Around this time last year, we got to welcome Borderlands 3 into our home. My partner and I were ecstatic, having put thousands of hours into the franchise up to that point and it couch co-op was then a cornerstone of our relationship and had been for some time. Heck, it was Borderlands and couch co-op that led me to write my own editorial for Cooptimus many years ago, and later led to working at eTeknix! So, it’s safe to say that Borderlands has played a big part in my life.
I want to make it clear, we did around 20-30 hours of Borderlands 3 on the Xbox Series S last year, and we were so fed up with the issues, we simply gave up. That was it, Borderlands 3 was dead to us and the issues we had with the game were not being addressed. At least, that’s what we thought. Either way, Halo MCC kept us entertained since.
The Next-Gen upgrade to Borderlands 3 changes everything, albeit you do need to upgrade the console to reap the rewards. I was one of those lucky pre-order people and got a Series X delivered on launch day.
“The next-gen consoles bring a new level of graphical fidelity to the Borderlands universe, and Borderlands 3 is fully optimized to take advantage of their processing power. Xbox Series X and PS5 will display Borderlands 3 at up to 60fps in 4K resolution during single-player and online co-op, and the next-gen consoles will support three- and four-player splitscreen for local multiplayer.
Vertical splitscreen for two-player local co-op is available from the get-go on next-gen consoles, and will also be added to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions via a free update. If you’re stuck inside this holiday season, why not introduce your loved ones to a little couch co-op mayhem in the Borderlands?”
The lack of vertical split screen alienated us immediately. Playing the game in forced 32:9 windows just didn’t work. The FOV slider only exasperated us by either making things even harder to see or crushing the already pretty appalling frame rates.
Then there was the resolution and pop in and fogging issues. The graphical degradation was nauseating. Opening up a menu, tabbing through your skills and UI, these were things we had to plan in advance. They would cause alarming stuttering and freezes rendering them useless when really needed. The UI was hilariously small, seeing text popups usually resulted in leaving a nose print on the TV.
The game was fun, but the experience in couch co-op was the gaming equivalent of Westworld Season 2… OK, it’s not that bad, but given how much Borderlands meant to us, we were plenty pissed off.
Almost everything is improved, there’s no doubt about it. We started the game from the very beginning to free ourselves from the last-gen crap fest. The most noticeable thing was the 4K resolution, and no compromise in visuals. We had the resolution boost, as well as better textures, lighting, shadows, effects, etc. All the things that were being heavily dialled back on the Xbox One S are now maxed out. The game even sits at 60 FPS a lot of the time, but even when it does drop, it’s still far outpacing the previous experience.
You can set it to performance mode, which drops the game to 1080p, allowing up to 120 FPS if you have a compatible display. We’re sticking with 4K though, it looks fantastic.
The new CPU or GPU, or perhaps most likely the slick new SSD… maybe it’s a bit of all of these things, but the stuttering is completely gone. The brutal loading times are obviously greatly improved. However, we can now open as many menus as we want without freezing the other player’s screen.
The UI is still a bit quirky, sometimes the map overruns the second players screen. Your tag often vanishes, and the UI scale sometimes gets smaller making text hard to read. However, a quick fix that works is changing the split-screen format and swapping it back again. I can live with that, it’s not a big deal for now.
Horizontal splitscreen can now be changed to vertical splitscreen. It’s that simple, and we love it! However, now that the performance is fixed, we even have grown to enjoy horizontal too. Either way, they listened to the community on this one and it’s great to have that choice again.
Furthermore, you can now share your couch with two more people and enjoy FOUR PLAYER split screen. Oh my, it’s like the golden age of FPS gaming (Goldeneye 64) all over again. Of course, we’re in bloody lockdown, so it’ll have to wait.l
Of course, I now have a years worth of content that we simply couldn’t be arsed to play. We’re a week into the Series X now, and our trust in the Borderlands franchise is slowly being repaired. We’re seeing the game in a completely new light and really enjoying the story and content. Now with our Season 2 pass expanding our skill trees, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
What has your experience of Borderlands 3 been? Have you enjoyed the game so far and what would you improve? Let me know in the comments!
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