With its various bugs, cloud saving issues and mixed reviews, Borderlands 3 is clearly making waves, though not in the ways Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford may have expected. Does this newest iteration spell the end of the franchise? Or, is there still precedence and room to grow the Vault Hunter mentality for a fourth trip to the world of Pandora?
Debuting last Friday to some rather mismatched reception, the twisted and comical looter shooter hasn't looked all so hot. Even with the immense hype leading up to its release, the excitement for Borderlands 3 seems to have all but dissipated at the exact moment when it should be at an all-time high. One may think issues pertain mainly to online playability, but even the very staple of couch co-op is experiencing major bugs.
Given the state of the game, what with cloud saving hotfixes causing even more issues and poor review scores being released on sites like Games Industry, PC Gamer, and even our own, Gearbox has enough problems to deal with before they can even think of detailing a new sequel. As James Davenport says in his PC Gamer review:
"With Borderlands 3, a few things have changed, but to little effect...Gearbox has done little to build on the Borderlands formula, while chucking the pitch perfect writing of Tales from the Borderlands in the bin. It's the best and the worst of the series at once."
Then, there's the illustrious and notorious Randy Pitchford with his on-stage magic tricks and social media hijinks that make most merely laugh and cringe. How could anyone forget when Randy retweeted a video of a cat fighting a crab while viewers merely laughed after the cat was injured? There's also the time he spends ranting on Twitter, whether that be at other companies in the industry, or at other fans, such as this perfect gem. It simply doesn't stop, it's as if he loves bad press, or more accurately craves attention any which way he can find it. If that spells anything, it's disaster for future titles Gearbox may have brewing for long-awaiting players.
Come on guys - shitty clickbait headline. Literally seconds before I said that, I made it very clear we’re going to do more cosmetic stuff like we did in Borderlands 2. You know I was talking about premium currency and loot boxes kind of stuff NOT being in our game.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) May 1, 2019
The real question is: how much can Borderlands even change? To continue with more sequels, if that is their approach, is Gearbox capable of adapting the series to keep it fresh and enjoyable for both newcomers and older fans alike? What would a Borderlands 4 even look like? Borderlands 3 with even more guns and extra jokes? The strides between the second and third seem few and far between, and while Gearbox has made efforts to fix end-game boredom, are they enough to evolve the series? As our own Eric Switzer relates in his review of the game:
"Borderlands 3 seems so intent on "giving fans what they want" that they've almost completely neglected to push the series forward in any kind of meaningful way. BL3 feels like a pretty update that doesn't take into account the gameplay mechanics and quality of life features players have come to expect in 2019 games."
It's a game stuck in the past, unfortunately. With little to add on the series, Borderlands 3 simply falls flat and beckons a future devoid of more carnage on the world of Pandora and beyond.
Is there hope for the series? It would take Gearbox some internal rearranging (maybe a new CEO might help), plus a total revamping of their game. The 69 jokes (nice) and zany comedy is, of course, the staple of the well-remembered looter shooter (much in the same way as GTA revels in its own brand of humor), but at what point does it get old? Even games have to grow up some time. It's a fact of life, yet the sad part about this series is that neither the game nor the company's head honcho seem ready to make that leap into maturity.
In the end, it's still a beautiful game with its own sense of style, wit, and following that simply can't be replicated. While there may be very little hope for the future of the series, basking in the glory of Pandora and the many alternate worlds of Borderlands 3 is enough to make one beg for more. So it may retain far too much from its predecessors and very little has changed, besides a few cosmetics, added weaponry, and revamped classes, there is still plenty of room for this beloved franchise to mature. All one has to do is slide down the endless list of posts being added to the Borderlands 3 subreddit to see just how much enjoyment the real fans are getting out of this newest title. It's enough to put a smile on even the grumpiest of faces. Or a legendary sniper rifle in the hands of a brand new player.
It's far too soon to tell, but hope for another Borderlands sequel might be there. Everyone's just busy vault hunting Borderlands 3 at the moment..