by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 18th July, 2019
Borderlands 3 is coming out this September. The king of looter shooters is back and these are the things we want to see in the sequel.
Ten years ago Gearbox made Borderlands, paving the way for the rise of looter shooters. The addictive formula of tons of enemies to kill and tons of loot to pick up proved to be a perfect match with a shooting game, ensuring blockbuster sales for Borderlands 2 and making it one of the cult classics for decades to come.
The magic of Borderlands 2 was strong enough to make the game fun even in 2019, even after we've seen and played Destinies, Warframes, Divisions, and Anthems of the gaming world.
But Borderlands 3 should take things to a new level. Instead of just one world (Pandora, and its moon that was featured in pre-sequel), we will get access to a plethora of planets, each hiding its own Vault. Gearbox also promised more guns than ever, with billions of combinations in the loop for creating randomly generated loot.
The shooting feels even better and the game looks simply stunning, this we know. We also know that the game will be much larger than Borderlands 2 and that it should introduce better multiplayer.
Overall, there should be lots improvements, both small and large that should ensure Borderlands 3 becomes the ultimate Borderlands game, a title you want to spend 100s of hours while enjoying the game's campaign, farming bosses for loot, or simply helping your friends finish the game.
There's also a list of improvements I personally want to see in Borderlands 3; a wish list made by someone who played both games for hundreds of hours (simply couldn't get into Pre-Sequel, played it for about five hours before giving up) and replayed Borderlands 2 just a few days ago. Here are the 8 things that would make Borderlands 3 a true sequel and another cult classic Borderlands game.
The good thing about Borderlands games is the sheer amount of guns available. Borderlands 2 boasted about having literally millions of unique guns thanks to the way the game randomly generates new guns based on various stats and weapon parts.
Borderlands 3 will have an even bigger pool of parts and stats, rising potential combinations to more than a billion. And that's great and all but this random way of creating new guns has a major inherent flaw.
The flaw is the fact that when you randomly create weapons there's a high chance of creating absolutely shitty pieces, even in the case when that weapon is a premium (blue and purple weapons) or a legendary.
This leads to a slew of weapons you find that have high rarity but actually are pretty useless. During my second replay of Borderlands 2, I accumulated a fair share of blue and purple weapons but most of those were sold as soon as I found the first vending machine.
I didn't even have to try them out because their stats clearly showed they are way below weapons I had equipped at the moment.
In the age of Destiny 2, Diablo 3, and The Division 2 where you regularly loot better and better weapons, change your loadout every couple of hours (at least before you hit endgame content), and try out new weapons all the time Borderlands 3 has to offer an influx of constantly upgraded weapons, not a shitload of crappy ones.
And this is especially important for legendary weapons.
I looted two legendary weapons in about 45 hours of playtime and they both were utter crap. An SMG with high damage but low fire rate and without any elemental damage and an overpowered shotgun (it had like 10k damage) with a magazine size of two bullets and flak-like bullets that are completely useless against any enemy located more than 3 feet away from you. They both were extremely underwhelming and were sold right away.
This has to change in Borderlands 3. Other games offer higher tier weapons and armor that are almost always better than the best pieces of lower tier equipment.
And as you progress through levels your character gradually improves his base tier (for instance, in The Division 2 you get from having all green to all blue to all purple to all gold equipment over the course of the game) and by the endgame you usually have either all legendary equipment or a badass combination of legendary and epic (purple in most games) equipment.
That isn't the case in Borderlands 2 because most of the time your green items are better than 90 percent of higher tier gear and that is a major flaw for a loot-based game.
Borderlands 3 should use gradually smaller pools of parts and stats so that, as tiers go higher, weapons and items have a lower chance of featuring crappy stats. And those orange tier weapons have to be much, much better than they are in Borderlands 2.
Most players won't touch the endgame, they won't grind through bosses in order to farm legendaries (and sell most of them because they're crap), and they won't play on the hardest difficulty that yields the best loot. But they too want to loot some cool weapons that won't be an absolute disappointment all the time.
The general mayhem you live through every Borderlands game is awesome. Lots of different enemies, lots of explosions, fun shooting, godlike levels of pure joy you experience while mowing down hordes of bandits, despite them having lousy AI subroutines.
But the fun times aren't that fun when fighting bosses. Most bosses in Borderlands games are extremely dull. You have that combo of flak cannon and insane shotgun wielder at the start of Borderlands 2 where you really have to watch their movement and attack pattern and come up with your strategy of defeating them and that's about it.
Every other boss is a bullet sponge that moves or runs a bit, has random attacks or simple attack patterns and generally just plays the role of an uninteresting but powerful obstacle until you kill them.
No variations in their attack or movement patterns, no special attacks, no creative ways of bringing them down. Just jump, strafe, shoot, and that's it.
I want to see better bosses in Borderlands 3, bosses that actually make you think about how to approach them, which weapons to use (instead always going with the one that has biggest damage and fire elemental effect), bosses who require players to solve environmental puzzles in order to be damaged, or that ask for specific combination of elemental damage.
This would be great and would make Borderlands 3 much, much better. Especially in combination with a reworked system that creates higher tier gear.
AI in Borderlands game is as simple as it gets. Run towards the player, maybe stand in one place and shoot in case you're not some melee maniac.
Spend like half a minute behind a cover doing nothing, or move around a bit before making a full stop and only then start shooting.
