Can My Kid Play is a series of helpful guides for parents that dive further into the ratings and content of video games. We do not pass judgement, instead providing insight and information so parents can make their own informed decisions.
What is Borderlands 3?
Borderlands 3 is an RPG-shooter. Players choose one of four Vault Hunter characters and embark on a campaign to recover vault key fragments to open a vault before the villains. The action takes them across several alien worlds, meeting lots of eccentric friendly characters and zany enemy factions, but the focus is always on the loot. Vault Hunters constantly acquire new and better randomized guns with lots of different styles, abilities, and stats.
The gameplay supports up to four players online or two players locally via splitscreen.
What platforms is it available on?
Borderlands 3 is available on PC (Epic Games Store), Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
What is the ESRB Rating?
Borderlands 3 is rated M for Mature with the following content descriptors: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, and Strong Language.
What is the overall tone of the story?
Borderlands 3 introduces yet another foursome of eager Vault Hunters as playable characters, though players will run into, and complete missions for previous series characters like Lilith, Tannis, Moxxi, and Ellie. Players are tasked with exploring various regions and worlds, killing beasts and bad guys and helping solve problems, such as liberating a planet from a hostile corporate takeover.
Despite the violence there’s a very clear dividing line between the good guys and bad guys. It’s all very action-packed and full of snarky jokes, though the story occasionally dip into the dramatic, including the deaths of major characters.
What is the level of violence?
Borderlands’ cartoony art style can be a bit deceptive. On the one hand the action looks like a comic book come to life. On the other, it’s still pretty violent, with enemies exploding left and right with a decent amount of blood and body parts. Bodies are not left behind however, but simply disappear instantly as loot pops out directly onto the floor. The violence is played more for laughs than drama.
What is the level of alcohol and/or drug use?
None. There are no options for the players to ever engage with alcohol or drugs. There’s a bar on the Sanctuary ship that players use as a base, but the only thing they can do there (besides talk to Moxxi) is play the slot machines.
What is the level of adult language?
Very adult, and a major source of the M rating. Characters frequently curse, including the f-word, as well as make the occasional suggestive comments and dirty joke.
What is the level of sexual content or themes?
One of the fan-favorite ally NPCs, Moxxi, is infamously sexualized throughout the series, in both her outfit and her dialogue. Many characters aren’t shy with making overtly sexual jokes and comments, though they’re rare outside of Moxxi.
What is the level of online interactivity?
The Borderlands series is known for its four player co-op gameplay, including two players locally via split-screen. Loot can be set to only see your own loot, so no one can steal from each other. Players can trade items and dual each other, but it must be consensual, and players can equip different emotes that their characters can perform. Voice or text chat is done entirely through the consoles or third-party programs like Discord.
What else do parents need to know about Borderlands 3?
The world of Borderlands is one of snarky violence. At least one faction is made up of bandits, who are little more than half-naked psychopaths who scream weird things while charging at you. The comic art style and jokey tone frequently disarms the bloody violence, while the world continues to revel in it.
There’s a side mission on Promethia that reflects Borderlands 3’s gleeful dark humor. The quest-giver mentions that her whole family was murdered and wants you to get revenge. Problem is, she doesn’t know which of two bandit leaders did the deed. They both brag they were responsible, and taunt you the entire time. Without ever finding proper proof, players can choose to kill either one, but at the quest-giver’s behest you can also kill both of them for a greater reward. A lot of these quests and characters are deigned to elicit laughs at their own over-the-top ridiculousness alongside with the satisfying shoot ‘n loot gameplay.