Great Writing in Borderlands 3

When I played through the first three games the main story was presented in the quests. In Borderlands 1 Tannis’s Journal echo quests established the deeper lore, and carried the majority of the emotion. The main narrative was primarily mission logs that were very detached emotionally.

In Borderlands 2 the narrative was mostly in the main story, with echo missions providing character background as well, serving a very strong main story.

In the Presequel the narrative was the main focus and lost echos and echo missions were less relevant to the main story or served as character sketches.

Borderlands 3 took a major risk. We have a big quest narrative as the main game, with a number of lost echoes that provide character sketches and also key moments of plot development. Some of the brief arcs on these echoes are some of the best parts of the story, though they are relegated to being scavenger hunt items. Playing the echos alone, roughly 53 minutes of dialogue, showcases some great story telling and voice acting that is likely being skipped or heard out of sequence and context.

In addition to that, the Eridian Writings are a story unto themselves that is on par with Tannis’s echoes in Borderlands 1 in depth and emotion. And yet, they are offset by a game mechanic that only allows their play after completing 75% of the story they contribute to, and backtracking to every location after the fact.

There’s a feature film’s worth of story and character development that’s very well executed, but rendered skip-able or inaccessible, which unfortunately undermines the presentation of the overarching story.

Also, there’s a lot of dialogue between characters, and upon entering maps, that’s very significant when explaining actions and motivations, that will be skipped simply by entering an NPCs field of view, pressing “talk”, or choosing never to talk during non-mission interactions.

In a way it sets a speedy player up to have an experience that may be underwhelming if they forego all the additional narrative content.

That additional content has some of the best world building and story telling the series has had to date.

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So… you’re saying …

  • what is best in Borderlands 3 's story writing is the part most people skip by their own choice or simply skip by game design ?
  • very significant dialogue is being skipped or is made difficult to access by game design ?
  • player has to backtrack hidden items to get a chance to access explanation of why and how this or that ?

Sounds very much like “good writing, bad storytelling”, rather than “best storytelling”…

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my pick with BL3 story is that its not re-usable.
it all startds and ends in the vanilla game. The twins born and travel in that story, they die in that story.

No reappearing in other content stories like jack did, idk, 5 times? The best they would get is a cult focused DLC.

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I’ll definitely give you that the audiologs are much better written than the main story dialogue and plot. But unfortunately they don’t do much to supplement such a massive disappointment. At least not for me; I just look at the echologs as curiosities mostly. Each set is usually its own small contained elaboration on a character or part of the lore, but they don’t really add up to much because they’re only sparsely connected. They do make the world feel a bit deeper but I’d rather have even just a decent story and no logs over what we ended up getting.

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Your points are correct, your way of putting them together is not what I feel or mean to communicate. What I meant it to sound like is:

There are great stories told in the game, but to hear these stories you have to go on scavenger hunts that are optional, or broken by game mechanics.

Games can be a tool to tell a story, but when you put a story teller in a game telling a unique, they are telling a story independent of the main quest. So those stories can be well-written, and well-told, independent of the overarching game and narrative.

Nyriad’s story is great.
Troy & Tyreen’s escape and beginnings on Pandora is great.
Krieg’s little story is great.
Jack & Angel’s little story is great.

In a way, Borderlands 3 is an Anthology of related stories, assembled in a way that does some of them a disservice. A few of those side stories contribute mightily to the overarching story of Pandora and the Eridians.

Some mysteries are left unresolved for future story telling, but you wouldn’t even be aware of that if you didn’t complete these optional objectives that aren’t tied to any quests, but are unlocked by completing a part of a story mission, and then goes unaddressed in the story otherwise.

My first play through I did my best to 100% the game with no guides or spoilers, and I still missed a few echoes. I can’t imagine how empty the game must have felt for people who ran through the main story, power-leveling off boss battles and skipping side quests if the reward had already been downplayed by content creators etc.

Troy & Tyreen’s echoes are their best work in the game and show crucial character development. The same with Wainright & Clay, though they manage to come across well enough in their story missions.

Even the psycho echoes in the Droughts provide a bit of foreshadowing to a big reveal in a clever way.

Part of my reason for making this post is to highlight that it was entirely possible for the main quest to have a similar tone and focus as these sub-stories. A youtuber named eruptionfang has been doing lore videos, and in putting together the echoes related to the Eridian Writings and Troy & Tyreen put together their completed stories, inclusive of all the echoes and story dialogue and cut scenes. The result is fairly strong on its own merit for each story, and they are directly related to one another, with Typhon’s last few logs being the thread that connects the Eridian Writings to the Calypso Twins.

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So in short, even if someone has issues with the overall story or plot, there are smaller pieces that are well done and worthy of praise. I can definitely see that. Despite the issues I had with overall plot, I found parts of the adventure well written and well acted.

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Yup. I have done my share of critiquing so I wanted to focus on the things that resonated and felt inspired.

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Jack showed up but the twins didn’t because the twins were ■■■■■■ villains.

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The ECHO logs are definitely well-written. The Troy/Tyreen Echos in Devil’s Razor added depth to the characters. Seeing Troy and Tyreen actually enjoy each others company and act like siblings? That was SOO fun to watch! B-Team’s squabbles were genuinely heart-warming in a joke-y kind of way. I love how Mordecai is a sort of punching bag but also the straight-man. Hammerlock/Wainright were sweethearts! Zane’s personality is so interesting and very well-written. A reliable merc but an unreliable story-teller who’s afraid of getting too close. Baby Dancer, is one of my favorite side missions ever. I think there are some good jokes too. Brick’s BL1 meta side mission was the best. “That one was talking ■■■■” is one of the best lines ever.

That’s why its even more frustrating that we got this campaign. The campaign just feels so disconnected from its characters that it doesn’t reflect any of the highlights.

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Their announcements in the subway station on Promethea are pretty silly & at one point I think Troy legit flubs his line, but they go with it, and it makes a potentially cringey bit of toilet humor pretty funny.

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