After five years of development, Borderlands 3 was given an hour-long gameplay reveal to showcase some of the new mechanics, environments, and story that will be featured within the game. Creative director Paul Sage and Gearbox Software founder Randy Pitchford presented the pre-release demo, along with a few members of the game’s development team.
During the demo, the beginning plot of Borderlands 3 was summarized: the player character is a new recruit of the Crimson Raiders, commanded by Lilith. A new cult on Pandora, named the Children of the Vault, have risen to power, and it is up to the player to rise the ranks of the Crimson Raiders and defeat the leaders of the Children of the Vault.
Like the previous two Borderlands games, the player is introduced to the game via the “helpful” instruction of Claptrap, who is the dubious General of the Crimson Raiders. The first mission involves raiding the Propaganda Center of the Children of the Vault, and defeating the Psycho in charge of it, aptly named Shiv.
The demo then goes on to showcase one of the later maps in the Holy Broadcast Center, where the player meets the primary antagonists, Troy and Tyrene Calypso. The Calypso Twins are in charge of the Children of the Vault, and Tyrene, in particular, has the ability to leech power from any living thing. The two are attempting to find and open Vaults across space in order to drain the powers from the Vault monsters residing inside.
Throughout the campaign, plenty of familiar faces will be seen, such as Lilith, Maya, Moxxi, Ellie, Tannis, Hammerlock, Marcus, and Zer0.
Within the demo playthrough, plenty of new mechanics for Borderlands 3 were introduced. In the basic tutorial, the ability to slide and mantle up higher ledges is featured. This adds to the maneuverability of the player, and makes crossing the maps much easier.
As promised in the trailer, there are plenty of new guns added to the fray. In addition to the brand new weaponry, some guns include an alternate shooting mode in order to add variety to the damage dealt. For example, one of the guns in the demo switched from firing bullets to micro missiles. Sage and Pitchford also hinted at some of the other weapon types, such as switching from ice to fire bullets.
Some of the fun additions to the Tediore-brand guns are the effects added to their disposal. Tediore is a brand of guns in Borderlands that is thrown at the enemy in lieu of reloading, and if it hits the enemy, it’ll explode. In Borderlands 3, many other effects were added, such as the infamously cute gun with legs, a bouncing energy ball that explodes, and the ability to release homing rockets.
During a fight, cover can be degraded over time with bullets and other forms of damage, causing both the player and enemies to prioritize moving around the map in search of safe places to fire. If you die, however, worry not, as NPCs are now given the ability to revive players, and players are allowed to return the favor. A new elemental damage was added as well, in the form of “Radiation.” Irradiated enemies will explode, and irradiate any other enemies within the blast radius, letting players set up some killer combos!
The Action Skill Trees are back and better than ever, allowing for further customization for each player character. Like the previous Borderlands games, there are three Action Skills that a player may delve into. However, all three are shown on the same menu screen, and the player is allowed to “equip” whichever Action Skill they prefer. Once selected, the player can open up augmentations to further customize their character’s abilities.
Once again, returning to Borderlands 3 is the ultra-fun co-op mode, this time with some added settings. One of the (optional) additions is “Loot Instancing,” where each player gets their own loot. This prevents griefers online from stealing all the good guns for themselves, and also makes causal co-op rounds much less stressful. In addition, the players can apply “Level Balancing” to the game, so that loot and enemies are always balanced for the individual players, providing a challenge for everyone, even with a wide level gap.
However, those features are optional, and there will be a “Classic Mode” available for players who simply wish to play Borderlands co-op without the extra settings. Other features for co-op will be available, although what they entail has yet to be revealed.
There is a new hub world in Borderlands 3 in the form of your interplanetary spaceship, the Sanctuary III (we don’t talk about what happened to Sanctuary II). Within the ship, loot that you may have lost amidst your travels will be teleported and delivered for you, ensuring that you’ll level lose out on that legendary weapon ever again.
There is also the player quarters, which are decorated depending on the player character selected. The player quarters can be customized to your liking and allows you to store items.
Many amenities are seen throughout Sanctuary III, such as Moxxi’s bar where you can gamble to your heart’s content (watch out for exploding prizes though), Hammerlock’s quarters where you can kill specific creatures and mount their corpses as trophies for all to view, and Marcus’ shop, where you’ll be able to buy upgrades for your storage.
Using the bridge onboard will allow the player to leave the Pandoran system to find other worlds with new environments and vaults. The new world featured within the demo is Promethea, homeworld of the Altus company headquarters. The scope of Borderlands 3 reaches across the galaxy, with plenty of planets to discover.
The demo ended on a happy note, with Sage and Pitchford expressing their gratitude to the Borderlands community for their continued support and love. Borderlands 3 will have DLC available once the game is released. Pitchford confirmed that all microtransactions will be cosmetic only. A short trailer was shown to end the conference and allow attendees to play the game for themselves.
Borderlands 3 will launch on September 13th. For more information about the game as it comes out, be sure to keep your eyes on Mammoth Gamers.