It’s hard to comprehend that Borderlands 2 came out over 7 years ago. The colourful and hugely influential looter shooter was a massive hit on last generation consoles, and it saw no shortage of DLC and re-releases in the years since. A fully fledged sequel, though, has been a very long time in the making. Thankfully, the time has finally come, and Borderlands 3 will soon be here to remind us all what looting and shooting is all about.
During E3, I got a chance to see a developer walkthrough of some of the new and updated features coming to Borderlands 3 behind closed doors. The presentation started by going over some interesting online features. The developers said that they wanted a way to make it so that even solo-players had a reason to get involved with their friends and the community, leading to some new online functionality that helps seamlessly connect you to other players.
Whenever you go to a gun shop, for example, a few of the items you’ll see on sale are actually guns that your friends sold to merchants in their own game. Furthermore, Borderlands 3 is littered with rare enemies who will drop special loot and provide an extra challenge in battle. If a friend of yours encounters one of these enemies, you’ll be able to go to an area of your massive home-base to access procedurally generated missions created specifically for you to relive the encounter with that very same rare enemy. Of course, the game will still be best experienced with friends in the full co-op multiplayer, but little twists like this will help add a little extra spice for those playing solo. Not only that, but it sounds like a good way to bring even more replayability into the game.
The walkthrough continued by going over the returning customization system for the game. In Borderlands 2, you had equippable heads and a variety of skins that changed the patterns and colors of your character outfits. Borderlands 3 expands this system dramatically, and as a big fan of visual customisation, I couldn’t be more excited having more ways to show off when playing with friends. On top of an even wider variety of head types and skins, there are new full skins you can obtain that dramatically alter the entire design of your character. Color schemes on your character and their skins can also be fully customized by picking different colors for the primary, secondary and tertiary colors of the outfits.
We also got a chance to see some of the new planets you’ll be visiting in Borderlands 3, both of which make a nice change from the mostly brown and barren wastelands of Borderlands 2. Promethea, as shown off for the game’s first gameplay reveal, is made up of sleek, sky-scraping buildings and sleek neon lights and is by far the most strikingly different, but Eden-6 changes it up as you battle through dank feeling swamplands.
In terms of visual fidelity, it maybe doesn’t feel like a massive leap from Borderlands 2, but that’s more of a testament to the staying power of the series’ art style as a whole. It takes that same heavily cel-shaded style and simply makes things a bit sharper. It certainly isn’t a bad thing, but considering how long it’s been since Borderlands 2 first came out, it would have been nice to see some truly jaw-dropping advances or changes in the visuals of the game. You can certainly get a good chunk of the same feel from Borderlands 2’s 4K update.
Overall, though, Borderlands 3 is shaping up to be a hell of a package. The baddy-blasting action and gun-hoarding of the last game is only amplified, on top of being complemented by new customisation features and some really intriguing new online mechanics. It’s been a long time coming, but with a showing like this, I’m confident that the wait for Borderlands 3 will be well worth it.