Borderlands 3 has been around for over a year now, but when the Xbox Series X and Series S launched, it was one of the first titles ready with a patch for the next-gen hardware. Sure, you may think using a year old game as a highlight for brand new tech is perhaps not the most glitzy way to demo what's possible, but you'd be wrong.
I didn't play Borderlands 3 initially on console, but it's fair to say it was a mixed bag, and there were some issues. It's a demanding game, don't let the cel-shaded art style fool you. This massive open-world shooter can make plenty of gaming PCs sweat.
The Xbox Series X is, deep down, a gaming PC wrapped up in a neat little box you can sit beside a TV and never have to worry about tweaking endless settings to maximize your frame rate. And so with Borderlands 3 on the Series X, what you get now is, in my opinion, about the best experience you can have with this game.
Mad frame rate or high resolution
With Borderlands 3 on the Series X, you get the full arsenal of headline grabbing upgrades. If you want 4K at 60 FPS, you can have that. If you'd prefer up to 120 FPS, you can have that, too, with the performance mode.
It doesn't run at 120 FPS all the time, in fact, in many cases, it'll be a good bit below, but it's still a remarkable experience to have on a console. The game is so fluid and fast. It honestly feels like you're playing on PC. Except, to get this experience, I didn't need to spend 20 mins tweaking settings to get the best balance. I just turned on the console and started playing.
Obviously, you're limited to 1080p in the performance mode, but that's going to be fine for most people right now who can even get the most from it. 120Hz capable TVs are hardly commonplace, so those opting to push their frames will most probably be on a smaller gaming monitor, like my 24-inch 144hz panel that has been an absolute champion paired with the Series X.
The wizards at Digital Foundry have done their analysis, and it explains in much more detail the experience I've been having a blast with. In short, there's a good bit of fluctuation in frame rates in busier areas, like Promethea, but the support for variable refresh rate on Xbox does help mitigate any dips in frame times. You're always well above 60 FPS in performance mode, and it does indeed hit 120 FPS in some areas.
The 4K60 mode doesn't seem to be quite as sharp, at least performance-wise, as noted in the same report. But in both cases, you're getting a notable improvement over the somewhat shaky experience that could be found on the last-gen machines.
The storage also deserves a shout out because loading times and fast travel times feel quicker on the Series X than on my PC. It makes farming for weapons actually enjoyable because you can save/quit and reload in seconds, where previously you'd have probably been able to grab a beverage in between.
The kind of performance possible on Series X is a literal game-changer in games like these.
Great, but not perfect
As much fun as it's been playing Borderlands 3 on the Series X, it isn't perfect. There are times that it goes all console on you and just seems to slow down immensely, especially in vehicles, but it's at least usually not an issue during gunfights. Huge piles of loot spewing into the air from a boss can still trip it up, it seems.
And it just straight up crashes, at least once in a longer session. There doesn't seem to be a pattern as to what triggers it, and I'm not entirely convinced it's just the game's fault since it's not the only game that crashes on my Series X. But it's a thing, and it's annoying when it happens.
But at least it loads back up again fast!
There's also some pretty noticeable pop in from time to time, but unless you're the kind of nerd who looks for those things, it's not going to cause any detriment to your gameplay. It's most noticeable when you're loading into a new area; occasionally, it will just take a few seconds for all the textures to sort themselves out.
One of the best shooters on console right now
Here's the deal. If you're looking for a good shooter to play on your Xbox Series X, you should definitely play Borderlands 3. If you already own it, it's a free upgrade, and if you don't, it's been through a bunch of discounts recently, so there's always a chance to save as well.
The base game has a ton of content in it, and with the five DLC packs available as an optional purchase, you've got a ridiculous amount of good times waiting.
Along with Destiny 2, I'd say this is up there with the best overall shooters you can play on a console right now. It looks good, performs amazingly well the majority of the time, and if Cyberpunk 2077 has left you a little dry, the light-hearted banter of the Borderlands can pick you back up again.
If only the two main characters weren't so, well, irritating.
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