ImaJAN Media Network
MeltedJoystick Home
   Games  Members
Search +
Searching... Close  
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
  
 
  Login Using Facebook
Twitter
 
     

Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (437)

view profile + 
 
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4.5/5
Biomutant 4/5
Dragon Quest Builders 2 4.5/5
Journey to the Savage P... 4.5/5
Wasteland 3 4.5/5
Daemon X Machina 3.5/5
Earthlock 2.5/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
SolSeraph 3/5
ActRaiser 4.5/5
ActRaiser Renaissance 4/5
The Outer Worlds 3.5/5
Cris Tales 3/5
Warframe 3.5/5
Immortals: Fenyx Rising 4.5/5
Boot Hill Bounties 4/5
Pathfinder: Kingmaker 2/5
Borderlands 3 4/5
Horizon: Zero Dawn 3.5/5
World of Final Fantasy 4/5
ReCore 3/5
I Am Setsuna 2.5/5
Assassin's Creed Origins 4/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
The Bard's Tale IV: Bar... 4.5/5

Next 25
 

Borderlands 3   PC (Steam) 

Best of the Bunch    4/5 stars

When the first game released in 2009, the new-compared-to-‘DOOM’ ‘Borderlands’ IP took the gaming world by storm, combining two of the time period’s most explosive genres: Console FPSes and the loot-gathering mechanics taken directly from ‘Diablo’-like Hack ‘n Slash RPGs. While during the dark days of the 7th Generation, far too many ignoramuses in the gaming press and gaming communities combined tried to pass-off ‘Borderlands’ as the next evolution in Role-Playing Games, those of us with actual functioning brains knew it was the start of something different: A new Shooter sub-genre known as the Looter Shooter, which has exploded in popularity since the original “Borderlands” created the mould for copycats to… copy.

With its first sequel, “Borderlands 2” in 2012, the series peaked, much like its loot-gathering inspiration, “Diablo 2,” with hordes of rabid fans obsessively grinding through the same content in groups, hoping to get a slightly better stat roll on whatever boss-specific Legendary Loot drop they were chasing, all while proving to other Industry watchers the value of addiction as a commercial product. Shockingly, when the next game in the series released in 2014, instead of rejoicing, most of the series fanbase continued to grind “Borderlands 2,” in spite of the fact that “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel” had objectively improved mechanics.

While I was more than willing to give the series a hard time, for the lack of proper storytelling and interesting characters in the first game to the absurdly low drop rates for “good” loot in the sequel, by the time “The Pre-Sequel” rolled around, I was quite pleased with the progress developer Gearbox had made. While initially rough, ‘Borderlands’ had become a story-rich black comedy of a FPS series, with interesting gameplay mechanics and interesting loot, ditching useless mechanics and adapting better ones with each iteration.

The fanbase didn’t seem to care, though, that “The Pre-Sequel” was better, and actually seemed offended that Legendary Loot (which is key to making the gameplay interesting, due to the fact that these are the weapons and items that do unique things) was easier to come by. Thus, while the ‘Borderlands’ community continued to revolve almost entirely around “Borderlands 2,” “The Pre-Sequel” was just kind of… there, with no fanfare.

After years with no indication of the series continuing, it came as both a surprise and an expected announcement (What “AAA” developer ever lets an IP lie fallow?) that there would, in fact, be another mainline numbered ‘Borderlands’ sequel. After a five-year gap, the MJ Crew was more than ready to return to the world of cooperative Looter Shooter-ing we had come to enjoy… but then Epic Games got involved.

After waiting out another year of Epic Store exclusivity – and, naturally, for all of the DLC and expansions to drop and be bundled together in a single, discounted package – we started playing “Borderlands 3” (“BL3”) during our weekly coop sessions in May of 2021… but those sessions turned out to be anything but weekly, stretching our time with the game to 7 months.

