Anyone who has ever played the Borderlands games can tell you that it’s not your average looter shooter experience. It’s probably one of the craziest and ridiculous games, in the best way of course, that you’ll ever get your grubby mitts on.
That’s why it’s no surprise that Sal and I are huge fans of the games.
We spent countless hours back in the day playing Borderlands 1 and 2; testing out every class, killing everything that stood in our way and most importantly scavenging for precious loot!
…and dueling each other for no reason.
So when Sal informed me that we got invited by Take-Two to attend a Borderlands 3 Preview; I couldn’t contain my excitement! I mean, playing a game before release is ALWAYS awesome, but to play one that’s as hyped as Borderlands 3? Sign me up!
Looking like scruffy nerf herders (or rather the psychos from the series), we had to pass multiple security checks before we were even admitted fully to Take-Two’s offices! Seriously, security is tight! It’s like walking into Fort Knox or something.
Thankfully, we managed to overcome it all and got invited into the waiting room.
After mingling (well, Sal mingled…I just stood around, smile and tried to not look awkward) and enjoying the refreshments, we were brought into the playing room where we would get a chance to test out the game for ourselves.
That’s coming after a short introduction from the Senior Manager of Marketing, Daniel Tan. Daniel highlighted all the juicy activities planned, we were genuinely excited when he told us that we were about to be one of the first few people to get a chance to test out their new character; Fl4k!
Good lord yes!
First Session of Gameplay.
Say hello to Borderlands 3 fourth and final character, Fl4k the Beastmaster!
The first two things that popped into my head when he was revealed was that he looked so much like the ‘Exo’ race from Destiny games and also being called the ‘Beastmaster’ reminded me of Rexxar from Warcraft 3.
Editor’s note: Obviously, Ibrahim’s too young to remember this gem.
As for his skills set, it should be pretty obvious after being called the Beastmaster that he controls an array of ‘pets’ to create mayhem. When I started using Fl4k, he felt like a huge upgrade from Mordecai (Borderlands 1) who could his pet ‘Bloodwing’ into battle.
Instead of one, Fl4k has the option to focus on three kinds of pets that offers him different buffs. The Skag companion grants increased damage while the Spiderant grants health regeneration. Finally, the Jabber (who has a pistol!) grants movement speed.
In my playthrough, I decided to go with the trusty Skag because who doesn’t love doing extra damage. The fact that you can interact with your pet like an actual pet dog is just icing on the cake. I enjoyed playing this class because of how co-dependent Fl4k and his companions are.
The skills are designed in a way that allows the player and the pet to support each other equally in battle without feeling like one is weaker than the other. One thing that stood out that I hope will be addressed is the fact that I’m able to harm my pet with friendly fire, unintentionally of course.
Check out my solo gameplay videos for Fl4k, from the preview below.
Second Session of Gameplay.
As for our next activity, we were thrown into a higher quest level called ‘The Family Jewel’ where we were allowed to test any character class we wanted that was already levelled up to twenty-two and participate in co-op.
Sal decided to use Moze The Gunner who has the ability to use her mech called the ‘Iron Bear’ to wreak havoc while I decided to try out Zane The Operative who was all about using his cool gadgets to undo his enemies (plus he looked like Adam Jensen from Deus Ex!).
Throughout the damn stage, Sal kept giggling to himself whenever he summoned Iron Bear. I don’t know what he was thinking but I sometimes fear for my safety when he’s near. God help me in Tokyo.
The co-op experience was amazing as we were pushed to our limits for this session. We were under-leveled for the mission and had to rely heavily on each other’s skills to work together as a team.
Sal was wrecking everything with Moze and her mech with ease. He’s like a bull in a china shop. I’ll favor stealth in every game while Sal will just giggle and run in shooting. Think Homer Simpson and you’ll have an idea of how he’s like in games.
The mech ability had another function too that blew our minds; it could allow another player to become the co-pilot on the mech itself. The co-pilot had access to the guns above the mech that could be operated and be used to destroy the enemies too! How cool is that, right?
As for me, being the cautious shooter player, decided to play it safe by choosing the digi-clone decoy ability which could protect me if I got myself in too deep. Fun fact: the decoy also shoots back…Just like Handsome Jack’s from The Pre-sequel!
Compared to Moze (or maybe it was just Sal), Zane felt kinda underwhelming to play but I only had the time to test out one of his action skills with the given time. Perhaps he might be able to pull his weight better with his other skills like the automated drone ability.
The game is still very reminiscent of how Borderlands games usually are. The beautiful cel-shaded environments with lots of colours being thrown all around that remind you that mayhem doesn’t need to be all dull and boring.
This was especially true when we faced the boss stage of the level. It was an AI-controlled mech that was constantly moving around like a Gundam on a sugar rush; it darted about, summoned shields and kept firing off green colored balls of doom that exploded upon contact. Oh, and it summoned drones to attack you too.
Safe to say, I had no idea what to target at certain points because there were too many things going on all around. Also the fact that we were firing constantly and throwing grenades everywhere because we were panicking, didn’t help the situation one bit but we sure as hell enjoyed every minute of it.
The other aspect of Borderlands has been about its weird characters, crazy stories and over the top dialogues that just meshes together to form something that just works well.
So when we were introduced to the NPC called ‘Balex’ who’s an AI that’s trapped in a pink teddy bear; we knew we were playing Borderlands and the craziness had just begun. Sal nailed it when he asked Daniel if it was Ice-T doing the voice over. So there you are folks; Ice-T’s in Borderlands 3!
The questline was supposed to be a simple retrieval mission that somehow manages to throw you into a messy and awkward breakup between two AI that becomes your problem to deal with.
Yup, that’s borderlands for you. Instead of spoiling how this particular story plays out, I’ll let you enjoy it directly from our gameplay videos below.
Third Session of Gameplay.
Since we had some time left, we were allowed to play ‘The Family Jewel”‘ quest again with different characters. This time Sal chose to play as Amara The Siren and I chose to try Fl4k again to see how he plays out with his other skills.
However, we didn’t get very far with our playthrough because we kinda broke the game…it was Sal’s fault though! We aren’t sure what exactly happened, maybe we were just destroying everything too much to the point that the NPC ‘Balex’ just froze in place; thus not allowing us to progress any further and that was it for our time with the game itself.
What do I think?
The game was genuinely fun to play and it reminded me of why I loved Borderlands all those years back. Fl4k is my favourite class out of the four because of his versatility and is also the class I’m choosing to pick at launch.
The shooting was still as fun and frenzied as it was in past games and the amount of guns (billions we were told) sounds awesome! I got a taste of some incredibly ones from the characters demoed and I REALLY can’t wait to see what other weird and kooky weapons are in the final version of the game.
I did run into some problems in the game while playing like not being able to see where I’m aiming while riding Iron Bear but I’m pretty sure Gearbox will have it sorted out by launch.
I can’t wait to play Borderlands 3 again and it releases next month on the 13th of September. We’ll be reviewing the game as soon as we get our hands on it so keep an eye out!