EDIT: Fixed some grammatical errors. If I add anything to this post I’ll mention it is an addition.
I wanted to talk about this here to see what others think. Anything added to the conversation would be great. These are just things I noticed but if people have more or can explain why it’s not a continuity error then I’m ready to be informed.
To add some context: I have not played BL1 yet so if there are inconsistencies from there I have to wait until I play it. I know some stuff might be addressed in future DLC…maybe but going by what is not known/explained at this time of publishing. I have heard all Eridian writing translations.
This is not a hate post or anything. I just love the lore, characters and plot of past games but I know BL3 is not up to par with past game storytelling so I want to talk about it. Anyway, to start BL3 has some continuity errors. One coming up is with the first paid DLC. It kind of stood out to me but I didn’t see anyone else talking about it.
Warning: Spoilers for BL2, TPS, TftB, BL3
Also, this post is long af. I don’t even have a TL;DR version. It’s a lot, I know.
Canon Issues from Past Games
Jack/Moxxie’s Relationship: On the Borderlands Show Randy Pitchford says Handsome Jack and Moxxie were once married but in TPS Jack explicitly says “ex-girlfriend” (Here’s a link: https://youtu.be/4KnJsNbQqQo?t=5994). I mean, maybe this will be explained in the DLC (and maybe it was something they covered up by both for whatever reason or either of them are lying) but I noticed that this game does not seem to honor a lot of what TPS set up ranging from its ending to characterization of returning characters. In the defense of this it may be explained in the upcoming DLC but right now it’s not.
TPS Ending : The war that was hinted by the Eridian Guardian was not in this game. Although it can be subjective, I don’t think the CoV and Calypsos were it. It didn’t feel like a war at all since urgency was not present until the end of the game around chapter 20. I’m just curious where this guardian is now and the absolute need to gather as many VHs as the Crimson Raiders could get? I heard recently that it was mentioned on the Borderlands Show that said war was saved for BL4. I just feel like this is a continuity error though because years have passed between TPS/TftB/Lilith DLC so what is going on with this? The urgency at the end of TPS made it seem like this was an immediate threat.
Aurelia’s Characterization: I think she was done dirty. In the worst of ways. Not necessarily her level of cruelty but how they completely disregarded her character in TPS.
Aurelia was very surface level in BL3. All characters in Borderlands have dubious morality/considered neutral in some form but despite this there are standards held that are unique to each VH. All VH’s are very neutral/self-minded and their motivations are the only varying factors in terms of morality, yet, they all exhibit some depth to that self-interest that dictates what they will and will not do. Aurelia exhibits boundaries in TPS as well but she’s an acquired taste and not the most popular character. In TPS’ Holodome DLC there is audio where Gaige is excited to meet new VHs and Axton says she wouldn’t want to meet Aurelia because she’s mean (Here is a link: https://youtu.be/M2jqLF9yIUg ). This means she was recruited for the war TPS mentioned yet in BL3 she’s suddenly obsessed with her brother’s demise? And why didn’t anyone mention her betrayal to the CRs? It’s like it’s not even a possibility let alone a canonical fact.
She went from being so rich that she became bored enough to become a VH to just being this witch trying to kill Alistair and ruin his life to take over Jackobs just because? I didn’t see the point for this motivation given how she already was so rich. And she mentions wanting a cult like the twins but…why? And okay, for the sake of saying she did she could easily pull that off herself. She says she owns a planet when introducing herself in TPS main story. She can find her own underlings if she cared. Don’t get me wrong, it’s mentioned in Aurelia promotional content for TPS and her intro echo that she and Alistair do not get a long and she despises him but that never translated to her being obsessed with ruining his life like BL3. She was too rich and powerful to even be that bothered by his existence. As long as they did not cross paths they were good but she never went looking for him. She didn’t seem to care about what he was doing then all of a sudden she’s obsessed. She even mentions being a VH during her fight “It’s takes a VH to kill a vault hunter”. And she calls the VH a whore first meeting, something once again that felt “off”. What made her despise VHs all of a sudden? She, in many ways, is no better since she was previously hired help for Jack (which by the end of TPS she didn’t like him much but she can get along with the Calypsos? And them promising her something she could obtain on her own? Why did she need them?). And her vocabulary was downgraded. Severely. Her ridiculous use of more complex words is nonexistent and she admits during the main campaign that as a member of the bourgeoisie she peaks many languages and speaks French to the Claptrap deputy (when the other VHs curse at him). She was so complex but was dumbed down for BL3.
It feels like whoever wrote her in just did not know anything about her accept she hates her brother. She changes throughout TPS which leads to her showing distaste for Jack and showing remorse for Felicity’s death (she apologizes to her and afterwards says she’s trying to forget her to enjoy her vacation, she feels this for an AI which says a lot honestly), the death of the scientists Jack air locked and more. She has values and like the other VHs though her personality can be an acquired taste she still has set boundaries this game kind of ignores.
