11 things I wish I knew before playing Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 tips
(Image credit: Gearbox Software)

Borderlands 3, for better and worse, feels very familiar to veterans of the series. But that familiarity can also cause some folk to overlook what's new or play it exactly how you did back in the day. These tips should help new players get acquainted with the smaller things that make a big difference help you prioritize in Borderlands 3.

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tips for Borderlands 3

(Image credit: Gearbox Software)

Borderlands 3 - everything we know
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Borderlands 3 review - our definitive verdict
Borderlands 3 Shift Codes - get more guuuuns
Borderlands 3 roadmap - the DLC you can expect
Borderlands 3 system requirements - can you run it?
Borderlands 3 best guns - the best boomsticks
Borderlands 3 skill trees - create your builds
Borderlands 3 builds - some effective skill combos

You can fast travel to your vehicle

Borderlands 3 is fairly generous with fast travel, allowing players to teleport to designated nodes in each area from anywhere at any time. But you can also fast travel to your vehicle from anywhere, something that's easy to miss in the tutorials. 

With this in mind, once you reach the end of a shooting corridor as part of a side mission and want to keep exploring the zone, don't trudge back, fast travel. Just click and hold on your vehicle's location on the map and you'll pop over instantly.

You've got mail

Sometimes after completing quests, or just out of nowhere, you'll get a notification that you've received mail. Thing is, your inbox isn't located in a sensible place. You'll need press ESC and head to the 'Social' menu to read email. And you should, because you'll get tons of guns and cosmetics that way.

Prioritize backpack SDU purchases

Borderlands' best feature—the loot—can also be its most frustrating. There's such an abundance of cool guns and gear that it's easy for the backpack to fill up fast. Cut down on trips to vendors to sell off extra items by prioritizing backpack SDU purchases on your Sanctuary ship. Bank space and lost loot space are good secondary options if you're having an extra hard time letting go.

Purchase the first tier ammo space SDUs, too

I ran out of ammo every few minutes in the first hours of Borderlands 3, and would you believe me if I said it sucked? Luckily, it's not a huge problem once you skill up and upgrade the first tier or two of ammo reserves at Marcus's shop on Sanctuary.

Sidequests will match your level when you finish the campaign

Don't feel the need to clean up every sidequest before you leave a zone. Save them for long enough and they'll match your level once you finish the campaign and will continue to level up with you.

Use the ping system

(Image credit: Gearbox Software)

And it's context-sensitive! Press X while looking at an enemy and it'll outline them in red for the whole team. Point at a gun and it'll highlight the sucker in blue. Point at a friendly and it'll highlight them in green. It's especially helpful when things get hectic and your team needs to get rid of a particularly tough enemy. Ping the jerk.

Dueling is back

Press the emote button (Z by default) to propose a duel. It's a cute feature for settling bets or screwing around, but I'll just use it to shame my friends until they catch up to my level.

Equipping gun ornaments and skins is more difficult than it should be

I don't recall seeing a tutorial when I received my first gun skin. Same goes for my first ornament. Turns out, you equip each cosmetic in a completely different place. For ornaments, just look at the empty nodule to the left of your equipped weapons in the inventory screen. Click it and equip some little doo-dads. For weapon skins, highlight a weapon and press E to inspect it. From there you can press X to equip a weapon skin. Convoluted, I know.

Don't get too attached to specific guns or gear

(Image credit: Gearbox Software)

I know how it goes. A few hours pass and no new guns, shields or grenades you find click. They do the job, just not with sufficiently ridiculous panache. These big droughts are a bit too common during the bulk of the first playthrough, but eventually a gun drops that you feel like you'll never let go. 

It happened to me with a legendary pistol that worked like a rapid-fire shotgun. But our love didn't last. I leveled up and it didn't. You'll have to let go of the good stuff eventually, because it won't suffice against higher level enemies. Don't sweat it, something good will come along. You can do this.

The Eridium will flow, be patient

Earl sells cool cosmetics on Sanctuary's bottom deck, but only takes Eridium, which is tough to come by in the early hours of Borderlands 3. But don't sweat it, you'll be swimming in the stuff after a specific juncture in the story that opens up a few avenues for collecting Eridium.

Once you're in the endgame, don't start True Vault Hunter Mode immediately

You're better off working through the three levels of Mayhem Mode. Each consecutive level beefs up enemy difficulty and rare loot drop rates. With a couple of difficult, repeatable missions to play over and over, it's the best way to hit the level cap, farm Guardian Rank points, and find cool legendary guns and gear.

James Davenport

James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.