August bank holiday weekend saw us pay a visit to Insomnia 65, the UK’s largest gaming festival. Whilst there were a whole host of stalls to visit, merch to buy and shows to watch, the main reason we wanted to head on down to sunny Birmingham was to get a taste of Borderlands 3.
Now our experience was brief, but we thought we’d preview it anyway. After all, although we only sampled a small section of the game, it was enough to know that we’re going to love it when the game arrives through our front door on launch day.
With the recent announcement of some of the endgame content, including the return of circle of slaughter, we thought what we would get to sample may have been something along the lines of a wave-based arena experience. However, we were very wrong, as the demo actually allowed us to play a part of the campaign from early on in the game. It wasn’t the very beginning so as not to spoil it too much, just a quick sample around the time you’d expect to have reached level six.
To start off you were able to pick any of the four vault hunters that will be available on the Borderlands 3 launch day, whether more will be added like the last two instalments, only time will tell. Being an animal lover, I went Flak with his pet beasts, and the other two of our party checked out Moze with her awesome Bear ability.
Once we had picked our hero, we started off with a couple of guns, a few points to allocate to our skill trees and a mission to make our way clear our way up a path to one of the game’s bosses, which was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. But instantly joining the game you could see how much had changed, although it still had that Borderlands feel we all know and love.
Firstly the guns; whilst I had no issues with the way the system worked previously, some people struggled to calculate which weapons were better than others. Because even though the damage was better on one compared to another, added features combined with your skills could actually make some less powerful upon first glance, the best gun in the game, and there are a lot to choose from in Borderlands 3, over a billion! This time around though the developers have changed the guns to be on a points-based system, that score a gun more points based on how good it is, helping vault hunters to identify what weaponry they’re best equipping.
That wasn’t the only change with weapons though, as some had different features to others and changeable modes. For example, you may have an assault rifle, and where in the past you may have automatic fire normally but burst fire when aiming down the scope, you now have guns that you can switch this mode on manually, allowing you to play how you like. There were also some new awesome guns that equip a shield as you aim down the scope, meaning for those of you who like to run in and get up close and personal, you have a little more protection, something I’m sure will come in handy.
As we got to grips with our new guns, we began following the checkpoints to make our way to the boss, myself with the lovable Mr Chew by my side. As he ran off to go and feed on the bandits that I was picking off with my sniper, I tested out some of the new mechanics. First up was the ability which seems to have made its way into many FPS games now, where you can run up to ledges and pull yourself up. it really made it a lot easier to get about, and also offers you the ability to reach better vantage points to pick off your enemies. That wasn’t the only difference though, as you also now have the ability to run and skid. Whilst this may not sound like much, it is an ability that again has worked it’s way into many FPS games now, and can often be a great way to get about the map more quickly, as well as a good way to dodge incoming fire and quickly dash behind cover.
The next major change was the layout of the skill trees and the way they operate. You have always had a choice of three trees to customise your selected vault hunter, but they were always on the same screen. The layout has now changed and you can switch between each tree to view them individually, which is great because it all seems a lot cleaner and offers more information about what each of the skills does. But don’t worry, you’re not being limited to one, there will be enough points earned going off the announced level cap that you should be able to do cross-builds if you have a bit of a mixed playing style.
After getting to grips with the game, I was soon running around, turning invisible with Flak’s ability, flanking enemies as they all targeted Mr Chew (it’s ok, I didn’t let them hurt him). It was great to get back to shooting and looting. Then came the boss, I always remember my first time on Pandora, the levelling of enemies compared to you always seemed to be slightly off, in that it always felt like even if you were a lower level, you could easily dispatch of most enemies, except maybe for the likes of Crawmerax and Terramorphous. However, that seems to have been fixed because although the boss was only two levels higher, I struggled to take his health down quickly, and he was causing me significant damage. Also, he hurt poor Mr Chew, but luckily I revived him before anything serious happened. It was great to feel like the game may be a challenge again.
But that’s just my opinion, let’s hear from one of the other Vault Hunters who attended Insomnia with us:
It feels like it has been literally forever waiting for this game, and although I didn’t get to play for very long it was worth the wait. Firstly the array of quality vault hunters you can choose from was overwhelming and I wasn’t sure who to play as… As it was a brief play I needed to sort my life out and just choose one! I played as Moze, who has an awesome giant bear (who I have named Twinkle) with huge guns to boot. As I made my way through the little bad guys, the graphics were amazing, from the bandits responses to being shot at to the way the loot and ammo boxes looked. Once into the boss area, I started off thinking wow this shouldn’t be too hard I have a giant bear man! At first he was a difficult one to kill, with him giving me significant damage and him sometimes having immunity to my shots, but Twinkle didn’t stop giving it large! Overall I didn’t want to leave the tent but it was nice to have a look round the other games too! Roll on September 13th when we can get our loot em shoot em pants on!Rebel.Red.Carnation
And that pretty much wraps up our brief preview of Borderlands 3. So far, so good. Hopefully, this isn’t like when you see a trailer for a movie and they just give you the best bits and the rest falls to pieces. However, with how good the previous titles have been, we’re pretty sure Gearbox Software know what they’re doing, and will likely be on their way to another GOTY contender.