Gearbox Software has returned to its most successful franchise by releasing Borderlands 3. This visually stunning, Max Max-like game offers more than just nostalgia. With a thirty-hour campaign, amusing narratives, and a diverse array of weaponry, Borderlands 3 is easy a step above its predecessors.

We were first treated to the post-apocalyptic, “loot and shoot” game back in 2009, and since then, Borderlands has become one of the most popular RPG shooters to ever grace our consoles. In September of 2019, Gearbox Software released the fourth installment, Borderlands 3, which is a sequel to Borderlands 2. And get this — Borderlands 3 had two times more launch-day players than Borderlands 2’s all-time player count.

Familiar Faces, Familiar Places
Borderlands 3 is set years after the events of Borderlands 2. The game assumes that you’ve played the previous installments so it throws you into the ongoing narrative, which may confuse first-time players. Long-time fans will be happy to see familiar faces again, such as Lilith and Claptrap. You’ll also meet new characters such as Tina, Tannis, Ellie, Rhys, Marcus, and much more.

You get to play as a Vault Hunter. There are four characters to choose from, each having unique skill trees and Action Skills that can be leveled up. You can play as Moze, the Gunner who is a former Vladof army soldier. There’s also Zane, the Operative, who can attack enemies using an SNTNL drone. Amara, the Siren, can summon ethereal fists that erupt from the ground, causing massive elemental damages. Finally, there’s FL4K, the Beastmaster, who unleashes Gamma Burst-irradiated creatures.

The new antagonists are named Troy and Treen Calypso, otherwise known as The Calypso Twins. This duo has united all of Pandora’s bandits, creating a cult called the Children of the Vault. The Calypso Twins don’t offer players a substantial backstory throughout the game, except for the part where they’re power-hungry live streamers who want to rule the world. The Children of the Vault seek to extract power from the Vaults to boost their Siren abilities. This sets up the entire narrative of the game. Your job is to stop them before they can reach the Vaults.

New Locations to Loot and Shoot
There’s a new spaceship hub in Borderland 3 called the Sanctuary 3. It’s extremely difficult to navigate, but you can customize it with trophies, decorations, and more. From the Sanctuary 3, you can utilize the globe-hopping system, where you can hop from planet to planet at the speed of light.

Unlike its predecessors, Borderlands 3 doesn’t keep you on Pandora. You’ll find multiple jaw-dropping planets, such as the swampy jungle of Eden-6, where there are fire-breathing dinosaurs, and Promethea, a cyberpunk-looking dystopia filled with neon lights. The game maintains Borderlands’ signature art style, but Borderlands 3 has taken things up a notch by treating players to sweeping vistas that add personality to each location.

You’ll encounter different types of enemies in each location, but combat is generally the same, whether you’re fighting creatures like a Spiderant or a Rakk or newly spawned bandits coming from every direction. Just like the franchise’s other installments, Borderlands 3 is focused on challenging players through spawning dozens of enemies at once.

Combat Dynamics
Borderlands is known for its vibrant colors — this means that combat becomes more challenging especially when a mess of visual noise begins to fill the screen. We often found it difficult to see what we were aiming at. Most of the combat was completed by shooting aimlessly.

That being said, playing Borderlands 3 with friends makes fighting enemies much easier. The game uses a pinging system similar to the one in Apex Legends, which allows each player to “ping” items that they plan on interacting with. This eliminates the need for a mic, letting players fully enjoy co-op mode.

But perhaps the best co-op feature is the ability to trade weapons and gear with fellow players. Additionally, players can choose to play between Cooperation Mode and Coopetition Mode. In Cooperation Mode, the items you loot are yours alone, and you can play with players of varying levels. While in Coopetition Mode, players can decide who gets what. This mode is ideal if you want to help friends level up or find better gear. However, in Coopetition Mode, the loot level will automatically adjust to the lowest player level, which means that rare items are unlikely to pop up.

Vast Array of Weaponry
Borderlands 3 has the greatest array of weapons among all of the Borderlands games. According to the official Borderlands website, there are over one billion guns in the game — 138 of which are classified as Legendary Weapons.

We haven’t found all of the Legendaries, but our favorites so far include the Cloud Kill, which releases toxic fumes, causing enemies to choke, and the Laser-Sploder, which (as you might have guessed) releases a laser and rockets at the same time.

But this isn’t the only great thing about the weapon variance. Each weapon offers unique touches that make using them feel authentic. For instance, you’ll notice the barrel of a shotgun smoking after firing it. You’ll also hear the crisp cocking of the hammer when you use a revolver. Our only complaint is that when aiming, certain weapons block your view, making it difficult to see the target.

Multiple Modes of Play
Think the game ends once you’ve defeated The Calypso Twins? Not quite. Once the credits roll, you can continue playing in different modes, such as Mayhem Mode (gradually increases the level of difficulty), True Vault Hunter Mode (restarts the campaign without erasing your loot and skills), Circle of Slaughter Mode (AKA horde mode where you have to fight swarms of enemies for 5 rounds), Proving Grounds Mode (defeat 3 waves of enemies with 1 boss fight at the end), and much more.

Verdict
Borderlands 3 feels like meeting a friend whom you haven’t seen in a long time. Things have changed, but not in a bad way. Borderlands 3 has stayed pretty much the same, except for a few features such as the new locations, enemies, and of course, the billions of new weapons.

While the game definitely isn’t your typical RPG shooter, we can see it appealing to players who love collecting and trading loot. With its massive selection of guns, signature comic-book-style detail, and energetic campaign, Borderlands 3 is an unmatchable installment in the series.

Borderlands 3 is currently available on Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Stadia, and Playstation 5.