Borderlands 3 Review (PS4)

"Guns... lots of guns."

by Luke Albiges
Gaming Review

2

Recommended
Borderlands 3 Review (PS4)
SRP: £49.99

Overview

Borderlands 3 is a blunderbuss. Its gaping barrel has been absolutely packed with gags, loot, characters, memes, quests, vehicles and everything besides, all of which is blasted in the general direction of players. But as you might expect with such a scattershot approach, there's no way that all of that assorted nonsense is going to find its mark. That's nothing new for Borderlands, to be honest – depending on who you ask, Borderlands 2 could either have one of gaming's greatest ever antagonists or the worst writing in any game of its generation, and other aspects like loot and structure prove just as divisive. But with Borderlands 3 doubling down on pretty much everything and taking things to the extreme across the board, that divide is only going to grow noticeably wider.

Doubles down on pretty much everything
Picking up after and tying together the events of Borderlands 2 and Telltale's superb Tales From The Borderlands, Borderlands 3 sees a new quartet of playable Vault Hunters journey to the wastelands of Pandora and beyond, with a little help from a cast of mostly familiar faces. The team has never struggled to make even a single planet seem varied and interesting from a design perspective, so this planet-hopping adventure gets to go even more crazy with its location diversity and is all the better for it. From dense jungles to arid wastelands, lavish mansions to decaying shuttle wrecks, few could claim that Borderlands 3 doesn't take you to some damn interesting places.

The new heroes are perhaps the most varied bunch yet, mechanically speaking. Beastmaster FL4K has a host of pets at their disposal, Gunner Moze gets her very own mech to ride around in, Operative Zane is all about high-tech trickery and battlefield manipulation via gadgets, while Amara the token Siren has the broadest array of space magic powers of her kind. Whichever you pick, you can make your character build your own thanks to an expanded skill tree system that presents even more options, and there's also a broad array of gear perks that can be so powerful as to be worth building an entire class around.

First Impressions

There was never any doubt that the cartoon-like aesthetic of the game would look wonderful – we've already seen it on current hardware thanks to The Handsome Collection, and this looks even better. The colourful characters and worlds really pop off the screen, with only the odd technical hiccup (texture pop-in mostly, although it's not the only one) to mar an otherwise great looking game. Music is surprisingly subtle for a game so otherwise rambunctious, although the way it can slowly creep in intensity as the action builds is excellent, as are a lot of the more passive Wild West-esque background pieces. As for voice acting... well, here's where things start to get a little more complicated.

Colourful characters and worlds really pop off the screen


While we've no quarrel with any of the specific performances (beyond a handful of lazy stereotypes), the dialogue itself is absolutely all over the place. The chief antagonists riff on streamer culture to particularly toothless effect, their brash and sarcastic patter only really serving to shine a light on just how good Handsome Jack was in the same role. Meanwhile, much of the chatter is just a stream of memes, pop culture references, toilet humour, or some combination of the above, and we found ourselves cringing more often than laughing along with it. That's not to say that it doesn't have its moments, mind. The game is at its best when it's doing its own thing and embracing the absurdity of some of the situations it presents without feeling the need to fall back on outdated internet humour or niche references to get laughs, and it can be genuinely funny at times, but your mileage is definitely going to vary on this front.

As for gameplay... well, it sure is a Borderlands game. Gunplay is as much fun as ever – more so, even, thanks to all the ridiculous new things that some of the rarer weapons can do – and there's loot everywhere, with the new gear score system making it a lot less likely to be struck by choice paralysis when stumbling across a bunch of new weapons. The addition of mantling makes getting around easier and the areas have been built more vertically to make further use of this, resulting in play spaces that feel far more open and enjoyable just to explore, and there are plenty of new things to see and do thanks to the optional but rewarding Crew Challenges that litter each environment.

