With the recent boarding of the hype train, with the new teaser trailer for Borderlands 3, it’s made a quick stop to the gameplay station to pick up some more passengers. A lucky bundle of people got the opportunity to experience the gameplay reveal in Hollywood, California whilst I experienced it in the comfort of my own home. In either case, it definitely has some incredible features and developments from its predecessors, so let’s dive in and take a look on what Borderlands 3 has to offer:
Colour me Intrigued
There is no denying that Borderlands has always had a unique art style; cartoon like visuals with thick black borders across the environment, objects and the like. Having such a unique graphics almost trademarks it for them. It’s good to see that the art style hasn’t changed too much, only that it looks even better; more vivid, detailed and fine-tuned for the upgrade to next-gen consoles and PC hardware. Other features such as the display, the HUD and the Menu have also remained the same, only change being they too have been tweaked slightly to provide better access and greater quality to the game.
Snapping Out of Old Habits
The game has undergone many changes but what they can’t seem to get away from is similar scenarios that occur from previous games. The game starts with Claptrap, asking the vault hunter to assault a bandit recruitment centre, only to find he gets captured and requires your assistance. Sound familiar? Pretty much the same scenario was used in Borderlands 2. This might be used to get new players into the mechanics of the game itself though, such as finding tasks or items to collect to proceed to new areas and the like, but the narrative behind it could at least have a little more diversity. Does this mean it’s possible we will see repeat missions or jokes from the previous games?
What is the new storyline offer us budding vault hunters. When we join the action, near the very start, we discover that the world of Pandora has been overrun by a new cult called The Children of the Vault. Lilith, a Siren from the previous games is now the Leader of the Crimson Raiders, sent out to discover the location of new vaults and prevent the cult from any plans they might have.
Unfortunately for the Crimson Raiders, as we learn on, the Children of The Vault have leaders; The Calypso Twins. The antagonists in the Borderlands series, like most of the characters, have always remained charismatic, and these douchebags are no different. The developers love to take the ideologies and personas from real life and implement them into their characters, which is why Tyrene Calypso will be very relatable to many young budding gamers as she’s a completely self-absorbed, obnoxious streamer, which I’m sure many will be able to relate. Apart from sounding highly annoying, her main power and reasoning behind the cult is she has the ability to absorb power, and therefore wants the location of the vaults to be able to absorb the bosses within them to become unstoppable. Could she potentially be another Siren? And what about her brother as well, with that huge modified arm? All we know is that they have a big role to play, and big shoes to fill after Handsome Jack’s big impression.
New Vaults, New Hunters
Of course, it is standard to have new characters and new classes when a new Borderlands game arises. We witness 2 classes, one familiar and one brand new class. We start with Amara; a Siren class Vault Hunter. Sirens use a number of weird and freaky psychic abilities to disrupt and damage enemies. Later on, we witness a new class; An Operative class called Zane, who has a number of technical features and equipment at his disposal. Each Vault hunter has 3 Action Skills that they can switch between to use in combat, as well as a skill tree for each Action Skill to create diverse and powerful augmentations to that Skill.
Amara’s skills consist of a Phase Grab; an ability which lifts enemies off the ground, Phase Cast; a spectre of Amara which attacks enemies, and Phase Slam; a powerful area of effect ability which slams enemies onto the ground with force. So, she’s definitely going to be one to watch out for in terms of ground control. Zane’s Action Skills consist of Digi-Clone; an offensive clone of Zane which can shoot at enemies as well as teleport to. SNTNL is a drone that can weaken enemies and even use Zane’s grenades if he has the augmentation and a grenade mod equipped. Finally, he has Barrier, which allows him to place a large barrier down on the field, which can also be picked up as a personal shield at the cost of its strength, which also with the right augmentations can grant elemental effects to your bullets if shot through the shield. Zane also has another little party piece, in which he can have 2 Action Skills active at the same time, creating a combination of mayhem and strategy.
Many Ways of Sending Bullet to Brains
Borderlands is renowned for venturing out with creativity when it comes to its array of firearms and weaponry; from flying guns, those that fire grenades, missiles, and even the worst gun ever created which made you move at 10% and screeched as you fired. They claim to have a bazillion gun’s in the game, but some of us know that most of them are randomly generated with stats and design. Still though, even with the RNG gods in play with your weapons, doesn’t mean they won’t be as outrageous as ever. Many weapons now come with an alternate firing mode. During the demo, we witness a vladof pistol which had both standard semi-automatic fire, but also an alternate mode which switched it to rockets. Pretty nice stuff indeed.