Presentation
“BL3” doesn’t really try to do anything new that the series hasn’t already done before, from a presentation perspective. It still uses the Unreal Engine (though the newest version at time of writing), and still has a stylish-and-stylized cell-shaded look that makes it recognizable as a ‘Borderlands’ game at a glance, with the added benefit of ensuring that it will still look “good” for significantly more years/decades than a contemporary game striving for photorealism. While older ‘Borderlands’ games tend to have rather bland, samey environments, either ALL desert or ALL snow, “BL3” actually has a fairly diverse range of locales, for some much-needed variety. Character designs are still crazy and silly, though some recurring characters have been unnecessarily redesigned, such as Mad Moxxi’s obvious breast reduction and my personal favorite, Marcus Kincaid, now sporting a gawd-awful mullet.

Audio is also much more of the same. Other than the replacement of the voice actor who portrayed the eminently-annoying steward-bot, CL4P-TP, due to some whiny SJW nonsense involving studio head, Randy Pitchford, all of the old gang are back to reprise their roles… and play other roles. (Seriously, there are a lot of VAs for this series who play multiple characters.) There are also a handful of big-name cameos, such as Penn Jillette and Teller, as well as Ice-T. Other than the vocal performances, though, the audio is mostly a snooze. The soundtrack for the base game is… well, basic. There are some definite improvements in some of the DLC expansions, though, such as the Spaghetti Western soundtrack (really an Udon Western due to the Japanese influences) in the “Bounty of Blood,” but, really, anyone expecting a stand-alone-purchase-worthy soundtrack from this series is barking up the wrong tree.

Technically, “BL3” also doesn’t stray too far from its roots… by being a COMPLETELY BUGGY, GLITCHY, FUSTERCLUCK at nearly all times. While full-blown crash-to-desktop moments were rare for most of us, Chris ran into numerous problems where he’d get kicked out of our networked game and had to reboot his entire PC to rejoin. We also experienced a nearly-constant inability to see our player callouts during gameplay, so we’d frequently shoot at each other, thinking our companions were particularly ugly Badass enemies, couldn’t see where downed companions were on the map in order to run over and revive them, and found it difficult to reunite with each other after splitting up to explore an area. Then there are the temporary quest glitches we ran into that caused NPCs to become unresponsive, or certain bosses to be undamagable until we quit and restarted the game. This is just amateur-hour stuff, and I can’t believe that, after the bugfest of the original “Borderlands,” and two sequels with much improved stability, that Gearbox could backslide so hard.

Of course, we could blame some of the glitchiness on the fact that Gearbox decided to forego using Steamworks for their matchmaking service, and instead rolled their own, upgrading their SHiFT promo-code service into the backbone for “BL3’s” entire multi-player experience. This, of course, happened solely because Gearbox wanted that sweet, sweet Epic Games money, and launching a cooperative networked game on a platform that didn’t have a shopping cart, let alone P2P matchmaking, was… problematic.

Other irrational technical decisions that went into the making of “BL3” include the one-year exclusivity deal with the Epic Games Store, releasing a SECOND season pass (with really unimpressive content) AFTER releasing a “Super Deluxe” bundle, and introducing a set of Live Service-inspired Vault Cards, that encourage players to grind daily in order to possibly earn keys that allow them to acquire a number of Season Pass 2-exclusive cosmetics AND Legendary Loot items.

Story
“Borderlands 2” left us with a cliffhanger ending in which we discover that there isn’t just one alien Vault on the border planet of Pandora… there are numerous Vaults scattered all throughout the galaxy. And what are Vault Hunters going to do? Hunt Vaults! Obviously!

The action in “BL3” picks up a decade after the events of “Borderlands 2,” with a new crop of Vault Hunters (really, deranged psychopaths with slightly more mental stability than the average Pandoran) drawn to the titular borderlands by rumors of the multitude of alien Vaults that may or may not be filled with alien treasures, but definitely will be filled with monsters. The old gang from the original game – Lilith and her Crimson Raiders – have been hard at work over the past decade building their membership and reputation, as well as cobbling together a mostly-functional faster-than-light spacecraft that will allow them to go where the Vaults are.

Unfortunately, the Crimson Raiders aren’t alone in their endeavors to reach the Vaults, as another charismatic Siren named Tyreen Calypso, along with her twin brother, Troy, have used their youthful cunning to become Echonet Influencers, manipulating the wide variety of mentally-deficient Pandorans into forming a cult, known collectively as the Children of the Vault.

