In four short days, Borderlands 3 will release, and fans who’ve been waiting can finally dive back into what many consider the definitive “looter-shooter” series. They won’t be the first to, though. As usual with AAA titles, Gearbox has sent Borderlands 3 out to several publications early so they can have their reviews out by launch day.
Marking the franchise’s return after several years, Borderlands 3 will offer more of what the fans love about Borderlands, from the zany humor to the popular gameplay loop of collecting better and better loot. But it will expand on it too by sending players beyond the planet Pandora to multiple worlds full of things to shoot and treasure to collect. There’ll be so much content that, according to Gearbox, it’ll take most Borderlands 3 players around 35 hours just to complete the campaign.
And from the sound of it, all that content should easily satisfy the fans… for the most part. Here’s what early reviews have to say.
IGN (James Duggan)
"If Borderlands 3 is what happens when a modern looter shooter doesn’t concern itself with the longevity of its item economy and daily quests then you can sign me up for Borderlands 4 right now. Being untethered from persistent servers and able to trade loot at will is a refreshing change of pace, but that’s hardly the only reason why this such an amazing co-op FPS. The sheer magnitude and diversity of its arsenal of fun and surprising weaponry is unmatched, and the striking amount of loving detail and variety packed into its energetic and replayable 30-hour campaign is what makes Borderlands 3 a high-point for the series – and the genre as a whole."
GameSpot (Jordan Ramee)
"If you've never been a fan of the franchise, it's unlikely Borderlands 3 does enough things differently to change your mind, as the game best excels at continuing what the series has always done: deliver a humorous tall tale of misfits looting and shooting their way to heroism."
Destructoid (Chris Carter)
“Borderlands 3 takes most of the good bits of Borderlands 2 and either rolls with them or improves upon them. It didn't need to reinvent the wheel either, as Gearbox pretty much had the formula figured out the second time around.”
PC Gamer (James Davenport)
“Between the bugs, the extended non-jokes, the self-aggrandizing jabs at game design trends, and a few cameos I won't spoil but that made me audibly groan, Borderlands 3 has a lot in common with Gearbox fan events as of late. There's a lot of loud, extended posturing while holding what everyone really came for hostage. It's a shame, because Tales from the Borderlands found a delicate balance of absurdity, self-awareness, and genuine heart. A better Borderlands is possible, it's just not Borderlands 3.”
Game Informer (Matt Miller)
"Borderlands 3 is a love letter to its fans and a celebration of the style of play it first popularized. Filled with characters from previous installments, and unapologetic in its silly humor and bombastic action, it's an amusing ride that seems hesitant to innovate. If more of what you loved before is your chief desire, Gearbox has granted that wish through a game of impressive scope that charts some very safe territory."
USGamer (Mike Williams)
"Borderlands 3 is more Borderlands, and all the loot that entails. This proper sequel improves upon the formula with more guns, but more importantly, a stretch of unique planets to kill enemies on. The new planets offer more visual variety and a great evolution of enemy encounters. The tuning is clearly meant for more than one player, making a punitive experience at times for the solo Vault Hunter. Despite the formula growing a bit stale, Gearbox has expanded upon it in the right way, resulting in a great Borderlands experience."
Polygon (Ben Kuchera)
"Borderlands 3, if it works well at launch, is a competent game that feels like a passable continuation of the franchise instead of an evolution. It’s the same general idea with new vault hunters, but with little of the joy and danger that I fell in love with in earlier entries. The franchise used to feel adventurous. Now, without any fresh ideas or concepts, it’s little more than a holdover from a different time. Borderlands 3 feels safe, oddly careful (especially for a game about anarchy), and, worst of all, corporate."
Forbes (Paul Tassi)
“Borderlands 3 does not feel like a total transformation for the series, just an evolution. And that may leave some part of it stuck in the past, but overwhelmingly, it’s a game that’s still a blast to play, particularly for those into the loot shooter genre. It’s easy to see that with Anthem on life support and The Division 2 in limbo, that the next few years may be a Destiny V. Borderlands horse race. ...
“But that’s what we call a “good problem.” Borderlands 3 was worth the wait and will be a fixture in this genre for years to come. And I think few fans of the last two will be disappointed when they get their hands on it at last.”
To summarize, then, it sounds like players will be getting a game that’s pretty much the same as its predecessors, warts and all. That might frustrate some who’ve been hoping to see the franchise evolve much more after all this time. Then again, it’s been five years since the last Borderlands game, so having the new one hew close to what came before might not be a problem for fans who’ve just wanted more of the franchise in any form. If that’s all they want, then the campaign, plentiful side-quests, and extra content like the end-game Mayhem Mode should be more than enough.
Borderlands 3 is out on September 13 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.