Everything We Learned Today About Borderlands 3

Everything We Learned Today About Borderlands 3

This morning, Gearbox Software showed off the first Borderlands 3 gameplay, playing through an hour’s worth of tutorial and gunfights in new regions of the series’ long-term setting of Pandora, and a place or two beyond. The gameplay displayed a vault’s worth of small new tweaks while still sticking to Borderlands’ art style and core gameplay.

Today’s Borderlands 3 gameplay stream—hosted by Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford – showed reworked controls. You can now mantle and slide, making for more fluid gunplay than the stodgier, straightforward movement of the previous games. Some guns also come with an alt fire mode. One pistol, for example, had a tracking round you could fire, which made all subsequent normal rounds home into the tracking bullet’s location.

That’s in addition to expansive and reworked skill trees, which give each playable character three action skills to develop and swap between at the start.

In the demo, one player controlled Amara, a Siren class with a suite of abilities that included a Phaseslam area-of-effect attack, a Phasegrasp that lifts enemies and holds them in place, and a Phasecast that sends an astral projection of herself forward, dealing damage along the way.

Pitchford said that each action skill will also eventually unlock augmentations that will allow for further customisation, which could lead to very different builds between players who choose the same character. These augmentations were not shown, however.

Borderlands 3 has also made some changes to how loot works in co-op: The game comes with what Gearbox calls “loot instancing,” which means each player will effectively get different, level-appropriate loot as they play together. This comes coupled with level balancing, which scales higher-level characters downward so they’re not overpowered when they join a lower-level character’s game.

Borderlands 3 will also come with a classic mode that keeps co-op exactly as it was, complete with loot for you and your partners to fight over.

For the first time, Borderlands is leaving its long-term setting of Pandora and its moon, moving the hub city of Sanctuary to a giant spaceship—the Sanctuary III—and eventually taking players to a number of planets.

As the event wrapped up, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford rallied fans by noting that Borderlands 3 wouldn’t have microtransactions “or any of that nonsense,” a statement that, according to other members of the Borderlands team, is false.

There are microtransactions set for Borderlands 3, but according to producer Chris Brock, they will be for purely cosmetic items.

“When we say ‘no microtransactions,’ what we’re really trying to say is that we’re not trying to nickel and dime people,” Brock told GamesIndustry.biz.

“We’ll probably make content after launch that we will sell, but we also don’t intend to take what Borderlands was and then chop it up into chunks and sell it.”

At this early stage, Borderlands 3 looks like it’s bearing down hard on the series’ big calling cards—a wild variety of guns, a sense of humour that walks the line between irreverent and obnoxious, and flexible cooperative play. We’ll see whether or not that’s aged well when the game comes out in September.


  • Sooooo… Borderlands 2, but slightly better looking, more streamlined co-op, larger locations and levels that include a little more platforming variety.

    Sounds ace. Take my money.

  • Borderlands with less janky controls, better gunplay, more character customisation, and no live service, huh?

    *Opens wallet*

  • The only real change I want to see is a much better inventory system, I forgot how bad the other games were on this front. No use having a zillion guns or whatever in the game, If you are constantly having to stop and play an inventory mini game.

    • Especially if you got a ship now, I don’t see why you can’t have extraction points to dump all your items in and teleport/transport em home to deal with later.

    • I played them all on PC. I don’t remember having any problems with the inventory, it was very straightforward.

      Only keep the guns with you that you’re using, plus optionally a backup heavy weapon.
      Don’t pick up whites.
      if you’re full but still have more to pick up before you can unload your loot, drop the least valuable green items first.

  • New looter/shooter specific engine as well. Unlike the various other ones that are shooter engines with the looter part tacked on later, this is built from the ground up to handle it all naturally. So its not Fallout 76 with a decade old engine, or Anthem with… what was it? CoD’s engine?

    And the engine looks beautiful, even with the deliberately scaled back graphics that Borderlands uses. I hope they license it out and others really explore its potential as it looks a great option moving forward.

    • Lol, you’d have to be blind to think any COD game uses Frostbite, each engine has a distinct look. And it was already used for DA:Inquisition so it’s not like adding loot systems to the game hasn’t been proven (if difficult). Borderlands series uses Unreal Engine, no need to overblow it, it’s a very widespread engine dude.

      All you need to do is play Borderlands 2 or Pre-Sequel on Ultra, preferably with PhysX effects enabled, to know that this series is damn beautiful.

      • This came through to me on the 6th, no idea why.

        As for the engine change, I was wrong. I was under the impression they’d developed a new engine, which they’d shown off at E3, turns out it was just what they’d done with UE4.

        • In a similar fashion, I only got this notification on the 9th?

          I never heard that they had actually swapped to UE4, last I heard they were still using a heavily modified UE3. Wondering if I missed that piece of info somewhere?

    • BL3 is using Unreal 4 engine which is a general purpose game engine. Anthem used Frostbite which was developed (very) specifically for the Battlefield games.

      • Are you sure its Unreal 4? I thought it was a new engine Gearbox developed that they were showing off last year. Might have been E3 the year before. Was one of the early hints they were working on Borderlands 3, with the footage very much in the games style.

        And yeah, Battlefield. Knew it was CoD or BF, was on my way out the door so didnt have time to check. Cheers.

        • I tuned into the livestream and from memory that was pretty much the first thing Randy Pitchford said. According to google the initial gameplay reveal in 2017 was on UE4 as well.

          Add to that Epic waives the licensing fee for UE4 for games sold exclusively on the Epic Game Store which was apparently a factor in that decision.

          • Fair enough. I was under the impression it was a totally new engine. My bad.

            Add to that Epic waives the licensing fee for UE4 for games sold exclusively on the Epic Game Store
            First I’ve heard that. I’ve said a few times that if they used EGS to push UE games I wouldnt be as shitty with them. If B3 is an UE game, and they’re waiving the fee, I have far less objections to it being exclusive.

            To me, it puts them in the same area (or similar enough) as EA, Ubisoft, etc, and just pushing their own product. Others may see differently.

  • What did i learn?

    I learnt the Randy Pitchford gets extremely salty when you point out in-game cosmetic purchases still count as microtransactions after he claims there are no microtransactions in B3. Randy’s understanding of microtransactions is as good as his magic skills, Which is non-existent.

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