Borderlands 3 Review

Borderlands 3: Two Fun-Filled Weeks, an Untold Number of Bugs, and a Big Ol’ Bunch of Guns

By Kyle Siegel

Reviewed on Xbox One X

Usually when a game is released this broken, the general populous is up in arms. However, that isn’t the case for this reviewer. While I have used my fair share of expletives playing this game, especially when the game decides to completely shut down my One X while trying to party up with friends, I have had so much fun that I don’t seem to mind…much. After two weeks and a smattering of days, I have amassed close to 75 hours of game time. During that time my Xbox has shut down about a dozen times, and when playing the Circles of Slaughter enemies have phased through the background never to return to the land of the killable more times than I care to count. Another issue that is unforgivable is the inability to play the game in performance mode. While playing in performance mode, the game stutters, freezes up, and kicks you to the main menu. Of course playing in resolution mode is definitely pretty in 4K, but I would like to enjoy the 60 fps that were promised. Even though several hot fixes have been released in the past week, they have not addressed these issues. They have seemed to primarily nerf loot drops and fix several interface issues. Now that I have the obligatory complaining out of the way, I can focus on the things Borderlands 3 has done well.

Borderlands 3 at its core is an irreverent looter shooter that ticks all of the boxes with what I want from a game of this type. The humor laced throughout the game keeps you looking forward to the next interaction with whatever NPC happens to wander in front of you. The jokes come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Some are in your face while some are so subtle you have to ask yourself if you just heard what you thought you heard. The pop culture references alone are worth the price of admission so to speak. While the humor is great, humor alone can’t hold your attention if the core gameplay isn’t there. Borderlands 3 doesn’t reinvent the wheel in the gameplay aspect, but it is distinctly Borderlands and that is great. Over the years the Borderlands games have had a distinct feel that has separated them from the rest of the shooter pack, and Borderlands 3 has continued that trend. Once again the player has four new characters in which to choose from. These characters are as different from one another in their play style as they were in the previous games. A returning feature for Borderlands 3 is the ability to build your character from three different skill trees. No two character builds will be the same depending on which play style the player chooses to use. Players can choose from the non-binary “Beastmaster” FL4K, the “Siren” Amara, the “Gunner” Moze, and the “Operative” Zane. For my first playthrough I chose to go with FL4K. FL4K is a sentient robot that focuses on Critical Hit damage, as well as having three different pet companions to choose from. Without getting too deep into each character, it is safe to say that there is a character and a build for everyone out there playing this game. 

When playing through the story mode, players will encounter enemies that will remain challenging enough to fight so long as you don’t choose to grind like I did and continue to do. My recommendation is to play through the story first and then focus on grinding for levels and equipment after the fact if you wish the core game to stay challenging. If, however, you the player enjoy blasting through late stage bosses with the greatest of ease then by all means grind. Grind to your heart’s content. Grind like you are a daytime stripper trying to pay your kids’ way through college. When playing with friends, the game is nice enough to scale the enemies to each player’s level so there is still a challenge. If grinding is your cup of tea or if you just crave sweet, sweet money, then I recommend playing through the Circles of Slaughter. Circles is a wave based challenge that will grant those lucky enough to make it through glitch-free with obscene amounts of weapons and cash. Cash is king and if you want good Ol’ Marcus to level up the capacity of your ammo, bank, backpack, ect., then you will need a boatload of it. The downside of Circles is that you will level up so many times. While this is usually a good thing, see my previous complaint about being overpowered during the first playthrough of the story. There are several other modes in which to explore, but seeing as I haven’t played through them, I shall not comment at this time. Finally this brings us to one last thing…

GUN PORN. That’s right, Gun Porn. The Borderlands series of games have always boasted an obscene amount of guns and gear for the aspiring vault hunters out there, and this game doesn’t disappoint. There is nothing quite as satisfying as taking down a boss only to have a sea of white, green, blue, orange, and yellow rain down upon the glorious battlefield. Again, with any Borderlands games, minus Tales from the Borderlands, guns and gear reign supreme. If you don’t like the guns and gear you have at the moment, new ones are only a battle away. Just one word of advice. Don’t get too attached to that special gun of yours. It will soon be outdated and causing you more grief than it is worth. Guns and gear, much like the times, they are a-changin’. 

