The first major piece of post-launch content has arrived for Borderlands 3 in the form of a raid. Dubbed the Takedown at the Maliwan Blacksite, the raid is intended for players who are at the endgame and have more or less finalized their build. It should be noted though that Takedown at the Maliwan Blacksite also came with some serious balancing updates and the addition of the Mayhem 4 modifier. It might be a good idea to experiment with your favorite build and or weapons before you tackle the raid, especially if you haven’t played the game at all recently, as certain mechanics may have changed drastically.
In any case, the overall structure of Borderlands 3’s first raid is simple enough. You find out that Maliwan is up to some evil shenanigans, so you and up to three other people can team up to kill everyone and blow up something that’s incredibly expensive. You can matchmake for the activity to find random people if needed, which is always a good sign. The Raid itself is divided into three sections, each of which have a checkpoint and a boss. If you die at any point, you cannot respawn until your team has finished the section. If the whole group wipes, you can restart at the beginning of the section. Every section requires you to kill every enemy before you can advance, so you can’t just run past everything. It also appears as though you cannot matchmake if you are at the final section, but more on that later.
The overall difficulty of the individual sections is more or less in line with one of the easier Circle of Slaughter waves. This means that while the average person needs a full group to beat a raid section, it’s not strictly a requirement. In fact, there’s no mechanical reason as to why someone can’t theoretically solo the whole raid. Unlike the raids of many other games, your objective is really as simple as going from point A to point B while killing everything along the way. There’s no new gameplay mechanic that forces two people to press a button at the same time for instance, or anything of the sort. You certainly don’t need to do an entire coordinated dance routine to beat any of the bosses. Like the rest of Borderlands 3, the only skill that you need is an understanding of your character build, reasonably good aim, good gear, and an eye for basic boss mechanics and or patterns.
As far as rewards are concerned, you are seemingly guaranteed at least one legendary item from each of the bosses on True Vault Hunter Mode at Mayhem 3. There are also (allegedly) raid-specific rewards, though even with the changes to loot distribution you may be hard pressed to get any specific item to drop. The first two sections are somewhat easy for a raid, so chances are that you won’t go home empty handed. The final boss also spawns adds that can drop legendary items once the boss is around half health, but the inherently dangerous nature of the fight makes such concerns minor by comparison. If you’re farming for legendary items, other Borderlands 3 activities are probably going to be more efficient. It should be noted that this is entirely due to familiarity and difficulty, both of which are (naturally) not going to go in favor of the raid.
Speaking of which, the final boss, Wotan the Invincible, is thankfully not a giant version of a normal Borderlands 3 enemy. It has some unique attacks and a mildly annoying shield mechanic, but nothing that is inherently unfair per se. It doesn’t appear to have an enrage timer, nor an unavoidable close range AOE stomp of insta-death, or even an invincibility phase outside of the brief moments when it changes forms. If anything, the adds that spawn during the fight are a little bit more dangerous than the boss itself, if only because they don’t despawn once you push Wotan into different stages. Overall, not a bad boss fight, and certainly beatable by groups of random people. A difficult fight to be sure, yet not impossible. Of course, your experience may vary based on the quality of your teammates.
Unfortunately, the largest obstacle to beating the Takedown at the Maliwan Blacksite is the agonizing checkpoint system. As was stated before, if your team wipes, you have to restart the entire section. Nothing too unusual there. The problem is that the final boss is not considered its own section. When your team inevitably gets killed by Wotan, you have to do the last third of the raid again, and again, and again. If someone has the misfortune of dying prior to reaching Wotan, you may as well just wipe and try again. Chances are that you’ll see the last section of the raid more than any other part of the activity because of this. Oh, and if someone quits for any reason, the game literally does not allow you to matchmake for a random person during the final section. As the entire raid was designed and balanced around having a full party, the problems with the unfriendly checkpoint system are quite apparent.
In spite of this, Borderlands 3‘s first raid is a rather enjoyable experience all around. Not too time consuming, fairly rewarding, and easily accessible regardless of your online popularity, Takedown at the Maliwan Blacksite addressed many of the most common complaints that people have regarding endgame looter shooter content. It’s probably not going to be an activity for everyone given the relative difficulty spike compared to the base game, but for those who want such endgame content, this is a fine offering by Gearbox. If the same could be said about the random Guardian rank bugs and spongy enemies of Mayhem 4, that would be perfect, but you can’t have everything evidently.