Ouality of Life
The first quality-of-life feature I want to commend is the new ping system. Ping systems have started to become more and more common in FPS titles since Respawn Entertainment implemented the mechanic in battle royale Apex Legends.
While it’s a pretty straightforward mechanic, and seems simple enough in theory, ping systems have essentially changed how we play online multiplayer.
Instead of being forced to speak with a teammate through your microphone in order to communicate, you can now easily ‘ping’ certain items. Maybe that means pinging a crate of loot or an approaching enemy, either way it lessens the need to vocally communicate with bothersome teammates online.
But what does that mean for Borderlands 3? Having played previous Borderlands games without the ping system, and playing Borderlands 3 with it implemented, there’s no denying that things are easier with its addition.
The Borderlands series relies heavily on its co-operative mode. However, what about those of us who don’t enjoying speaking to others but still want to be part of a squad or team? Maybe just for the achievement. That’s where the ping system comes in handy, letting you ping a bandit here and a psycho there. It feels like a feature that should have been there all along.
Mantle and Slide
The next small but effective features that have been added to Borderlands 3 are mantling and sliding (once again, a la Apex Legends). These features allow players to slide along the ground or climb up objects.
Let’s talk about sliding first. While it may seem insignificant, sliding is extremely helpful in dodging enemy attacks and general traversing the environment. It’s like a much more enjoyable version of dodging or getting downhill fast, which allows for stealth when required.
Next is mantling which, in the case of Borderlands 3, lets you climb up certain objects such as cargo containers or scaffolding. Not everything is climbable and usually the ones which are have been highlighted with whitish tears on the lip of them.
Both these features make Borderland’s 3’s combat and environment more dynamic than ever, allowing you to get high and low in battle instead of simply looting and shooting. For example, if you’re a good shot with a sniper rifle, mantling up a cargo container opens up a lot more options for vantage points or you can drive a psycho wild by sliding all over the joint during a gunfight. It’s the little things.
Finally, the last quality-of-life feature I would like to applaud is the new auto refill button for ammo. It’s yet another mechanic that I didn’t notice I needed as a player, until Gearbox added it.
In previous Borderlands games, when you go to a vending machine you need to go into the menu and find the ammo you want and purchase it. But how inconvenient that is in 2019. Now, at simply the touch of a button, you can auto refill your ammo without ever entering the menu. Genius! No more wasting time scrolling through the machines.
In addition, alongside the button to refill ammo, when you’re near a vending machine you will be able to automatically see the ‘item of the day’ and purchase it (if you so wish) once again at the touch of a button.
While you may not appreciate these little additions as much as I do, it’s worth noting that among Borderlands 3’s big new changes are some quality, smaller details which truly go the distance in making it a fantastic sequel.
Easier Fast Travel
In previous Borderlands titles, you needed to find fast travel stations (unlocked in each new area of the game) to hop around. This often worked fine, but in some notable locations (like Rust Commons in the first game) this leads to an outrageous amount of slow, tedious backtracking that could be kind of boring.
Thankfully, in Borderlands 3, you can fast travel from the map to any unlocked fast travel point.
That, however, is not my favorite part. This is pretty standard in games these days, so seeing it is more an expectation than a pleasant surprise.
No, the great part is that you can now fast travel to vehicles. This makes things easy by letting you instantly backtrack to the start of a dungeon area you drove a vehicle to. But more than that, it essentially lets you create custom fast travel waypoints. Anywhere you leave a vehicle is somewhere you can instantly zap back to on a whim, and that’s awesome. Technically you could always do this…if you were actually at a Catch-A-Ride station, which was a bit of a crapshoot on whether one was near enough to be useful.
You can even teleport to a friend’s vehicle!
Lost Loot Machine
Found in the lower decks of Sanctuary III (conveniently next to the fast travel point you appear at when traveling back to the ship) is the Lost Loot Machine. It dispenses any Rare (Blue quality) or better items you may have lost or not otherwise found (like for example if you and a friend split up to complete a mission and great loot drops near them) and they can be picked up or used to be sold.
This not only prevents my horrible flashbacks to my lost Pearlescent loot in the first Borderlands but makes looting, in general, less tedious, and makes Backpack SDUs feel more like a luxury than a necessity. This thing has already saved me from missing one Legendary item (even if it is a not very good one), so it’s already pulling its weight.
Storage Deck Upgrades
Speaking of SDUs, this is a short one: I love that they can be repurchased with cash. No Eridium or Moonstones, just cold hard dosh. Money felt pretty worthless in Borderlands 2 due to pretty much everything necessary needing Eridium to purchase it. I gambled away every red cent I made at the slot machines just because I didn’t have anything better to do with it.
Relegating Eridum purchases to cosmetics and guaranteed Epic items was a good call, and makes it feel worthwhile to loot and sell expensive stuff again.
Modular Action Skills
This is probably the biggest one in a minute to minute gameplay. Being able to swap the properties of your action skill at any time based on how deep you’re in a tree is amazing. It’s a game-changer in terms of allowing you to tinker with your most feature and tailor it to a given challenge. If you know, you’ll be facing off against enemies weak to a certain element, swap to it. If there are enemies, it’s bad to engage up close, swap to a longer-ranged version of your skill.
It’s all very fun and keeps the game fresh far longer while increasing tactical options.
Cooperation vs Coopetition
Last but not least, the easy toggle when starting up a lobby that lets you choose between how you want to play. I personally enjoy Cooperation while leveling initially, but Coopetition is a great option to have when hitting max level or when trying to “boost” a low level player. I love that there’s now an option to switch whenever you’re comfortable with switching (if ever).
Everything Gearbox has done to the game to make the experience better is much appreciated.