Borderlands 3 has finally been announced, with a firm release date for us to count down the days.
After a number of teasing tweets from developer Gearbox, a formal trailer was shown at PAX East, showing off some of the new characters, environments, and guns making their way to the next entry in the shoot ‘n’ loot franchise. We’ve even spent some hands-on time with the game now.
It’s been over six years since Borderlands 2, though we haven’t exactly been short on Borderlands in the meantime – there have been VR ports, additional DLC expansions, and a ‘Pre-Sequel’ follow-up to keep our trigger fingers busy. But fans have been clamoring for another fully-fledged entry in the series, and Borderlands 3 is finally on the way.
With larger-than-life characters, a lively and colorful alien planet to explore, tons of absurd weapons, and a wisecracking sense of humor, Borderlands has managed to blow some fresh air into an FPS genre that often sticks to ‘gritty’ visuals and dull urban environments.
Here’s everything we know so far about the newly-announced game, and when it’s finally going to be landing on PC and consoles.
[Update: There are reports that Gearbox is planning a Borderlands 2 DLC which will pave the way for Borderlands 3. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The third numbered game in the first-person shoot and loot franchise
- When can I play it? September 13, 2019
- What can I play it on? PS4, Xbox One and PC
Borderlands 3 release date
Gearbox has now revealed a release date of September 13, 2019.
That fits with what we learnt from publisher Take-Two’s investor call last year, when Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said a “highly anticipated new title from one of 2K’s biggest franchises” was in development for the fiscal year of 2019 – which runs between October 2018 and September 2019.
The release date had technically been leaked through some leaked cover art (spotted by Wario64), but we know now straight from the horse’s mouth.
Borderlands 3 trailers and preview
While we wait for the game to land, we do have a number of new trailers to pore over. Gearbox took to the stage at PAX East (March 28-30) to show off the formal announcement trailer below. You get a good look at the new villains of the series (a brother and sister?), new shiny cities and creaking scrapyards, and series-favorite robot Claptrap doing some breakdancing.
It looks… pretty much the same as any Borderlands game before it, which is both reassuring for fans and a bit disappointing for those looking for a new spin on the series. It’s too early to judge before we’ve seen more, though.
What we know for sure is that there’ll be a lot of guns (over one billion, and even one with little machine legs) and a whole lot of looting in expansive sandbox environments. Oh, and a saxophone solo – because why not?
There’s also a separate announcement trailer for the release date, which also names the four vault hunters and the name of the villains: the Calypso Twins…
The official announcement came only days after a ‘Mask of Mayhem’ teaser you can see below. It’s packed with little clues and hints of the game to come, including everything from a morse code to braille, and what seems to be a broken-up redeem code (C35TB – WS6ST – TXBRK – JJH6H – TTTJT) that we imagine will be usable for some sort of DLC reward or exclusive skin for eagle-eyed viewers.
What’s more, we’ve been able to spend some time with the game thanks to a hands-on gameplay reveal event that TechRadar attended. The gameplay loop, at least, is familiar, with your job to take down enemies, look their corpses, and level up. It looks like Gearbox is putting plenty of detail and imagination into the weaponry this time around.
What’s new is a focus on movement that’s more fluid, and improvements to multiplayer, including the option for allies to revive each other. There’s also “loot instancing”, designed to level the playing field a little for groups of friends who’ve spend different amounts of time in the game. Borderlands 3 also gives you your very own spaceship, the Sanctuary 3.
For a full rundown of everything we saw in our time with the game, check out our hands-on preview in full.
Borderlands 3 news and rumors
Reports of Borderlands 2 DLC
It’s not long until Borderlands 3’s release date but there are reports that Borderlands 2 could soon receive a DLC which will bridge the gap between the titles. The rumors point to an E3 2019 announcement, but nothing has been confirmed just yet. With E3 just around the corner, we don’t have long to wait.
Details, details, details
We managed to have a chat with Amanda Christensen, a concept artist at Gearbox and a key character designer on Borderlands 3. She told us that “the most obvious jump is in terms of our level of detail” in the upcoming game, and that there are a “bunch of cool little details” spread throughout. It’s a revealing chat and you can read everything Christensen had to say about Borderlands 3 here.
DLCs: quality over quantity
The DLC future of Borderlands 3 looks bright enough, after Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford intimated on Twitter that future DLCs would focus on quality over quantity: it seems as though Borderlands 3 might focus on fleshing out the capabilities of the game’s starting classes instead of asking players to start building new ones from scratch, and that’s fine with us.
Epic Games Store exclusive – to start
While Borderlands 3 will launch on PS4, Xbox One and PC, the PC version will start as an Epic Games Store exclusive, before joining the Steam Store six months on.
Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford hinted at this back in December, when he voiced his support for the new marketplace. Epic has been courting various exclusives for its store, including Metro Exodus and The Division 2, so we’re not overly surprised.
