Borderlands 3: Everything we know so far

The Borderlands 3 announcement trailer above is pretty dense: a whirlwind tour of the game's new and returning characters, new planets and a tiny slice of the billion guns that can potentially be conjured up. There's a lot to break down, especially after this year's E3, so let's get to it.

Below, we've summarized all the details we gathered from that time playing Borderlands 3 at a preview event, everything we found out during the PC Gaming Show, as well as interviews and trailers, in one place.

What is the Borderlands 3 release date?

The Borderlands 3 release date is September 13, and the game will be on the Epic Store exclusively until April 2020.

What's the TL,DR on Borderlands 3?

  • Borderlands 3 SHiFT Codes: "Absolutely" has 'em. Hit the link for more details.
  • Co-op: Up to 4 players
  • Offline mode: Yes
  • Length: About 30 hours of campaign "if you beeline it"
  • Microtransactions: Yes (for cosmetic items), and DLC
  • Available on: Epic Store (exclusive until 2020)

Who are the Vault Hunters?

Borderlands 3

(Image credit: Gearbox Interactive)

Borderlands 3's Vault Hunters are:

  • Moze the Gunner 
  • Amara the Siren 
  • FL4K the Beastmaster 
  • Zane the Operative

During the gameplay reveal event, we were able to play both Amara the Siren and Zane the Operative. We copied their skill trees into our Borderlands 3 skill trees guide, and have since added Moze's skills as well. Check back for FL4K's skill trees soon! 

Check out this wacky "celebration of togetherness" trailer

It doesn't really tell us anything new, but it's a goofy kaleidoscope of Vault Hunters dancing arm-in-arm (and also firearms in arm) set to Happy Together. 

What sort of loot will be in Borderlands 3?

Guns on legs! What a marvellous, terrifying thing. Borderlands 3 will have over a billion guns, presumably with lots of randomly generated properties and surprises. Since looking at a Borderlands gun doesn't really tell you what weird stuff it can do (Does it explode? Shoot acid? Set people on fire?), most of the guns will need to remain a mystery, though you can expect loads of elemental damage and explosions. We definitely see a freeze gun and some other fancy toys. 

Gearbox has also promised guns that  "chase down enemies while hurling verbal insults", which sounds great. There will be guns with "self-propelling bullet shields"—we don't know what that means—and guns that shoot volcanoes that then shoot fire.

We also learned that there will be a new elemental damage type, Radiation.

Here are a few interesting guns we've seen so far:

  • A gun you have to start like a lawnmower
  • A gun that, when thrown, turns into a bouncy bomb
  • A rocket launcher that fires hamburgers

Get a good look at Borderlands 3's new enemies in this Claptrap clip

And watch Claptrap get punted into the sun, if that's your thing.

Borderlands 3 multiplayer

Borderlands 3 will include 4-player co-op. If things work out, we may be able to play with friends on other platforms, too. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said before the release date announcement that the developer has "a very keen interest in cross-platform play." Pitchford later confirmed that cross-play will not be supported at launch but that Gearbox is committed to bringing cross-play to as many platforms as they can "as soon as practicable."

We also know that we won't be competing for loot anymore, at least if we don't want to. Each player will get their own loot drops, so that means if you play with randos (or greedy friends) you won't be worried about them swiping every good gun that drops. There will be an option to switch to Borderlands 2-style shared loot drops, though.

Gearbox said during a panel at GuardianCon its goal is to make Borderlands 3 the type of game that doesn't require you to invest hours you can't afford into it, and that includes trying to keep up with your mates. Level syncing, then, will let you play with anyone, regardless of how much time you've spent playing. At the gameplay reveal event, we learned that, like instanced loot, this level scaling system can be turned off.

Even when you're not actually playing with friends, they'll still have a presence. If they sell stuff in vending machines, you'll be able to buy it in your own game. If they're feeling more generous, they can just mail you some items instead. And if you're looking for build and loadout ideas, you can browse their inventories and skill trees from your friends list. They're more like an MMO's social features.

Borderlands 3 will have a ping system for communicating with teammates 

As part of a larger push for better accessibility options in Borderlands 3, Gearbox has added a pinging system which you can see in action in the video above. It will let those who can't (or don't care to) use a microphone communicate with teammates. 

Who are the villains?

Borderlands 3

(Image credit: Gearbox Interactive)

Lots of people and aliens and robots, but you'll be wanting specifics. The Calypso twins are Borderlands 3's big bads. According to Randy Pitchford, the twins are "like the douchiest kind of live streamers of the future you can possibly imagine.”

We see them standing over Lilith as she crawls towards something, looking pretty defeated. Her tattoos are gone—it looks like her powers have been taken—so I didn't recognise her at first. There are lots of Sirens popping up across the trailer, including Lilith with her tattoos, and it looks like they'll be a lot more than just cameos. They're definitely linked to the twins, who appear to be after their fancy magic. The female twin definitely looks like's she's pinched Lilith's abilities.

The twins are joined by an army of psychos, mechs, mutants and monsters. Armored heavies, fire-breathing dinosaurs and returning pests like spiderants and varkids all show up. Why haven't they wiped out varkids yet? They're awful. Nuke 'em all and burn the skies.

What other characters show up in Borderlands 3?

Borderlands 3

(Image credit: Gearbox Interactive)

The debut trailer feels a lot like a celebration of Borderlands. It's filled to the brim with familiar faces, including returning Vault Hunters like Lilith, Maya, Brick, Mordecai and Zer0. The latter is hanging out with Rhys, from Tales from the Borderlands, who now sports a funky jacket and a moustache. There's also Tiny (now Regular) Tina, Marcus, Ellie, Sir Hammerlock, Claptrap and a few old enemies, to boot. On stage, Pitchford mentioned Moxxi's back and has a big, very cool bar.