When all is said and done, Borderlands 3 is definitely worth picking up if you are a fan of the series or just mayhem in general. Sure the bugs and glitches are beyond annoying, but those things will be patched out of existence. If you like to laugh, blow pixelated things and people up, and lust after loot, then Borderlands 3 is the game for you. I would give it 9 out of 10 Claptraps. Now quit reading this and go blow up some cannibal Psychos. I heard them talking smack behind your back.

Focus Group

Focus Groups are live streams of games that I’ve either never played, or are curious about playing more of. They are meant to decide whether or not I would like to continue playing them/possibly stream them, or trade them in/uninstall them. As always, it will update (hopefully) regularly with new games and content.

Assassin’s Creed 2 (Xbox 360)

Resident Evil: Revelations (XB1)

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Ashen

Headlander

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Hollow Knight

Double Dragon Neon

Shenmue 1 Remastered

Resident Evil 2

Red Dead Online Beta

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Dante’s Inferno

VANQUISH

Celeste

Dangerous Golf

Watch_Dogs 2

No New Games

Video games press is a tough business to stay on top of. New games are constantly releasing, and there are tons of websites and streamers covering those games immediately. I would love to buy every new game on day one and cover it, but I simply can’t afford to, nor do I have the time. Therefore, I’ve decided to let them have those games (unless there is one I feel I just can’t miss.) Instead, I will pick thru every clearance bin I see, and grab games I have never heard of (or have always wanted to play), as well as finally finishing up the games I already own. Some I will review, some I will stream, and some I will Live or Snap Look. We’ll see how I feel that moment. Please check back in, as I will be adding more as time goes on…

 

Very good game.  I recommend playing it with at least one other player at or around your level, though.  I started to get very frustrated playing by myself, so I opted to wait for reinforcements.  I would also like a few more options for customizing my character, as well, other than simple skins…and for God’s sake, shut that damn robot up.  The shooting feels really good, though, and the loot is addictive as hell.

 

 

Another really good game.  I’m a huge fan of Far Cry 3, and this is that on steroids.  The shooting feels good, and the environment is wonderful.  The main missions are captivating, as are the side quests.  I wish the skill trees were more inviting, though.  Overall, there were only a couple of skills that really enticed me.  That’s easily overlooked, though, as the gameplay is a ton of fun.  Those damned eagles are a menace, however.  They must be stopped.

 

No Man’s Sky Impressions and (Moderate) Coverage

*** I have been on vacation in the wilderness of the Show-Me state, and shall be for a spell.  No PS4, which means no No Man’s Sky for the duration, so please be patient, and definitely check back in a week or so. Until then, enjoy the random gameplay, and let me know what you think. ***

As you may have deduced from my No Man’s Sky Preview, I’m pretty damn excited for this game. I know the basics, I’m alone in a procedurally generated universe, and I need to make it to the center of the galaxy.  What I don’t know, is everything else. What will I see, and what creatures will I discover?  I’m about to find out, kiddos! Perhaps I’m hyped for nothing, and it’s not what I think it will be. Perhaps I’m right in the excitement…

*Possible spoilers ahead*

The first fifteen minutes recorded live:

After dying in a space battle yesterday, this Douglas Adams quote popped up:

Being as Douglas is my favorite author, I was naturally ecstatic to see this. But then, about an hour later,Voyageracross this beauty:

The Heart of Gold.  Zaphod must be near by…

I had no other option, than to name the planet, Magrathea.

 

Misc. gameplay footage. No commentary, just me playing the game.

I found a black hole!

…and then, the second before I reached the other side, the game crashed…yep…so I reloaded, and went through again.  Unfortunately, it didn’t record that footage for some reason.  However, I recorded some of where it took me, and I was able to snag some screen shots, too.

