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Borderlands 3's Review Situation Sure Is Strange

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Borderlands 3 reviews hit the internet this morning, but only at a select few websites, thanks to a bizarre scenario that publisher 2K says is in place because of security concerns.

Typically, video game reviewers work off early retail copies of games provided by publishers. They can be either digital or physical, and they function like any other game you’d buy in a store. Our forthcoming review of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, for example, will be based on an early retail code provided by Nintendo that functions just like the proper game will when it comes out on the eShop. Occasionally, game publishers will send out very early game builds on “debug” consoles that work a little differently, but these days, that’s rare. Usually, reviewers are playing the same game that everyone else will—just a week or two earlier.


In the case of Borderlands 3, which comes out Friday for PC and consoles, things are unusual. Rather than sending out codes for the game, 2K gave reviewers special Epic Games Store accounts loaded up with early, work-in-progress builds of Borderlands 3—a bizarre scenario that we’ve never seen before. As Polygon explained in their review:

2K Games and Gearbox didn’t send out review codes for Borderlands 3. Instead, they set reviewers up with new Epic Games Store accounts with the game unlocked, and gave us a few warnings about the game being a work in progress. They asked us to stay away from the DirectX 12 implementation, for example, and told us that our progress in these builds may or may not carry over to the final game.


As a result, Polygon reviewer Ben Kuchera wrote, he and some of his colleagues ran into some severe technical issues including random crashes and, in one case, someone losing six hours of progress and having to start from scratch (!!!!). Some other reviewers complained of technical problems; others did not.

Kotaku requested access to Borderlands 3 for a review but did not get access. A representative for 2K cited security concerns and told us we’d get code for the much-anticipated loot-shooter on Thursday, September 12, the day before it launches. (We’ll do our best to get you coverage as soon as we can.) Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the website VG247 reports that they and their fellow European video game outlets also haven’t gotten codes for security reasons. This all comes a month after 2K and its parent company Take-Two went after a YouTuber who was posting leaked information about the game.