Stubbornly refusing to reinvent itself after a five-year absence, Borderlands 3 sticks to its guns and manages to outdo itself. Refined movement and shooting, a legion of enjoyably challenging enemies, and the single largest arsenal of mechanically distinct firearms I’ve ever seen in a video game easily make this the best in a great series of co-op shooters. Its trademark stylized art, on-the-nose humor, and tattoo-fueled storyline are all enjoyable enough in their own right, but what really makes Borderlands 3 excellent is the addicting item chase that unfolds over the course of 30 hours’ worth of lovingly crafted main and side missions. What’s more, this is an adventure I could see myself happily undertaking again from scratch with a new character and a fresh group of friends.
You’ll arrive on the familiar planet of Pandora to find it overrun by bandits and on the verge of total collapse… so, normal. But this time around you aren’t stuck on Pandora. You’ll venture to several varied and jaw-droppingly beautiful planets, from the grimey neon metropolis of Promethea to the cherry-blossom-speckled peaks of Athenas, and each stands out visually in a way the series rarely has before. Though few have mechanical differences that distinguish them from the rest, every nook and cranny is generously littered with chests, collectibles, and amusing Easter eggs that make exploration and looting almost as much fun as the combat. I made frequent use of vehicles to get from one place to another on these large maps, but as with the previous games, vehicular combat is still so clumsy and relatively dull that I only fought in one when a mission required it.