It’s exactly what you think and nothing more

Borderlands 3 is exactly what it purports to be, which is “More Borderlands.” Should that annoy me? Or anyone? Probably not. There’s something to be said for giving the fans what they want, and hey, when I was in high school I was very into Tom Petty and very excited when he played “Free Falling” at the concert I attended even though there was no way in hell he’d skip it.

Point being I get it. You make a game called Borderlands 3, and it’s going to be Borderlands. Shut up and play the hits.

So much of this console generation has been exactly that though. Spinning our collective wheels. Playing it safe. There are a million reasons for it, and this isn’t the best place to delve into those reasons, but suffice it to say the biggest names in games ten years ago are still—barring the odd Fortnite—the biggest names in games now.

And Borderlands 3 embodies this risk aversion. Seven years has passed since Borderlands 2, but you wouldn’t know it playing the sequel.

Party like it’s 2012

Note that this isn’t a review per se, as I’ve only put six or seven hours into Borderlands 3 so far. The usual disclaimers: I could completely change my mind by the end, et cetera.

Borderlands 3IDG / Hayden Dingman

I don’t think I will though, as Borderlands 3 is precisely what I expected, nothing more and nothing less—but mostly nothing more. It’s a loot-driven shooter with a lot of green boxes to open, guns to acquire, and really bad jokes. Just the worst Wednesday Night Open Mic Stand-Up caliber jokes. Or one of those Reddit threads where you realize people are just regurgitating the funniest replies from the last time a topic hit the front page.

Still, for a certain type of person I expect that verdict will be cause for celebration. Borderlands definitely has its adherents. Hell, I used to be one. I played the original Borderlands through multiple times with multiple friends, and mostly enjoyed Borderlands 2 as well.

I’ll probably finish Borderlands 3. Probably.

Progress is funny, though. It’s immeasurable and insignificant on a day-to-day basis. Then suddenly seven years passes and you’re like “Hot damn, Borderlands sure does have creaky knees.”

Borderlands 3IDG / Hayden Dingman

Case in point, I remember Borderlands feeling vast and sprawling back when open-world games were in their infancy. You could go anywhere! Shoot anything! What a novelty, at a time when shooters were still mostly linear affairs that moved from points A to B.

In 2019, not so much. Borderlands 3 is, to its credit, very large. It spans multiple planets, and multiple zones per planet. It’s hard for me to get a sense of how many hours are ahead of me, but I think it’s A Lot.

“Multiple Zones Per Planet” is exactly the issue though. The average Borderlands 3 map is bigger than any in Borderlands 2 I think, but the world is still carved up into small chunks. It feels clumsy, even if (as I suspect) the maps here aren’t any smaller than those in Destiny 2….

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