Borderlands Three preview – Gearbox has one thing to show

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Borderlands Three is fucking ridiculous.

It’s ridiculous in scale, its characters are ridiculous, every part they are saying is ridiculous, the weapons are ridiculous, and there’s even a pleasant bandit who runs round in his boxer shorts, full with simulated cock jiggle physics. Ridiculous!

This is a first-person shooter that permits you to use a shotgun that’s additionally a sniper rifle. There are weapons that fireside different weapons that sprout legs and homicide every part like these terrifying canine robots in that one good Black Mirror episode. Some weapons fireplace out brains. Brains! There are grenades that create a vortex, sucking in fuel mask-wearing bandits earlier than spitting them again out as bloody chunks. Like I say, it’s extraordinarily far-fetched.

The new dangerous guys are a pair of dual influencers, for god’s sake. These well-known, egomaniac streamers leech energy from their followers and switch their viewers into lifeless husks. Ridic… Oh wait, that’s truly spot on.

“So, it’s funny, as we have a gajillion influencers at all these things,” multiplayer producer Chris Burke says as he gestures on the preview occasion occurring round us. “We love streamers. I feel there’s this parody of a streamer, conceivable, who’s like an egotistical… the thought was like, ‘Well, what if instead of having 1.5 million subscribers, they had 1.5 million cultists? And they were militarised? That would be pretty scary actually.’

“It’s type of powerful to develop that villain, as a result of they’re streamers, proper? So they must have some quantity of charisma and likeability. But on the similar time they’re our villain, so that they must be actually sinister. That’s type of been a troublesome rope to stroll. I suppose we’ll see how we did, however I really feel okay about it.”

Borderlands has at all times tapped into present affairs, mixing them with a dubstep strategy to humour – plenty of random noises and each instrument conceivable. Borderlands Three is usually the identical right here. It tries very laborious to make you snicker, though I performed it for 4 hours and I might have had my passport photograph taken at any level – my face was deadpan, the identical type of face you have got whenever you kind “lol” right into a chat field. Still, the fixed mad shit happening round you manages to maintain you engaged, in the identical means you someway handle to look at no matter daytime telly bollocks is on when you may’t discover your distant management.

Borderlands Three appears to have toned it down a bit, nevertheless – it’s not as centered on the memes this time, for one factor. As far as I’m conscious, there isn’t a mission the place, for instance, you need to gun down 30-50 feral hogs in three-to-five minutes. I’m fairly certain there isn’t a single boss referred to as Harambe. None of the weapons are referred to as Gunny McGunFace. Its humour comes from the setting, which is a much better strategy than a playable illustration of the “I understand that reference” Captain America meme the primary two games had been.

“It dates it almost immediately,” Burke replies after I ask him about firming down the memes. “Especially with the speed of memes these days. I mean, jeez, by the time we’d finished developing the game, we’d all just feel old by then. It was absolutely a conscious decision. But Borderlands 1 and 2 are actually pretty different in tone. And the mantra back at the office is, ‘The game is funny, it is not a joke.’ It needs to have a serious thread. You need to have characters with motivation, and they can’t just be jokes. There are jokes in it, but it’s not necessarily about the jokes.”

One mission sees me rescuing a head in a jar, whose thoughts is trapped in a digital actuality torture chamber. Another sees me discovering a brand new antenna for annoying robotic companion Claptrap, with me finally selecting which one he wears – I went for a tinfoil hat that I stole from a bandit who was satisfied radars had been studying his thoughts. Wacky stuff! It’s nonetheless about as humorous as an electrical energy invoice, but it surely’s a particular enchancment over consistently referencing web tradition. Just don’t count on Tales from the Borderlands ranges of humorous.

That’s to be anticipated, although. Telltale’s tackle Gearbox’s sequence was all in regards to the tales and character interactions. Here it’s simply background noise to the weapons that shoot weapons that shoot weapons (that’s most likely a factor). I didn’t bat an eyelid when Ice-T turned up as an AI trapped in a cuddly toy. I wasn’t even stunned when he ended up connected to a mech’s crotch like a teddy bear strap-on. There’s simply a lot stuff occurring all the time and also you’re at all times busy taking pictures stuff within the head whereas it’s occurring.

