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 lets 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 release on the Epic Store exclusively until April 2020.

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. 

10 things we learned at the gameplay reveal event

  • Your base is a spaceship 
  • Offline play is supported 
  • You can hijack enemy vehicles
  • The villains are "like the douchiest kind of live streamers of the future you can possibly imagine"
  • The main quest will take 30 hours "if you beeline it"
  • Moxxi’s Bar returns, along with slot machines 
  • There are emotes 
  • There's destructible cover 
  • There will be cosmetic microtransactions and DLC, but no complex currency system
  • Claptrap is still very loud and very shrill

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."

It isn't a confirmed feature, though. "Cross-play is something we're looking at closely, but we don't have anything to confirm or announce at this time," said 2K more recently.

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.

Art director Scott Kester also mentioned a system which allows differently-leveled characters to play with each other. "Regardless of your respective levels or mission progress, you and your friends can play together online or on the couch," he wrote. (Regarding the couch part, it doesn't sound like splitscreen will be an option on PC.)

At the gameplay reveal event, we learned that, like instanced loot, this level scaling system can be turned off.

Who are the Vault Hunters?

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! 

You can see some Zane gameplay we captured in the video above.

What other characters show up in Borderlands 3?

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. 

Who are the villains?

Lots of people and aliens and robots, but you'll be wanting specifics. We got another look at what we think are the Calypso twins, Borderlands 3's big bads. We caught a glimpse of them in the teaser, too, but the trailer actually confirms they're bad guys. As if the aggressive hair wasn't giving them away. 

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.

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. 

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

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. 

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.

Borderlands 3 'Mask of Mayhem' teaser 

To give us even more to pick apart, Gearbox released the teaser above, dubbed 'Mask of Mayhem', before the reveal trailer. Don't read too much into the Handsome Jack mask, though. "Handsome Jack is dead. You killed him!" said Randy Pitchford at the PAX panel. "He's dead. But we're jerks, so we put that in there."