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Borderlands 3 is a game that hasn’t changed at its core gameplay concept from the prior two main entries: run, shoot, kill, loot, repeat, level-up. If you’re expecting the franchise to suddenly innovate into a visual novel or sports sim title, then you’re going to be sorely mistaken and in for a bad time. Even though the basic gameplay idea hasn’t changed, Borderlands 3 is amazingly fun.
The overarching plot is simple: After Handsome Jack’s death, Troy and Tyreen Calypso form a cult called “Children of the Vault” to gain possession of Vaults that exist beyond Pandora. Your character’s role is to stop them. A new playable character, Moze, was announced at E3 2019. Moze comes with three skill trees and action skills: Shield of Retribution (complete with a Railgun that fires electrified high-velocity projectiles with shock damage), Bottomless Mags (comes with a minigun that can sustain rapid fire with the potential to overheat and shut down), and Demolition Woman (armed with a V-35 semi-automatic Grenade Launcher that isn’t affected by Moze’s grenade mods). In addition, Moze can summon ‘Iron Bear’, a giant robot that she can attack from with weapons strapped onto both arms that can be used at once.
The Borderlands 3 demo stage I played in was set on Pandora inside of a dungeon with a later-on area gimmick of speakers that would occasionally blast sound out at you to damage you. So in addition to having to dodge, slide, and shoot down various enemies in the area, I also had to watch out for the environment itself trying to kill me. That, combined with the fact that the dropped guns are all procedurally generated, made Borderlands 3 a blast to play.
Moze and her Iron Bear are the latest playable character announced for Borderlands 3, and who I played as in my E3 2019 demo. (Image courtesy of 2k).
If the remainder of Borderlands 3 is anything like the action and combat in this demo, than the gaming public is in for an amazingly good time. While running, hiding, and gunning (go for the headshot!) is still the name of the game, the enemy AI is intelligent, the environments are beautiful, and the guns are fun to play with. About midway through the demo, I picked up a sniper rifle that was totally inappropriate for the upclose-ish combat demanded for the area. However, I couldn’t stop sniping enemies with it from up close in the head as the game was just forgiving enough with the close-up sniper image to make it possible.
Iron Bear is lot of fun to play in as well. There is something very satisfying about being able to just drop automatically into a robot and start to mow down even more enemies than before in Borderlands 3. Moze’s Iron Bear can be equipped with two Action Skills at once, so I was constantly mixing and matching the minigun and the grenade launcher to find the perfect weapon balance and passive ability set (also unlocked via ability points in the skill trees) for me. That said, I was only a little bit disappointed in the fact that if I exited Iron Bear before its health was completely depleted, I would have to wait for the cooldown timer to summon it again. The newest combat feature, sliding, was fun to use as well, though I found myself more using it to escape to somewhere safe than to use it during combat.
Meet your new protagonists on Pandora and beyond in Borderlands 3, the Calypso Twins. (Image courtesy of 2k).
The demo itself was unfortunately short, and so it was something that I took as much time to experience and play as possible before my time was up. While I do have questions about how each of the new worlds will have to distinguish themselves from Pandora in gameplay and world mechanics, Borderlands 3 is looking to be an amazingly good time.