Last updated on November 5, 2021
Gearbox Software brought forth a great spin on the exciting looting and roleplaying game mechanics with the Borderlands series, piggybacking off of games such as Diablo 2. It combined these elements into a wacky first-person shooter with a humorous story. The first Borderlands game showed promise. It was not until the critically acclaimed Borderlands 2 that the series changed gaming forever. So, is Borderlands 3 worth it?
Gearbox Software’s Borderlands 3 is definitely worth getting because it builds upon the great looter, roleplaying, and first-person shooter formula it perfected in the second game. There are only a few minor caveats that keep this great game from being perfect.
Borderlands 3 is wackier, has better-stylized graphics, and has a fantastic cast of playable characters with great classes. Unfortunately, the third entry to this incredible franchise makes a few minor missteps in some of its story and gameplay aspects, but not so much to ruin an incredible game.
What are Borderlands 3’s Pros and Cons?
Borderlands 3 can be played both as a single-player experience or as a co-op experience. The latter makes for an enjoyable and challenging experience, but solo is just as good.
You are one out of four vault hunters like the previous entries—Amara (a Siren), FL4K (a Beastmaster), Zane (an Operative), or Moze (a Gunner). They join The Crimson Raiders, led by Lilith, a Siren who was a playable character in the first game, to fight against the Calypso Twins, dead-set on a plan that could destroy Pandora—the primary setting of the Borderlands series, with the power from the vaults across many planets.
Unfortunately, some minor flaws to the new entry keep it from being a full-on masterpiece.
Let’s dig into some important parts of the game to see how they measure up — aesthetics, characters, gameplay, and story.
How Does Borderlands 3 Hold Up Aesthetically?
First and foremost, the cell-shaded graphics are stellar. Gearbox Software took the beautiful, colorful, and wonderfully gory cell-shaded style of the previous Borderlands games and improved upon it for the next generation of games.
Environmental textures are of much higher quality and more vibrant, bloody, and stylized. Pandora is back with improved aesthetics in its golden but bloody savage desert. Even more, locations exist than just Pandora. For example, Promethea, home to Atlas—a weapon manufacturing company. It features a futuristic skyscraper city brimming with color and detail. Another standout is the savage, bloody, beautifully green, and swampy EDEN-6.
There are even more great locations than just those three planets.
The character models support such incredible detail. All of them look like they have been beautifully drawn and brought to life in a high-texture 3D cell-shaded glory. Standouts include Lilith, the beautiful steampunk siren leader of The Crimson Raiders, and Mouthpiece, one of the many horrific brutish bosses you will encounter on your journey.
Although you only see the hand and legs of your playable character for most of your first-person journey, the details on them and your arsenal are gorgeous. No longer do you feel like a set of low-textured arms holding a low-poly gun. You are now a highly detailed character in this violent cell-shaded world.
The almost endless arsenal of weapons designed for your character is just as gorgeous to admire. Standouts include The Lob, a beautifully designed blue shotgun that sprays electric bullets, and the shiny grey and red Sand Hawk, an aesthetically gorgeous but deadly sniper.
The animations in Borderlands 3 are great for the most part, but like some of its textures, it also has some flaws. Different elements, such as the various accessories on some of your arsenal, sway realistically in the environment as you run around Borderlands 3‘s unique planets. Unfortunately, some character animations can sometimes be stiff. Although environmental textures are, for the most part, highly detailed, some are low-quality and can take you out of the game’s beautiful aesthetic awe.
Most notably, many of the ground textures across the various planets of Borderlands 3 are blurry and low-quality if you look at them closely.
Despite some very minor flaws in textures and animations, overall the game is a cell-shaded visual treat to admire.
What Playable Characters and Classes Does Borderlands 3 Have?
As mentioned above, you play as one of the four vault hunters and their respective classes in Borderlands 3—Amara (Siren), FL4K (Beastmaster), Zane (Operative), and Moze (Gunner). Another fun feature of Borderlands 3 is its highly customizable skill trees. The skill trees do not come with the usual class restrictions as seen in many other roleplaying games. These skill trees give you the unique chance of adapting any class to your unique playstyle.
