Borderlands 3

Posted:  Mar 06, 2023
SDHQ BUILD SCORE: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarNo StarNo Star
Cloud Saves
Mixed Input
Disclaimer: This is an initial impression of the game. Our review and recommended settings will be updated when we've completed a full and thorough analysis of how it performs on Steam Deck. Check back soon for our full analysis!

Review

After a 6 year break from the last game in the series, the biggest first-person looter shooter is back! Borderlands 3 brings back the charm of the originals while pushing to a whole new level. Pick one of four vault hunters and roam through different worlds, tackling enemies, leveling up, and obtaining scores of new guns in a gorgeous cel-shaded adventure. Use your skill points to fine-tune your play-style and take down the Calypso Twins from claiming the galaxy's ultimate power. With millions and millions of different guns and gadgets, as well as coop, there will be no shortage of chaos here.

Borderlands 3 is a fantastic evolution of the series and added some awesome simple mechanics I fell in love with. From the refinement of the gunplay, addition of sliding and climbing, more skill customization for each hunter, and late game modifiers (Mayhem system), there is a lot to enjoy here. There's even a decent amount of aesthetic customization you can do for each character, which is always a nice touch. But will someone be able to enjoy this all on the Steam Deck? Well...kind of.

The game starts out running quite well, especially with my goal of 40 FPS. But as soon as I got into the open space and some heavier battles, it started to drain more and fluctuate the framerate. It was able to handle the smaller spaces, but this didn't last long. After some testing though, I found that forcing the resolution down to 800x500 and using SteamOS FSR to boost it up helped significantly with these.

Compare
Native Resolution
800x500 with FSR
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800x500 with FSR
Native Resolution

Overall this made the game much more stable and able to keep 40 more times than not. There were still some drops I found, like when going to new areas, but for the most part, it was pretty stable. I also discovered a couple settings I was able to increase that didn't affect performance much.

While switching to 30 does reduce the amount of drops there are, I felt 40 was significantly smoother and worth the minor drops that I encountered. There are still some at 30, they just don't impact smoothness much due to the framerate being lower already. Borderlands 3 also has simultaneous/mixed input support, which means you can set the gyro to "As Mouse" and it won't interfere with moving around.

My biggest concern is text size. Borderlands 3 has some very small text that I would consider tiny on native resolution. But forcing resolution down makes the text completely unreadable. There is a popup next to it that explains what is being highlighted and that is more readable, but it is still quite bad. If you plan on changing settings, I would start the game at native resolution, change the settings you would like to, leave the game, and then force the resolution down when opening next.

Compare
1280x800
800x500 with FSR
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800x500 with FSR
1280x800

Other than this, Borderlands 3 plays pretty well. I will admit I am really surprised at how well this runs in general. Apart from the text size and the minor stutters when going to new areas, it's really wonderful being able to play the game this way. And while turning the game to 30 FPS would help with stability, 40 FPS feels significantly better and hangs there most of the time!

Our full review will have a 30 FPS quality build at native resolution and a battery focused one. I also want to see if I can push to 55, which would be the closest feeling to 60 that is possible.

Borderlands 3 Screenshots:

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Borderlands 3 is the newest game in the looter shooter series and takesit to new heights with some great new mechanics and refined gunplay. And with some tweaking, the game runs better than expected on the Steam Deck!

Build Score

Performance: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarNo Star
VISUALS: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarNo StarNo Star
Stability: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarNo StarNo Star
Controls: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarNo Star
Battery: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarNo StarNo Star
Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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