On paper, Google Stadia’s release window lineup is impressive, consisting of highly rated triple-A experiences like Red Dead Redemption 2, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Gearbox Software’s big looter-shooter Borderlands 3. But a big problem with these games is that many of them will be available on other platforms for months if not years, and probably everyone who wants to play them has already done so. The draw of a Stadia port is to give these games the portability they otherwise lack, where players can take them on the go and play them anywhere with a stable connection. on the Internet. So it comes down to whether or not it’s enough to convince players to double dip, and while it might make sense for some games, fans of Borderlands 3 probably won’t be satisfied with the Stadia version.
One of the biggest issues with the Borderlands 3 Stadia port is that it is outdated compared to other versions of the game, missing various quality-of-life improvements, balance changes, and content updates that available elsewhere. And if the Borderlands 3 Stadia port fails to garner much interest, it’s hard to see Gearbox Software seriously supporting it in the long term. Considering this, it’s easy to see a scenario where Borderlands 3 on Stadia continues to lag behind its console and PC counterparts, making it a questionable investment.
There are also some Stadia-exclusive issues to mention, including occasional lag and framerate dips when playing over a wireless connection. When testing the Stadia port of Borderlands 3 over a wired connection using a PC, there were no issues, including no input lag to speak of. But if playing Borderlands 3 on Stadia without any issues requires one to use a wired Internet connection, then they can also get the PC or console versions.
It’s really hard to understand who the target audience is for the Borderlands 3 Stadia port. There are no cross-saves, meaning dedicated Borderlands 3 players can’t take their existing characters with them on the go. There is no cross-play, so while some may use the Stadia Buddy Pass to play with their friends, the more likely scenario is that Stadia owners will experience Borderlands 3 as a solo adventure. While Destiny 2 on Stadia doesn’t support cross-play either, it does at least support cross-saves, so it’s easier to see why some fans might double-dip in that case, but there are no extras incentive for Borderlands 3 players to buy the game a second time.
One scenario could be that some people boycott the Borderlands 3 PC version and could get the Stadia port in the meantime. For those who don’t remember, Borderlands 3 was exclusive to the Epic Games Store on PC for about a year, which rubbed some Steam devotees the wrong way. Stadia provides a way for people who refuse to give Epic a run for their money to play the game on PC, but it seems most Borderlands 3 lovers have no reason to pick up the Stadia version over the other versions of game.
Those who decide that the ability to play a laggier Borderlands 3 on the go is worth the money will have to contend with some issues that have since been fixed in other versions of the game. As previously mentioned, Borderlands 3 on Stadia is an old version of the game, meaning that things like skipping the opening cut-scene are not available here. The start of Borderlands 3 is generally quite slow, taking about 15 minutes before players can fire a gun. These early missions are boring to revisit, especially for someone who has played a game with multiple characters.
Borderlands 3 on Stadia is inferior for other reasons, mainly due to its lack of local co-op. It may take a while for Stadia users to find people to play Borderlands 3 online, as it doesn’t have the benefit of being a free-to-play Stadia Pro game like Destiny 2 was, and the lack of local co-op means that most people will probably play alone. The lack of split-screen co-op in the Borderlands 3 Stadia port is especially disappointing because Stadia’s local co-op capabilities are impressive, and it would be nice to see them implemented in a game like this.
All that being said, if one puts the Stadia-related issues and half a step aside, the rest of them are solid and content-rich looter-shooters. Borderlands 3 is a fun game that will keep Stadia players busy for dozens of hours, especially if they try to complete all the side quests and fully experience everything it has to offer. This is definitely the worst way to play through Borderlands 3, but if one has never played the game before and is completely new, they can still get a huge amount of quality play time from the Stadia version.
As previously mentioned, the Stadia version of Borderlands 3 works perfectly with a wired connection. We were able to increase the stream quality as high as it was without any performance issues. The technology behind Stadia is still impressive, and there’s a certain novelty in being able to instantly play a massive game like Borderlands 3 without having to download anything. So it’s not really Stadia’s fault that this is the worst way to play Borderlands 3 – the blame lies at the developers’ feet for releasing a poor port that doesn’t measure up to other versions of the game.
Going forward, the Borderlands 3 Stadia port should improve as Gearbox releases quality-of-life updates that other versions of the game already have and adds new content. Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot DLC is particularly good, and that will give those who decide to buy Borderlands 3 on Stadia a lot of new high-quality content to play once they finish the base game. And perhaps if cross-saves were implemented, as they have been with other Stadia games, a Borderlands 3 Stadia port could be a more attractive prospect. However, it doesn’t make sense for gamers to bother with a Stadia port when higher quality versions of the game are available on other platforms.
Borderlands 3 is out now for PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One. Today Technology was given a Stadia code for this review.