Gear up and prepare for a sci-fi treasure hunt
FANS of gaming mayhem, action and loot have something very cool to look forward to on September 13 - the release of Gearbox Software's eagerly awaited game Borderlands 3.
The latest instalment in the Borderlands series of loot-shooters will retain the series' iconic cel-shaded art style and quirky humour, but up the ante with even more guns and loot as well as shifting the action off-planet too.
Gearbox and publisher 2K unveiled the game to games journalists from around the world at a recent event in Los Angeles, where I was able to go hands-on with the new title and get a feel for what's shaping up to be an enjoyable game.
If you're a fan of the series, you're going to be in for a treat, and if you're a newcomer, what I played was accessible without knowing the back story too, so it looks to be a great place to jump in.
The broad plot of the series is that as a player you are a Vault Hunter, looking for lost alien treasure on the planet Pandora - a Mad Max-esque world abandoned by interstellar mining companies and picked over by scavengers, bandits and other treasure hunters.
As a vault hunter, you will find yourself shooting a lot of enemies, looting a lot of stuff - including cooler guns - and getting into some bizarre and quirky situations with an eclectic cast of characters including an ego-maniacal beat-boxing robot named Claptrap.
Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford promised fans a classic Borderlands experience at the launch event and from what I played there, the game delivered, with its distinctive cel-shaded inspired art, offbeat humour and plenty of action as well.
For the first time the action is moving off-world, with other planets available to explore and shoot your way through, not to mention a range of heavily armed vehicles to get behind the wheel of.
Like previous iterations of the game, there are a lot of guns, with all sorts of weird and wonderful designs emphasising chaos, explosions and mayhem scattered across the place.
Many of the guns have an alternate fire mode - such as a pistol that can also fire rockets or a gatling rifle with a grenade launcher - and each of the four new classes (Gunner, Siren, Operative and Beastmaster) have a series of unique abilities (such as the operative's ability to deploy a hologram decoy with a real gun) which add to the combat opportunities.
The marking for the game promises 'bazillions' of guns and the developers assure me that's definitely true, with each gun the player finds all randomly generated from a specific in-game fictional manufacturer's parts pool, taking into account different rarities and levels.
Lead weapons concept artist Kevin Duc said the result was that, besides a mind-boggling number of guns being available in the game, even the dev team had no idea what they'd find when they opened a loot crate.
"We don't know what's going to be in there. You just give it (the random generator) the content, you give it a set of rules and then you kind of let it ... do its thing," he said.
I had a lot of fun with the demo I played as The Operative and am looking forward to playing the full version of Borderlands 3 when it releases for PC, PlayStation and Xbox One on September 13.
Royce Wilson attended the preview event as a guest of 2K.