Soon there will be more guns than numbers if Gearbox’s marketing lingo around Borderlands 3 is to be taken seriously. With “1 billion” guns to discover this time around, we got a head start during the Borderlands 3 reveal demo and are happy to report that we’ve checked four off the list.
OK, so we found plenty more than four weapons, but Borderlands only boasts such big gun counts because it generates a couple million stinkers in order to ensure a some keepers make the cut. A few are bespoke weapons, tied to specific bosses or quests, but it didn’t take more than a few hours to find some weapons that felt like they were made just for us.
Here are our favorites from the demo, a thin slice of the kind of loot we’re hoping to find a lot more of in Borderlands 3.
This was the demo's main unique weapon—a specific, tailored gun, separate from Borderlands' procedural generation. While SMGs are rarely the most exciting weapon class, the Borderlands series as a whole is very good at giving pleasurable feedback from damage number indicators. Thanks to the Smart-Gun XXL's high elemental stat, green acid damage numbers absolutely pour off of enemies. It's the UI using maths and screaming to celebrate the fact that you're literally melting some poor guard.
What makes it unique, however, is its reload effect. Like all Tediore guns, you reload it by throwing it away and spawning another one in your hand. But, in a reference to the design of the boss you defeat to earn it, a discarded Smart-Gun XXL transforms into a brain (with eyes) that walks around on mechanical spider legs. It scurries at enemies before detonating in an explosion of acid. —Phil
It’s a rocket launcher that fires hamburgers, just like me. And they don’t exactly ‘fire’ either, they sort of just fall out with enthusiasm. Poot. Tumble. Now there’s a burger in pieces, on the floor. Borderlands is back, baby. Sidenote: the burgers are made from irradiated bugs.
As a reward for completing a quest that requires you to kill a mercenary wearing a crown who wishes to contend your ownership of a burger delivery bot, it’s an apt reward. The Burger King reference was dumb, the reward was dumb, and so was I for expecting anything more. Like the gun in Borderlands 2 that wouldn’t shut the hell up, I can dig Gearbox making some throwaway weapons just for laughs. —James
As eye-catching as unique weapons can be, the majority of great guns you'll find in Borderlands 3 are going to be random, procedural drops. Finding a particularly great one can feel like you're cheating the system; like a weapon this good shouldn't be possible. Enter the Unlimited Everblast++, which I found towards the end of my demo session and which only left my hands when I (frequently) ran out of ammo. Sadly, we don't have any footage of it, so a vivid description will have to do.
It was a non-elemental shotgun that had an assault rifle's scope and—thanks to whatever alchemy is powering its underlying numbers—absolutely ridiculous range and low bullet spread when aiming down sights. This thing was popping heads from halfway across an arena, at ranges that videogame shotguns just shouldn't be able to achieve. It turned every encounter into a satisfying gibfest, and—as a Tediore weapon—was like throwing a grenade with every reload. If I don't find something similar when I play the game for real, I'm going to be very sad. —Phil
Maliwan Particle Rifle
I didn’t like the particle rifle at first. It fires three shots in rapid succession and kicks pretty hard with each, but once I settled into the rhythm of the recoil (which is pretty difficult on sticks!) I was deleting shields with the shock setting, then rapidly switching to the radiation setting to set off a terrible chain reaction of exploding bodies. While it’s modeled as a long range weapon, it worked just as well at point blank. Recoil doesn’t matter much when you’re almost kissing the bandit in your sights.
See, finishing enemies with radiation damage has a chance of making them explode, and if any of their friends are nearby, they have a chance of catching the radiation bug and exploding too. I felt like I was carrying around a volatile container that could burst in my hands at any minute. It’s exactly what I’m looking for in a Borderlands game, a parade of seemingly illegal prototypes passing through my inventory with stats and abilities arranged just so that I feel I’ll never leave it behind. Until an hour later when I find something even more surprising and seemingly all powerful. —James
If Borderlands 3 hype has you booting up its predecessor in anticipation, equip yourself with all of the Shift Codes for Borderlands 2 that work in 2019.