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When Borderlands was first released, it was a breath of fresh air. Colorful and wild in the midst of releases that were dull and serious, it established itself as a unique game. Each game in the series has featured slightly improved mechanics, but it's never really grown past its initial tone. Borderlands 3 is the newest entry in the series, one that seems to be on the same path as the rest of the Borderlands games.
Borderlands 3 is a loot-shooter that plays it safe with its concepts and story.
Borderlands 3 is actually the fourth game in the Borderlands sequel, and it's not exactly trying to reinvent the wheel insofar as the concept is concerned. Players still take on the role of one of four different Vault Hunters, unique treasure-hunters with their own special abilities. You're still following a plot that loosely connects the threads between the previous games, but this time you're doing so across multiple worlds. It's really just the previous games writ large in terms of concept.
The continuing concept also means that the game's highly reliant on hit-or-miss humor. If you've liked what you've seen in the older games, you'll find Borderlands 3 to be a hilarious loot-shooter that moves you from one joke to the next in rapid succession. If you didn't, you'll notice that the game tries to scrape an increasingly small amount of plot over an ever bigger world.
If there's a theme to Borderlands 3, it's probably 'more of the same'. The game's stylized graphics mean that the older games aged exceptionally well, which in turn means that this one doesn't seem like all that much of an upgrade. There are little moments in which you can see that it's a recent game (especially the explosions), but beyond that you're looking at something that's really just a slightly prettier Borderlands 2.
The audio here is about the same as it has always been - that is, solid and immersive. The voice cast is as good as ever, and the ambient sounds end up being very memorable. The game's never really managed to nail an opening theme that was quite as good or resonant as that in the first game, but the music here is still fairly good. Borderlands 3 might not be a huge jump forward in terms of audio, but that's only because it didn't have much room left to grow.
For good or for ill, this is still a Borderlands game. If you've played any of the three entries that were released before this one, you know what you're getting into. This is still a loot shooter, and it's still one that works incredibly well. It's not exactly going to revolutionize the genre, but it plays as solidly as any game that's coming from an established series should.
There are some nice little quality-of-life adjustments that have been made to the game. Instanced loot is nice, especially if you're playing with a friend at a different level. Platforming has thankfully been improved with some basic mantling abilities, and you can even get revived by an AI teammate. These are little twists to the classic Borderlands formula, small changes that make the game a little less frustrating for long-time players rather than really making an impact on the game itself.
Borderlands 3 is a solid return to Pandora, but it's definitely not one that takes many risks. If you liked the other games in the series, you'll probably like this one just as much. If you weren't a fan, though, there's nothing included here that's really going to change your mind. This game is a great example of a competently-made sequel that doesn't really bring anything new to the table.
What follows is the official description of Borderlands 3, from the developers.
Borderlands 3 is an action role-playing first-person shooter video game developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games. It is the sequel to 2012's Borderlands 2, and the fourth main entry in the Borderlands series.
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