“Hey there superfans!”
Are you ready for tales of adventure, heroes, villains and lots and lots of loot? Then do I have a game (and series) for you!
Welcome back to Pandora kiddos — let’s talk about the fifth installment of the Borderlands games. No you are not hallucinating; Borderlands 3 is the fifth game of this series.
The game was released in mid-September on all platforms and has been a long-awaited continuation of the story of vault hunters on the legendary planet Pandora. And if you haven’t played the game, well here is your warning: Spoilers ahead!
First, let’s start with the premise of the game: You are one of four vault hunters answering the call of the Firehawk — Borderlands 1 playable character Lilith — to help stop the twin gods and Children of the Vault from destroying the universe. They claim to be in possession of the key to open the Great Vault.
Many familiar faces return from previous games, including ones that have died.
As with the previous games, players have the choice of four characters: Amara the siren, Moze the gunner, Fl4k the beastmaster and Zane the operative.
Each of these vault hunters have something unique to add to the game, and seem to be a bit more fleshed out compared to the previous games. Players are able to play each character multiple ways depending on how they build out the character’s skill trees.
According to a November interview with Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford, Gearbox will not be adding any more vault hunters — a la Borderlands 2 expansions that added Kreig the psycho and Gaige the mechromancer — because they want to focus on the four they already have. There are all sorts of cosmetic enhancements to be found or bought in the game. But the biggest change this time are the skill trees, where players spend action points earned in the game to enhance their vault hunter’s abilities.
There are so many different ways to build out the characters via these skill trees, along with mods, shields, weapons and artifacts, that players can constantly find new ways to play them.
Intro and mechanics aside, the story focuses on twin sirens who want to be gods. There is a lot of talk about sirens in this game, as they are the central focus. According to Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2, there can only be six at a time and, as we learn through the games, they are all female — but spoiler: one in Borderlands 3 is male!
I do not in any way want to give away the HUGE plot twist in the game. But Gearbox threw so many twists and turns into this story, you are going to feel trolled by the time you figure it all out. But it is worth it.
As in the second game, you are greeted by Marcus, the biggest arms dealer on Pandora, after the opening credits and you are transported to some random area on Pandora to meet up with CL4P-TP (claptrap). This time, the vault hunter is greeted by Lilith as the voice in their head as she explains the situation and the start of what is to transpire.
Your mission: Keep the twin gods — Troy and Tyreen Calypso — from finding the vaults and opening the Great Vault. The vault hunters find out the twins and their cult claim to be in possession of a map that shows the location of the Great Vault. Of course, Lilith needs the vault hunters to get it so they can figure out where the vault is located.
The first part of the game is spent trekking around Pandora, rescuing Vaughn and his magnificent tighty whities. BANDIT LYFE!
After that, gameplay shifts to finding the key and taking out the biggest voice for the Children of the Vault at the radio center. Then it is grand escape time, but of course the Calypso twins are not going to let you or the Crimson Raiders off Pandora that easily.
After escaping Pandora, the Crimson Raiders head to Promethea, home of the Atlas Corporation, which is at war with Maliwan for control of the planet. Other stops include Athenas, a serene planet home to a monastery; Eden-6, a prehistoric planet; and the lost planet of Nekrotafeyo.
New characters introduced along the way include Lorelei, former barista and leader of the resistance on Promethea; Ava, an aspiring vault hunter; Wainwright Jakobs, heir of the Jakobs Corporation; and of course the legend of the first vault hunter, Typhon DeLeon.
You will also get a familiar voice in Ice-T as he plays the navigator BALEX when you search for the vault key fragments. During this time Dr. Patricia Tanis, who we know from all the games as a scientist who has no idea about social conventions, is devising a way to keep Tyreen from leeching power from the vault monster. But we find this to be her downfall, as she is kidnapped after opening the Eden-6 vault and making sure Tyreen can’t leech the monster.
Then it is back to Pandora for another celebrity cameo from none other than Penn and Teller as Pain and Terror at Carnivora. And if you are looking for Easter eggs, don’t get distracted by the Rakkman symbol in the sky as you chase down the moving carnival to save Tanis. But, here we find out why the twins have been hoarding eridium and purple crystal that is abundant on Pandora and is used by sirens to enhance their power.
Here we find Troy leeching the power from his sister as they attempt to charge the key to open the Great Vault. And guess who gets to stop them? The vault hunters. The battle against Troy is one of the hardest in the game; he is more powerful than some of the vault monsters, but once he is defeated …
Well that’s the end …
Or is it?
Well played Gearbox.
I won’t ruin it, but don’t worry, it is more than worth the shock-and-awe factor that comes next. But this is where I leave you as far as the story is concerned. I’m going to take a page out of the developers’ book and make you want to scream and then go. “oh,” when you play the game.
I have completed the game as a siren twice and am starting a play through as a gunner. I have always favored the sirens; there’s something about being able to cast spells and help other players that appeals to me. Sirens are not the best for solo play, but they are fantastic in their own right.
I have completed all the side missions and found the majority of the echo logs and Eridian writings. My feeling is, given all that was put into this game, if no other Borderlands game ever comes out, I will be happy with the explanations and closure this one gives.
My favorite part of the game is the depth that is put into it.
Not only do you get to leave Pandora, you also get to meet new characters and learn more about the backgrounds of others. Some of the side missions give some definitive depth, both in the main story and the Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot expansion.
Speaking of the expansion, it was touted to be at least a good seven hours of gameplay, and boy did it deliver. This was one I was extremely excited about the moment the first trailers were announced. I have played through it, done all the side quests and more. It was well worth the time put into it.
But back to the main story.
I was more than pleased with the shot Gearbox took at video game streamers and some of the toxic culture that surrounds it. The twins are EchoNet streamers and amass their cult following in this way. And, of course, given that the bandits of Pandora are pretty much brainless morons, thanks to Atlas and Hyperion, they blindly follow the twins they see as gods.
There are many other references in the game, but this seems to be the central theme.
I would have loved to have had more of a few characters but I was happy with what we got. My advice: Be a completionist, you will not regret it. Do the side quests, find Typhon’s logs and stashes, grab those random echo logs, explore the area, get those kill-and-hunt targets. You will be happy you did.
“Don’t forget to Like, Follow and Obey!”