The new heroes are perhaps the most varied bunch yet, mechanically speaking. Beastmaster FL4K has a host of pets at their disposal, Gunner Moze gets her very own mech to ride around in, Operative Zane is all about high-tech trickery and battlefield manipulation via gadgets, while Amara the token Siren has the broadest array of space magic powers of her kind. Whichever you pick, you can make your character build your own thanks to an expanded skill tree system that presents even more options, and there's also a broad array of gear perks that can be so powerful as to be worth building an entire class around.
While we've no quarrel with any of the specific performances (beyond a handful of lazy stereotypes), the dialogue itself is absolutely all over the place. The chief antagonists riff on streamer culture to particularly toothless effect, their brash and sarcastic patter only really serving to shine a light on just how good Handsome Jack was in the same role. Meanwhile, much of the chatter is just a stream of memes, pop culture references, toilet humour, or some combination of the above, and we found ourselves cringing more often than laughing along with it. That's not to say that it doesn't have its moments, mind. The game is at its best when it's doing its own thing and embracing the absurdity of some of the situations it presents without feeling the need to fall back on outdated internet humour or niche references to get laughs, and it can be genuinely funny at times, but your mileage is definitely going to vary on this front.
As for gameplay... well, it sure is a Borderlands game. Gunplay is as much fun as ever – more so, even, thanks to all the ridiculous new things that some of the rarer weapons can do – and there's loot everywhere, with the new gear score system making it a lot less likely to be struck by choice paralysis when stumbling across a bunch of new weapons. The addition of mantling makes getting around easier and the areas have been built more vertically to make further use of this, resulting in play spaces that feel far more open and enjoyable just to explore, and there are plenty of new things to see and do thanks to the optional but rewarding Crew Challenges that litter each environment.
But what do you do when you've amassed a bunch of crazy weapons and beaten the fairly hefty campaign? Well, you've got a few options. As in previous games, True Vault Hunter mode lets you go for a second playthrough with more powerful enemies and better loot drops, so that's the best place to start. Frustratingly, though, there's currently no way to skip cutscenes, so you're forced to sit through them all over again – hopefully, a patch will address that, because it makes the idea of starting again on a different character that much less appealing right now.
Alternatively, a completed game save also has access to Mayhem mode. Similar to Diablo's Torment difficulty settings, this has three tiers that incrementally ramp up both challenge and reward, with some crazy boosts to enemy health and shields along with a host of random modifiers that change how you need to play. Or at least that's the idea, but since these are assigned upon loading into an area, it's far easier to just reload and hope for better modifiers. With a decent build, good weapons, and modifiers that don't completely tank your damage, a level 50 character can comfortably drop the last boss on Mayhem 3. Sure, it'll get you a ton of sweet loot, but to what end? That's the most challenging thing in the game right now and while there are other modes like the Circle Of Slaughter arena and the dungeon-like Trials, it's not long before you reach the point where you realise you're gearing up for a challenge that doesn't yet exist. Still, we know there's a raid boss coming soon as well as a host of DLC so it'll be good to be ready for all that, and a lot of the crazier weapons are a reward in their own right – some are so entertaining or satisfying to use that it just makes firing them into packs of regular enemies a blast, and that's pretty much what Borderlands has always done best.
- Loads of varied locations
- A ludicrous amount of weapons
- Art style is fantastic
- Extremely hit-and-miss humour
- Currently lacking a real endgame
- Some performance issues
Borderlands 3 Review (PS4)
Borderlands 3 is pretty much exactly what you might expect it to be – more of the same, only bigger, louder, and even more insane. That's no bad thing, as the core template is a proven success and the quality of life improvements that have been layered on top make for an endlessly enjoyable shooter. Play it cooperatively for ultimate mayhem, although FL4K's pets and Moze's mech do have a habit of getting in the way when you're trying to shoot or loot, which can be a little frustrating. The never-ending supply of loot will keep you blasting for weeks if not months to come, and the promise of more on the way via DLC is certainly exciting considering that Borderlands 2's extra content was some of the best we've ever seen. Proudly brash, violent, immature and utterly over-the-top, Borderlands 3 is a game that takes everything to the extreme and for all its faults, it's still great fun to play. Come on, who doesn't want a gun that fires guns?
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