Part 2 of the Borderlands 3 review was just posted at Gamespace.com, and fellow writer Kelley gleefully gave it a 9.2 rating. She had some very fine points on both the good and the bad and now she has me thinking – I am really enjoying Borderlands 3, but what would it take to give it a perfect 10 and put it in the running for Game of the Year honors? It’s never a good idea to get me thinking since you never know how long it will take before one of the hamsters falls off the wheel and everything comes to a grinding halt. It turns out I was able to come up with 10 ways to make Borderlands 3 better. Then, mentally exhausted, I had to take a nap. Leave a comment on what you think it would take to make Borderlands 3 a 10/10 game and I will check them out when I wake up.
10 – Improve The Challenge Log
Borderlands 3 tracks almost everything you do, down to how many kills you get and with which weapon you got them with. Every time I hit a milestone in the Challenge Log the game popped the achievement on the screen and told me to press <TAB> to access the log. I thought there was a bug because every time I did it the game just displayed the current area map. I finally realized it wasn’t a bug when an accidental button press while looking at the galaxy map made the Challenge Log magically appear. First and foremost, put the log somewhere I can easily access it. I will be spending the foreseeable future trying to complete every item on the checklist so it needs to be placed somewhere front and center.
That isn’t my biggest issue with the log, though. What really gets my goat is that once you complete the challenge the game no longer displays your current total for that challenge. By the time I hit level 20 I had just completed the ‘Loot the Six Galaxies’ challenge, but exactly how many lootables did I open? How many have I opened since then? I will never know because all it says now is that I am at 100%. I won’t be able to brag about my mild obsession with opening everything that glows green if I can’t say exactly how many lootables I have opened. I would just look stupid if I said it was a lot. Yeah, that’s what will make me look stupid.
9 – Fix The Video Crash Bugs
With cutting edge video cards supporting ray tracing and so many games going for that ultra-realistic look, I really like the decision to stick with the cell-shaded graphics the Borderlands series is built upon. The comic book look really suits the over the top characters and insane amount of bullets whizzing around. I don’t have one of those new-fangled RTX cards in my rig pushing hundreds of frames per second, but even with almost everything turned up to ultra (volumetric fog is down at medium) I am able to hover right at 60+ fps at 3440×1440 resolution with my Vega 64 card using the DX12 beta. That is until everything goes all wonky or crashes.
I dug through the forums and found several things that have helped reduce the crashes, the two main workarounds being switching to DX11 and limiting the frame rate to 60. The cost hasn’t been a drop in video fidelity but I did take a good 10 fps hit switching to DX11. I am hopeful that the upcoming patch will take care of some of these issues and I will be able to play the game in all the glory it is meant to have.
8 – Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One
I need an upgrade on the jokes. This isn’t going to be a tirade about the horrible filth that Borderlands 3 tries to pass as funny. Nope, just saying the word poop will get a chuckle out of me. Poop. See, I just laughed. Poop, poop, fart, poop. Notice how I changed it up with a fart in the middle? Unfortunately, that is about as complex as the humor in Borderlands 3 gets, and after thirty or forty hours of it, I am ready for something a little more sophisticated.
Gearbox is obviously trying not to cross that line where their jokes go from being rude and crude to where they are blatantly offensive. I get it, what with everyone ready to grab their torches and pitchforks at a moments notice. But dumbing your jokes down to the mentality of a seven-year-old doesn’t make them less offensive, it just makes them boring.
Adapting to the times doesn’t mean you have to sell out. Get creative. Use a little nuance in your writing. If I am going to spend twenty or thirty minutes to complete a quest, use that time to build a solid joke and hit me at the end with an amazing punch line. There is a guy running around in a pair of dirty tighty whities (and no one is bitching about it) so you obviously have the imagination and ability to pull it off.
7 – Give Me Even More Crazy Ass Weapon Attributes
There are some truly unique weapons in Borderlands 3. One billion guns doesn’t mean one billion designs, but even the basic designs are detailed works of art. It wouldn’t be a Borderlands game if you didn’t have crazy color schemes and spikes jutting out all over the place or (my favorite) a holographic skull spinning around in the stock.
Then the function takes everything to a whole other level. There are guns with shields and some have the coolest looking scopes I have ever seen. Others spew out elemental damage like there’s no tomorrow. We even get guns that bounce around for a bit and then explode when the clip is emptied, with a fully loaded copy digistructs in our hands. But I want more.
I don’t even know what I want, but I know I want it. It’s the creative people’s job to figure out what other weird and amazing effects guns and grenades could have. It’s my job to ooh and aah and even giggle a little when I see it in action.
6 – Bring Me Better Banter
I can’t even guess at how many times I have heard Moze say, “Get over here dickweeds’ during a fight or ‘Heavy hitter’ when she does a ground pound. Adding additional casual banter would make the solo grind a little more bearable. I shouldn’t complain too much though since multiplayer is completely void of the back and forth between characters that most modern RPGs have. Sure, you could simply pass it off as allowing players to communicate during the heat of battle, but all the explosions and enemy chatter doesn’t interfere. In both solo and co-op, it’s just a missed opportunity for additional immersion.
5 – I Want My GPS
The map in Borderlands 3 is atrocious. Zooming in and out with the mouse wheel is slow and so is moving along the x and y-axis. Then there is the lack of substance – the map looks like something you would see in a sci-fi movie from the 80s, and that isn’t a good thing. Give me an actual map with detailed locations and landmarks. It works in other games and it could work here too.
