Borderlands 3 Finally Gives The Series Good Shotguns

Borderlands 3 Finally Gives The Series Good Shotguns

Shotguns in previous Borderlands games could be great weapons to use, but even some of the better shotguns in the game didn’t feel satisfying in a fight. They were loud and did a lot of damage, sure, but they didn’t feel like powerful cannons of death. Borderlands 3 changes this and finally gives the series shotguns that are exciting and feel really powerful.

Shotguns in older Borderlands games were great weapons to pick if you planned to do a lot of close-quarters fighting or if you wanted a weapon to take out fast-moving creatures. If you got a powerful shotgun, you could even one-shot enemies and destroy them. That felt good. But most of the time shotguns just did a lot of damage. You’d see a health bar get lower and that’s basically all the feedback you got from shooting something.

It worked, but it never felt like I was using a powerful 10-chamber-death-cannon. This is honestly a problem most guns had in Borderlands 1, 2 and The Pre-Sequel, but shotguns always stood out to me as needing more oomph.

Shotguns in video games have a long history of being awesome. The shotgun in Doom is one of the best guns in the game and has become an iconic weapon. The shotgun in Halo is incredibly fun to use and feels powerful and dangerous. GB Burford, a friend, and frequent Kotaku contributor, summed up shotguns in video games by saying “A good shotgun makes you feel like a champion, capable of taking on the world.”


Less than 30 minutes into Borderlands 3 I found a shotgun after killing an enemy. I picked it up because I love shotguns in games and also it did more damage than my crappy pistol. But I wasn’t expecting much after playing years of Borderlands games. A moment later some Skags charged me and I fired my new shotgun. To my surprise, one of the Skags I shot flipped over and another flipped back. I felt incredibly powerful at that moment and started using the shotgun in every subsequent encounter.

It’s funny how one small addition can vastly improve something. Adding ragdolls and knockback to shotguns has made them my favourite type of weapon in Borderlands 3. I can blast enemies off tall cliffs. I can knock bigger and tougher enemies off their feet for a few seconds, buying me more time to run up and do more damage. Shotguns add a new tactical option to the combat of Borderlands 3 and I’m so thankful for it.


The shotguns in Borderlands 3 might be some of my favourite shotguns in gaming. This is a huge improvement over what were mostly forgettable weapons in the older games. It is also a nice example of how you can make guns stronger and better without just increasing the damage of the weapon.

Even less damaging shotguns are still fun and useful because they can knock down enemies, stopping charges or slowing crowds. Add in some elemental effects and other abilities and you can easily spend hours running around, blasting everything sky high.

Later on, I found an area on Pandora where enemies would just keep spawning. I ended up spending far too long in that spot, running around and getting kills with my shotgun. One of the enemies dropped a new shotgun and it was even better than my current shotty. I quickly picked it up. I guess I’m starting a shotgun collection. Maybe I can fit them all into one massive shotgun and fire them at a boss? Gearbox, if you are reading this, take that idea for free.


  • I lucked out in the first Borderlands and had a drum fed automatic shotgun with almost zero spread and a scope.
    It was some kind of ridiculous machine gun shotgun sniper rifle.

    • One of the Moxxi shotguns didn’t do a lot of damage, but it had a huge magazine, was automatic, reloaded quickly, and did fire/transfusion damage. I used it well into the DLC content.

  • The new ragdolling was one of the things i immediately noticed when using a shotgun. It’s not just an improvement in feel, it has real gameplay implications that make shotguns much more fun to use. You can stun and stagger big enemies, you can even juggle smaller enemies.

    It certainly didn’t hurt when i got a shotgun that would run around on little crab legs saying “I thirst for murder” and shooting things until it ran out of ammo and then running at the nearest enemy and exploding.

  • The Doom shotgun actually makes an appearance in BL3, called the Hellraiser, and it plays angry guitar riffs when you fire it

  • One of my favourite weapons in Borderlands 3, which I am still using as one of my main guns (I’ve had this gun since level 13, now I’m 23) is the One Pump Chump.

    It deals so much damage, has a sniper scope and the accuracy is incredibly high, so unlike a lot of other shot guns, the pellets do not spread, it’s all single. It deals insanely high critical damage and while the gun is only one shot (one shot, reload), it has a 50% chance to allow you to keep firing without reload.

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