Four years after being released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Stadia, and three since it came to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, the sci-fi first-person shooter / action role-playing game Borderlands 3 is finally coming to the Switch as the Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition. And while it doesn’t add anything that would warrant owners of the previous versions to consider buying this edition as well, people who missed it the first time around — and, of course, enjoy deep sci-fi shooters with snarky sensibilities — would be well advised to pick this up.
Like the previous Borderlands games…
(which were released for Switch three years ago as the Borderlands Legendary Collection), Borderlands 3 has you gunning for alien animals and Mad Max-like mutants on a hostile alien world.
Except unlike some sci-fi shooters, Borderlands 3 gives you an absolutely massive arsenal of creative guns and explosives. Remember that scene in The Matrix when Neo said he needed, “Guns. Lots of guns,” and then he was in a virtual gun closet? Imagine that, but with way more guns, and every gun is different.
For instance, in Borderlands 3 you can find pistols that work like revolvers or like machine pistols or like machine pistols that shoot explosive rounds, and sometimes you’ll find all three in the span of five minutes.
You also find a Diablo 3 level of loot in the Borderlands games. If, at any point, you need ammo, cash, weapons, shield generators, or grenade mods, you have only to look for a box, storage locker, lockbox, cash register, garbage can, toilet, outhouse, pile of alien poo, mailbox, abandoned washing machine, or, when all else fails, some vending machines (though you’ll probably use the latter more to sell all the extra stuff you don’t need).
The Borderlands games also…
give you special attacks and abilities, depending on which character you play as. Some can conjure auto turrets, while other can perform teleportation attacks.
Play Borderlands 3 as Moza, for instance, and you’ll briefly pilot a Titanfall-esque bipedal mech called Iron Bear that comes with your choice of a grenade launcher, railgun, or minigun mounted on its shoulder. Or, if you prefer, you can utilize Iron Cub, a smaller, autonomous version of Iron Bear that temporarily follows you around, guns-a-blazin’.
All of these skills and abilities, as well as other improvements to your character, are added and upgraded courtesy of a leveling up system like you’d find in a role-playing game.
Then there’s all the driving. Borderlands 3 is an open world game, and said worlds are rather large. Good thing you have access to some trucks and buggies. Oh, and what a shock, they’re also weaponized, something that gets put to the test by, yeah, those dang Mad Max fanboys.
Coupled with a comedic attitude…
and a cartoony look (albeit one that’s more Rick & Morty than SpongeBob Squarepants), and what you basically end up with is Halo Infinite if it was injected with the RPG mechanics of Diablo 3, and written by the same people as the Deadpool movies.
Or Rage 2; they’re very Rage 2-y. Or maybe Rage 2 is very Borderlands-y. Whatever.
As for how Borderlands 3 differs from its predecessors — aside from new characters using new weapons and abilities to complete new missions in a new story, of course — the biggest difference (but also the least impactful) is that instead of exploring different parts of the same alien world, you now visit a bunch of different planets.
More importantly, you travel to new planets on a spaceship that serves as a central hub from which you can go anywhere you’ve gone before, or pick up side quests, or buy and sell stuff from some vendors and vending machines.
The thing is,
visiting multiple worlds, as opposed to just the one, doesn’t actually make Borderlands 3 feel that different since moving between worlds feels the same as moving between planetary zones. Sure, the different worlds feel different, but so did the different parts of Pandora in the previous games.
Still, like its predecessors, Borderlands 3 is an excellent shooter. Your enemies are unpredictable, and try their best to kill you while not being killed themselves; the environments give them plenty of ways to come at you from all angles; while the guns you use against them are as effective as they are varied.
It’s also rather funny in a snarky way. Especially that bastard Claptrap.
All of which makes for an exciting and effortless fun gun game that ranks alongside the best of this series and other shooters.
Which brings us to…
the Ultimate Edition of Borderlands 3. Along with the main game, it has all the extras they added, including all four story expansions: “Moxxi’s Heist Of The Handsome Jackpot,” “Guns, Love And Tentacles: The Marriage Of Wainwright & Hammerlock,” “Bounty Of Blood,” and “Psycho Krieg And The Fantastic Fustercluck.”
It also has the “Designer’s Cut” DLC, which added a fourth skill tree for each character, and the “Director’s Cut” add-on, which included a short quest in which you have to find and kill the very tough Hemovorous the Invincible.
In fact, the only thing the Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition doesn’t have, which the previous versions did, is the ability to play it co-op with three of your friends. It only supports two player co-op. Which is too bad; playing Borderlands 3 with three friends is very fun, and I say that as someone who doesn’t play well with others.
This, sadly, is not the only way Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition comes up short.
For starters, playing Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition with the Joy-Con controllers — either alone, in the adapter, or in portable mode — feels fine if you play a lot of Switch games, but if you also play games on one of those other consoles, especially shooters, they feel a little loose and inaccurate. And that includes after you adjust them in the options menu.
while I know it’s illegal, immoral, and unethical to say this, Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition is too long. As much fun as this game may be, it starts to get a bit redundant after a while, especially with the four story expansions adding what is essentially another whole game to its length.
The Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition also has a problem so common that I cut and paste the following paragraph into every relevant review: some of the text is too small. Whether you play this with your Switch in your hand, and don’t press it to your face, or on a TV that you sit a reasonable distance from, you’ll have trouble reading the menus and the stats of guns and devices you find.
It also seems like a wasted opportunity that they don’t utilize the Switch’s touch screen to navigate the menus, especially the inventory management screen.
But the biggest issue with Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition is how the load times are excruciatingly long, be it when you start the game or when traveling between places. Like, go get a snack and maybe check the mail and jeez it’s still loading!?!
In the end,
the Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition is not the best version of this game, nor is it as good as this Switch edition should’ve been (though, in fairness, the loading issue could be fixed with a patch).
But even the worst version of something great can be really good, and that’s where we find the Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition. Despite these issues, it’s still an exciting, effortless fun, and often rather funny sci-fi shooter, and a worthy addition to this series. Even if it is sometimes rage-inducing.