Cross-platform co-op could be included
A listing page for Borderlands 3 on the Microsoft store gave a hint to a very-cool potential new feature landing with the game – cross-platform multiplayer. Though the page in question has since been pulled, it showed the game’s feature set to include play across consoles not limited to Microsoft’s own. With the game initially an Epic Games Store exclusive, and that platform’s biggest title, Fortnite, being cross-platform in many console scenarios, there’s certainly the genesis of the infrastructure to support the feature if true.
A representative for the game’s publisher, 2K Games, told IGN that “Cross play is something we’re looking at closely, but don’t have anything to confirm or announce at this time.”
Vault Hunter names
The release date trailer also gave us the names of the four vault hunters, which offer their own spins on the traditional four classes. We have a Gunner weapons expert (Moze), a Siren with floating fists at the ready (Amara), an android Beastmaster (Fl4x), and a suave, stealthy Operative (Zane). We also got the names of the entry’s villains: the very evil-looking Calypso Twins (not identical).
Borderlands 3 confirmed – as well as a board-game
Gearbox gave us the announcement we wanted on March 28, at PAX East in Boston. The showcase was hit with technical difficulties – like a lot – and for some reason included a really long magic trick. But we got our first look at the anticipated title, as well as a tie-in board-game called Borderlands: Tiny Tina’s Robot Tea Party.
4K remasters (for free!)
Good news for anyone with a copy of Borderlands 1, 2, or the Pre-Sequel: Gearbox is releasing enhanced 4K remasters of the previous games, and anyone who already owns them will get to download the remastered version for free. You’ll need a 4K ready console or PC to make the most of it, but it’s wonderful fan service for those who do.
All coming up PAX
The rumor mill has been turning pretty fast these past few weeks. Earlier in March, the official Gearbox Twitter account posted a photo hinting at the upcoming PAX East indie games conference – and another pixellated still of Borderlands 2, teasing the 4K remasters that were announced alongside the new game.
A tweet the following day shared an image of a half-built robot on some sort of operating table, with a caption stating “Time to tease another game for PAX!” – which now seems to have been DLC for We Happy Few, launching on April 4.
Time to tease another game for PAX! pic.twitter.com/N6OQIUZnAcMarch 13, 2019
A interaction between Randy Pitchford and Elon Musk in early 2019 threw yet more weight behind the rumor that a new Borderlands game is in development.
After Tesla CEO and all-round benevolent billionaire Elon Musk released a ‘Boring Company’ flamethrower for sale as a reward for the community having purchased 50,000 hats, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford got in contact to see if he could put the gun in the “next Borderlands game.”
To everyone’s surprise, Musk agreed to the bizarre request – making the Boring Company Flamethrower the first confirmed weapon in the unannounced game.
Elon – I’m going to add this to our next Borderlands game. Super serious. Let me know if you want to write the flavor text. You may have already done so – we’ll just lift it from one of your tweets.January 29, 2018
Hints, lots of hints
At PAX West 2017, Pitchford announced during a panel that 90% of the Gearbox team is “working on the thing I think most of you guys want us to be working on.”
Pitchford also took part in an IGN Unfiltered interview around the same time, when he said that if another Borderlands game were to be made, it would be more of a true sequel as opposed to another Pre-Sequel spin-off.
Caught in the act
And in April 2017, Pitchford took to Twitter to post a picture of himself wearing a motion capture suit with the caption “Doing a shoot… I may or may not be a psycho bandit in a video game we may or may not be working on. Also, happy Bulletstorm launch day!”
Given that Psychos are a Borderlands enemy we’d say this tweet can be read with a fairly large nudge and wink.
Doing a shoot… I may or may not be a psycho bandit in a video game we may or may not be working on. Also, happy Bulletstorm launch day! pic.twitter.com/5X9ZzC6kdJApril 7, 2017
The GDC presentation
Before all of this Pitchford took to the stage during Epic Games’ Unreal presentation at GDC in March 2017, where he showed off new rendering tech that “may be used in a future Gearbox game.” He explicitly said the footage shown was not from a video game but what was shown was highly reminiscent of Borderlands.
He also revealed that this new tech is capable of simulating different physics depending on a planet’s properties. Specifically he said “there might be different physics and the sun and the moons might be in different positions than what we’re used to on Pandora.”
That seems to have been pretty prophetic – as we know Borderlands 3 will be making use of some new environments beyond what we saw on Pandora in the previous games.
Borderlands regular Mikey Neumann won’t be writing on the new game, as he was unfortunately forced to resign from the project due to health complications. The lead writer on Borderlands 2, Anthony Burch, has also since left the company. There’s been no hint with regards to who’ll be taking up the pen after their departures.
Another change is that the voice behind Claptrap, David Eddings, has left Gearbox for Rooster Teeth so it’s unlikely he’ll be taking up the role again.