All the characters with their respective classes are all great in their unique ways, and you cannot go wrong with any of them:
Amara: A Siren
Amara, the Siren, is my favorite character and class. She is a famous champion of her home community.
Her abilities are potent and friendly to both new and advanced players. Amara is great for players who like to get up and personal with enemies or play further away and more strategically.
Amara has fantastic phase action skills, with my personal favorite being Phasegrasp.
Phasegrasp allows you to summon a giant hand that hinders or damages a few enemies for a short while. It is incredible for crowd control and great if you want to melee attack an enemy at close range.
Infusion is another action skill that I would recommend. This ability adds elemental damage to any of your weapons that lack them. This action skill can be especially great if you strategically take out enemies from a distance with a sniper.
Amara has three different skill trees, namely Fist of Elements, Enlightened Force, and Mystical Assault. As mentioned earlier, Fist of Elements is great for close-range combat and supports powerful abilities such as the Phasegrasp. Enlightened Force is excellent to aid you and your team if you are playing co-op. Mystical Assault is especially great for those strategic players as it allows impressive enhancements for your arsenal, especially for those of the elemental kind.
The only con I would give, and it is not too much of a negative, is that just about all her skills and abilities are so powerful that there is little room to change up playstyles.
If you want a great class and character all around that is friendly to both beginner and advance players, Amara the Siren is for you.
FL4K: A Beastmaster
FL4K, the Beastmaster, is another powerful and versatile character and class. They are a giant wandering robot who summons their three loyal pets to aid them in battle. The three pets coincide with their skill trees. Their skill trees also allow for multiple playstyles.
FL4K is an excellent choice if you plan on playing the game as a single-player experience. Their attacks are devastating and powerful against bosses, primarily if you use their Master skill tree associated with their pet Skag. Their Gamma Burst Action Skill is especially devastating, which allows you to create a rift that both teleports your pet and unleashes devastating elemental radiation damage to a group of enemies.
FL4K skill trees are Master, Hunter, and Stalker. The Master skill tree summons the Stag and focuses mainly on devastating critical damage, such as the Gamma Action Skill, and is a must for solo players. The Hunter Skill Tree summons the Spiderant and focuses on FL4K Sharpshooting abilities, great for strategic players. Finally, the Stalker calls the pistol-wielding Jabber and is great for surviving the battlefield.
Although suitable for solo players, they do not have the best health and are less potent than most other classes.
Zane: An Operative
Zane, the Operative, is a great character and class if you seek a sniper assassin-like character with exciting abilities. He is a semi-retired hitman originating from the infamous Flynt family in Borderlands lore.
Zane is great for players who want to play with mainly sniper-based weapons. He is also the only character that allows the wielding of two action skills at a time.
His skill trees consist of Double Agent, Hitman, and Undercover. Double Agent focuses on Zane’s holographic clone companion’s aid, which distracts and helps players attack enemies. Hitman is great for players who want to cause devastating damage with Zane’s SNTNL drone. Undercover is best for players who wish to play defensively and strategically with the aid of Zane’s portable barrier.
Although also good to play with, most of his starter abilities are already incredibly powerful. Therefore, this character and class create little need to experiment with different play styles.
Moze: A Gunner
Moze, the Gunner is a great character and class if you want to specialize in close-range combat. She is a battle-hardened former soldier specializing in mechanical combat skills who fights alongside Iron Bear, her bipedal tank.
Her skill trees, primarily linked to Iron Bear’s arsenal abilities, is great for players who like full-out combat as well as those who prefer to play defensively. One skill I should highlight is Moze’s Torgue Cross-Promotion skill which allows for double splash damage attacks.
Moze’s skill trees are Bottomless Mags, Demolition Woman, and Shield of Retribution. Bottomless Mags is great for players who want to make full use of all Moze’s devastating arsenal available. Demolition Woman is a must for players who like explosive damage. With its shield and railgun combo, Shield of Retribution is suitable for players who want to play defensively.
Although Moze is great to play with, she can receive damage from her attacks, such as Torgue Cross-Promotion. She also does not have excellent health without Iron Bear at her side.