In-Depth Analysis

The core gameplay loop of Borderlands 3 is as good as ever, and the constant flow of new gear and abilities gives you a constant sense of progress. Even once you reach the level cap, you can still boost your power in a host of ways. Increasing your Guardian Rank – the new version of Borderlands 2's Badass Rank – grants minor stat boosts across the board for all of your characters, and there's always the chance you'll luck into some obscenely powerful new gun at any given moment. Power fantasies don't come much better and where similar games often feel like they rein in player power a little in the interest of balance, Borderlands 3 just throws all caution to the wind and lets players run wild with combinations of gear and abilities that make them feel wonderfully overpowered. That's what you want from a game that's all about being a badass, and it sure delivers.

But what do you do when you've amassed a bunch of crazy weapons and beaten the fairly hefty campaign? Well, you've got a few options. As in previous games, True Vault Hunter mode lets you go for a second playthrough with more powerful enemies and better loot drops, so that's the best place to start. Frustratingly, though, there's currently no way to skip cutscenes, so you're forced to sit through them all over again – hopefully, a patch will address that, because it makes the idea of starting again on a different character that much less appealing right now.

 Power fantasies don't come much better

Alternatively, a completed game save also has access to Mayhem mode. Similar to Diablo's Torment difficulty settings, this has three tiers that incrementally ramp up both challenge and reward, with some crazy boosts to enemy health and shields along with a host of random modifiers that change how you need to play. Or at least that's the idea, but since these are assigned upon loading into an area, it's far easier to just reload and hope for better modifiers. With a decent build, good weapons, and modifiers that don't completely tank your damage, a level 50 character can comfortably drop the last boss on Mayhem 3. Sure, it'll get you a ton of sweet loot, but to what end? That's the most challenging thing in the game right now and while there are other modes like the Circle Of Slaughter arena and the dungeon-like Trials, it's not long before you reach the point where you realise you're gearing up for a challenge that doesn't yet exist. Still, we know there's a raid boss coming soon as well as a host of DLC so it'll be good to be ready for all that, and a lot of the crazier weapons are a reward in their own right – some are so entertaining or satisfying to use that it just makes firing them into packs of regular enemies a blast, and that's pretty much what Borderlands has always done best.

Trailer

Verdict

Dreams

  • Loads of varied locations
  • A ludicrous amount of weapons
  • Art style is fantastic

Memes

  • Extremely hit-and-miss humour
  • Currently lacking a real endgame
  • Some performance issues

Borderlands 3 Review (PS4)

Borderlands 3 is pretty much exactly what you might expect it to be – more of the same, only bigger, louder, and even more insane. That's no bad thing, as the core template is a proven success and the quality of life improvements that have been layered on top make for an endlessly enjoyable shooter. Play it cooperatively for ultimate mayhem, although FL4K's pets and Moze's mech do have a habit of getting in the way when you're trying to shoot or loot, which can be a little frustrating. The never-ending supply of loot will keep you blasting for weeks if not months to come, and the promise of more on the way via DLC is certainly exciting considering that Borderlands 2's extra content was some of the best we've ever seen. Proudly brash, violent, immature and utterly over-the-top, Borderlands 3 is a game that takes everything to the extreme and for all its faults, it's still great fun to play. Come on, who doesn't want a gun that fires guns?
Recommended

Scores

Gameplay

.
9

Story

.
.
8

Graphics

.
9

Audio

.
.
8

Single Player

.
.
8

Multiplayer

.
.
8

Longevity

.
.
8

Overall

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges.

To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.

Related Content

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (PS4) Review
  • By Rik Henderson
  • Published
Ghost of Tsushima Review
  • By Rik Henderson
  • Published
The Last of Us Part II Review
  • By Rik Henderson
  • Published
Cuisine Royale Review (PS4)
  • By Luke Albiges
  • Published
Resident Evil 3 Review (PS4)
  • By Luke Albiges
  • Published

Latest Headlines

PS5 launches 19th Nov in UK for £450
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Xbox Series X price and launch date finally confirmed
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Xbox Series X November launch confirmed
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Xbox Series X games showcase reveals world exclusives
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published

Trending threads

Top Bottom