I’ve spent quite a few hours in NMS since it’s release, and, honestly, I’ve gotten a bit bored.  Regardless of others’ opinions, I do not blame Hello Games for this.  I blame myself, and my small attention span.  HG has provided me with a space sim worthy of boldly going.  However, it does get a bit repetitive.  Everything I wanted is there, aside from more diverse planets and systems.  Trading is simple and effective, if also repetitive (which is fine.  I don’t need a complex trade system. Easier the better.)  Crafting works very well, and there is a seemingly endless supply of new tech to build and upgrade.  My advice, just focus on what you need to propel your ship, and the rest can be had in any (so far) solar systems.  They all seem very similar, basically only changing the colors of the environments.  Although, on different accounts, I did see rather unique changes in wildlife and vegetation.  I have NOT made it to the center of the galaxy, nor have I solved the Atlas mystery.  I have been distracted by other external stimuli, as it were, and shifted my focus from Sci-Fi to Horror.  The space travel is fun, though, and I do intend to finish the game.  Hopefully before Halloween, as it is drawing near.

*UPDATE*

For the love of everything holy, upgrade your hyper drive. Before my upgrade,  I could only go as far as the next system in a warp jump.  This method takes a loooooong time if you are trying to reach the center, or are following the Atlas storyline. After the upgrade to only the Warp Reactor Sigma, I was able to jump the entire way to the next Atlas Interface…seen below. 

Also, just for kicks:

Following the Atlas path, and not currently heading toward the center of the galaxy, I have been to a system already discovered by another player. It was an odd feeling, I won’t lie. 

Also, being as I’ve decided to play as Tom Paris of Voyager separated from the ship with the Delta Flyer, I’ve had to consider the fact that Tom’s brainwashed. He should be heading toward the center, and back to Voyager.  Perhaps, however, he smelled a rat, and went undercover to expose the possibly evil Atlas…Either way, it has to play out now. It’s the only way…
As always, stay tuned, kiddos…

Xenoblade Chronicles X

Developed by Monolith Soft, and published by Nintendo, Xenoblade Chronicles X for the Wii U is a fantastic open world JRPG designed with a grand scale in mind.  Awe-inspiring visuals and a good combat system all but make up for the underdeveloped story.  Xenoblade Chronicles X gets several things right, and several things wrong.  What is right, works really well, and what isn’t, well, doesn’t.

Firstly, Xenoblade is a huge open world.  Throughout the game, you will traverse five continents spread out across the planet Mira, as you collect items, complete missions, and hunt monsters.  Each region is completely different from the last, as they range from lush, green fields, to a ruin-laden desert.  While each region boasts their very own style of flora, fauna, and family of creatures, one cannot help but see the same sort of animals pop up constantly, if only changed slightly in color or features.   This helps you prepare for battle, knowing what each monster’s weakness is, but also gets just a bit boring.  Mira is a constant joy to look at, despite this small criticism.  I found myself several times, simply standing in one spot listening to the wind in the weeds, or watching a level 92 dinosaur creature mosey through the lower-level animals to the nearest watering hole for a drink.  The scope of the world is fleshed out nicely in Xenoblade, leaving you to gawk at a thousand-foot-tall ruin, a mountain looming overhead, or an enemy towering 100 feet over you.  I felt like I was constantly looking up, but that’s alright, because there was always something to look at.  While most things in the massive open world look fairly detailed and up-to-date from afar, graphically speaking, textures blur wen you get up close.  I understand sacrificing some for the better good, and the grander scope, but I felt a strong disconnect when I approached a beautifully crafted platform, rock, or rhino-like creature, only to have the pixels flatten out to an unrecognizable degree.

mira_xenoblade_chronicles_30_minutes

Traversing the world is loads of fun, albeit rather difficult in the beginning.  On foot, Mira is a savage world, full of baddies to annihilate you before you even see them.  Exploring can be frustrating, also, because, while you may be able to see where you want to go, you can’t get there on foot.  Luckily, nearly half way through the game, you receive a mech suit (called a “Skell”) that will allot you better defense, and a boosted jump.  This jump boost allows you to reach places before unseen, but also teases you with now visible platforms and areas which you will only be able to reach with the (even later earned) flight ability.  Yes, you can fly…eventually.  It’s just as fun as it sounds, too.  Initially, forcing me to wait to pilot a skell was very irritating.  However, it gave me a chance to really get the combat system down while on foot, and made me feel like I was truly earning the privilege to pilot one of the fantastic suits.

