Borderlands 3: Early Impressions

So what’s slowed down our full review? The reason is two fold, both good and not so good.

Borderlands 3 is a here after what many would agree was a prolonged wait, loaded to the brim with weapons, crass humour and a collection of changes to the series’ gameplay. After a weekend spent solidly playing and trying to get a rounded view on the good, bad and ugly of this long awaited release, I’ve had to admit something to myself and in turn write this piece.
In short – Borderlands 3 is far too long and expansive a game to possibly muster a reasoned reaction so soon, so instead this is a quick run down of my first impressions and the most glaring issue that’s currently plaguing the PS4 release as well as other platforms, according to those that have played on PC and Xbox.

Firstly and most importantly, I’m having a great time playing Borderlands 3. As a successor to the previous games, it’s got almost everything I’d hoped for. The gunplay is fantastic, getting around the map has improved and customisation options have expanded a lot. The storyline so far has picked up a lot of plot threads from both the mainline games and Telltale’s spin off story and done fun things with them, while the over arching threat of two maniacal cult leader twins is loaded with intrigue over their origin. They’re not quite the constant presence that Handsome Jack’s voice once was, but their antagonistic goading and cringe worthy Youtuber style personalities certainly got me in the mood to chase them down.

So what’s slowed down our full review? The reason is two fold, both good and not so good. Firstly, the game is HUGE. After spending ton of time since Friday night getting into the game, I’m approximately half way done. This being Borderlands, finishing the main plot once gives access to True Vault Hunter mode and the high difficulty and tougher balance that it brings and this time there’s more to take into account, with some aspects of character customization locked until the end game. With that and a selection of new online multiplayer modes to try, I’d be remiss to offer up an honest judgement of the game as a whole right now.

The second reason for holding back on a review for a few days more is somewhat less tantalizing – Borderlands 3 has performance issues. Playing on a PS4 Pro at both 4k and 1080p resolution, there are consistent frame rate issues whenever you access an in game menu. Hitting the button to check out your inventory provokes a jarring pause, while flicking between weapons, your map screen or objectives causes equally rough hitching and pausing. Switching the game’s visuals from “Resolution” mode to “Performance” mode in the in game options does a decent amount to mitigate the problem when playing alone, but Borderlands 3 is currently a rough time if you’re playing in split screen mode.

With patching games now being a standard part of console gaming, I’m choosing to hold off on reviewing the game and potentially having its score affected by a problem that is hopefully top priority at Gearbox right now. The major issue Borderlands 3 currently suffers from is something that can and should be solved with some more optimisation and a patch, so is it fair to give it a score that would be negatively affected by what’s hopefully a soon to be fixed, or at least acknowledged problem? I don’t think so.

So, if you’re on the fence and a fan, you can rest assured that there’s fun to be had, but if you’re on the fence and seeing a lot of talk about bad performance or otherwise want a reasoned reaction to weigh against your own interest in the game, watch this space. I’ll be back next week with a full review, patch or no patch. Until then, Vault Hunter…

Eden Penketh

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

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