Following the first reveal at PAX East 2019, Gearbox showed off real-time gameplay of Borderlands 3 before handing the keys off to a few Twitch streamers to share even more. The livestream started with the developers teasing the audience with a screenshot, which turned out to be the game running in real time. The crew then proceeded to dive right into a walkthrough of one of the quests, ushered forward by the series’ mascot, Claptrap.
The player went through the motions of learning movement options, including new abilities to slide and climb up on platforms. Combat was never really slow in the series, but Borderlands 3’s additional movement options allowed for some gameplay that kept the player moving around to get the best angles on enemies. The character Amara’s ability to force push was used not only to kill an enemy but also allowed the player to send a poison barrel flying toward another enemy.
We learned that the guns now have alternate firing modes. A pistol shown could shoot regular bullets and then used micro-missiles as its alternative fire. Another notable addition to the gunplay is deteriorating cover, which can be beneficial for both the player and enemies. Players can also revive non-player characters and vice versa.
Skills can be earned and augmentations can change those abilities. This gives players a chance to shape a unique character even if they play with friends that use the same Vault Hunter. There was also a new environmental effect shown called radiation. Irradiated enemies explode when they die, creating a bonus offensive aspect of the effect but you will have to be wary of it yourself during the hectic battles.
Cooperative play is a major factor in Borderlands 3 and, when the devs introduced a higher-level companion, we got to witness “loot instancing” in action. This showed that weapons and items are balanced specifically for each player. Friends that get a bit far apart in level can still enjoy playing the game together without worrying that a player or players will miss out on quality drops.
Damage output for the higher level player also balanced to fit Amara’s lower level. The team mentioned a classic mode, which will likely be more similar to co-op experiences in the previous Borderlands games.
A major addition to the series is the fact that players can visit other worlds by setting destinations on the bridge of Sanctuary. The developer traveled to Promethea by selecting it on the world map and it was a pretty quick jump shown through the ship’s window.
With such a focus on loot, gamers are surely curious if the game will have any microtransactions. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford stated the team would not have microtransactions before showing that there will be cosmetic purchases. He further clarified further on Twitter that there won’t be any loot boxes or in-game premium currency. The near-hour long gameplay demo gave us a solid idea of what players will have to look forward to when Borderlands 3 launches on September 13. If you’re interested in seeing more, Twitch streamers will be playing Borderlands 3 using the new Echocast extension throughout the rest of the day.
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