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"Borderlands 3:" Two Steps forward in Gameplay, One Glitchy Step Back

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

By: Anton Seminerio

From claims that Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford allegedly assaulted a voice actor, to the publisher of 2K Games sending private investigators to a streamer’s house for leaking game content, to players outright refusing to buy the game until it’s released on a certain program, it seems like public relations around “Borderlands 3” was full of holes during its pre-release. Is this going to reflect upon the game itself?

Borderlands is a first-person shooter video game series, first released on October 20, 2009. In the game, you play as a "Vault Hunter," an explorer traversing the planet of Pandora for an ancient alien artifact, known as the Vault, which supposedly contains infinite power and weaponry. As you hunt down the Vault, you will meet some of Pandora's crazier residents, shoot down hordes of monsters; and grab new weapons and items.

The first and second “Borderlands” games were very successful, with the first establishing the formula, and the second perfecting it. The series carved its niche by taking elements of RPGs and implementing them in a first-person shooter. This includes experience points, special moves and loot. The second “Borderlands” game offered more story and refined gameplay mechanics. With its brighter colors, iconic antagonists and bizarre tone, “Borderlands 2” was a very successful game. Will Gearbox be able to capture the magic a second time?

Apparently not. One of the most immediate faults you will notice are the glaring technical issues. Opening the in-game menu in any version of “Borderlands 3” will produce graphical hiccups, not only to the player in the menu but to the other players in the group as well. This caused the screen to pause momentarily in the middle of gameplay, effectively preventing someone from playing. This also meant that everyone had to access their menus at the same time, which increased downtime of not playing. Furthermore, the Epic Game Launcher also had issues with its cloud saving feature, which personally caused me to replay the same section three times.

Finally, during my playthrough, I decided to try the multiplayer matchmaking. Everything connected well enough, and load times weren’t anything to complain about. However, the graphical hiccups were in full effect and annoyed me to the point where I decided to return to single player. My return to single player had caused a glitch that halted my game progression, and a quick Google search indicated that many other players were experiencing the same thing. Fortunately, you can fix this issue by logging in and out of multiplayer a few times. I was just glad that I could fix it rather quickly.

After the myriad of issues both before and after the game’s release, there are a variety of upsides to help combat these problems. “Borderlands 3” is the first game in the series to introduce multiple planets, and the ability to travel between them at will. This offered new environments never before seen in the series. From the war-torn city of Promethea to the bayou aesthetics of Eden-6, there are plenty of new sights to be seen in this game. Among these new areas are new faces as well. “Borderlands 3” introduced many new characters to the game, which helps it feel fresh and fun. From Wainwright Jacobs, the husband of the beloved Sir Hammerlock, to Balex, a navigation system uploaded to a teddy bear (voiced by Ice-T), these fresh characters truly help solidify “Borderlands 3” as its own entry.

Along with this, “Borderlands 3” introduced new options in terms of mobility. You are now able to slide along the ground, as well as mount ledges, allowing you to navigate to new areas. These new movement options are satisfying, as I personally found great enjoyment sliding around the battlefield, firing off pop shots from my shotgun, only to stand up again behind cover. The mounting system allows players to jump, climb and parkour their way to collectibles, making environments feel more open and layered. The collectibles also help to breathe life in the large maps and encourage players to explore them in their entirety.

After playing through “Borderlands 3,” I firmly believe the pros of the game outweigh the cons. The technical issues are glaring, but only time can tell if they will ever fully be patched out. The added mobility options, collectibles and other quality of life updates are perfect for new players to dip their toes into, while veteran players will feel right at home among the chaos, and should enjoy the new environments, enemies, as well as the fantastic bosses of the game. If you were hesitant about purchasing the game due to Gearbox’s terrible PR, you can put your troubles to rest for the most part. The game is colorful, explosive (in many different ways, mind you) and full of life.

“Borderlands 3” is rated M for mature. It can be purchased for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and from the Epic Game Store for $59.99.

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