For fans of the series, the wait for a new Borderlands game was an interminable string of teases and pseudo confirmations, but following its official announcement earlier this year, it feels like the game’s launch is now suddenly ready to mow us down.
And now at Gamescom they’ve started to talk about the end game. Though not built up quite like other shooter RPG hybrids as a game to consume your life with an endless stream of live content, Gearbox would certainly like for you to stick around, and a such have the returning Circle of Slaughter (with Torgue sponsoring it once more) and the new Proving Grounds.
Circle of Slaughter is your typical horde mode, as you battle against wave after wave of enemies, but Proving Grounds are just that little bit more interesting. In either case, you can play them solo or in the series’ traditional co-op multiplayer – and here there’s two player split screen or up to four player online.
Proving Grounds are found out in the worlds that you visit with an Eridian alien script marking their location. Find these markers and you’ll be able to take on one of the Masters’ challenges, stepping into a string of arenas and fighting to earn rewards. You know, you’ve done some shooting, to get your looting.
Watched by the Overseer, you’ve got three of these arenas to get through, needing to clear each of enemies before facing a final boss. How well you do can determine the quality of loot you get, with optional challenges like offing a Fallen Guardian that roams the level, not dying and completing it with a certain amount of time remaining on the clock. It naturally lends itself well to replaying and could become a staple for those that want to get in a quick 30 minute Borderlands session without much fuss.
As for the gameplay? Well, it’s Borderlands, isn’t it? You kind of know exactly what to expect here and Gearbox aren’t about to upset the apple cart with wholesale changes to the core loop – the one big thing they have changed is that there’s individual instead of shared loot by default.
What I will say is that, where I struggled to really get into and enjoy the first two games, Borderlands 3 feels that bit more refined and engaging. Part of that will almost certainly be down to now having years of Destiny and The Division under my belt, as well as simply being handed a high powered level 30 character of my choice – I picked Moze the Gunner with her summonable mech ultimate – but the weapon design also feels that bit wackier and more fun.
Again, there’s the proviso that I had endgame gear at my disposal, but I really liked my biological-looking laser rifle which is cooled down by pouring a bottle of water on it, not to mention the awesome fire-spitting rapid fire shotgun that churned through the insectoid creatures I was battling.
Things really get spiced up with new alternate fire and secondary modes, though. What makes a Gatling machine pistol even better? Being able to switch to a clip of electrical bolt bullets for some elemental damage, of course. Of course we’ll have to wait and see how the early weapons in the game feel as well – perhaps I’ll boot up Borderlands 3 and be turned off by some uninspiring weapons that feel like I’m splashing enemies with a water gun – but the crazy treats of the end game certainly await.
Borderlands 3 definitely feels like it’s checking the boxes for fans of the series by essentially being more Borderlands. That said, it’s also clear that the intervening years have allowed the game’s design to evolve just that little bit beyond where it was in 2012, making some nice quality of life improvements, adding even more inventive ideas into the weapon system, and more. Oh, and also it’s out in just a few weeks time. That helps!