From their first steps onto the Vault-Ground-Zero that is Pandora, our new crop of Vault Hunters begin bumping heads with the Calypsos and the CoV, building up a thoroughly antagonistic relationship and making these new villains just as lovable-to-hate as old Handsome Jack.

“BL3” continues Gearbox’s trend of slipping social commentary into their narratives, alongside a heaping helping of referential humor and memes… oh… the memes… Thus, the relationship between the villains, their victims, and the Vault Hunters is a very well-done sendup of the outsized influence social media and groupthink have had on political events over the course of the past decade.

Outside of the core conflict, “BL3” also fleshes out its universe quite a bit, with side stories and lore dumps that give players a bigger picture of a galaxy overrun by corporate greed, demagoguery, and powerful technology in the hands of simpletons. The writing continues to be both solid and hilarious, but as a mature series on its 4th game, “BL3” demonstrates an ability to turn-off the stupidity and crazy antics to take itself seriously when it needs to.

Across its two Season Passes, “BL3” still only has 4 story-based expansion packs, and they’re all part of the first Season Pass. “Bounty of Blood” takes the Vault Hunters to an even more remote planet than Pandora as they fill Clint Eastwood’s boots in an Udon Western (inspired by both the American Old West and Japan), where they must protect a town from a rampaging gang of dinosaur riders attempting to unleash a forgotten corporate super-weapon. “Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot” is an “Oceans Eleven” spoof, in which the Vault Hunters help recurring pneumatic bartender, Mad Moxxi, commandeer an autonomous space casino that once served as a the series’ fan-favorite villain’s secret retreat. “Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck” is something of a spoof of “Fantastic Voyage,” in which the Vault Hunters are digitally inserted into the mind of “Borderlands 2’s” Psycho, Krieg, in order to maybe… fix his psychosis from the inside out. Lastly, “Guns, Love, and Tentacles” is a really well-done attempt at doing a Lovecraftian tale, but ‘Borderlands’-style, that also happens to involve the gay wedding of recurring big-game hunter, Sir Hammerlock, and the President of the Jakobs Corporation. All of these expansions feel beefy, with lengthy main quests and, as expected, a butt-load of side-quests to send the player back and forth across the new areas… multiple times.

All told, the complete “BL3” experience lasts around 70 hours, which is pretty hefty. Of course, people who buy Season Pass 2, with its Live Service-inspired mechanics will be able to squeeze a lot more hours out of the game just doing daily grinding. And while I did thoroughly enjoy “BL3” for its story, stretching it out over 7 months (averaging out to 10 hours of story per month) made the whole thing feel just too long.

Gameplay
“BL3” is more of the same running, gunning, looting, and shooting the series has always been known for, only with a few new mechanics, a LOT of new guns, and some additional Quality of Life features bolted on,

Mechanically, “BL3” is nearly identical to its predecessors in “Borderlands 2” and “The Pre-Sequel.” Notably, the double-jumps and Oz Kits from “The Pre-Sequel” have been replaced with more standard modern FPS mechanics, such as the ability to slide by crouching while running and the ability to mantle up ledges by jumping face first into them, allowing characters to grab on and climb up.

There are still four default Vault Hunters to choose from, and, unlike all but the first game, there are no DLC Hunters to buy. Instead, Season Pass 2 simply adds an extra skill tree branch to each of the four basic characters, allowing for even more customization of the default team. These characters are Amara, a new take on the Siren class who punches things instead of phase-whatever-ing them; Moze, a tiny female trooper who doesn’t just summon a crappy turret, but a full-sized, pilotable mech; Zane, an Operative who combines a lot of different tech skills into one character; and the character I chose, FL4K, a rogue robot who combines sniping, invisibility, and pets into one hulking, puffy-coated package. Each character, by default, has three skill trees to fill with perks as they gain levels (as per usual, by killing baddies and completing quests), with a great deal more mix-and-match customization available regarding each characters choice of unique Action Skills and passives, since EACH skill tree has a unique Action Skill associated with it, for EACH character. I greatly enjoyed playing as FL4K, as the big ‘bot’s emphases and skills are a direct match to the way I like to play, and it has funny dialog, which makes everything better.

