BY TARA NAZ
Gearbox’s studio and genre-defining looter-shooter classic has been around for over a decade. Borderlands 3 released in September 2019 and I, like many, am still playing it religiously.
This week, we look at what keeps bringing us back to Borderlands 3 and how it keeps upgrading its awesomeness!
I LIVE for the side-quests.
While the Borderlands series is well-known for its epic, sprawling main quests which takes you across Pandora (and, in the case of the third instalment, other worlds), it’s the side-quests that I just can’t get enough of!
With Borderlands 3, the side quests are nicely laid out. You don’t have to do them all at once if you don’t want to, players have the freedom to effectively play however they want… but I choose to dive straight into these quests because they let me explore areas of the map I just wouldn’t otherwise find myself going to. These are key to getting me more immersed and involved in the madness of the setting.
One of my favourite side quests in Borderlands 3 happens right in the beginning area, where you must find a new antenna for our much beloved (yes, you love him too!) Claptrap.
You go around collecting various items in the environment – a little umbrella, a Psycho’s tin foil hat, y’know, normal stuff.
At the end of this little quest, you can choose which antenna you like the most and Claptrap will rock it throughout the rest of the game. It’s not an earth-shattering decision, but it brings me closer to these characters that I love. That’s something we did together.
(I obviously chose the little umbrella hat because he just looks adorable!)
“It’s always happy hour when I see you, sugar.”
Sometimes it’s a particular character that makes you gravitate towards playing a game, and in the case of Borderlands, for me, it’s Moxxi.
Moxxi is a character who has been featured in every game thus far, Brina Palencia does an incredible job voicing the character and she gets more story material with each successive instalment.
She’s a woman to be feared and adored in equal measure; she knows what she wants and she gets it, whether that’s through the wink of an eye or the barrel of a gun.
Moxxi’s life is a fascinating one, as she was previously the member of a gang before she took her children (fan-favourites Scooter and Ellie – catch a riiiiide!) and split in order to prevent Ellie from becoming the ‘clan wife.’ More of her backstory can be discovered through audio logs, dialogue, and even expansions.
Speaking of expansions, ‘Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot’ released just a few months ago for Borderlands 3 (and the next is just days away). In this, you team up with Moxxi to raid and reclaim one of Handsome Jack’s casinos, fighting new enemies and earning sweet new loot along the way.
While she may not have Tannis’s brains or Lilith’s Siren-powered lethality, she’s got a lot of heart and depth to her around her interminable innuendos.
Borderlands is well-known for how completely off-the-wall it is with its ridiculousness and humour, which is worth its weight in gold. It’s not often that I find myself laughing until it hurts while playing a game.
One mission that particularly stands out is ‘Space Laser tag’ in Borderlands 3’s eighth chapter. This begins by (re)introducing a moustache-clad Rhys from Telltale Games’s magnum opus, Tales From the Borderlands, who makes his debut in a mainline title.
Rhys has left Pandora behind and rebuilt the Atlas corporation on Promethea, where he immediately starts boasting about his ship having “State of the art Atlas cloaking, baby!”
It is at this point that corporate rival Katagawa Jr shows up, destroying the ship instantly.
What follows from there is Katagawa Jr going on a destructive spree where he starts targeting places Rhys loves most.
The first to fall is Rhys’s favourite bagel place, with things escalating when Katagawa then threatens his favourite theme park, Lazy River Land.
Not only has he lost where he takes his team to unwind, he’s all out of bagels!
The final straw hits when he destroys his favourite frozen yogurt stand. Rhys begins to blather about how “Fran’s Frogurts gives you the fresh fruit on the bottom!” and BOOM – it’s gone.
Despite what one might think because of its aesthetic and tone, Borderlands is a very dark and grim setting. Its emphasis on levity really serves to offset the idea that it’s all doom and gloom, and if you jive with Borderlands’s style of humour then you’re in for a lot of fun.
And, hey, in a world of poop-trains and skin pizzas, maybe frogurt really is the best thing in the universe?
So you’ve completed the game right?
With Mayhem mode, you can be crushed by a whole new challenge that can presently be tuned up to Mayhem 4.
You can start with Mayhem Mode 1 and work all the way up to 4, or just skip straight it if you’re feeling particularly masochistic.
Of course, you’ll earn better loot in return, and every map has different modifiers. It’s always changing up how you play, making Borderlands more modular as an experience than it’s ever been before.
References and Easter Eggs
Borderlands is well known for its references and Easter eggs, from funny weapons to character spoofs, and beyond.
I love accidentally stumbling upon these, as it always feels like a unique and memorable moment – especially when you get a cool new gun out of it.
One of my favourite Easter eggs that I’ve found in my time playing the game thus far is the one of the Stranger Things references.
While roaming about in The Droughts, I naturally came across some skags. Standard Borderlands fare, nothing weird so far, right?
Then one popped out that was slightly different to the rest…
I was so focused on fighting the others that I immediately clock its name. The little guy was called ‘The Demoskaggon!’
I love Stranger Things, so I though this was a really fun twist on the iconic Demogorgon from the show.
Thinking beyond my own enjoyment of Borderlands 3, one of the best things about the game is that it can be enjoyed by all kinds of players, regardless of ability.
The accessibility options are thoroughly extensive. Subtitles are not just for speech, but for sound effects and atmsopheric details as well (the size of these text boxes and their opacity can also be fine-tuned), providing some great options for players with limited sight and hearing.
Fully customisable controls, aim-snapping for targets, and even character class abilities (such as FL4K’s beast-related powers) are the sort of thoughtful options that are leading the industry now.
Grant Stoner of Can I Play That? (a review site specifically for accessibility) gave Borderlands 3 a perfect 10/10 raring for mobility accessibility, writing:
“Borderlands 3 is the literal embodiment of physical accessibility perfection. It is easily my favorite game of 2019.” [Grant Stoner, Can I Play That? – ‘Mobility Review – Borderlands 3’ (17/9/20)]
We’ve previously written about how Gears 5 similarly set new standards for commitment to accessibility as well with Microsoft’s commitment to the mantra “When everyone plays, we all win.”
In the case of Borderlands 3, the developers at Gearbox have sent a clear message that the same thing applies here.
I could write several thousand more words of live about this game, this just a taste of what Borderlands 3 has to offer. If you’ve not played it yet, we absolutely recommend it – particularly as you’ll be spending a lot of time at home over the coming weeks!
What’s your favourite thing about Borderlands – be it the series, or the third mainline instalment? Let us know!
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