Prior to playing Borderlands 3: Bounty of Blood I had a conversation with a friend about how out of place the expansion was. Nothing about it really felt like Borderlands, yet it was set to add a new experience at a time when patches were set to change a lot. Now that we’ve played it, does it add an experience worth playing, not unlike the other expansions that seem out of place, or is it better not to claim this bounty?
In some magical way, Borderlands 3: Bounty of Blood manages to both be and not be exactly what you’d expect from a Borderlands story. In typical narrative fashion, you start by meeting a mysterious woman that has a rather interesting take on life that turns out to be Rose, leader of the Devil Riders, whom you’re there to kill. From there, the narrative arc is very simple. Chase after these villains to collect a rock that actually contains a very powerful monster that due to overpowered weapons you’ll probably defeat with relative ease. The difference between this and other stories is the cast of characters. Typically there is a hint of insanity and characters that are just annoying enough to ride the line between quirky and annoying, yet neither really holds true.
Rose is rather straightforward. She wants to awaken this monster and most of your time is spent trying to stop the eventual climax where she does and you stop her anyway. There are no side characters that stand out, at most it’s an infrequently used character that says Tomodachi (Japanese for a friend) a lot or optional bosses like Soapy Steve, who just enjoys baths a lot, making it oddly simple in construction. Some people will enjoy a journey without a character yelling explosions or focusing on their own ego, whereas others will find it as an odd shift. However you may feel, it doesn’t stop Borderlands 3: Bounty of Blood from being fun.
Not unlike the last expansion, a lot of time and effort went to creating this world. Even if times have changed, you really get what feels like a lot with each expansion, both in design and execution, even if the side things are rather limited. The locations you’ll explore are an odd mix of western and Asian. It comes together in a way where there are more rustic dusty locations with a clear Asian flavor. As a result, it makes the adventure a bit more diverse than large buildings or more conventional designs.
There are also some rather interesting new weapons, several of which have earned their spot in, if nothing else, a category worth trying. This sense of discovery, coupled with unique enemies and a brand new vehicle, makes for one of the more engaging expansions to date. Similar things can be said about a lot of the missions. There isn’t a ton but the ones included are rather robust and stand out way more than the typical go somewhere and shoot something we’ve seen in the past. For all the good, there is only a little bad here.
Where this expansion falls short is really memorability. Outside of the design of the locations, the story arc isn’t as fun as a casino heist or a marriage, nor are the characters as fascinating as those we’ve seen before. The good guys are bland to the point where I struggle to remember much about them and the most interesting thing about Rose is her design. Bosses generally lack mechanics and most of the collectibles or things you need to find are just going down a dead-end along the way. I wouldn’t say any of this should stop you from enjoying it but it doesn’t hit the same highs as other expansions in the past.
Borderlands 3: Bounty of Blood Verdict
The hard thing about this expansion is, I liked it but I didn’t love it. There is enough to do to feel like it’s worth the investment but so much of it is forgettable. As much as I loved exploring locations, it doesn’t take long before you’ve done it all and are back to the usual grind. Sure, Rose’s story is neat and the weapons are there, it just isn’t enough to make it overwhelmingly good. At most, it’s worth it if you want to see all Borderlands has to offer or still continue to love the game, otherwise I’d probably wait for the next expansion or wait for a deal on the season pass, as the three combined are good enough to make it worth it.
[Editor’s Note: Borderlands 3: Bounty of Blood was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]