We've had to wait seven years to get a new numbered game in the Borderlands series and almost five years since the (surprisingly fun) Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel that was supposed to hold us over in the interim. Now that we're a few days past the retail launch (our review codes arriving only hours before the game went on sale) and have plowed a fair share of hours into the game, we're struck by just how little Borderlands has changed in that intervening time, both for good and for ill.

On the good side, this means that Borderlands 3 still provides the same kind of slick, fast-paced, varied, and just-plain-smooth shooter experience that the series has always provided. As usual, the game provides a seemingly endless variety of weapons that, crucially, all look and feel entirely distinct from one another in a number of ways. Experimenting with new gear to find the correct mix of damage impact, accuracy, magazine size, reload rate, and special abilities is a never-ending and continually fascinating process.

Earning access to a new weapon that fits your style just right still provides that adrenaline hit in a way that can't be matched by finding yet another identical shotgun in most other shooters. And many guns now have a secondary fire option, greatly increasing the level of personal tuning by offering new pros and cons.

That variety now also seems matched by the game's environments. The neons and blues of planet Promethea's urban guerrilla warfare provide a welcome change from the brown and gray desert environments Borderlands is generally known for (Pre-Sequel also showed a lot of promise on this score). Even in the relatively early going, it feels like there's going to be plenty of new planets and side-quests to keep players busy if they want to hit that rarefied 100% completion.

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