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Starym

Borderlands 3 First Impressions

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BL3 has arrived and I've finally gotten to play it. With around 8 hours playtime I'm just going to write up my first impressions of the game and the new systems. I managed to get to level 13 and am only on the second planet, playing as Zane the Operative and his digistruct clone action skill, doing pretty much all the sidequests available.

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An early "build", I decided to go for walking shotguns and static grenades, courtesy of the Tediore reload.

First things first, I got into the game a whopping 5 minutes before it was actually scheduled to launch, and then promptly lost more time than that by selecting the wrong Vault Hunter (and finding out that, yes, just like in BL1 and 2, the entire intro cutscene is unskippable). Once actually in the game it was very much apparent how much better the combat was - the gunplay, enemies and animations are on par, if not above pretty much all modern shooters. I play a lot of Destiny 2, and I'd call that a solid benchmark for great gunplay, and BL3 is definitely up there, except with way more weapon variety. The next huge thing I immediately noticed was just how much simple movement upgrades change things - the impact of sliding and vaulting/climbing on to and over surfaces cannot be overstated. Suddenly every crate, small building or rock outcropping becomes something to climb on to and the game gains a huge sense of verticality, whereas 1 and 2 were quite flat (and it removes those frustrating scenes of not being able to jump over 1M high fences entirely). Meanwhile sliding makes running away when things get too tricky much more dynamic as well, as you slide into and across cover as everything explodes around you, not to mention sliding into enemies faces and shotgunning them to the floor.

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Just your average everyday slide up some stairs.

The gunplay is enhanced by the new knockback system, where any shot that's powerful enough will either knock back or knock down the enemy, basically stunning them for a few seconds or more. Aside from being very useful in combat, it also looks great and adds some advanced dynamics, especially when you toss a grenade into several enemies and they all go flying to the floor. Shotguns become the most enjoyable weapon ever, as they have a big knockdown effect (I'm still not exactly sure what the "kockback/down stat" is - atm I'm assuming it's simply amount of damage within a very short time). This emphasizes the close range shotgun + melee type of combat I very much enjoy, as you can throw enemies to the floor with 1 or 2 shotgun blasts, then go melee > shotgun > melee etc until they're dead. One of the more satisfying moments so far was using Zane's clone to draw an enemy or two to him and then teleport to the clone's location, now being directly in front of the enemies with shotgun ready and blasting their face in.

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You can only knock an enemy down once in a short period of time.

The biggest negative so far would be the fast travel system, which you can now use from anywhere. Technically it should be one of those good thing bad thing issues, but despite the fact it does cut down on tedious running back from quests it also makes a lot of them feel a little grindy. Usually when you were done with a quest you'd have to run back, and while doing that you'd look around, find a chest or collectible, get a feeling of the zone and get into even more combat encounters and so on. Fast travel from anywhere always makes a game feel smaller, despite the convenience. It's especially saddening when there are more things to find out in the world than ever before - some again unfortunately marked on the map when you get in their general vicinity, and some completely obscured. I've already found several locations and landmarks that I can't access but are clearly something, and despite the fact that I'm sure they're just later/endgame activities, they still piqued my interest and made the world feel much more alive.

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I'm presuming this is one of those Proving Grounds/dungeons that open later in the game, but it was still cool finding this hidden on the map.

A short note on the writing: it's definitely much weaker than in BL2, but it's still the same style and I genuinely laughed a few times. The side quests so far have been mostly pretty weak and uninteresting, with a few really bad ones (hi coffee and burgers in a war zone quests), while the main story is also a bit flat so far (the Calypsos got nothin' on Handsome Jack). Now all of this just adds up to it being average or slightly above average video game writing/story, definitely not enough to lessen my enjoyment (although it did make me a bit nostalgic for BL2 and the DLCs in particular, those really had some stellar writing). Claptrap is still his old self, which I always enjoy, and I'd say he's definitely the highlight so far, with Vaughn being pretty solid as well. What is still great are the dying words of the psychos, from the usual murder party lines to a deep philosophical one like "It ends with silence." or just weird ones like "Kill the elderly." (how did they know I was over 35?!?!). That last one I believe is due to me playing Zane, who's supposed to be this older spy whose retirement consists of endlessly killing bandits.

