Borderlands 3 Hands-On: More Shooting, Still Looting

(Image credit: 2K Games)

Gearbox’s Borderlands 3 seems more explosive than ever. I had about half an hour with the game here at E3 2019 in Los Angeles, where I played as one of three new vault hunters, Moze (Amara and Zane were also on offer), breaking into villainess Tyreen Calypso’s broadcasting studio.

Moze is unique because of her mech, Iron Bear. One of my first moves when I jumped in the game was to equip the mech with a rocket launcher and a minigun. On foot, I carried a rifle and a shotgun, favoring the latter.

I started in a junkyard outside of the studio, shooting through Children of the Vault and sliding around cars and boxes for cover. When I got inside, I was surrounded by Psychos and Fanatics, and I summoned the Iron Bear with a tap of the left bumper on an Xbox One controller, jumped in the mech, and set them ablaze. I loved being in the mech, even though it only stays around for brief periods of time. It gave me a feeling of power as I ripped through common enemies.

After collecting loot from chests and enemies, I found a boss, Tyreen’s henchman, Mouthpiece. He likes to yell, and he has a shield with audio measurements on it. The shield makes him near-impenetrable from the front, so you have to get around the back while other, smaller baddies attack. I called on the Iron Bear again to do some serious damage.

Soon after, I started running out of ammo. As I reloaded my final few times, I also tried some grenades. It ends up Mouthpiece is immune to those. But I was surrounded, didn’t have enough weaponry, and died.

The demo I played was on a PC with a Ryzen 7 2700X and a Radeon RX Vega 64 GPU. This was one of the few games at the show I’ve played so far revealing such hardware details. Gearbox was on AMD’s stage earlier in the show, promising to develop on the company’s platform, so this wasn’t exactly surprising.

The whole thing felt fluid, bright and reactive. The gunplay, in this early stage was focused and tight. The cartoony art still looks vivid and grotesquely beautiful.

(Image credit: 2K Games)

More that we learned

In a short presentation, Gearbox Software and publisher 2K games detailed the story and the villains, the new ship, Sanctuary 3, which allows you to explore new planets and the tighter gunplay.

Gearbox and 2K have new ways to play with friends, as well. There are vending machines with items your friends are selling. You can buy the stuff they didn’t want or need.

Additionally, Borderlands 3 offers dynamic missions if a friend encounters a rare boss, like the Unstoppable we saw in a demo. You can use in-game email to send items to friends. In the case we saw in the theater demo, a player who jumped in helped with the battle and, after it was offer, took the resulting legendary item from the person who initiated the battle.

Borderlands 3 will release on the Epic Games Store for PC, as well as on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, on September 13, 2019

Here, you can check out the Borderlands 3 minimum and recommended spec requirements

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon

  • AnimeMania
    Anyone with Borderlands 2 installed can play the new FREE DLC released to celebrate the upcoming release of Borderlands 3 called Borderlands 2: Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary. It is also available for free on the Borderlands 2 versions for XBox and Playstation. It can be downloaded for PC from Steam.