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Borderlands 3 Preview: The original loot shooter makes a welcome comeback

Borderlands 3 is the latest entry in Gearbox Software’s beloved loot shooter franchise, bringing with it a range of new vault hunters alongside improved gunplay, multiple planets to explore and so much more.

With its older brother having launched way back in 2012, this third installment arrives in a world where loot-based shooters have utterly transformed the gaming landscape. So, it has a lot of competition to go up against.

But having played it, we think it has a chance of being one of the very best. Trusted Reviews has compiled everything you need to know about Borderlands 3 including all the latest news, gameplay, trailers, release date and our hands-on preview from E3 2019. 

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Borderlands 3 release date – when is it coming out?

Borderlands 3 will launch on 13 September 2019 for PS4, Xbox One and Windows PC via the Epic Games Store.

Borderlands 3 trailer –All the latest footage you need to see

Borderlands 3 Gameplay Preview – Hands-on at E3 2019

The RPG shooter experience has come a long way since Borderlands 2 launched back in 2012. Heck, it’s practically evolved into its own genre with the likes of Destiny 2, The Division 2 and other ill-fated attempts such as Anthem trying to dominate the minds of players with oodles of content. Oh, and loot. Lots and lots of delicious loot. 

Now, one of the franchises that helped start it all has returned to battle for the throne, and it stands a solid chance of claiming it. From the brief hands-on demo I played at E3 2019, Borderlands 3 is a tremendously good time with tight gunplay, sharp writing and vast environments to do battle within. 

While the gameplay formula hasn’t evolved massively, it remains stupendously enjoyable, and I can see it being even more of a blast with close friends pillaging the universe alongside you. 

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Borderlands 3 Preview

The 15 minutes I spent with Borderlands 3 saw me taking control of Moze, a new class known as The Gunner. She’s a force to be reckoned with even on her lonesome, dishing out some biting offensive abilities for staying alive in a firefight. However, when the going gets tough, she can summon a colossal mech known as The Bear to help out. 

She’s one of four new Vault Hunters making their debut in Borderlands 3; heroes from past games taking a backseat or more prominent speaking roles as part of the wider narrative. I’ll be honest, I’m not hugely invested in the overall mythology of Borderlands, but there’s no denying Gearbox Software has done a stellar job giving this world some serious substance. 

Even characters from the ill-fated Tales from the Borderlands are in the spotlight, bringing all of the pieces back together onto one final chessboard. Like many loot shooters, story will inevitably take a backseat, but having a charming foundation will no doubt pull people in. A few laughs along the way won’t hurt either. 

But enough about the alluring aesthetic, let’s get to the meat of Borderlands 3: all the looting and shooting. If you played any of the previous games, this third instalment will feel immediately familiar. Gunplay possesses the same rapid weight and satisfying feedback whether you’re depleting enemy health bars with bullets, laser beams or wayward projectiles. 

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Borderlands 3 Preview

You’ll choose from millions of firearms throughout Borderlands 3, although my brief hands-on experience only saw me sampling a small handful. I’ll always be a fan of small, fast rifles instead of ones with a low rate of fire, partly because I’m an impatient gal with a love for reckless destruction. Obviously, there’ll be an arsenal of weapons fit for any style, a flexibility also expressed by the robust upgrade system. 

I didn’t have enough time to delve in deep, but it seems you’ll be able to take multiple routes with each Vault Hunter, progressing down a tree of skills throughout the campaign to build the ultimate badass. I’m really excited to experiment with the full roster and especially keen to check out Amara. Yes, I’m talking about how she plays, not the overly buff muscles. 

The demo mission saw me infiltrating a stronghold belonging to The Twins, a new duo of villains taking the place of Handsome Jack. They’re evil, obnoxious and determined the stop the Vault Hunters by any means necessary. Inspired by online influencers, they’ve formed a cult that thousands have decided to follow and devote their lives to. 

I find it wonderfully ironic the big bads of Borderlands 3 are actively poking fun at the influencers being used to promote the game. The tone on display won’t be for everyone. Its sense of humour is purposely abrasive and wacky to the point of arguable annoyance, but it seems Gearbox is of the opinion that if it ain’t broke, the franchise will continue to sell millions of copies. 

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Borderlands 3 Preview

At my assigned level, I did find the brief demo surprisingly challenging. Sprinting into the firefight with reckless abandon led to me being downed multiple times, only beating death to the punch by taking advantage of the returning Second Wind mechanic. Kill a foe while downed and you’ll come back to life, earning another chance to complete your mission. It felt like I should’ve been fighting alongside other players instead of being on my lonesome, though.

