Borderlands 3: Hands on preview with the first-ever game play footage
Borderlands 3, the king of the looter-shooter genre is back. It's looking to be the most ambitious entry to date, with more guns and mayhem than ever before
After years of silence, the world was treated to a teaser trailer released in March, finally preparing us for the announcement of Borderlands 3. Now the game has finally been shown off to the world at a secret, undisclosed location in Los Angeles, California, revealing all Gearbox and 2K have accomplished and how the new entry will look and handle.
For those unfamiliar with the Borderlands series, developed by Gearbox Software, it can only be explained as a completely hectic first-person-shooter game with a startling number of guns and loot. Mix in some gorgeously cell-shaded graphics and no small measure of superb writing, and you’ve got Borderlands in a nutshell.
Borderlands 1, released in 2009, essentially laid the seeds for the looter-shooter genre. While it was slowly built upon by Borderlands 2 (2012) and later the Pre-Sequel (2014), Borderlands 3 is the bountiful harvest being reaped after years of cultivating.
It’s the perfect evolution of the frenzied formula and it serves to build fantastically off everything which made their past games so entertaining and addictive.
After spending over an hour playing a short snippet of their epic pre-release demo, it seems that, more than anything, Borderlands 3 feels like the most expertly refined and hugely ambitious release in the storied series to date.
As soon as you jump into the game, you’ll instantly recognise the charmingly macabre staples which have become synonymous with the series since the very first game, from its irreverent dialogue and masterful writing, to it’s overwhelming number of eclectically designed weapons.
Borderlands 3 comes at you like a storm. But instead of fallen trees and destroyed homes you’re left with a veritable sea of weapons and loot to wade through as you battle your way through the Mad Max-esque wastelands of this game.
The quirky and timeless cell-shaded graphics and laugh-out-loud moments are instantly recognisable to the unique brand of Borderlands, just cranked up to the maximum.
It’s abundantly clear that even in its pre-release demo stage, Borderlands 3 is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors already in terms of content, creativity and ingenuity.
The demo offered a choice of two-character classes; Amara the siren and Zayne a jack-of-all trades soldier type. Both of which, as you might expect, have the capacity for immense customisation than ever before, offering a hefty dose of freedom to create your own play style.
Like previous games, each class has their own unique skill trees and powerful abilities to choose from to help you specialise in a certain character. Mixing and matching these skills and actions will ultimately yield a character which will be unique to you, even if you’re playing online with someone using the same class.
Teaming up with your friends and other players online or through local split-screen is of course the way Borderlands is supposed to be enjoyed. Season to taste with your favourite character class and infectiously enjoyable gameplay, and you’re rewarded with an immensely exciting experience, which has been perfected and honed from the first Borderlands game.
While Borderlands 3 supports fully cooperative play from start to finish, we were only playing strictly in single player. However, Borderlands 3’s solo play feels entirely different to anything in the previous games, in the best possible way. Making the single player mode an entirely real option, something which was lacking in the older games, due to difficulty and the sometimes-unbalanced gameplay.
Sliding has been added along with the ability to climb up ledges to get a better vantage point. While admittedly small changes, it’s the simple addition of this vertical exploration and mobility which improves the game’s pacing and approach to combat immeasurably. Both functions have never been seen in a Borderlands game before and they are exceptionally welcome changes to the overall exploration and combat.
Perhaps the biggest change to Borderlands 3 is the addition of an honest-to-God spaceship, giving you access for the first time to different planets.
That’s right, now you’re finally allowed to leave Pandora, the planet where the main narrative takes places in previous games, to explore a much wider and infinitely more colourful universe, again expanding the game more than ever before. This is the key thing that Borderlands has been screaming out for, for an excruciatingly long time.
The game also has some smaller quality of life changes such as selecting quests. Gone are the days of constantly pausing the game to choose the quest you want to embark on. Now, you can easily cycle through your sometimes-overwhelming level of sub-quests with the simple push of a button, letting you better choose how, and in which order you want to tackle objectives.
Further changes include alternate firing modes for most weapons you find. From a pistol which can switch from firing normal bullets to mini missile, shotguns which can store up energy for large blasts and swap elements to decimate foes, you’ll never be left wanting for creativity. It’s an addition which easily adds an incalculable number of ways to approach combat and literally hundreds of meaningful options when deciding your weapons of choice.
This gameplay merely scratched the surface of this monumentally large release. Numerous worlds to visit have been teased along with a near-endless supply of comical weapons, mayhem and the masterful brand of comedy the series is known for. Yes, we’re looking at you Claptrap.
Proficiently playing to the obvious strengths of the previous titles, the game adds in some much-needed changes which tip it over the edge in terms of gameplay, exploration and storytelling, already making it the best iteration of Borderlands you’ll ever play.