Borderlands 2 also featured plenty of characters from the first game, so this is par for the course, but it does feel like Gearbox is trying to bring everyone together for some big series climax. 

Your base is a spaceship and you'll travel to different planets

Sanctuary 3 is your hub, your base of operations. And this time it's a spaceship. You'll orbit planets like Pandora, Promethea, and others, using the bridge to choose your destination and the launching bay to leave the ship and descend to planets.

You're not alone on your spaceship: lots of familiar faces are along for the ride on Sanctuary 3. Moxxi has a bar on your ship with slot machines, you'll be able to mount trophies of your kills in Sir Hammerlock's room, and Crazy Earl's Black Market is accessible. You've also got your own room you can decorate with guns (what else?)

According to a fact sheet from Gearbox, we'll get to use our ship to "discover new worlds beyond Pandora, each featuring unique environments to explore and enemies to destroy."

"Tear through hostile deserts, battle your way across war-torn cityscapes, navigate deadly bayous, and more!"

The metropolis could be an interesting opportunity to learn a bit more about the awful corporations that run the show, like Atlas. Rhys got his hands on the Atlas certificate that ostensibly gave him possession of the company in Tales from the Borderlands, and he's standing over the Atlas logo in the teaser, so this might be where we meet up with him. 

There's sort of a cult thing going on, too. In the backgrounds of the trailer, you'll see a lot of references to the Calypso twins and their cause, like "Answer Calypso Call" or "Rupture Upon Us: Holy is the Mouth That Bleeds." Another pleasant one: "Children of the Vault: Give Your Flesh, Take Your Guns." Yikes.

Is Claptrap actually good or actually bad?

Both.

Though, Borderlands 3's Claptrap will feel a bit different than what we're used to. After a payment disagreement with Claptrap's former voice actor David Eddings (which led to public allegations of assault against Randy Pitchford by Eddings), the wise-cracking robot is now voiced by anime veteran Jim Foronda. 

Borderlands 3 questions and answers from the PC Gaming Show

Paul Sage, creative director for Gearbox, visited The PC Gaming Show this year to talk about Borderlands 3. In addition to taking questions from host Sean "Day9" Plott, Sage gave the viewers a chance to ask a few burning questions during the stream. Watch the above video to see some additional viewer questions and answers.

What can you tell us about the gear (other than guns) in Borderlands 3?

In the past we've had grenades that have had one thing: they can bounce, they can stick to different things. This time we're combining all of those things. The other day I was playing and I threw a grenade. That grenade had a bounce, it would stick, an explosion would come out, and then the grenade would fire guns.

What are Artifacts?

Our Artifacts actually add certain things to movement. For instance, you can slide faster. You can slide and every time you slide there's an explosion.

What's the endgame like?

For those people that played Borderlands before, you might remember Badass Ranks, basically an infinite progression system that added to your stats. We doubled down on that with what we call Guardian Rank, that not only has that infinite progression but has skills and different skins that you can open up as you go through. Every character that you play on that account gets the benefit of Guardian Rank.

How do boss fights work in Borderlands 3?

We've talked about going to "vaults" instead of "vault." There are huge boss encounters there, multi-phase boss encounters. We have a lot of different minibosses throughout the game. There are a lot of different boss encounters throughout the game.

Can you pet the gun?

I'm not here to judge what you do with your gun!

How do the endgame Guardian Ranks work?

Backstage at the PC Gaming Show, James asked Paul Sage more questions about Guardian Ranks and the new DLC for Borderlands 2 bridging the story gap to Borderlands 3. 

Once you get to the end of Borderlands 3's story, you'll unlock Guardian Ranks, even if you aren't at level 50 (the game's level cap). What you earn through Guardian Ranks will apply to all of your characters, split into three categories: offense, defense, and utility. Sage envisions the skins and skills opened in Guardian Ranks as bragging rights between players to show off progress. 

ECHOcast Twitch extension will let viewers rummage through streamers' inventory, loadout, and more

(Image credit: Gearbox Software)

The ECHOcast extension on Twitch will allow viewers to look through the inventory, skill tree, and Vault Hunter profile of a streamer. When expanded, the screen overlay will show details on any piece of gear on hover over the same way it will in game. It will either be a great way for viewers to emulate the play styles of favorite streamers or just a great tool for backseat gaming. 

We learned during GuardianCon that chat will be able to influence a streamer's session in other ways. Viewers can opt in to be chosen as a Badass, giving an enemy in game their username. Viewers can also use bits (Twitch's proxy currency for donating to streamers) to create buff-giving drinks given to the streamer by Moxxi the bartender, among other interactions.

Borderlands 3 has a season pass and many editions

The standard version of the game will cost $60, but that's one of four tiers that unlock cosmetic packs and "Toy" guns. 

The mid-tier $80 pack includes a Retro Cosmetic Pack, a Gearbox Cosmetic Pack, a Toy Box Weapons Pack, and equippable XP and loot drop boost mods. Expect that last one to provide an initial boost, rather than putting the game on fast-forward—that's the hope, anyway. 

The $100-$120 edition unlocks a "Butt Stallion weapon skin, weapon trinket, and grenade mod". That includes a season pack featuring four campaign DLC packs made up of "new stories, missions, and challenges".

The ultimate $250 edition includes a bunch of physical loot, including a cloth map, Borderlands figurines, a Sanctuary 3 ship model, and loads more. See the full details on our post detailing every Borderlands 3 edition.