The quality of life improvements also affect the experience a lot more than I'd expect, as auto-pickup of ammo, cash and medpacks upon opening a chest and similar really make the game feel more smooth, especially since you'll be running out of ammo in the middle of gunfights all the time and will be running around and scrounging chests like a madman while being shot at. Some of the new features aren't that noticeable however, like the destructible cover system which sounded amazing. It doesn't really get used at all, since the battles are way too hectic and you're constantly moving around flanking, jumping etc, but it may come into play at (much) higher difficulties in the endgame. The ground slam is also basically useless, and I only used it once due to a quest requiring it.

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For those of you that played Tales from the Borderlands, you'll understand why this one really got me.

The stars here are the guns, obviously, and they've massively improved them. The manufacturer alt-fire system is pretty solid, but I haven't gotten enough weapons to really judge it. The ones that just switch from burst fire to auto and semi-auto are a bit lackluster, the shotguns with shields are ok but don't really add any interaction, while the tracking bullet ones are actually pretty interesting and require some thought on when to use. The lack of ammo in this early stage is an amazing thing, as it forces you to actually use appropriate weapons for appropriate targets, and even switch out guns when you run out. The Maliwan dual elements is actually one of the more interesting mechanics, as you always need more elements, and having shock on hand for shields and switching to fire (which is still insanely powerful) is very handy.

I'm really liking the buildcrafting, even this early on (I have 11 skillpoints and am on the third tier of skills), is pretty good. I already have an actual build - I run and slide into melee, empty my shotgun with a few punches thrown in, spawn my digi-clone, run away to reload and shoot with some longer ranged weapons, just before it expires I teleport back in, trigger a nova and clean things up with the shotgun again. My clone also throws a grenade when he spawns and I have a 16% chance to get a free throw myself with the first bullet of each magazine, which is very handy since I already got a legendary! My first one in the game, it dropped from my one and only roll on the eridium slot machine, and despite the fact that legendaries are very powerful, this particular grenade really doesn't fit my style as you have to hit an enemy with it directly for it to have a solid effect. This is pretty difficult for me since my clone doesn't really have any level of aim and when I auto-shoot, the grenade doesn't always go where the bullet went. Still though, it's a very fun build which bodes very well for the later game ones.

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The Widowmaker legendary grenade mod, once you actually hit someone with it and it splits into 3 seeking fireballs.

I also noticed the Annointed weapons (they affect your action skill in various ways) which you can actually get as soon as you reach Sanctuary around level 6-10, as they're bought for eridium and you'll have plenty of it if you explore a bit. They seem to be very build-defining, especially for Zane since he can have two action skills at once (which is why I chose to play with him as my first character). The abilities they add range from simple "reload your gun after using an action skill", to "additional damage on your next 2 magazines after using an action skill" and the much more powerful "while Barrier is active, you gain 60% accuracy and 30% crit damage". I still have to find out if you have to have that particular gun in your hands for the effect to trigger (I'm assuming yes) or if you can stack 4 and get the benefit of all of them (I'm assuming no way in hell). Considering I haven't even unlocked the class mod or artifact slots (although I did get some dropped, bizzarely), I'd say the longevity and width of buildcrafting in the game is going to be very impressive and I can't wait to get further.

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In closing, I really REALLY don't want to stop playing the game, and am pondering skipping sleep altogether today, and even feel a slight animosity towards all of you reading this, because I had to spend time writing it :D. The game is incredibly solid and I don't really see a way it'll get worse from here on. I wanted to talk about a lot more as well, but looking back, I've already typed way too much for a simple first impressions article. If you were on the fence at all on this game and anything I wrote above sounds interesting/fun to you, I can only recommend it immensely. Also, considering how fun I'm finding buildcrafting to be, I may even write up a guide or two for some fun builds when I get to endgame.

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From what I read on reviews from the popular sites, the Calypso twins are just there for comic relief. The reviewers claim they don't even know why they're on a quest to take down the twins.

 

This was much more clear in BL2. Then again, the lore surrounding Jack was really off the charts for a "loot m and shoot m" game, something that caught me by big surprise the first time I played BL2. Of course, a diamond *filtered* stallion line here and there also means he was there for comedic relief. But he was a true, terrifying sadist in BL2. And everyone knew why he had to die. Why you had to go and help out the Crimson Raiders.