When it involves the motion, Borderlands Three has one thing to show. The first two games launched in a world earlier than Destiny and The Division. It was the one game of its type. Nowadays, a great deal of the large publishers have had a pop on the loot shooter. Before, it didn’t matter if the taking pictures wasn’t nearly as good as an ordinary FPS. Now it’s all that issues. The promise of 6 quintillion weapons isn’t sufficient anymore. Fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint. All the weapons I take advantage of – most likely no less than 30 of them – really feel satisfying and distinct. Enemies react to your photographs, masking over the very fact you’re merely whittling down a well being bar. Movement and powers really feel necessary, and completely different enemy varieties drive you to strategy fights in varied methods.

“We’ve looked at, obviously, all the other looter shooters,” Burke explains. “It can be insane if we didn’t take a look at, like, Destiny, The Division, and Anthem, and all these games, proper? We additionally have a tendency to have a look at different shooters that aren’t looter shooters. We checked out Doom, Titanfall, Apex. The firm’s pedigree is basically about style mashing. So we actually do nonetheless take a look at a variety of stuff that’s not shooters in any respect. In 2005, Borderlands was very fortunate to launch at the moment when [having an endgame] was not as a lot an expectation. I feel we’ve seen, now, that individuals count on that. Just the precise shifting and taking pictures mechanics, the actually primary fundamentals of, like, ‘I’m taking pictures my gun, and I’m operating round.’ That is the next bar now than it was when Borderlands 2 got here out, by lots.

“So we’ve regarded round at a few of these different games that we’ve talked about by identify, like, ‘Man, they really brought their A-game, right? We’ve acquired to carry our A-game too.’ So understanding that that’s a factor we’ve acquired to do. And then on the similar time, understanding what we’re not. Borderlands nonetheless must be Borderlands. We don’t need to merge into all the opposite looter shooters, as a result of that may be like shedding our identification. I’m type of stunned generally that a number of the different guys haven’t achieved extra stuff like us. It’s not a zero-sum game, you may like Destiny and Borderlands, it’s wonderful.”

You really feel rather more cellular this time, because of a sprinting slide and the flexibility to mantle. Then there’s how Gearbox has opened up extra tactical issues by tweaking an age-old game mechanic: hazard barrels. There are completely different elemental barrels dotted throughout every of the – greater than 4 – planets you may go to. Not solely are you able to await the best second and set them off with a bullet, you can even melee assault the barrels to knock them into teams of enemies. During one battle, I handle to attract enemies into an oil slick and punt an explosive barrel at them on the excellent second, damaging all of them and setting them on fireplace within the course of. It’s a second that blends a bunch of the very best issues about shooters.

Only a portion of what makes a very good shooter resides within the precise taking pictures, which is functionally similar between games: you progress a cursor and also you click on on a head. Shooters are literally extra about motion – consider the way you’ve ever wiped an enemy squad out in a multiplayer shooter and, 9 occasions out of ten, I guess it’s since you repositioned in a intelligent means. By merely including within the skill to melee these barrels and mixing it with the additional mobility, Borderlands 3’s fight is extra persistently partaking, even when the novelty of firing a burger out of a sniper rifle wears off.

“That was a relatively late addition,” Burke says of the hazard barrel melee mechanic. “We wanted to have more stuff like that, so that there was a bit more depth to the combat in how you approached it.”

Playing as Fl4k, a beastmaster who specialises in powering up through kills, I’m consistently on the offensive. Swapping between three completely different pets all with completely different ranges and specialities, I really feel lethal, at the same time as a solo participant. Then there’s the flock of birds I can unleash with a faucet of the shoulder button, swarming from my fingers and turning enemies in entrance of me right into a gooey mess.

Outside of fight, Borderlands Three retains its compulsive looting, the place you simply must examine each goddamn locker earlier than you progress on, though you’re certain most of them will comprise a bunch of outdated shite. It’s excellent at drawing your eye to each chest and container with the faint neon glow of a latch or a pop of color. Look, co-op buddy, I’m sorry I jumped over your head and opened a chest earlier than reviving you – I actually can’t assist myself.

While Borderlands Three is releasing in a brand new trade – one the place everyone seems to be muscling in on its territory – there’s nonetheless one thing distinct about it, and it’s not simply the colourful, comedian ebook artwork model. It’s not simply the truth that that is a kind of more and more uncommon games which you could, you realize, play with a pal in split-screen. Playing with a pal! With two pads! In 2019! But no, it’s not even that – Borderlands Three seems like a wonderful shooter in its personal proper and I can’t wait to get caught in on September 13.


 
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