Let’s REALLY look at the writing. Warning : spoilers for the main story of BL2 and 3.
Borderlands 3 has a major issue in how it develops the story, and how story checkpoints are designed. There are plenty of those moments when you’re forced to stay still, listening to characters dialogues. That may not be an issue the first time, but it gets boring really fast to stay still on NPC talk on the second playthrough, and all the others after that.
Presence and representation
The Twins are not only against you, they are everywhere. One would believe a “god” would stay in his temple and command his troops from there, but the Calypso run around everywhere, and talk to you a lot.
- you meet both at the end of an early section of Pandora, when they steal Lilith’s powers, allowing them and their followers to teleport anywhere. NO VEHICULES appear around, so I guess they walked from their fortress to Sanctuary III landing site ? And if they did not had firehawk powers, they would have walked back ?
- you meet both again on Promethea, when they steal Maya’s powers, hence giving them the possibility to open Pandora’s great vault. How would they have done without Maya’s phaselock ?
- you meet Troy again on Eden-6, where he set a trap specifically for you at Amelia’s.
- both twins regularly register or stream public messages directly adressed to you or Lilith’s crew.
As a comparison, you met Handsome Jack only twice, first at Angel’s fortress, and last at the vault. In between, he would send bots at you (and on the entire planet) from his satellite, set traps with his lieutenants like Whilelm, and regularly make private phonecalls to mock you. His “public” communication is always the same though : “all bandits shall surrender or be killed”.
It would have made more sense to make the Calypsos talk to their psycho-fans and ignore you, leaving the messages adressed to your team to a secondary NPC like the screamer. Gods don’t talk to non-believers.
Causes and consequences
The most powerful abilities of the twins seem stolen from your team. Formerly, their main Siren ability was to drain lifeforce, not to teleport anyone anywhere or phaselock giant objects.
How come life-drain was so impressive that they raised an army ?
Maya’s phaselock seems absolutely necessary to open the great vault, but at no point she is a target. Just a side-consequence that makes everything possible. Why isn’t it assumed ? It would have made more sense to tell the Calypsos are chasing both vaults AND sirens.
You then learn that Troy can “Annoint” anyone, making them super strong and fast, on Eden-6.
If they knew it from the start, why didn’t they send all these infused psychos to you before ? And why didn’t they advert about it in their streaming ? Making someone super-strong seems much more appealing than life-draining tinks.
Each time you go to a new planet, enemy presence is already there, but you do manage to open the vault before them, on Promethea AND Eden-6. You then kill the vault guardian to prevent the Calypsos from absorbing more power, and collecting vault keys in the process. Each time, the Calypsos DO steal something from your team instead of from the vault.
Once arrived in Nekrotafeyo, you learn that you need 4 vault keys (which you almost already have - how convenient) to stop the great vault opening process. The Calypsos knew about Nekrotafeyo’s vault, but never heard about the key hidden in they own mother’s tomb ? And they never figured out that their father had it as he opened the vault, and that it would be convenient to have a vault key on their trip to open all the galaxy’s vaults ?
Ultimately, Lilith sacrifices to stop the great vault opening, making your trip to collect vault keys useless as a result.
As a comparison, Handsome Jack is a corporate manager somehow in charge of Hyperion’s affairs on Pandora. He hires you as a vault hunter and tries to kill you, so you may ask for revenge. You then learn this was a bigger plan to lure the Crimson Lance and kill you all. You get to disable Angel’s connection in an attempt to delay or stop the vault opening, killing Jack’s daughter in the process, which makes him really want to personnaly kill you. You ultimately get to the vault once Jack open it, and kill both him and the vault guardian.
BL2’s story may not be an award-winning plot, but at least you can see there is a consistent plan. I wouldn’t say so for BL3.
Exposed secondary characters
Ava is formerly described as a chosen one that will one day become a siren. She doesn’t seem aware of that, even when Maya tells this to Lilith on Sanctuary III’s main deck. From what we know, her life is peaceful in a monastery, she holds on girly stuff like her journal, and we never see her holding a gun. Her only help is opening 3 doors while searching for eridium on Athenas. She then follows you to Promethea’s vault, and interferes in your confrontation with Troy.
Assuming Ava would not have followed you to Promethea’s vault, Maya wouldn’t have to care about her, and may not have died. From that point Ava should feel guilty rather than vengeful. As the events are depicted, Ava is just a kid that did not follow clear orders and made things worse.
As a comparison, the only other noticeable kid in BL2 was Tiny Tina, a crazed bomb-maker living in deadly traps and pink explosive fur toys, that is just here to help you open the path, and succeeds first try. Claptrap also may open doors … in his way, not efficient, but at least somehow funny.
People can’t like Ava because she is a poor support compared to all the other NPCs, and as described, she can’t have comical side to outweight that uselessness.
Tannis’ behavior is not often mentionned, but I feel there is a big issue with her. She has Angel’s powers from the start and keeps them secret. She also follows you on Sanctuary III, thus replacing Dr Ned as the medic of the crew.
- at the end of BL2, there was some kind of love affair between Ned and Tannis. Ned is absent from BL3, but we never hear about him. What happenned ?
- Such machines control powers would have been great to stop the Maliwans by… taking control of their ships ? Why, with the possibility to control machines, would she limit herself to disable a few turrets ?
- classic turrets can be disabled by Claptrap, why send the last siren on your side risk her life for that ?
IMO, Tannis having siren powers is totally underused, and misused. It would have made more sense to assume she is a tech expert and able to hack machines than give her superpowers.
The writing of Borderlands 3
Could be better. Way better.