Recently, Gearbox and 2K took the wraps off FL4K, the newest vault hunter to grace the screen in Borderlands 3, you can see his trailer here, but before that happened, I was lucky enough to get the chance to play the entire prologue of the game, as FL4K, before being let loose with more content.
There were some rules on what we could play, but for the prologue, it was basically everything up until a certain point, which meant that the side missions, hidden areas and everything else, were available to explore and explore I did. As the name might suggest, the prologue was just that, the basics about the story, which gave a nice introduction to Lilith and Claptrap, as well as the new villains Troy and Tyreen Calypso as well as other characters from the Borderlands universe. Having played the game previously at E3, I was aware of what to expect with the controls, which meant I could just get into the action and that meant hitting up a Children of the Vault communications centre and taking it over. This is going to be the starting point for each player and give a nice grounding on the abilities of your selected vault hunter and for FL4K, it was something quite different to what I had been used to before.
Much like Mordecai from the first game, FL4K has an animal companion, but you can swap one out for another at any time, giving you more choice in how you play the game. For the opening moments, I was only given access to a Jabber, a sort of monkey, but it was enough as it would draw the attention of some enemies, giving me enough space to reload or run to cover. Once the centre was taken over, it was time to get a little more story background, which I won’t spoil, but with that done, the world was ready for exploration and there was a lot of it to do. Just outside of the new base, was Ellie’s Scrapyard, local home of Catch-a-Ride and just before that, a nice little garbage dump where Claptrap was hanging out, along with a Marcus munitions vending machine and then surrounding that space were many, many Skags.
Missions were delivered by person, voice on a vending machine and by getting close to items littered about the world, but there was a little bit of a difference, one of the first missions required getting the spine of an electric Skag, but it also provided the option of getting a bandit one and using that. The choice was mine and while I stuck with the Skag, given it was right nearby, it was nice to see just how much could be different, based on a single choice, of course that was just the beginning, things were going to get crazier. A few missions on foot were doable, but it was not long after that I was tasked with tracking down a bandit gang, that had betrayed their leader and taken an artefact to a Children of the Vault base, but getting there, required a car, which meant it was time to Catch-a-ride.
Getting into a vehicle proved to flood memories of the older games, as I was running over Skags, bashing into rocks and using the boost to leap over gaps, it was just pure fun. But as with all good things, the road must lead somewhere and the mission that I picked up, took me to the base of Mouthpiece, which was one of the missions that I undertook at E3 2019. The mission was the same, but as I had played it with Zane at E3 and FL4K here, it felt completely different, even more so when taking on the loudest mouth on Pandora. Zane was able to throw down a ‘clone’ of himself that could draw attention, while he snuck away, but it would only last for a little while. FL4K however was quite different, as my little Jabber was always out and running around, he would randomly draw the attention of those he was near, which occasionally included Mouthpiece. When using FL4K’s pet Jabber, I was able to direct his attacks, where he would throw a barrel of radioactive waste at my target of choice, this was really helpful, especially against the little minions that were everywhere. Combing that with FL4K’s main skill, at least the one that I had equipped, Fade Away, that not only cloaked the character, but also provided three free shots that are always going to be critical hits, gave me a feeling of power.
Once the fight was done, it was time to start exploring the wilds some more, this is where I felt the game shined, as the world had a lot more to do in it, than previous games and while there were still hordes of bandits, mixed between the empty expanse that was Pandora. There were beacons that were littered around the place and getting close to them, would trigger an alert, that would have me abandon whatever I was doing, in the hopes of locating the source of that noise. There was another mission that required Claptrap to get a replacement antenna, but he wanted the choose the one he wanted, I just had to find a selection and then present them back to him. Some of them were easy, one was being protected by a bandit, but he would not help until a bizarre series of tasks were completed, another was protected by a baddass bandit, and a door that require careful timing to get through. The variety of missions was quite welcome and felt like there was more to do than just blasting enemies with a nice collection of weapons, but with the prologue coming to an end, it was time to venture forward to Eden-6 and a new character.
As I had the chance to play as Zane and Moze at E3 and just spend a significant amount of time with FL4K, I decide that Amara would be my character of choice for this new mission that I was undertaking and as someone who has played as the Siren class before, I was keen to see how she played differently. Thankfully, there was enough similarities to get myself sorted, before I delved too deep into the character of Amara, because not long after I started, I was attacked by tadpole looking dinosaurs, which if they were flame aligned would explode and leave a large ring of fire on the ground when they died. If that was not enough, soon after they lead to actual dinosaurs and the insanity just ramped up from there. The mission that I was ok, required me to locate a crashed ship, but in order to do that, I had to liberate someone from the inside of a very large and very angry dinosaur and that was possible, thanks to that someone being a AI that had been transferred inside of a pink teddy bear, oh and it was voiced by Mr T.
The mission took me through the bowels of the ship, taking on waves of crab/lizard creatures as well as a varied and tough series of droids that were working on the ship. All the while, having to deal with the crazy AI that used to date our assistant AI, it was basically Days of our Lives, on an alien planet, staring AI and Gundam suits, the mission was insane, and I liked it. Not only that, but there was a challenge to adjust to as well, having spent a large amount of time running around as FL4K, I had support from my Jabber, but as Amara, I was on my own and I had still yet to use some of her skills. The main one, Phase Cast, would send a wave of energy forward, taking out waves of enemies, but choosing that was not easy, as there were two others to choose from, but I stuck to my guns, all six astral ones that Amara has and kept pushing forward. Eventually I took down the nasty AI and collected what was needed and then had the time to run around the planet a bit, which ended up with me taking on some sort of trials, in order to prove myself worthy of meeting the Jabber King and then an AI controlled Dinosaur.. it was amazing.
While I had around 5 hours of time with the game, I still came away wanting more, there are just so many things that the game does well, and I wanted to explore more. I was not allowed to venture into the main town, or past certain points and now I have to know what is coming. Thankfully, there is only a month left, until I can venture back to Pandora for another go and then onto other planets and I cannot wait.