It’s hard to believe that Borderlands 3 is only a month away. I’ve been covering the long awaited title ever since it was announced on March 29. Yeah, it’s only been a little under 5 months but honestly it’s felt like a lifetime. However I’ve been lucky enough to get hands-on with Borderlands 3 not just once but twice before its release on September 13. 2K Games invited me to LA back in May for the Gameplay Reveal Event where I was given 90 minutes to play around with Borderlands new siren, Amara. Just recently I was also flown down to Sydney for an exclusive top secret Preview Event where I played a whopping 5 hours of the game.
Going into the event, I had my suspicions as to what we were going to see and experience. My suspicions, and wishes, were true. Myself and the other attendees were some of the very first in the world to get hands on with Fl4k, the fourth and final vault hunter to have an overall character and gameplay reveal. All my expectations were met with Fl4k and he still stands as my first vault hunter choice when I get my hands on the full game. We also got to test out the other ultimate Borderlands experience, playing with friends! When I think of Borderlands I always think of the fun times I’ve had with mates shootin’ and lootin’. I partnered up with fellow writer, Nathan Lawrence, to give an hours worth of Borderlands 3 co-op a whirl. Nathan chose Moze while I gave Zane a run for his money, who still sits in 4th place in regards to playthrough choice. 5 hours with Borderlands 3, along with some amazing food and few cheeky bevvies, was the perfect way to spend a Wednesday.
But what I’ve gotten to experience is only just a small taste of the full game so I’m not even aware of what else the game has in store for us. Luckily my time spent hands-on with Borderlands 3 hasn’t spoilt it for me in any way, leaving me still incredibly hyped for its release. From the beginning of the game to its glorious finish, here’s what I’m hyped for in Borderlands 3.
The intro scenes for Borderlands have always been memorable with songs that immediately connect a memory to the game. The line “Ain’t no rest for the wicked” which is the song of the same name from the first Borderlands, was even referenced by Lilith at the end of Borderlands 2. As a vault hunter, this line speaks volumes about that vault hunter life. Obviously the songs usually have some kind of connection to what Borderlands is all about somewhere within their lyrics. What the song for Borderlands 3 might be is hard to tell. My theory for a minute was that it could be a song from one of their trailers. So Happy Together, anyone? I could see it happening. But where will this next intro take place? They usually happen on a transportation vehicle. The first was on a bus, the second was a train. To complete the trifecta it has to take place on a plane. Or maybe even a spaceship? Sanctuary 3 is in space so you never know. Even though I did have the chance to find all of this information out myself in Sydney last week, I’ve chosen to experience this in my living room. I want that memory connection trace back to my first day with Borderlands 3 in its entirety.
New Squad On The Block
A new Borderlands game means new vault hunters. Up until recently we’ve only seen Amara, Zane and Moze in action. Zane the Operative feels kind of similar to Roland and Axton from first impressions but with a couple of cool extras. I tried him out in-co-op play and unfortunately at this moment he doesn’t do much for me. However I’m saying this after only an hour of playing him. And since it was co-op I didn’t want to waste my own gameplay time or that of my co-op partner Nathans by testing absolutely every aspect available of his build. Since Nathans vault hunter choice was Moze, I chose Zane and used his action skill, Barrier, for some added support. However my initial skill tree choices later on will be different, especially in regards to solo play. Amara’s siren gameplay has been my favourite of the sirens so far as I wasn’t particularly a fan of Lilith and Maya’s more support based action skills. Amara rocks the Phasegrasp which is similar to Maya’s Phaselock but it’s the more defensive based Phasecast that I’m keen to use the most. Moze the gunner teams up with her mech BFF, Iron Bear, who comes to help out when her action skill is active. This type of mech gameplay is a first for Borderlands. She’s the only vault hunter I haven’t been hands-on with but from what I’ve seen she comes with some brute force.
Until recently Fl4k’s gameplay has been hidden from the public which before last week made me a very sad bear since Fl4k has been the vault hunter I’ve wanted to try out first since day one. Fl4k is an AI Beastmaster on a journey for self-discovery. Similar to Gaige, the Mechromancer in Borderlands 2, he has the ability to summon a pet to fight along side him. The difference being is that his pets stay out indefinitely, or up until they die. And unlike mechromancer, we have a choice of three different pets with their own unique abilities. A Spiderant who heals, a Skag with plenty of DPS and a Jabber who eventually acts as a tank, taunting nearby enemies. If that isn’t enough pets for you, he even has a couple of Rakk’s that can come barreling down on enemies if you choose his Rakk Attack action skill. However during my hands-on time with Fl4k, I opted for the stealthy Fade Away action skill. This helped keep me out of dangerous cannon fodder while my Jabber Sidekick was doing some of the killing for me. As a fan of these types of classes, I was immediately drawn to Fl4k even when I was clueless to how he played, which ended up meeting all of my expectations and more! Nor did I expect to have a pet cooldown separate to my action skill. I wanted something different in comparison to the Mechromancer in the way of not wanting my pet to always be in auto-pilot mode. Having even the smallest amount of control of my pet still brings a large amount of satisfaction.
