Borderlands 3 is a fun loot-and-shoot game that’s putting all other loot-and-shoot live service games to shame. Unfortunately, it crapped the bed with the majority of its story.
Without spoiling anything (yet), it doesn’t take a lot of past story setups into account, it doesn’t do justice to many of its legacy characters, and its new cast is just mediocre at best, and grating at worst. We’re looking at you, Ava.
But you’ve seen way too many videos and hot takes about the bad aspects of Borderlands 3’s writing and haphazard story-telling. So let’s try something a little different: would you believe there are actually some good bits in the game’s story?
If you take your time with some of the sidequests, you’ll find some small rays of decent world-building and fleshing-out. I’ll list down a few of them; do let me know in the comments section what I missed out.
#1. When You Help Mordecai Out With A Birthday Party
In this side story “Life of the Party”, Mordecai wants to spend time with a kid named Grace at her birthday party, so he asks you to gather flowers at a particular spot filled with skags. He talks about how good of a shot she is and how she’s got a potential to be a great Vault Hunter.
After that, you head on over to the birthday party venue and find out that Grace has been dead a few years ago. Apparently, Mordecai has been away from Pandora for too long and did not know this,; he’s obviously disheartened about these sudden turn of events.
Nonetheless, Grace’s dad still wants to hold a party in her honour, so all you have to do is attend the party, eat cake, and play a bunch of games. Said games include chucking a grenade through a bunch of tire hoops and shooting Rakk in record time, but here’s the kicker: you’re purposely losing each of these games out of respect for Grace and her established records.
I mean, you have to be a villain worse than Handsome Jack to outdo a dead child’s record in front of her still torn-up father and an OG Vault Hunter mentor figure.
Naturally, as an actual human being, you just stop shooting and let Grace’s Rakk shooting record stand, making the dad happy and get on Mordecai’s good side. It’s small wasteland stories like these that give life to Borderlands 3.
Also, finishing this quest will net you a pretty sweet Legendary pistol that returns bullets if you score critical hits with it.
#2. When You Discover Angel’s Backstory
Remember that bit in our Borderlands 3 review where I talked about a sidequest that made Handsome Jack’s absence all the more apparent? This is the one.
The quest details Angel’s origins and how it manifested when she was a toddler, right down to the moment where Handsome Jack made his turn to villainy after Angel’s accident that killed his wife and her mother.
The additional props, particular the one with Jack’s wife’s torn portrait and the infamous turret that Angel controlled to trigger the eventual downfall, just hammers home the feels and further fleshes out the once-living former dictator of Pandora. You WILL get the feels in this particular bit if you’re a huge Borderlands 2 fan.
#3. The Wainwright and Hammerlock Bits
The current owner of gun manufacturer Jakobs and Borderlands 2’s hunter Hammerlock are in a relationship with one another. They interact with one another as they would a bickering but well-meaning couple, particularly in the Cold as the Grave main quest line when you have to press a couple of buttons in the gun casket distillery.
Coupled with the many ECHO logs detailing Jakobs’ reluctance to run the family business while Hammerlock comforts him at his most dire, and it’s no wonder why I was more invested with this small story bit than with the actual plot.
These characters and their relationships are stuff we can relate to. Tell me you never had a sibling who you were at odds against. In Hammerlock’s case (particularly the one ECHO with the spider) it’s a tad more bloodthirsty.
And then there are these little moments at the end that make you go “aww….”
Granted, this part of the game also did not take into account Aurelia’s “anti-hero” behaviour in the Pre-Sequel. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.
These are the incredibly rare exceptions that prove Borderlands 3’s narrative isn’t a complete s***show. Again, let us know what we missed out on this feature either here or on Facebook.