This Sci-Fi Looter Shooter Has All The Fireworks You Need

And it’s free right now with PlayStation Plus.

borderlands 3 alternate box art
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“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Socrates’ immortal words ring true today for anyone on the path to enlightenment, but equally apply to any video game on the path to a franchise. Few games know thyselves as well as Borderlands.

This iconic looter shooter from Gearbox came out swinging, and after the breakthrough success of the first entry in 2009, the studio has doubled and tripled and quadrupled down with mainline franchise entries, DLCs, mediocre spinoffs, merch, and one of the most dedicated cosplay communities anywhere in fandom. Hell there’s even a movie in the works.

And there is perhaps no better time than a long holiday weekend for Americans to embrace our pewpew fetish and celebrate one of the funniest, gunniest games around.

Borderlands 3 came to PlayStation Plus this week, giving subscribers access to a bullet-riddled bonanza of gameplay, outrageous edgelord humor, and an excellent co-op experience. A looter shooter in every sense of the word, Borderlands 3 promised “a billion guns” thanks to its expanded weapon mods system. I haven’t done the math, but when the game drops weapons like Mario drops coins you don’t feel compelled to count, either.

The story of Borderlands 3 picks up several years after the events of Borderlands 2, with the galaxy in turmoil and new villains, the Calypso Twins, rising to power. These charismatic yet ruthless leaders of the Children of the Vault cult are intent on harnessing the power of the Vaults spread across the universe. It's up to you, as one of the four new Vault Hunters, to stop them. (If you don’t remember, the Vaults are ancient storage facilities that are always rumored to hold great weapons and new tech but frequently house big boss baddies, too.)

The Calypso Twins give you twice as many bosses to blast away.

Gearbox // 2K Games

Your adventures aren’t confined to the planet Pandora in this game, and you’ll hop across the galaxy as one of four different Vault Hunters.

  • Amara is a powerful Siren who gets up close with ethereal fists and high-damage attacks that smash her enemies.
  • FL4K is a robotic Beastmaster who commands a trio of loyal pets to assist in battle — a great option if you’re playing solo but still want support.
  • Moze is a Gunner with a massive mech called Iron Bear, which can be customized with a variety of weapons for all your tank-y fantasies.
  • Finally there’s Zane, an Operative and stealthy fighter who can deploy gadgets like a drone and a holographic decoy.

Each character comes with a robust skill tree to explore, too.

If you’re a franchise fan, there’s plenty of Easter eggs and cameos this time around. The original Vault Hunters return as NPCs, handing out quests and narrative beats in equal measure. The quirky/unbearable robot Claptrap is here too, though your mileage may vary when it comes to how much (or how little) of him you’d like to see. Still, it’s clear that Gearbox understands what the flavor of a good Borderlands game needs to be and pulls no punches here when it comes to giving fans what they’re expecting. There’s even a nod to Dr.Disrespect that hasn’t been patched out yet if you want to complain about something on Twitter.

FL4K appeals to the animal-lover in us all.

Gearbox // 2K Games

If you’re not a franchise fan, even better. Seriously. These games are the big budget popcorn vibes you want on a long holiday weekend. The gunplay itself feels tighter and more responsive than ever before. Each weapon type has a satisfying weight and distinct feel, making combat both thrilling and rewarding. Alternate firing modes adds another layer of strategy, allowing you to switch between different types of damage or utility on the fly. From pistols that grow legs and chase down enemies to shotguns that double as grenade launchers, the creativity in weapon design is staggering.

The balance is on point too. Rarely do you feel OP despite the massive arsenal at your disposal. Enemies scale accordingly and a range of elemental damages keep you on the lookout for weak points. If you find yourself chasing the coveted “zone” during gameplay where the world around you fades out of existence and hours seem to fly by, Borderlands 3 can absolutely deliver.

All of this is enhanced by co-op. You’d have trouble finding anything in the PS Plus library, or anywhere really, that’s as fun as the goofball shootout vibes of this game. You’ll squabble over loot, get in over your head, and cheer each other on when its down to the last man standing. The jokes and pop culture references can get a little cringey, too, so clowning on it all with a friend by your side makes for a great gaming session.

Borderlands 3 is better with at least two people.

Gearbox // 2K Games

Borderlands 3 offers up a double dose of all the things that made the franchise a standout shooter in a crowded field. It won’t convert anyone who wrote the series off years ago, but offers a fun escape for casual fans who just want something easy to play. There’s no deep tactics or strategy, no heavy lore or need-to-know story beats. All you need is a sharp eye, quick trigger finger, and maybe some friends to forge your path to heroism. Just like the founding fathers would’ve wanted.

Borderlands 3 is available now on PS Plus. It’s also on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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