She’s not a super popular character so not sure if anyone else cares but her portrayal in the game irked me and then they killed her off for no real reason (well there was a plot related reason but it did not line up with her established character). I get time passed and Aurelia was far from innocent, but this was too much. I was hoping she’d have come to her senses or she was pretending to be buddy-buddy with the twins for intel or something but nah, let’s just kill her off.
Lilith’s Characterization: Despite having 3 games worth of content and BL2 DLC introducing the idea of Lilith being lost in her new assigned role as leader I just…do not buy what is presented in BL3. Lilith is a shell of her former self right now. My issue is not her character inner conflict of being the fire hawk vs. the crimson raider leader but that she has a ridiculous lack of personality. And having this conflict would have been a great addition to her character but I just think it was written poorly. It’s a realistic conflict written poorly. I never felt this struggle she had in BL3. It was exhibited a few times but not well imo.
Lilith is watered down significantly compared to past games. Although I do understand that now that she’s a leader and throughout the games she was slowly changing (maybe in some way trying to emulate Roland as a leader since his passing and the crushing responsibility he had) but she felt like she had no fight in her. She supposed to be battling her instincts vs. her responsibility as a leader and she just kind of existed. I think she could still exhibit personality even if she became a leader but BL3 translated leader = emotionless commander. Because her battle between who she was and who she is becoming was not emphasized or written well the end of the game felt weird. Like, her saying “Run towards the fire” and she does. This would’ve meant a lot more if the player was able to see her struggle between being the firehawk and the crimson raider leader. To have scenes where this conflict was a huge issue she had to overcome or risk a lot more than she could afford ro lose. Her conclusion to mesh them as one felt unearned due to the writing despite the games setting up this development in past games. These events are never followed up despite the focus on Lilith this time around.
There are plenty of ways to exhibit her inner struggles with herself and the role she was given based on environment. I just think it’d have been cool if Lilith to lost her cool for major points in the game like when she loses her powers (anger stemming from self-doubt; is she really a badass because she is Lilith or because she’s the fire hawk?) and when Maya was killed (like when Roland was killed by Jack, she has another villain who killed a friend. This happened to her twice already, I think she’s allowed to show emotion). I just want to see Lilith be herself more with the maturity of a leader. She was impulsive in the past but it never took away from her character. Some leaders never lose their fault too (though they should). Plus, I’d think losing her powers she’d feel like she’d have to prove herself as a leader now more than ever but anytime she can join a mission or do something on her own she’s talked out of it. Responsible, though not Lilith. If she’s struggling with these two identities why not have her make bad calls/mistakes? I get it, people looking up to her guidance how can she when she’s on the sidelines. Sure, she insists on going a few times in the game but she gets talked out of it so easily and honestly it feels like it’s for the sake of plot. I get that she changed to be a leader but many characters do that in other games and they do not lose any interesting personality traits for it.
A lot of time has passed and all but I think as the audience we needed more context to show us her shift in personality whether through side missions or echoes or whatever. Or even more nuanced information like if she was sporting anything that resembled Roland or maybe she picked up some kind of body language. As of now she just went from Lilith to empty shell that looks like Lilith imo
TftB: Feels like a lot of what happened in this game is glanced over. While I did not mind Rhys in this game it feels like he went backwards compared to his present self in TftB. It is a game depending on choices but Rhys still has a base personality that adjusts regardless of choice and it’s not present in BL3. Also, while Vaughn is in the Lilith DLC for BL2 and it can be explained that he started to shift into a more…Pandoran way of living life due to his years of exposure he’s nothing like her was by the end of TftB. I didn’t mind him much either but he became very one-dimensional.
I’m hoping DLC fixes this but they completely disregarded build up from this game and TftB felt very non-consequential to the plot in BL3. I think it’s worse because the game actually acknowledges these events but brushes them off like they were concluded and/or not important enough to give time to answer (speaking to Vaughn and/or Rhys mention opening the vault of the traveler if you keep talking to them during different parts of the story). I feel like side missions or echoes would be enough but nothing like that is presented, not really. The game gives a nod back to things that happened in TftB but said events carry little to no weight in BL3 whatsoever. The only consistent thing is that Scooter is dead (which was also based on choice in the game but I know why it is canon, due to the VA’s health issues). Sasha is mentioned in the Promeathea echo concerning Rhys is looking for her and her pic is on Rhys’ desk but that’s it. Fiona is just gone and what about Loader Bot and Gortys? What happened to the Jack AI (is it destroyed or not)? Where did Rhys and Fiona go after they disappeared in the vault? What kind of change did opening the Vault of the Traveler have? (which is another issue opposed to a full contradiction. Vaults in this game also have an issue of carrying weight because besides Pandora being a…vault of vaults that has “false” vaults?-opening them hold little consequence for the planets in this game compared to past games.)
