All the ways Borderlands 3 is bigger, badder and madder than its predecessor

 
 

1. Four new Vault Hunters to master

Picking up five years after the events of Borderlands 2, the game shuffles in four new protagonists. Worthy successors to Axton, Maya, Salvador and Zer0, the new Hunters are finely tuned to complement each other on the battlefield.

Class: Siren

Amara

Picking up the Siren mantle from Maya, Amara is a brawler who can grind enemies to dust with her Phaseslam ability, freeze them in place with Phasegrasp, or use Phasecast to launch a deadly astral projection of herself at the enemy.

Class: Gunner

Moze

Salvador fans might find themselves gravitating to Borderlands 3’s weapons specialist – though Moze is definitely not cookie-cutter. Her action skill lets you climb into Iron Bear – your own personal mech – and unleash all manner of carnage.

Class: Operative

Zane

An old acquaintance of Borderlands 2 assassin Zer0, Zane leans on gadgetry to take down his targets. Deploy a drone to get a jump on the opposition, throw up a shield to deflect oncoming fire, or distract the enemy with your Digi-Clone ability. 

Class: Beastmaster

FL4K

Perhaps the biggest departure among the new roster, FL4K is a wandering robot who can call on one of three loyal ‘pets’ to help out on the battlefield – suffice to say they’re certainly not of the cute-and-fluffy variety…

We put so much effort into making our characters feel both genuine and irreverent, so that you never know what to expect from them.”

 

- Paul Sage, Creative Director

 
 

2. You'll love to hate the Calypso Twins

Question: How do you top Handsome Jack? Borderlands 2’s big-bad was a sleazy corporate douchebag who just begged to be put in his place. Well, developer Gearbox has dug deep and conjured up an equally loathsome foe. Meet the Calypso Twins.

Troy and Tyreen are a pair of Sirens who lord over the Children of the Vault, a demented bandit cult hell-bent on destruction. So far, so textbook evil. But pushing them over the edge into the realms of the seriously obnoxious is the fact that they’re a pair of vacuous, self-aggrandising, egomaniacal social media influencers. Trust us, you will take great pleasure in ruining their day.

 
 

3. It's the biggest – and busiest - game in the series

For the first time in a Borderlands game, you’ll be boarding the Sanctuary III and shipping out of Pandora in search of loot on exotic new planets.

Pandora

It might no longer be the sole focus, but you’ll still spend a good chunk of the game on Borderlands’ original desert planet.

Promethea

A urban planet covered in skyscrapers. Oh, and it’s also a warzone thanks to an ongoing conflict between Atlas and Maliwan

Athenas

A tranquil, mountainous planet inhabited by an ancient sect known as the Order of the Impending Storm. 

Eden-6

In contrast to Pandora, Eden-6 is a lush wetland environment. It’s home to the Jakobs clan, as well as all manner of ravenous swamp critters.

While you’re exploring the game world you’ll come across new ‘Crew challenges’ that task you with carrying out errands for various NPCs, such as collecting parts to build a soulmate for Claptrap, destroying broadcast beacons for Moxxi, or tracking down vehicle parts for Ellie. Never a dull moment.

 
 

What really hooks you in is that feeling that there’s always something unbelievable waiting to be discovered around the next corner.”

 

- Paul Sage, Creative Director

 
 

4. Guns, guns and more guns

More guns

Borderlands has always been about the relentless hunt for bigger, more powerful weaponry, and Gearbox has gone to town this time, promising over a billion possible unique pieces of weaponry – around 50 times more than in Borderlands 2.

Weirder guns

Not only are there more guns – but the firepower on offer is madder than ever. There are guns that fire cheeseburgers, there are guns that sprout legs and run after the enemy, there are guns that fire round corners – the list goes on.

Better guns

Many of Borderlands 3’s firearms now have an alt-fire mode toggled by pressing down on the D-pad, that might change range, ammo type, damage and so on. 

We spent a lot of time making sure that every weapon feels right

 

- Paul Sage, Creative Director

 
 

5. Co-op play has never been easier

Borderlands 3 can be played solo, but it really sings when you team up with friends for some co-op looting. Here’s how Gearbox has optimised the multiplayer experience this time out...

Level syncing: Gearbox has incorporated a new system that scales the experience for each team member, allowing players of varying levels to happily play together. You’ll take down enemies as a team, but the rewards are unique to each player.

Loot instancing: When a downed enemy drops loot in Borderlands 3, each player gets their own distinct items, rather than a first-come-first-served free-for-all for the best gear (though you can disable this option if you prefer to keep things competitive).

Ping system: Are you the strong and silent type? Borderlands 3 has a new ping system which lets players communicate without speaking. Just highlight a particular enemy or point of interest, and other players will be alerted via a canned V/O message.

 
 

6. More player choice

Character customisation and agency has always been central to the Borderlands experience. Here’s how Gearbox has turned that up to 11...

Action skills

You can now equip one of three action skills at any one time (with the exception of Zane, who can equip two), opening up a wider range of combat options. What’s more, you can also now customise your action skills with augments.

Appearance

In addition to expected cosmetic customisation option for your Vault Hunter’s appearance, you can now select a unique emote, respawn animation and echo theme.

Vehicles

Whereas in previous games it was a case of ‘what you see is what you get’, you can now tweak the contents of your garage, with various customisation options unlocked by scanning hijacked vehicles into Catch-A-Ride kiosks. 

 
 

7. Refined gameplay

As well as the big-ticket new features, Borderlands 3 features an array of optimisations and tweaks aimed at ensuring this is the smoothest, most enjoyable game in the series.

  • Movement – You can now mantle up ledges and slide around the environment.
  • Shooting – Weapon-feel has been tweaked, with refined acceleration curves when aiming down crosshairs.
  • More boss fights – Expect more frequent encounters with boss enemies, for more nuanced pacing.
  • Destructible environments – Borderlands has always been a game about chaos, and you can now take that a step further by laying waste to your environment. It looks great, but also serves a gameplay function – you can now destroy cover to get at enemies.
  • NPC revival – When you go down while fighting with an NPC, that character can now revive you – and in turn you can revive them. Trust us, this comes in handy.
  • Loot scores – A ‘score’ now appears in the top left of loot stat boxes, making it much easier to quickly decide whether it’s something you want to pick up.

The initial pitch was essentially to take everything that was great about Borderlands 1 and 2, and make it better.”

 

- Paul Sage, Creative Director

 
 

8. Fan service galore

Borderlands 3 is packed with new features, new characters, new worlds and new weaponry, but veteran Vault Hunters needn’t worry that they’ve been left behind. The game world is stuffed with fan service, including returning NPC characters like Ellie, Maya, Moxxi, Sir Hammerlock, Claptrap and many more besides.

 

And your favourite weapon manufacturers are back too, including Hyperion, Maliwan, Torgue and Tediore, with even Atlas returning from the first game.

Gearbox has ensured Borderlands 3 works as a welcoming entry point for newcomers to the series, but if you’re an old hand expect easter eggs and callbacks at every turn.

 
 

We absolutely created the story with both the new player and the old player in mind

 

- Paul Sage, Creative Director