Once I entered the stronghold, I was quickly bombarded by announcements on loudspeakers from both The Twins and Mouthpiece, the latter being a nasty piece of work who calls this technotastic facility home. But to take him down, I needed to fight through endless waves of baddies, gunning down all manner of bandits both big and small. The enemy design is largely unchanged compared to Borderlands 2, although the way in which you dispatch them has been spiced up. 

Movement is far more dynamic, taking note of how first-person shooter design has evolved in the past few years. You can mantle over almost any heightened surface, or sprint into a slide with the touch of a button. It feels excellent in motion, made even better by the addition of destructible environments. Take cover behind a wall and gunfire will tear it to pieces, forcing you to stay on your toes, no longer able to cowardly hide in the same place waiting for shields to recharge. 

All of these new adjustments come into their own when I finally went up against Mouthpiece. Taking place across a sprawling dancefloor, it was a colourful, chaotic exercise in endurance. Throughout multiple stages I was darting in random directions, avoiding gunfire while firing as many bullets into the boisterous fellow as I could. It was a blast, and within no time at all I emerged victorious. If I’m honest, it was too easy, but I imagine difficulty will scale when playing with friends. 

First Impressions

Borderlands 3 is definitely more of the same, but after being absent for almost a decade, I don’t have a problem with that. Gunplay is solid, the writing is polarizing yet charming, and there’s bound to be an inconceivable amount of stuff to do in the game’s universe. 

The introduction of multiple planets and your very own spaceship to call home also shows a lot of promise, especially if I can trick it out in a way that really shows off my personality. Claptrap is still like nails on a chalkboard, though. 

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Borderlands 3 Preview

Borderlands 3 class and world details – what’s new to the series?

Borderlands 3 tasks you with using a massive (and we mean massive) arsenal of guns and gadgets to thwart the Calypso Twins from wreaking havoc across the galaxy. Obviously the loony Borderlands humour will be in full effect here, so this certainly won’t be a gritty ‘save the world’ sci-fi story.

You’ll get to pick one of four Vault Hunters to get shooty with, each with their own abilities, play styles and skill trees. The playable characters are:

  • Moze the Gunner
  • Amara the Siren
  • FL4K the Beastmaster
  • Zane the Operative

The Gunner is self explanatory. The Siren is a brawler capable of summoning ghostly fists to do the punching for her. The Beastmaster is just as lazy, getting its chummy critters to deal with the combat. And finally, the Operative is the stealth option, claiming more gadgets and gizmos than Q from James Bond.

There will also be new maps and environments to explore this time round, as you explore worlds beyond the planet Pandora. From desolate deserts to crowded cities, Gearbox Software promises a lot of locations to loot. It was confirmed at a recent gameplay reveal that you’ll call a spaceship known as Sanctuary 3 your home.

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Borderlands 3

This will be your way of exploring the galaxy, customising your hero and befriending the iconic cast of characters. Claptrap, Hammerlock, Moxy and more will be present across the interior. It feels like a fully-fledged town, except you’re floating amidst the stars. 

Setting aside your ship, plenty of big changes are coming to Borderlands 3 in the gameplay department, too. All weapons now possess a secondary fire, aiding in making your arsenal feel infinitely more badass.

A tracking dart could automatically target an enemy for maximum damage while explosive rockets can blast away the armour of foes. Movement has been enhanced too, with all heroes capable of sliding and mantling across the environment. They’ve taken cues from modern shooters, and that’s definitely a good thing.

And with the Borderlands series renown for its co-op mode, there’s a fancy new level-sync system this time round. Whether you’re playing online or split-screen, you can play with any of your friends regardless of level or mission progress. You won’t have to worry about fighting over loot like vultures over a carcass either, as every individual player will reap the rewards despite taking down enemies as a team.

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Borderlands 3 Preview

Gearbox has announced that Borderlands 3 won’t feature any microtransactions. It also has plans for story campaign expansions after launch, seemingly hoping to build upon Borderlands 3 as a live-service in the coming years.

However, split-screen will make a return and players are free to play both online and offline. For a modern shooter this flexibility is really impressive. Oh, and instanced loot is here! This means you won’t be wrestling with friends to earn the best loot after a fight.

Are you hyped for Borderlands 3? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter @trustedreviews or email the editor below.

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