Technology | The Guardian

Funny games: Borderlands 3 and the rise of the comedy shooter

May 01, 2019 at 07:00PM

It’s brash, foul-mouthed and has more than one billion guns, but humour just might be the forthcoming game’s greatest weapon

Mindless violence and inane gags go together like Monty Python and a killer bunny, but when it comes to video games, especially shooters, gritty, po-faced realism tends to win out over comedy. But 2019 is bringing an explosion of comical madness, from the superhero antics of Crackdown 3 to the Mad Max-style mohawks and DayGlo insanity of Rage 2, out in May. The bright, cartoonish Fortnite dominates battle royale, while among competitive shooters, Overwatch brims with colourful personality. Games with guns don’t have to rely on military stylings and a dull colour palette any more.

The first Borderlands game, in 2009, was an interesting forerunner to the “looter-shooter” genre Destiny has popularised. This series was one of the earlier first-person shooters to blend bullets and bawdy jokes, bringing humour to a genre that could be pretty dour. Borderlands 3, to be released in September, retains its distinct pop-art style, and in-your-face irreverence. The cell-shaded art has been updated, but carefully maintains its graphic novel-style black edges. Texas-based game developer Gearbox promises “over one billion guns” (they’ll be procedurally generated for virtually limitless weapon possibilities). It’s like a shooter concocted inside the mind of a foul-mouthed 14-year-old.

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