Another funny thing (and a way to get some easy XP from killing enemies) is when you run away from enemies far enough for them to stop chasing you. You then simply take out a sniper rifle and mow them down like clay pigeons from distance.
Enemies in Borderlands 2 are dumb as hell and Borderlands 3 has to introduce better enemy AI. Make enemies able to use cover in smart ways, to cooperate and try to flank you on occasion. Don't let them stop chasing you after 20 meters, or trying to shot the player through obstacles like fences and walls.
Let them run and shoot at the same time, give them a bit of intelligence and you will launch Borderlands 3 fun factor to cloud-high heights.
Borderlands games aren't known for their richly inhabited worlds. Sure, the games take place on a planet that's basically a wasteland populated exclusively in search for the Vault by mining corporations but since the third game takes place across multiple planets it would be cool for some of those planets to have maps richly populated with NPCs that actually won't try killing you.
Something like Sanctuary type of hubs that are connected with areas filled with bandits, monsters, and other enemies.
You know, you arrive at a new planet and it features a huge, interconnected map (like those hub areas in previous games) with a settlement in the middle filled with actual people and areas with enemies where most missions play out, all part of one map. Something like we saw in Mass Effect Andromeda or Dragon Age Inquisition.
That would be really cool and would remove that hollow sense of loneliness dominating Borderlands titles especially if you play solo. This can be crushing and can really hurt the overall immersion when playing the game alone.
Borderlands 3 won't be an open world type of game but it could include open world maps on each planet. Like I mentioned above, each planet could have a mission hub filled with NPCs doing their everyday lives and the map would naturally expand into many smaller areas where missions pan out. No loading screens, just one huge map on each planet.
Instead of featuring gazillion loading points and the world broken into dozens of smaller maps, it would be much better for Gearbox to simply design single planet maps that are huge, each being a unique level with maybe the area holding the Vault being made into a standalone map.
The hardware is powerful enough for that. If games such as Ghost Recon: Wildlands or Assassin's Creed Odyssey work fine on current gen consoles Borderlands 3 with large (but smaller in comparison with two games mentioned above) planet maps would work just fine.
That would be great for console owners because loading times would occur only when traveling between planets and having one huge map per planet sounds much better than having a dozen or more small instances on each planet.
Just imagine the mess fast travel would be and the sheer amount of loading times needed for those HQ assets every time you travel to a different area in the game.
One of the most common things happening in Borderlands 2 was coming back to Sanctuary after completing the last story mission, turning it in to get your reward and then realizing that the whole town got lit with exclamation marks that offer new side missions.
And then you realize that all those side missions are taking place in areas you just returned from and killed all life in, and most of them are already below your level when they're offered meaning getting zero XP from killing enemies all over again (XP gained from enemies is the main source of XP points in Borderlands games).
And then you can either go through the slog of cleaning the same areas all over again just to get some money, XP, or a weapon or you just put all those side missions in ignore list. The funniest moments were side missions with bosses, where a boss is four levels below you making almost every side boss encounter a trivial moment that is forgotten even before you kill the poor, under-leveled boss.
During my last Borderlands 2 playthrough I simply stopped doing side missions after a while, taking only those that offer gear on top of money and XP.
It would be great if side missions in Borderlands 3 are at least scaled to your current level (or one level below yours) so that we can at least get some XP from moving the same enemies all over again.
Another option would be to offer the player side quests that related to the current main mission before you partake the damn mission and not right after you finish it.
That would make side content much more enjoyable and wouldn't make side missions to feel like chores we do just in order to earn some achievement, to get some gear, or to simply fulfill our OCD cravings and leave zero missions unfinished.
Simple but awesome feature that would make Borderlands 3 immensely better. Instead of picking one Vault Hunter, playing with them for five hours and realizing you don't like their play style, powers, and skills only to return to the title screen and start over with a different character you could simply pick a different Vault Hunter and continue playing from where you left.
Just transfer the level and skill points to the new character and that's it!
If one thing in Borderlands aged like milk it's the movement system. Rudimentary, without the option to slide or climb obstacles (offered in almost every modern action game) and with horrid jumps that were simply broken with their extreme inertia.
After playing Rage 2 and Doom (2016) recently, both featuring extremely well-done movement systems with extremely precise jumps, things like slide movements and a general feeling of swift locomotion Borderlands 2 felt like an outdated alpha version of some modern FPS game with its movement system left broken and unfinished.
The shooting was great and almost on par with the two but once you start jumping around to reach higher ground and get stuck repeatedly since your character jumped forward because the damn inertia played as you ran at 50 miles per hour even though you simply tapped on forward arrow was a frustrating experience that happens all the time. Just fix the damn jump, enable sliding movement and give us that sweet climbing animation that allows players to scale ledges.
Rakks are infuriating. Hard to shoot at, always nagging you when you're around them, flying around and releasing those god-awful shrieks.
It was bad enough trying to shoot them on the PC, using mouse for aiming but when I replayed Borderlands 2 on my PS4 the torture reached a new level since aiming these flying rats with the analog stick is an almost perfect recreation of the type of suffering you'd found in hell.
Just imagine, you get a sniper rifle that can only be used with scope, fire rate of about 1 bullet in 2 seconds, and a clip holding 4 bullets and you have to shoot those damn rakks for all eternity. That's a serious candidate for ruthless eternal torture if you ask me.
Also check our the division 2 review.