The Borderlands 3 reveal at PAX East earlier this year had fans screeching in pure joy, with a lot of them having waited for the third instalment since the release of the second game back in 2012 when it landed on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. We all know Borderlands 3 is happening and now we know plenty about the game that's heading to store shelves on September 13.
And so we were invited to Los Angeles to witness the gameplay reveal as well as play Borderlands 3 for a whopping 180 minutes, and after having sampled its delights for three hours we most certainly have some cool information to share with you all.
Upon entering the event building, which was adorned with psycho masks from floor to ceiling, we were led to our seats for the gameplay reveal presentation (the official gameplay reveal can be found on the official Borderlands Twitch channel if you're interested). During this session, we got to see playable character Amara, a powerful Siren, early on in the game (the very beginning, in fact), and she was quickly approached by Commander Claptrap, who seemed to be as annoying/lovable as ever.
After learning how to use the basic controls, Amara is off to infiltrate a Children of the Vault cult stronghold with her useless, robotic friend. This cult is an interesting one as it ties in with the two new streamer-inspired antagonists (or live-screamers as they're called in Borderlands 3 - no, we're serious, "don't forget to like, comment and obey" was an actual line of theirs) that'll bug you throughout the game, the Calypso twins Tyreen and Troy. The cult sees the twins as gods and considers the vaults spread across the universe as their birthright, however, as a vault hunter, you can't let them have their way. As Amara, you'll join the Crimson Raiders - led by Borderlands veteran Lilith - and while the Calypso twins seem capable of mayhem, the Crimson Raiders are truly badass.
During the reveal gameplay session, Amara could be seen kicking Psycho backside with some outlandish weapons in her arsenal, switching them out every five minutes because let's be real, more is more when we're talking weapons.
It's clear that these weapons have been truly thought out, even more so than in previous instalments. A lot of guns, for example, have alternate firing modes, with some giving you the option to change your burst fire rifle to a fully automatic one, and even change the elements of the bullets. Another might offer grenades in one mode and homing bullets in the other. Our favourite was a rifle that, when reloaded, had the player's character throw the gun in front of them, creating a tiny gun on legs, shooting all in its sight. Apparently, there are weapons aplenty and we can assure you that Borderlands fans won't be disappointed.
While on the topic of loot, we were told a bit more about the new optional loot system. This system negates those loot-ninja friends that we all have, and it's designed to stop someone from stealing a cool gun from in front of your very eyes. Instead, the new system gives all co-op players separate loot. This means that a higher-level character playing with a lower-level one will be guaranteed to get a level-appropriate gun out of that outhouse when looting it, as will their co-op partner.
Co-op isn't forced, and you can play the game by yourself if you wish, but should you need some help from another player you can both unleash mayhem in split-screen as well as venture online. The co-op feature, which we didn't get to try during our hands-on, seems like the way to play the game, unsurprisingly given the origins of the series. The gameplay reveal presentation had two developers going up against the Children of the Vault together, playing two different classes that seemed to work very well when paired up, with the duo executing their tactical plans to get an advantage during combat.
Going back to Amara. Apart from the weapons, there will, of course, be fun abilities to use and we got to check them out. Amara, the Siren, has three separate skill trees, or classes if you will, all of which let you switch out "ultimates" or the main class power, upgrades and augments. The main class powers for the Siren are a slam ability where Amara jumps up and then slams back down, dealing damage and stunning enemies; a sphere that pulls enemies and lifts them up, rendering them helpless; and a type of force charge where she sends an energy projectile into enemies, damaging them in a straight line in front of her. You can upgrade these as well as basic stats within the skill tree of your class of choice, unlocking new upgrades along the way, and while most of the upgrades are passive, the augments are socketed. It's also worth noting that while Amara can only equip one of the class skills, Zane can equip two, with one being switched for his grenade slot on the right bumper (in terms of his skills, he seems like more of a jack-of-all-trades).
When in combat, which felt exceptionally smooth, you'll be shooting the heads off of bandits, sliding around to avoid incoming fire, kicking elemental barrels into enemies for massive damage (to both your enemies and yourself if you're not careful), blasting enemies through cover, and even shooting valves off of pipes and thus revealing streams of oil or radioactive fluid that you can then use to your advantage. Player movement feels fluid and climbing up on a ledge and jumping down to surprise your enemies from behind will help you quite a bit. There's plenty of new and interesting mechanics at play here, is what we're trying to say.
Another thing that's pretty interesting about the upcoming game is its hub and the reason for it being in space. Sanctuary 3 is a massive space ship where you'll meet up with all your friends, old and new, hang out in your private quarters, and take on missions. Speaking of missions taken on from Sanctuary 3, you won't just be lingering on Pandora, Borderlands 3 lets you travel across different systems and while we don't know just how many locations you can travel to, it's safe to say that Borderlands 3 is expanding the franchise both in terms of size and innovation.
The environments and the different locations you'll get to explore are, because of the space travel, rather varied. While we only got to see a fraction of them, we were shown cyberpunk-neon aesthetics, barren wastelands, high-tech factories, and holy broadcast centres (yes, you read that right) - there's no doubt that Borderlands 3 will be bringing plenty of variety for players to enjoy. While on a given planet, you'll get to experience vehicular action, great combat, fantastic-looking environments, and both main missions and side content - all of it with an underlying comedic tone and extra crisp graphics.
We're not done with our event coverage, though. As a matter of fact, at the time of writing we should be streaming the game from the event, we have some gameplay up on the site for your viewing pleasure, and we're excited to bring you more information as we move closer to the game's launch on PC, PS4, and Xbox One this September. Stay tuned.