For the first time since I’ve been reviewing ‘Borderlands’ games, I don’t feel like I have to point out how the game is filled with tens of billions of possible guns, while nines of billions of them are absolutely worthless. Gearbox seems to have figured out that people really only use Legendary Loot in ‘Borderlands,’ so “BL3’s” loot drop rates have been massively increased. Unfortunately, due to backlash from “Borderlands 2” fans, Gearbox did actually adjust the generosity of the game’s drops downward, but since “Borderlands 2” fans still don’t spend very much time playing “BL3,” it has crept back up, not including special limited-time events that make Legendary Loot drop like candy at a county faire parade again.

Not only is useful loot more attainable in “BL3,” but in most cases has fewer random permutations, meaning that most players won’t have any need to grind the same item multiple times to “get a better one,” outside of the still-nonsensical need to replace guns and shields every 5-10 character levels or so, simply because Gearbox hasn’t figured out that putting bigger numbers on everything doesn’t make it interesting… it just makes it repetitive.

Generally, the only easily defined way in which “BL3” is actually a step backward from its predecessors’ gameplay is in the map sizes of the areas the players will explore as they go through the game. While ‘Borderlands’ has always flirted with open-world design ideology, in “BL3,” the map sizes are just LUDICROUSLY huge. Even with the ability to summon a vehicle (which become useless after a certain point, regardless) at set points on each map, the spaces just feel too big, far too often. There’s even a revised fast travel system that allows players’ to go to any discovered fast travel station from ANYWHERE on the map, not just other discovered fast travel stations, but is STILL takes too long to get from Point A to Point B far too often. Combine these huge maps with a plethora of well-hidden things to discover, and the process of going over each region with the requisite fine-toothed comb becomes overwhelming. There’s a reason true open-world games have maps covered in icons: It’s to facilitate fast travel and to ensure that no part of the map feels “too empty,” which “BL3” struggles to do.

Overall
Aside from the plethora of glitches and the oversized maps that can make travel and exploration more of a chore than a joy, “Borderlands 3” is the best game in the series so far. The writing is just as full of wit, black humor, and abject stupidity as it ever was, with frequent laugh-out-loud moments, and the gameplay – most importantly, the drop rates for Legendary Loot – finally feel like everything is tuned “just right,” while the variety of guns, gimmicks, and character-building options available is truly mindboggling. Either solo or with a group of friends, this game offers another big dose of the kind of fun the series is known for, and it’s exactly what the MJ Crew needed.

Presentation: 3.5/5
Story:
Base Game: 4/5
Bounty of Blood: 4/5
Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot: 4.5/5
Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck: 3/5
Guns, Love, and Tentacles: 4.5/5
Gameplay: 4.5/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5

 

 


Recent Comments
Comment On Review

 
 
Log In
 
For members wanting to use FB to login, click here
remember me
 
 

What Members Are Doing

Comments about...

New Game Reviews

Spider-Man (2018) game review by Chris Kavan
Door Kickers: Action Squad game review by Nelson Schneider
Biomutant game review by Nelson Schneider
Red Dead Redemption 2 game review by Chris Kavan
Dragon Quest Builders 2 game review by Nelson Schneider
Boot Hill Heroes game review by Chris Kavan
Old Man's Journey game review by Nick
Tobe's Vertical Adventure game review by Matt

New Game Lists

Games I Own by Chris Kavan
Backlog: Dump Truck by Nelson Schneider
Top Nintendo 64 Games by Megadrive
Top Game List by SIngli6
Games I Own: PS3 by dbarry_22
Top Game List by Jonzor
Top Game List by Barmak
Games I Want To Play by Shaneo99

 

 

 

Contact Us Public Relations MeltedJoystick Friends    

Advertise and Business

Contacts Us

Jobs

About us

SiteMap

 

Support Us

FAQ and Help

News and Press

Terms of Use

Privacy

Hitfix.com

Amazon.com

OVGuide.com

   
Are you sure you want
to delete this review?