If you’re interested in seeing my personal skill tree build choices you can find them by clicking on the name links within these two paragraphs.
A bazillion is a surprisingly normal amount in the world of Borderlands, especially when it comes to weapons. With over a bazillion guns to loot, The possibilities are endless, right? Well, they just became a little more endless. Yes that’s a possibility and I’m going to tell you why. Not only are there now guns with legs but guns with two different types of ammo. It’s called alt firing mode and it’s going to change the way you play Borderlands 3. As I’ve previously discussed from my trip over to LA for the Gameplay Reveal Event, my gun drops ranged from a shock elemental pistol which with the press of a button, switched over to the new radiation element type ammo. There wasn’t any need to flick through weapons or scour my inventory for the perfect weapon combos against these shielded enemies. It felt so fluid which is what you need in fast paced high danger combat. Another gun drop that featured alt-firing mode was a shotgun which then turned into a sniper rifle. What a combo! However only a few gun manufacturers include this feature in their guns so not every gun drop will have it.
Triple Skill Abilities
Up until Borderlands 3, each vault hunter was stuck with one skill ability that would change ever so slightly depending on which skill tree and skills you put points towards. In Borderlands 3 however each skill tree has its own action skill. This has to be my favourite new feature in the game as I wish we had something like this ever since the first Borderlands. My playthrough with Lilith for example was kind of lackluster prior to levels 25-30 as her Phasewalk felt a bit meh. That is of course until I was electrocuting enemies and setting them on fire at the same time. Since Borderlands 3 features this sort of versatility, it allows players to continue playing as a particular vault hunter if they don’t like a certain play style without wanting to switch to someone different and starting over again. Certain abilities may even work better than others in certain situations which always makes a world of different in regards to progress. Action skills can also be changed on the fly, however the versatility ends there with skill points not automatically swapping over to other skill trees. You’ll still need to reset points at Change Stations to completely swap skills over.
In previous Borderlands games I never saw much of an objective to explore every nook and cranny. I’d always end up focusing more on going from point A to B. However after my hands-on in Sydney, I feel like it’s necessary to do the absolute opposite this time around. From what I’ve already seen there’s a lot to go searching for on Pandora and the other new planets. Along with the usual character logs we’re familiar with in previous games there are things like dead claptrap units and even Hammerlock Hunt Challenges to find. Unfortunately I only found one of these Hunts but I had a lot of fun doing it and can’t wait to see what Hammerlock has us killing next. All of these can be found pretty easily on the mini-map once you’ve explored that particular area. However this means there’s a large chance that I’ll be focusing more on exploration than the objectives. Which I have absolutely zero problem with.
Hitchhiking The Galaxy
The planet of Pandora has always been the central environment for Borderlands. But we’re about to go out and explore even more planets with all new environments and potentially deadlier enemies. My time playing co-op was spent on Eden-6, a very jungle like planet where we got to go up against everything from monkeys to dinosaur like creatures. Travelling to such exotic locations is all thanks to Sanctuary 3, a new giant spaceship hub which has everything the old Sanctuary had and more. We haven’t seen much of the the space exploration within Borderlands 3 but it’d be so cool to manually pilot Sanctuary 3 to each planet while possibly going into battle with other ships from the Children of the Vault cult. Speaking of cults…
Like, Follow and Drink Our Cool-Aid
With Handsome Jack gone (apparently, maybe, depending on the conspiracy theory) the bandits who walk the Borderlands now have two new leaders (or gods, as they call themselves), Troy and Tyreen, The Calypso Twins. This pair of douchelord content creators lead a new cult called The Children of the Vault where they want you to Like, Subscribe and Obey. We don’t know much about what’s up their sleeves except for the fact that it’s the same old situation. They want whatever is inside those vaults before you get to them.
So far we already know of one celebrity in particular whose lent their voice to Borderlands 3, and for whatever reason I never even picked up on it during my hands-on in Sydney. The furry pink feline BALEX who we met during co-op is voiced by none other than Ice T. If this has been kept a secret up until now, I’m interested to see which other celebrities may be connected to Borderlands 3. Unfortunately none of the BALEX footage made it into my Fl4k/Co-Op Gameplay video but I’ve put together a short clip which can be found below.
The Final Showdown
The first Borderlands brought us The Destroyer, Borderlands 2 The Warrior, so will Borderlands 3 give us The Influencer? Obviously there isn’t going to be a throwdown against just the Calypso Twins. A giant creature always comes along for one last test of skill. But since there’s two of them, will that mean double the trouble? And what sort of creature will it be? Is there some mythical beast that they believe who’ll suddenly make an appearance? Or will it be a giant swarm of followers who stan The Calypso Twins and everything they stand for? Apparently it’s going to take a solid 30 hours minimum to reach that part of the story but it’s going to be so worth it.
Don’t forget to check out my Fl4k/Co-Op Gameplay video and keep an eye out for even more Borderlands 3 content coming very soon!