The Good and the Bad of Borderlands 3’s Gameplay
Borderlands 3 has an addictive gameplay system with few flaws. It builds upon the formula established in Borderlands and perfected in Borderlands 2 and is now further refined in the third entry. It has an addictive looter shooting formula, where you take down hordes of enemies with crazy weapons for loot that replaces your arsenal at a brisk pace with new and even crazier weapons. These weapons are found at enemy bases or during battles with bosses you encounter.
The varied and fun quests also involve this formula and reward you with even more powerful weapons. Borderlands 3‘s main and side quests take across many planets and are all exciting. One of the first quests involves rescuing Claptrap from hordes of psychopaths who tried to intimidate them, despite his primarily defenseless nature. All the quests are all packed with satisfying action and insane hilarity.
The shooting feels just right and responsive. Enemies explode where you shoot them, ending in over-the-top satisfying gore. Your enemies also respond to being shot at in different limbs, which I thought was a nice touch.
Each weapon brand distinguishes a weapon type. For example, the Maliwan brand focuses on the various arsenal that deals destructive elemental damage.
The game is even more fun with a friend, and you can now choose to equally share loot or fight over loot like the previous versions of the game. This aspect makes the game very accessible to new players who would like to play with advanced players.
Borderlands 3‘s jumping and sliding mechanics allow for some exciting platforming. Although it is fun for the most part, this new mechanic can occasionally become frustrating if you are battling to reach a tricky ledge.
My only gripe is some of the boss battles, which are relatively slow and bullet-spongey, delaying the exciting action of taking down hordes of enemies.
Does Borderlands 3 Have a Good Story?
Borderlands 3 has a good story with minor caveats. It is different and exciting as the story takes you to distant planets over than just the planet Pandora. As mentioned, it follows a group of Vault Hunters who join The Crimson Raiders, led by Lilith, to fight against the Calypso Twins, who are seeking vaults that hold power to destroy Pandora potentially.
The story is a love letter to players who have played all the entries in the Borderlands series. Borderlands 3 features many characters from past games. Characters such as Lilith, who is now the leader of The Crimson Raider, who was previously the Siren character you played with in the first entry of the series. Borderlands 3 also beautifully concludes those characters’ story arcs.
The only caveat I have about Borderland 3‘s story is the Calypso Twins, the video streaming antagonists who lead your cult of enemies. They do not feel like as much of a threat or as charismatic as the great Handsome Jack, the memorable villain of Borderlands 2.
The humor is still good and as self-deprecating as ever. I still chuckle whenever I think of Claptrap volunteering to pre-order my tombstone for my character’s supposed impending death.
Although not as good as Borderlands 2‘s, Borderlands 3‘s story is a satisfying finale to the previous entries with fantastic character arcs and memorable self-deprecating humor. It is only let down by its subpar villains.
Is there Downloadable Content Available for Borderlands 3?
There is downloadable content available for Borderlands 3:
- Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot
- Guns, Love, and Tentacles
- Bounty of Blood
- Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck
- Designer’s Cut
- Director’s Cut
You can buy the game with all the downloadable content in Borderlands 3 Ultimate Edition.
On Which Platforms Can I Play Borderlands 3?
At the time of writing this article, Borderlands 3 are available on current and next-generation consoles:
- PlayStation 4
- Xbox One
- PC – Steam and Epic Games
- Xbox Series S
- Xbox Series X
- PlayStation 5
- Google Stadia
PlayStation 4 copies of Borderlands 3 offer an upgrade option to PlayStation 5 copies, and Xbox One copies of the game have a similar upgrade option to Xbox Series S or X copies.
Borderlands 3 is an exciting first-person shooter and roleplaying game combination.
It features an exciting story and setting, only let down by slightly subpar villains. The gameplay is better than ever, with excellent shooting and movement mechanics. The loot is as addictive as ever, too, with each weapon feeling crazier than the new. Each character and class is great with customizable skill trees.
It is a pity that some platforming issues, slow boss battles, and less-memorable villains keep the game from being a complete masterpiece like Borderlands 2.
Despite minor caveats, Borderlands 3 is a fantastic game that is worth every penny.