 

So, in your words, what is the goal of the vault hunter's story in BL3?

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Dont know if you guys already cleared that out but will borderlands 3 get a whole section like heroes of the storm ,wow and stuff? Would really like to know which builds are good to play

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On 9/14/2019 at 10:30 AM, Yridaa said:

So, in your words, what is the goal of the vault hunter's story in BL3?

The main problem, with people not recognizing the calypsos as enemies, is because you are just thrown into the chaos and they just indirectly impact you. Your character wants to search vaults, but the CoV (Children of the Vault) are just in your way, and the calypsos are somewhere behind them doing livestreams and stuff.

Jack on the other hand, immediately at the start of BL2 tried  to kill you. he was there, right away, promising to kill you and cursing you. That, of course, has a greater impact on all the players. They feel his madness.

The calypsos, at first, are behind the curtains, funny at times, but they are evil as well. And that comes through more and more. I think they are great enemies, just not as great as jack, or as easy to understand "hey, thats my enemy!".

1 hour ago, Yridaa said:

@StarymBeen so busy that you don't even have time to reply to us plebs that don't have the game? 😛

i can understand him. I was playing the whole weekend, with my brother and a friend, and still didnt finish the story. Mostly because we sometimes replayed sections of the game, when we got desynced in story progress and played in the game of the slowest. But the game is super fluid, and i am so greatful for the scaling, to make this jumping into the games, even with different levels, possible.

9.5/10 (the 0.5 loss ist juuuust because of the presentation of the enemies. But in all other aspects BL3 is THE looterShooter. Nothing compares.)

Additional note:
I love the artifact-slot items so much. They are so diverse, and change up your gameplay. Recently i found a "static charge" artifact, that buffs my accuracy and speed, after a meele, and the special effect, made it, so after a slide i charge up and the next meele hit releases a chain lighting with increased meele damage. Guess what happened... i dont even play the meele build with amara, but i am anyways sliding al over the places and feel like thor punching people, and they explode in electricity.

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Thanks for the response! At least that sheds some information on the Calypso twins. You make a good point with Jack trying to kill you even in the intro cinematic that gives it a great impact. I hope it becomes more clear later on with Calypso other than "They're live streaming not-really-bandits-but-still-bandits trying to fire up all the bandits" kind of enemy, because if it really ends up being that and only that, then it'd be very one-dimensional.

I mean, we're expecting a looter shooter and this is the very definition of it, but Jack really subverted our expectations. I guess the bar for the story should have been lower for BL3.

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HEy,

10 hours ago, Yridaa said:

Thanks for the response! At least that sheds some information on the Calypso twins. You make a good point with Jack trying to kill you even in the intro cinematic that gives it a great impact. I hope it becomes more clear later on with Calypso other than "They're live streaming not-really-bandits-but-still-bandits trying to fire up all the bandits" kind of enemy, because if it really ends up being that and only that, then it'd be very one-dimensional.

I mean, we're expecting a looter shooter and this is the very definition of it, but Jack really subverted our expectations. I guess the bar for the story should have been lower for BL3.

Hey sorry about that. Yea I skipped sleep on Thursday at launch then my schedule got all messed up and the notification stuff isn't the best here.

So the Calypsos... yea they're bad.  Not villain bad but poorly written. So is the rest of the game unfortunately, including the humor. It makes sense since it's new writers. The Calypsos have WAY too little screen presence in general, maybe having 5-6 interactions with you and just randomly spewing streamer stuff and purposefully not killing you. I'm at the end now (last planet) and couldnt possibly care less about the story or villains. The game is awesome though so I don't much care either. This isnt even a matter of the story and villains being just worse than 2, it's actually just flat out bad. 0 inspiration, 0 effort put in, just your generic shooter stuff.

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On 9/14/2019 at 12:19 PM, Hagersen said:

Dont know if you guys already cleared that out but will borderlands 3 get a whole section like heroes of the storm ,wow and stuff? Would really like to know which builds are good to play

Hey, sorry, missed your comment. Yes we will have guides but since we didnt have any pre launch copies we're still playing through the game. We'll be releasing them as we go and see what works and waht doesnt,. what people are interested in etc.

