The Rise of the Loot Shooter Has Made Me Much Less Excited for Borderlands 3
A plethora of "shlooters" that have landed over the last few years has made my anticipation of Borderlands 3 nearly nonexistent.
Borderlands 3 was finally revealed earlier this week and while I expected myself to be excited once the reveal finally happened, I was left feeling nothing. Part of this might be in part to the fact that we still know next to nothing about the long-awaited sequel: no release date, no platforms, and we haven’t even seen proper gameplay footage. Also, the reveal trailer itself was less than stellar. Even with all of that taken into consideration though, I think the real reason I’m finding it so hard to be enthusiastic about Borderlands 3 is because of how prominent the loot shooter subgenre has become in recent years.
Looking at this year alone, we’ve already had high-profile releases from both EA and Ubisoft with that of Anthem and The Division 2 which each contain Borderlands’ same loop of doing quests, defeating enemies, and collecting more gear before then repeating said process. Before that, we’ve had two installments of Bungie’s Destiny (which is still ongoing), the free-to-play hit Warframe (still chugging along as well), and many others that all continue to jump in on this loot grind in the shooter genre.
And whether you’ve realized it until this moment or not, multiplayer shooters have become more loot-based themselves over the past few years. Battle royale shooters like Fortnite, PUBG, and Apex Legends all rely on a loop of dropping, collecting loot, and then using that acquired loot to kill everyone else on the map and become the last player standing. It’s not exactly like Borderlands for a multitude of reasons, but it still prominently features the collection of loot of different tiers as one of the core pillars of the genre.
So basically, the market is just getting overly crowded of loot-based shooters to the point that fatigue is starting to set in for me. Is this then Gearbox’s fault then that I can’t get excited for Borderlands 3? Absolutely not. But still, Borderlands now has more competition in 2019 than it did when Borderlands 2 released back in 2012 and as such, Gearbox cannot just roll out a slightly improved version of the previous installment to gain my interest at this point.
Borderlands as a series has always done enough to set itself apart from others simply because of how hyper-stylized and zany it has been. Both of these qualities are why I think the series has found success in the first place, but just leaning into that wackiness even further isn’t enough to generate excitement anymore. At least, not unless you’re a hardcore fan of the series.
Borderlands 3 needs to be a drastic reinvention of the franchise that feels like it will have been worth the five-year wait. New mechanics, new playstyles, and perhaps an alteration on the common loot grind as it is currently known would be a nice change of pace. I’m sure Gearbox has plenty of fun ideas when it comes to new character classes and weapons, but I feel like something more structurally needs to change with Borderlands 3. I don’t know what some of these core changes could be, but I’m hoping Pitchford and the crew at Gearbox have an ace up their sleeve.
At least when it comes to the story and characters of Borderlands 3, I’m excited to see so many familiar faces returning. The fact that Rhys and the cast of Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands are involved is something I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting, even if it did seem like an obvious move. While I’ve never been very invested in the Borderlands universe, this third entry seems to be an amalgamation of the entire series up to this point rather than an offshoot story finding us meeting an entirely new cast. On that front, I’m already quite pleased.
While I’m being incredibly down on Borderlands 3 by proxy of other releases, I want to point out that by no means am I trying to hate on this game. I’ll likely be there on day one to play it along with many others, but I just want Gearbox to show me more of why I should be excited about Borderlands 3. We’ve been waiting far too long for this game for it to merely be a step up from Borderlands 2 or The Pre-Sequel and with many other games already giving me my loot fix in droves, Borderlands 3 needs to find a way to stand out above the rest and assert itself as something more substantial.