Borderlands 3 – First Impressions

Ever since Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford was accused of allegedly defrauding his company and allegedly being in possession of child pornography, the question on everyone’s minds has been on what would be the next move from the visionary genius behind games such as Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The wait is no longer.

Riots broke out all over the world as Borderlands 3 was announced at PAX East, and already, print publications such as Top Memes Monthly are already struggling to count all of the memes, including (but not limited to) a gun with legs, and why a game made in the year 2019 seems to look and animate like a game from 2009.  But back outside of the Gearbox Software studios in Frisco, Texas, I’ve been talking to Randy Pitchford for the last couple of minutes while we wait for the cops to arrive, and he’s giving me a rundown of what to expect in Borderlands 3.

The problem, obviously, is that in the half-decade since The Pre-Sequel, the advanced psychological manipulation techniques that drive the most popular and mediocre games are even more advanced than ever before.   Instead of calling them “baseball cards”, we call them “lootcrates”, and developers such as the People’s Republic of China are creating high-level Skinner Boxes on their never-ending mission to manipulate and control every human being on planet Earth.

Facing intense competition from games such as Fortnite and Apex Legends, Randy has assured me that he has a hard-working team of dedicated individuals reverse-engineering the code for both of those games, continuing Gearbox’s tried-and-true development philosophy of plagiarizing other properties for commercial gain.  That’s when the man pulled a sheet of paper out of his pants, which did not have any pockets, and showed me the plans for Borderlands 3.

The game will center on an alternate future in the Borderlands universe, one of the “infinite” timelines in the Borderlands universe, as Randy explained, noting that the game went into development as “Borderlands Infinite“.  And in this timeline, one-hundred Claptraps parachute onto a mysterious island filled with all sorts of voice modulators, which can not only be used to attack the other Claptraps, but the aesthetic sensibility of anyone dumb enough to play this piece of crap game.

While Randy insisted that the goal is to be the last Claptrap standing, he mentioned that he is looking at more ways to emulate the success of Fortnite.  I asked Pitchford how many dance moves he would be stealing from the various and countless individuals and cultures who innovated them, he insisted the number would be north of “four-figures” and showed me video of a Claptrap performing a particularly advanced dance move that the Gearbox head saw on one of the social media websites.

Borderlands 3 represents a return to the simpler and more innocent days of videogames when the hardware could not physically create colored images.

Pitchford seems to recognize that in the year 2019, creating videogames which depict interesting and visceral challenges that appeal to the essence of the human condition is now a thing of the past.  And that in order to turn human beings into the lab rats that press the buttons in order to dispense the pellets, it’s simply not enough to combine automatic firearms with the loot mechanics of Diablo.  You have to hit the lab rats from every angle with all kinds of progression mechanics that are totally in-my-face.

But before Randy’s lawyer could inform me that all resemblance to actual dance moves is purely coincidental, the cops arrived and opened fire.  Pitchford pulled out one of the various organic weapons that you will see in Borderlands 3 and began firing at the police. Before I could ask whether the weapon was plagiarized from the Nintendo 64 shooter Perfect Dark, Pitchford went into discussion of the marketing campaign and stated that the shootout would be broadcast across all of the major twenty-four-hour news networks.

But as the police exploded into loot and items spanning the game’s thirty-four different rarity levels, I could only help and wonder if Randy Pitchford was behind the times, failing to take advantage of new streaming and media formats that allow homicidal shooters to take their exploits directly to their most vocal fans.  It’s one thing to recognize a changing world and social norms, it’s another to rely on forms of media and marketing which are thoroughly obsolete in the current year.

Regardless, I finally decided to make a run for cover as military personnel arrived and I could see the gunships in the distance, firing the miniguns that were slowly draining Pitchford’s shield attachment. The inventor of Borderlands — and with it, the first-person shooter genre — could only laugh, as the full and combined might of the local police department escalated the conflict in a damning indictment of our increasingly militarized law enforcement.

But given how long it will take to count the casualties from this ongoing active shooter situation, I can only imagine that Borderlands 3 will be one of the five best Borderlands games to come out in 2019.  I wish Randy the best of luck in this difficult time for him and his loved ones.