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        Hyperion
      Conference Call damage increased by 15%
      The buff should make the weapon appealing for mobbing, unless you fight in a very open space. It will probably still be worse than Brainstormer unless you can find an Incendiary or Radioactive version. Crossroad accuracy reduced and it now fires 3 projectiles instead of 4
      This nerf is quite big: on top of losing additional pellets, the drop in accuracy makes the weapon basically worthless past 10 meters. Butcher accuracy reduced and damage reduced by 25%
      The nerf brings it in line with other top shotguns, it will still obliterate 1 target at a time faster than any other weapons in the category, but it wont translate in superior mobbing potential at the same time.
        DAHL
      Vanquisher damage increased by 20%
      This one makes the weapon more relevant if you either absolutely wanna go fast or play the Zane running build. Best paired with the cryo artifact that increases your slide speed.
        Children of the Vault
      Skeksis damage increased by 15% Linoge damage increased by 20%
      COV pistols are mostly for close quarter combat, due their rate of fire and lack of accuracy. The buff to Skeksis and Linoge makes them just a bit worse than the better Torgue and Jakobs solutions. Pain is Power damage increased by 25%
      The buff is not really gamechanging: it does increase the damage of a relatively bad weapon, but at the same time it also increases the damage you suffer from its unique effect, and the only reason to take that weapon was to proc Elemental Projector.
        Atlas
      Ruby’s Wrath damage increased by 10%
      The second buff in 2 patches for this launcher makes it somewhat competitive with TheScourge for a no-reload moze build.  
       
      GRENADES
      Hunter-Seeker damage increased by 25%
      This buff, coupled with the Hex and Firestorm nerfs makes this gimmicky mod a potential choice for long range engagements, but who uses grenades for long range? Hex grenade damage reduced by 70% and duration reduced to 3 seconds
      The Hex change kill its damage output, making the grenade mod a niche choice for Zane Cryo build or Moze. A recurring Cryo Hex is still a very viable option in those 2 builds for the crowd control provided, and in the case of Moze as resource engine. Any other variant is largely outclassed by other mods. For a general purpose mobbing grenade StormFront or Quasar are your best bet. Firestorm damage reduced by 70%
      Pre nerf this was the better Porcelain Pipe Bomb on large hitbox bosses. The nerf cuts its damage potential by a huge margin and makes the mod decent as a resource engine for Moze or if you want to set an area on fire I guess?
       
      VAULT HUNTER ADJUSTMENTS
      All pets’ health increased by 50% Digi-Clone: health increased by 100%
      As a short term solution, this change is going to help bridge the gap between "pet-builds" and top builds, especially for Fl4k and Zane. Iron Bear: health increased by 50%
      Iron Bear is a different case: the opportunity cost for entering the bear and losing your shield/grenade mods, artifact and any legendary weapons is still quite high, considering the output damage you can muster at max level with a proper setup. Another issue is weapon choices for Iron Bear: currently your two best options are either Grenade Launcher with the volley mod and the Minigun with the autocannon option, but even then the damage will still be mediocre at best. Increasing its base health is a step in the right direction but doesn't really mitigate the lack of regeneration Iron Bear currently suffers.
       

      Our Borderlands 3 content:
      Hotfixes for October 17th: Legendary Tuning, Hex Nerf, Pet and Mech Buffs
      Borderlands 3 Guides Have Arrived
      Show Me the Eridium Event Details
      Hotfixes for October 10th - Legendary Buffs, Skill and Weapon Tuning
      Patch and Hotfixes: October 3rd - Moze Grenade Build Nerf, Fl4k Action Skill Tuning
      Borderlands 10 Year Anniversary = Bonus Month!
      Easy and Cheap Eridium for Legendaries Method
      Major Hotfixes: September 27th - Fl4k Crit Nerf, Zane Buff, Legendary Drop Nerfs
      Raid Boss Location and Identity Discovered
      Big Bug Fix Patch: September 26th - Guardian Bug Fix, Performance Tuning
      Borderlands 3 Sells 5 Million Copies in 5 Days
      First Free "Bloody Harvest" DLC Detailed
      Hotfixes: September 19th - Major Loot Nerfs
      VIP Season 3: BL3 Weapons Available, Codes and More
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