Borderlands 3’s Gunplay Makes The Technical Issues Bearable
Borderlands 3 isn’t a perfect game. It’s a classic tale of trenches and valleys, bringing with it some of the highest highs and lowest lows in franchise history. This is largely due to the glaring technical issues the game has had in the few days since launch: frame rate issues, stuttering, and a god-awful split-screen mode the amplifies the other two. And while Gearbox has promised to patch some of these problems, they would’ve resulted in a total internet breakdown were it not for one, underlying thing: the gunplay.
Borderlands 2 had a problem. It had a massive arsenal of randomly generated guns, but only a very small percentage of those felt good to use. Yes, the variety did add some flavor to weapons, but adding a 6x zoom scope to a fully-automatic rifle with the firing pattern of a dog chasing a squirrel is the equivalent of making a sandwich with mayonnaise and grape jelly. Sure, those are two things that go on a sandwich, but not the same sandwich. This led to players running around with weapons that were downright atrocious early on, souring many on the wonderful experience Borderlands 2 held for those that persevered.
Enter Borderlands 3, the somewhat controversial new entry in the lootin’ shootin’ franchise. Straight away, players are going to notice some changes in how weapons feel. Borderlands 3’s guns are a lot more Call of Duty and a lot less heatstroke induced paranoia. In most cases, recoil is more manageable, weapons feel and sound more punchy, and the “unique” weapons are less obnoxiously strange. Plus, Borderlands 3 has two firing modes on some guns, so players have a better chance of getting a weapon they like the feel of, even if that means using an alternate mode.
Weapons feeling good and arenas feeling great have helped make the game’s technical issues bearable. Is it a pass that means Gearbox no longer has to work on patching the game? Not by any means. But it does mean that the game will have better odds of keeping players away from the delayed Destiny 2: Shadowkeep expansion when it launches early next month, and staying ahead of the competition is incredibly important in a game like Borderlands 3. But, Borderlands 3 reviews have been solid so far, and its increasingly seeming like it’ll be able to stand up to its main competitor.
There are still plenty of weapons left to discover in Borderlands 3. After all, the game is capable of producing more than 1 billion of them, so it will be quite some time before players see all that there is to offer. But even with the refinements, weapons in Borderlands 3 still feel diverse. This is something that Borderlands 2, despite trying, wasn’t great at. Having so many weapons that were borderline unusable made players gravitate to the few that were some degree of normal. This made everything feel relatively samey, even if that was never the intention.
Now, players face a different issue entirely. Borderlands 3 has a tendency to overwhelm with really good arsenals of weapons, which makes the game’s backpack space feel limited. It’s possible to upgrade that space, but players will first want to invest in ammo storage, as it can feel especially scarce in Borderlands 3. Plus, those upgrades get expensive, so it can take a while for players to be able to hoard all of their hard-earned loot until pretty late in the game. Not to mention, some of Borderlands 3’s best guns can be found early on, making the problem even worse.
Still, that’s far better than the alternative – too much storage space and not enough guns to fill it out. Borderlands 3 will, eventually, sort through its various technical issues. But had the game released with as poor of a weapon selection as Borderlands 2, there would’ve been much bigger problems. After all, Borderlands 2 was carried by Handsome Jack, one of the best video game villains in the history of the medium. The Calypso twins can’t quite measure up, and it’s possible some players would’ve abandoned the game with the same bad weaponry and fewer narrative reasons to see the game through.
Borderlands 3′ s season pass has only just been detailed, and the game still has plenty of life left in it. More guns will be added as content releases, and it’s finally exciting to wonder what those guns could be. Not all guns have to feel the same, and they already don’t in most cases, but Gearbox will hopefully continue the trend of weapons that are interesting but useful.