldier, and my wife played Brick, who frankly is as dumb as a bag of bricks but he’s a big brute. In the second game, I picked Axton who could control drones and my wife played Salvador who was a gun fanatic. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is where the series went downhill and it was here where the characters felt forced and we became less excited to play as them. I played Wilhelm who uses technology in battle and my wife picked Nisha. Borderlands 3 features an all-star PC cast of characters. I picked to play “Zane” some weird Irish-sounding guy, and my wife picked Moze, a small girl that can jump into a mech suit. One of the characters was a robot named “FL4K” that is non-binary. I don’t even understand how a robot can be non-binary but this was the type of setting that you need to get used to if you are going to play through Borderlands 3.
Anyway, something I liked about Borderlands 3 was the continuation of previous characters from the franchise. The series has always done a great job of including former characters and Lilith is the leader of the resistance that you join. You’ll also see Brick, Rhys, and of course fan-favorite Claptrap. Lilith instructs you to help recover the vault map that was lost a few years back. This map will show the various vaults across the Borderlands galaxy and give them an idea of what the Calypso twins are planning. Surprise, surprise, the twins steal the map and take off for the first vault which is located on the planet Promethea.
Long story short, the twins will use you every time it’s convenient as you do their dirty work only for them to drop in and steal or kill someone in your party. The main goal throughout the entire game is to unlock the great vault by collecting keys for it. Near the end, you meet Typhon who is the father of the twins, but he turns out to be a good guy and goes on to star as “Ed” in the reality television show “90-Day Fiance”. Typhon admits that he tried to protect the twins but they rebelled against him. Typhon helps you collect the keys and open up the great vault before he is killed by Tyreen. The final showdown is Tyreen combining with the vault monster after you defeat her, Lilith sacrifices herself to save the entire planet against Elpis which is a moon that is pulling Pandora apart. One last complaint and this isn’t just a Borderlands complaint, but an overall new video game complaint. When the heck is video games going to feature girls that don’t have buzzed heads or the side-shaved looked? You can’t play a game anymore with a female character looking feminine or God forbid attractively. Moxxi is the only one that comes to mind, and Lilith still keeps her short but stylish hair from the first game but nearly every female you meet looks like they asked their barber to give them the little boy haircut or just shave their head. I don’t mind some females looking different but the entire galaxy looks like they watched some “down with the man” propaganda video. Borderlands definitely caved to “PC Culture” but at least it doesn’t shove it down your throat as Wolfenstein II did.
Don’t fix the gameplay if it’s not broken. Thankfully, Borderlands 3 remains faithful to the gameplay of the series giving you tons and tons of guns to choose from. You’ll spend plenty of time carefully selecting your cache of weapons as you prepare for missions or bosses. It’s so much fun to test them out as every gun is unique carrying different types of bullets, effects, or hidden powers. Some guns may look ordinary but don’t judge a gun until you’ve used it in battle.
It was fun to travel across the galaxy and visit different planets other than Pandora. Each planet or area has tons to explore and so many missions and side-missions to help power up yourself as you progress through the main story. What sucks is the terrible LAG. It might take twenty seconds to pull up your menu if you are playing co-op. Seriously, I’d set my controller down and scratch my ass as I waited for the menu to come up.
Boss fights are obvious as all the telltale signs are there. There are the ammo and health vending machines, a save machine, and then a drop to a lower area where the boss is waiting for you. When you see the formula it’s easy to prepare yourself for the encounter. My wife and I didn’t have much difficulty fighting bosses and we were able to beat the finale on either our first or second try. It was a long battle but thankfully we make a pretty good team in video games and in real life.
My wife and I were pretty excited to play Borderlands 3 after being disappointed in The Pre-Sequel. We were turned off by a lot of the narrative of the characters but still had plenty of fun exploring. During this time, I built a punk/emo playlist that I’d put on during our playtime of Borderlands 3. We’d listen to it for a few hours as we blasted our way through the galaxy in search of vault keys. It was great, and I’ll remember that fondly. What bands were on our playlist? Glad you asked! It featured Blink 182, Green Day, The Offspring, Panic at the Disco! My Chemical Romance, The Used, The Dangerous Summer, Fall Out Boy, Armor For Sleep, Motion City Soundtrack, Bowling For Soup, Yellowcard, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, MXPX, AFI, and so many other great bands!
Borderlands 3 is fun for the gameplay, so play it for that and not the story or characters. After the first two games in the series, it’s disappointing that Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 3 have changed their tune. It’s a huge game in that you can spend lots of time exploring and finding the perfect gun, but lame characters will have you rolling your eyes through the entire plot.
Borderlands 3 scores a 5.4 out of 10.
Do you remember when Borderlands 3 first came out? What character did you choose? Did you have any difficulty with bosses? Did you roll your eyes at the plot and characters as we did? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!