At later levels this ideology of alternate firing modes can become pretty crazy, especially when you factor in who the weapon is made by. Depending on the company that manufactures the weapons will depend on how they act. Simple changes such as rate of fire, additional ammo, firepower and elemental attacks, were already present during the game. But now they have been taken up to a new level: Hyperion weapons now have shields in front of them for additional protection, Tediore weapons not only can be still used as a grenade, but now can also have variants that turn into walking guns with legs, or bouncing proximity grenades and so on. Atlas weaponry are also unique with a ‘fire and forget’ option; alternate mode switches the weapon to a tracking dart, and any enemy who is tracked gets the ‘5th element’ treatment; all rounds from the weapon hit the tracked enemy regardless of where the player is aiming.
In terms of game mechanics, they have been ramped up another gear. Previous Borderlands games were somewhat basic in their design of manoeuvrability and combat. So right from the start of the demo we witness that you can now slide and grab onto ledges, so you cannot just explore and fight more effectively but it also adds more realism to the game. Also adding to the realism is the element of destructible cover, something that shall be occurring a lot around Borderlands 3 I’m sure.
Explosives have been given a nice feature too. Barrels were usually a common theme, dotted in strategic and coincidental places such as choke points or near enemy spawns. Now the barrels can be manually moved around by striking them, making you think a little more and getting creative with your kills.
With all of the violence going on, combat still appears to be as chaotic as ever. Especially with mass mobs bombarding you with a lead sandwich, the gore has had a tweak now and then, so dismembering your enemies is as easy as a palm strike to the face. When you are downed and out for the count in a fight, they still have the ‘fight or flight’ mode, in which a killing blow on an enemy whilst you are down grants a Second Wind, allowing you to get back into the fight with ease. One nice feature that has changed is when you are down and out for the count, not only can you revive players, but also NPC’s, and NPC’s can also revive you. Claptrap might not be a useless piece of shit anymore.
Do It With Style
Who says that your gameplay needs to be an eye sore, nobody, I don’t think anyone’s said that to be honest… but anyway. Customising your character is easier and more creative than ever before, being able to change your characters look, theme, colours, even the HUD you use can have a revamp to suit you. Now customisation goes even further than that. Because Borderlands 3 has a current theme of changing to become better, we witness a clip of gameplay featuring Sanctuary III, what you and I would call home but also a spaceship. That’s right, Borderlands travels to different planets and solar systems in search of new vaults.
Apart from the inside of Sanctuary III looking rustic with some pandora flair, featuring old and new characters all across the Borderlands universe, you have your own personal room, which can be customised and altered to your taste. Even things like gun racks to put your prized possessions on display can be done, to show off in front of your pals when you ‘took down that large ass thrasher’ that didn’t take you 15 hours to do.
Now, we’ve all done it at some point, whether that be on Borderlands or on some other game; killed a boss or your mate has found a chest and BOOM! You’ve taken his loot and left him telling you how he’s going to do the nasty with your mother. Thankfully, things have changed for the better. To start off, I have to tell you about their level mechanics within the game. A level 20 player can join a level 5 players ‘instance’ or ‘game session’. The catch is the enemies, weapons and loot will correspond to both the level 5 character and the level 25 character, this means you will be fighting the same enemies, picking up the same loot which all correspond to your level. This also means that a level 25 will find level 25 weapons and equipment in a level 5 instance, and vice versa, pretty neat stuff.
Then there comes the term ‘ninja looting’ which when loot dropped it was a complete free for all. No longer. In the game mode referred to as ‘Balanced Mode’ all loot dropped will be free to you and you only, no more ninja looting. This is of course an optional mode; Classic Mode is still available if you prefer the old ways of course. Finally, there’s that heart stopping moment of “Oh crap! I didn’t pick up that epic weapon! I’ve lost it forever! I shall uninstall this nonsense and ask for my money back!” No, sit down you millennial! Any missed loot when you’re out and about listening to Claptraps pathetic jokes are returned to your ship and safe haven Sanctuary III.
As I’m sure there will be plenty more Vault Hunters to exploit, hidden weapon and equipment features to figure out, fantastic new enemies to blow the brains out of and stories to unfold, in the full release of Borderlands 3. It definitely looks like it’s shaping up really nicely, and hopefully will bring in a lot of new players to the party, wondering what the heck they missed out on. Did you watch the stream? What do you guys think? Let me know!