Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford took the stage during Epic's Unreal Engine talk at GDC today, not to reveal a game but just to show off some new technology the studio is building within the Unreal Engine 4 that will "power the next Borderlands game." Pitchford emphasized that what he was showing was a "technology demonstration," and not a videogame, but it sure looked like it belongs in a videogame—maybe even one specific videogame in particular.
Pitchford discussed the rendering methods used to create Borderlands' distinctive look, saying that Gearbox wants to "evolve" the process for future games to make it look more natural and complex. That means using things like "variable line weights" and "inside silhouettes and edge lines" to give environments a greater level of detail and reactivity to external lighting. It gets a bit jargon-y, but Pitchford's enthusiasm is obvious, and the bottom line is that it looks absolutely fantastic, especially around the 1:14 mark, when the video pulls back to reveal how all the elements come together.
Obviously, there's going to be another Borderlands: Pitchford said so (using those exact words) last year. Is this it? Well, no. Wink, wink. "It gives you a sense of what a future game from Gearbox might look like," Pitchford said as the camera pulled away to show all the elements in the demo coming together. "I do want to remind you, this is not a videogame, this is a technology demonstration of some ongoing research and development at Gearbox Software. Some or all of the technologies that I demonstrated may be utilized for future Gearbox Software videogames."
"If you're a customer that's looking forward to a future Borderlands game, we're working on it," he said, grinning. "We'll get you soon."
Epic's full Unreal Engine GDC talk is below; Pitchford's "technology demonstration" starts at around 1:04.