31/01/2021

๐ŸŽฎ Borderlands 3 | Review | X Box Series X | "My First Next-Gen Experience" ๐ŸŽฎ @Borderlands #XBOXSERIESX

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This Borderlands 3 review may seem like a weird one as it’s effectively written for a game that’s well over a year old but the Borderlands series has always been an oddity for me.

I played the first and second games in local co-op with two different people and then the Pre-Sequel I played alone. Admittedly, in the single-player instance with the Pre-Sequel (2014), I was really surprised with how much fun it was and how it held together as I’d always viewed the series as a primarily co-op experience.

I can’t put my finger on why - especially as it’s one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world – but to me, Gearbox’s series always oddly feels like an underdog, for some reason. In the case of Borderlands 3, I was waiting for a time when I could inhale the game alongside GF stablemate Co-Op Chris, but due to events ongoing, it was not to be. 

Through pure good fortune, I managed to snag both an Xbox Series X and a review code for Borderlands 3, which has been upgraded on Microsoft’s new console to run at 60fps at 4K.

"Quite frankly, I wasn’t expecting to be as blown away by it as I was. It’s good, it is. (trousers off)"

Very much in the same vein as previous games in the series, Borderlands opens with some dusty blues music, a cut scene in which someone gets killed and then introduces the playable characters; Amara – Siren, Zane – Operative, Moze – Gunner and Fl4k – Beastmaster, in extremely snappy, over-the-top fashion. I went straight for the Beastmaster as I thought having an animal to assist would benefit me the most in the single-player campaign that I was embarking on.

The game is gorgeous. There were two graphic modes pre-sets to choose from, focusing on either resolution or performance. I tried out Resolution mode initially, assuming I’d switch due to frame-rate issues but it ran so smoothly that I ended up staying on the mode throughout my run.

The game runs so smoothly with no hiccups that I was completely entrenched in the action. Whether I was in a pitched gun battle with seemingly dozens of bandits, hurtling full-pelt along a  dusty basin in a garishly-coloured vehicle whilst peppering enemies with rockets or simply making my way through a towering neon city with lasers darting across the sky like futuristic fireworks in a rare moment of peace, I spent the entire game mesmerised at the visual glory. Even as I headed into the last leg of the campaign, I still found myself taking screenshots (something I hardly ever do) and stopping to appreciate the landscapes around me.

Sonically, the game is also a trouser-remover. Behind the satisfying, chunky reload animations and booming gun sounds pumps a soundtrack so tasty that I bought it on vinyl. from the aching and saucy dirty guitar/bass intro that kicks off Sanctuary 3 (a real highlight for me) through ambient soundscapes and to the pulsing trance that acts as a backdrop to boss fights, the seasoned composers here - Jesper Kyd and Michael McCann among them – are really on form.

As previously stated, for some reason I always end up playing the Borderlands games at least a year after their release, even though I clearly enjoy them and yet Borderlands 3 was oddly familiar in the characters, tone and world-building.

As the various characters from previous entries made their appearances, I was shocked at how much I recalled from the franchise and how the childish but light-hearted humour felt well-pitched.

I got vibes of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla in this regard, in how it feels iterative of former releases but now feels unfettered by previous technological limitations and has been refined to its zenith.

The game feels almost perfect from a mechanical perspective, load times that are ‘blink and you’ll miss them’, ultra-smooth, eye-wateringly tasty visuals and collision detection that feels pin-point accurate. Good.

I have no idea why Borderlands always seems to pass me by. Perhaps I forgot how much I enjoyed the series or assumed that it’s more geared to online play, but the truth is, it has always been an extremely solid and fun franchise that has rarely put a foot wrong.

What a way to kick off my introduction to the Xbox Series X.

Right, I’m off to listen to the record. 

Rating: 9/10

Game Title: Borderlands 3

Platform Reviewed: Xbox Series X

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