Combat is a very involved beast in Xenoblade.  Throughout the game, you earn “battle points” which can be used to upgrade “arts”.  Arts are simply skills you use in battle.  While working together with your party and initiating proper commands via button prompts, arts can be used to aggro an enemy, take advantage of critical hit chances, bind enemies in force fields, or heal party members (this one is very important, as there are no healing items to be used in battle.)  As you max out your arts, you’ll find some that you like, and some that you don’t.  All of which, after learning, can be swapped out and leveled up as you see fit.

Regardless of how good the world looks, and how much fun it is to traverse, it does get a bit tiresome running back and forth for various quests.  For example, a great many side missions involve the typical “fetch quest”, forcing you to go to one side of the map, kill or collect something, then bring you back to the original side for a couple of lines of dialogue.  This is exceptionally aggravating with story missions, as they require you to travel and complete side missions each time before continuing the campaign.  This does bring a bit more disconnect to the story, and would more so, had they not included fast travel (this can be used anytime to visit places you’ve discovered via the gamepad) into the mix.

The story, itself, is rather lacking.  It’s nothing very original, as we’ve seen similar scenarios used before, and the dialogue is very cheesy in parts.  I did feel for a couple of the characters, but not enough to really care what happened to them in the end.  One place the story fell flat for me was the constant use of one lame joke.  The characters, Lin mainly, threatened to cook Tatsu, a potato looking creature, many times throughout the campaign.  It wasn’t very amusing at first, and by the end of the 100 hours, it got downright irritating.  The story, otherwise, is pretty simple:  Earth was destroyed by an alien war.  Before it was blown away, however, an enormous ship with millions of people aboard managed to escape, only to crash land on the planet Mira, leaving many people unaccounted for.  Rebuilding their civilization with a settlement called, “NLA” or New Los Angeles as the central hub, your job is to travel the world, collect specimens and resources, as well as plant data probes (to be used to locate the missing parts of the ship and mine minerals and resources).

Multiplayer plays a bit part in Xenoblade this time around, too.  Players can team up online to battle enemies and collect gear, as well as complete squad tasks.  It can get rather enthralling if you have the correct balance of players available; however, I could only get the server to stay connected for short bursts, forcing me to play the majority of the game offline.  If no real person is available to battle alongside you, you do always have the option of scouting avatars for a limited amount of time.  These avatars can be found throughout the world, with a friendly greeting, and a full list of stats to consider.

Xenoblade-Chronicles-X-20

The music of Xenoblade is charming at first, and very reminiscent of early 90s games in parts.  However, some tracks do get a bit daunting as they are played repeatedly without a break.  If the tracks were to be broken up and shuffled, there would be no issue, as they are genuinely good.  I would just like a break sometimes.  The sounds of the game, though, are spot on.  Running, swimming, and jumping all sound very lifelike, as do the many movements of the world’s creatures.  An issue I had with the sound, was that it could not be adjusted through any settings options.  The music, although repetitive, could have been much more tolerable, had I been able to turn it down during dialogue and story cinemas.  Thankfully, the option to turn on subtitles was available, as I would not have known any story details otherwise.

Xenoblade Chronicles X is a good game, filled with hours and hours of things to behold, do, and explore.  While the music can be somewhat overwhelming, and the dialogue a bit stereotypical of science fiction themes, the gameplay and visuals are enough to bring you in for the long haul.  By far, the best looking game on the Wii U, XCX will keep you busy for a long time.

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