Many people say that they don’t want to play Borderlands because it’s just like Fallout 3, or that the settings are identical. While I understand the idea that a wasteland populated mostly with freaks building things out of trash sounds like it would make two things exactly the same, this is not the case at all. While the settings may appear to be similar, there’s nothing at all the same with these two games – location, gameplay, and plot aren’t even remotely similar. Add to this mixture the brand new Rage, which also looks and feels similar, and you’ve got a recipe for confusion and indecision. So without further ado, I present to you the differences between Borderlands and Fallout 3 – or why you should never, ever mistake one of these games for the other.
1. There is nothing at all similar about these settings
No, seriously. There is NOTHING AT ALL similar about these settings. Borderlands is a science fiction game set on an alien planet called Pandora, which is an attraction for treasure hunters looking for the fabled Vault. It’s chock full of colorful locals, alien monsters, and a plethora of loot. Sure, it’s a “wasteland,” and it’s got a lot of stuff made out of trash, but it’s an alien planet that is primarily populated by crazy people. Fallout 3 is an alternate history science fiction setting, in which nuclear war destroyed the Earth back in the 1950s, meaning everything is nostalgic and 50s style. The beginning of the game takes place in a Vault in which survivors have lived for generations, but your character escapes and wanders the surface. The surface is a “wasteland,” yes, and again, it has a lot of stuff made out of trash, but that’s because it’s all the people on the surface have left. The similarities in how it looks really stop there.
2. There are few similarities in the gameplay
There are few overlapping similarities about the gameplay. Borderlands – a first-person shooting role-playing game – is all about shooting up your enemies, finishing quests, and looting, looting, looting. In Fallout 3 – a third-person shooting role-playing game – it’s all about figuring out the best ways to defeat enemies, be it with a gun or a melee weapon or stealthing around them and avoiding battle completely. It also includes a lot of quests, and you can loot, but not in the same Diablo II style of Borderlands.
3. Multiplayer vs Single Player
Borderlands is all about the multiplayer experience. While you can play the entire game solo, it’s much more fun – the challenge goes up and the loot is better – when you play it with a friend. Fallout 3 has no multiplayer components to it whatsoever – the entire thing is a solo experience.
4. The art styles are completely different
Borderlands is cel-shaded. Is there really anything else to say about it? Fallout 3 is far more realistic and less cartoony. Both look terrific, but they look completely different to me. Despite the similarities in the settings, the two games look so different from one another.
5. Skill tree systems are completely different
The skill systems are totally different in both games as well. In Borderlands, you get skill points that you can then assign to different aspects of your character’s offense or defense, primarily to weapons, armor, shields, and your special moves. In Fallout 3, the skill points are far more complicated – you can assign them to things like thievery, bomb making, weapon creation, and a ton of other options. The amount of detail that goes into the skills is a reflection of the intense amount of choices you have for each situation you end up in. Fallout 3 is a far more complex game than Borderlands; in Fallout 3, you can create your own weapons, break into buildings, and customize just about everything, while in Borderlands, you use the weapons you find, and follow a basically linear path everywhere without any complicated choices along the way.
Borderlands and Fallout 3 are different enough that they should be easily distinguishable, even at a glance. People who say they don’t want to bother with Borderlands because they’ve already played Fallout 3 completely confuse me. You don’t want to play a first-person shooter game that is an RPG with tons of looting because you already played a third-person shooter game that is a highly complex and customizable RPG… just because they both take place in a wasteland and look too much the same? Nothing in that sentence makes any sense at all. While they may have superficial similarities in their settings, Gearbox and Bethesda each created games that approach these settings from totally different perspectives. I highly encourage everyone to try both of these games, because they’re both absolutely amazing and deserve to be played. Hopefully this time next year I won’t be writing about why you should never, ever say that Borderlands 2 is too much like Rage which is too much like Fallout: New Vegas. Please, people. Stop the insanity here.