You know the only thing worse than a crappy map? A crappy mini-map. At least I can close the map whereas the minimap is constantly on-screen, reminding me just how useless it is. What good is a minimap when you can’t see where you are headed with a quick glance? It’s no good if you didn’t already know the answer to my rhetorical question. I can’t tell you how many times I looked at the minimap and saw I was heading towards my quest marker, only to then find I was headed down a dead-end when I pulled up the full map to get a better view of my surroundings.
Some games like to add waypoints to the tracking system and that would be a decent option here. An even simpler quick fix would be allowing me to zoom the minimap in and out to get a better idea of my surroundings. That reminds me…why can I only track one quest on the map at a time? Call me crazy, but don’t most games allow you to show multiple quests at the same time? If you want to help the player focus on the main mission all you need to do is make the side quest markers a different color.
4 – Pimp My Ride
It looks like there was a lot of time and effort put into the vehicle systems and it makes me sad they aren’t utilized better in the game. You are given the chance to hijack any vehicle you come across and take it back to a Catch A Ride and part it out, and then you usually just use it to get from one point to another. You can only run over so many Skags before it gets boring (I will let you know if that ever really happens), so I need to see more uses for these Mad Max inspired death machines.
There are a few points where vehicles become a part of the mission. One mission has you prove your driving skills by hitting a few jumps. There are a bunch of ramps across all of the planets, so why isn’t there a crew challenge centered around finding them? I would also love to see a Circle of Slaughter mission with one player driving while another takes over the Gunner seat. Come on Gearbox, use your imagination and give us some truly epic car battles.
3 – This Is My Rifle. There Are Many Like It…
Who in their right mind greenlit the inventory screen that we ended up with? I have a big backpack and can only see a few items at a time which makes it hard to hunt down the item I need. The basic sorting available is a good start but needs to go further, possibly giving different pages for each weapon type. Speaking of different weapon types, just give me six weapon slots so I can have one of each weapon type loaded. Pausing the game to swap out weapons does the same thing but is a pain in the butt.
The other major issue I have for a game that hands out guns like a grandma passes out candy on Halloween is the lack of a good method to compare weapons. Give me a toggle option in the settings to automatically compare stats by hovering the mouse over an inventory item or at the very least do it with a button press. I already spend more time than I want in the inventory screen, please let me get back into the action faster by streamlining inventory management.
2 – It Should Be About Me
When I finished the story I looked back at how most of my crew had grown in one way or another and I had become invested in their story along the way. Then I looked at my own character’s development and realized there wasn’t any. I was merely a one-dimensional killing machine that was only spoken to when someone was telling me where to go and who to kill. The only real decision my character made was about a siege mustache.
I didn’t even get any romantic options. Ellie and Moxxxie are constantly throwing sexual innuendo in my general direction, but not once did I get the chance to try to hook up with either of them. With the whole galaxy going to hell in a handbasket Claptrap has me running around picking up junk so he can create his very own sex bot, so why can’t I have a moment to build an actual relationship with someone?
Just how bad is the lack of my character development? At one point when you are about to leave on another life-threatening mission, that little perverted WALL-E wannabe tells you that it doesn’t matter if you fail because they can just find another Vault Hunter to replace you. And he is right, you are just a gun for hire. Please, Gearbox, give me more backstory and a real purpose in future DLC.
1 – I Want A Gun Catalog
I already mentioned how the inventory system needed an upgrade, but what I really want to see is a display of all the weapons I have found and an idea of how many more I have to go to collect them all. I’m not talking about a list of all one billion-plus weapon variants the game has, I would be happy with knowing that I had collected at least one of every weapon design and a list of Legendary weapons to check off. I am sure the artists that created all the gun models would love for me to be able to revisit their handiwork even after a particular weapon is no longer useful and doesn’t get to keep a spot in my inventory or bank. Based off of the number of articles and videos already circulating showing off all of the ‘best’ weapons in the games I know I’m not alone on this.
I even have a couple of cool ways this could be implemented. For starters, similar to how Red Dead Redemption 2 has a catalog you can view at the general store, I think having a bookshelf back in my room on Sanctuary full of catalogs from Jakobs and the rest of the manufacturers would be awesome. As you find a weapon model in the game a page could be added to the appropriate catalog with a picture of the default weapon skin. It would be even cooler if the catalog would show the available attributes a weapon could have.
The other thing I would like is to have a few places on the wall to showcase a handful of my favorite weapons. There are already decorations you can gather up and place throughout Sanctuary, so I doubt it would be very hard to make this happen. Imagine how cool it would be to fill a wall or display case and screenshot it so you could post a pic of your Borderlands prowess up on Reddit. Borderlands 3 is a looter shooter. Give me a way to show off all of the loots that I shoots. I needs it. I needs it real bad!
Edit: So my son just finished reading this and when he got to the end he says to me, ‘There is a wall in your room that you can display your favorite weapons. What an idiot.’ He’s right, there is. 50 hours spent in the game and I never saw it. It’s almost as if Gearbox was reading my mind and hot-fixed it into the game. So, not willing to accept he is a better gamer than I am, after I made him show it to me I said, ‘See, they do need to add more waypoints in the game,’ and then got up and left the room.