Childhood’s End: This side mission feels off to me. Mostly because it is contradicting a side mission’s given information in BL2 known as “Get to Know Jack”. In BL3, Angel says she didn’t mean to kill her mother and complies with being placed in the “chair” Jack puts her in to protect her and anyone else. In BL2, Angel has no clue what happened to her mother and Jack forces her in the chair (here’s a link: https://youtu.be/IovGOHC40DA?t=96).
Not to say Angel did not accidentally kill her mother but this is basically the same event with different scenes and both hold different context to what happened. I liked the Childhood’s End mission a lot and it is a nice addition for what it’s worth but this does seem like a contradiction. It adds to Jack but by disregarding already established canon.
I say this because if we go by BL2’s echo then Angel may not have killed her mother (accidental or otherwise as Jack mentions during the mission “Where Angels Fear to Tread”) or she was so out of it she has no recollection of it due to her powers. These echoes have Jack in two different states of mind. In BL2, and even TPS, he’s already turning into Handsome Jack the “hero”. In BL3, she accidentally kills her mother and Jack is far more caring towards her which contradicts BL2’s event and Jack is not on that edge. BL3, in context, is saying this event of his first wife’s death changed him but BL2’s echo conveys he reached that point already based on how he treated Angel. He literally kills a man at the mention of his wife (and said person mentions Jack’s wife disapproval of the angel project) which means he was already setting up the stage to use Angel before his first wife’s death. I mean, true, everything else like the wife dying and Angel being confined does happen in both although acknowledging them both is kind of ignoring the timeline of Jack’s decent to who he becomes.
There’s also the issue of when these happen but they seem to literally be the same event but conveyed differently with different context. Angel acknowledges the death in BL3 and says she didn’t meant too and Jack convinces her to accept the chair and they both say I love you at the end but in BL2 she asks where her mother is and screams for her while Jack forces her in the chair and they do not convey love at all. BL3 Angel’s powers activated and she saw the aftermath of it but in BL2 she does not even know she’s the one who killed her.
We can say these are both legit and happened at different times but then that also does not make a lot of sense. If the BL2 echo happened first then it wouldn’t make sense given Angel’s knowledge in BL3’s echo or the implied information about Jack. If it happened first Jack is different as their dynamic is as well. Given the delicate situation how would he be able to convince Angel, especially being so young, to comply when he scared her the first time over the chair? She’s very young and he literally forces her in BL2 (more trauma to the situation of loss she recalls was indirectly her fault) so it seems unlikely Jack could do that then convince her to comply later so that would not work and what I mentioned above. Jack is manipulative and abusive towards Angel but even knowing that it does not explain these shifts of his mental state or Angel’s. It doesn’t work.
I think this is an important detail that is not consistent. I think it’d be different if one of them happened before or after but it really does just seem like the exact same event. Not to say Angel wasn’t the result of her mother’s death by loss of control of her powers, but both echoes are giving different context both in terms of how it happened and the aftermath of it happening.
Siren/Eridian/Vault Lore: Okay, I know siren lore has always been vague (and only ingame info is canon) so because siren lore has always been super vague it’s hard to say the word ‘contradict’. However, the one rule that was clear in past games is that only 6 sirens can exist at a time and they are women. BL3 kind of throws already vague info completely out of the water to make it something else. I say this because these rules have been established and followed for all other installments of the game so it’s weird for BL3 to defy these vague rules. It can be considered “expanding” the lore but it’s really messy imo.
A “7th siren” is basically a thing now as well as siren powers can just be bestowed at any given time or sirens can choose to give their powers. Which makes no sense because that means we’d never see new siren powers. Based on old games only 6 can exist at a time but if you can keep recycling powers then…how would any siren get any new powers? Wtf happened to Tyreen’s powers when she died? I know she and Troy gained their powers from Nyriad when she sealed herself in the Nekrodefeyo vault but based on what is told in BL3 powers are passed by death or giving away. But why is this the case anyway if Typhoon’s wife, Leda, was also a siren? Would they have not inherited her powers instead? Where are said powers?
Not to say Jack knows everything but Jack says in BL2 “…sirens are born with crazy ass powers…” in a quote. So, I know this may not be true for all sirens but it might mean Angel was probably born with her powers. Why else would he say this? Based on what? We can say the vault artifact that fused in his face in TPS that caused his scar (since it gave him knowledge/foresight) but then he would not have said that if Angel wasn’t born with said powers because then she’d be the exception to that rule. But BL3 conveys that Angel was a kid when she obtained her powers and was discovered by Jack.
Not to say this lore is not good just because it’s technically kind of contradicting the very little past lore given in prior titles but I feel like there was not much thought put into expanding this lore. Maybe future DLC will make this all come together but right now it seems messy. This is just my opinion though.