The marketing machine for Borderlands 3 is in full swing, and with yesterday’s stream and preview event, details about how the series will be changing with this latest iteration are flooding in. While cosmetically the game looks a lot like it always did, there are some gameplay tweaks coming that will address some of the complaints about the previous games, from mobility to how loot drops are distributed. Borderlands 3 expands upon the conclusion of Borderlands 2 by making space travel a part of the main storyline, and in the game you will be tracking down the leaders of the Children of the Vault, a pair of twins who seek to channel the power of vault monsters for their own. Here’s what to expect when you slip back into the saddle this upcoming September.
Borderlands has always been about the guns, and this time around, Gearbox is adding a new dimension to its most popular feature by introducing an alternate firing mode—that is, a secondary power for your gun that can add things like micro missiles, grenades or elemental bullets like fire and ice. There’s not a lot of information on this yet but it seems to be a customization feature, which means that with some careful planning you can have just about every type of ammunition and elemental effect covered within your immediate load list.
It seems so small, and yet it’s so big. The inconvenience of missing a jump and having to go around the long way is over. Players will now be able to climb up ledges. Combined with what looks to be a new sliding mechanic (which, as the name suggests, allows the player to quickly drop to the ground and slide to cover), running around the wastelands is going to be at least a little more efficient and speedy, in part thanks to these maneuvers.
There’s nothing that makes you feel like a helpless asshole quite like dying in front of an NPC. I mean, c’mon, they’re like, right there...watching you bleed to death. In Borderlands 3, the player will frequently be paired up with other characters integral to the immediate mission or story, and now they’ll be able to revive you in battle too. There are no guarantees that NPC will always be in a position to do so, but it’s now at least a possibility.
One problem that Gearbox seems to be serious about addressing in Borderlands 3 is balancing the group experience. Loot will now be scaled to the individual player, so that drops will be specific to each character’s level, eliminating the post-boss fight scramble to see who can grab the Uniques first. XP and enemy strength will also be scaled, meaning that players at different character levels can still play together without having their experience mired by the difficulty (or lack thereof).
Of course, this isn’t ideal for those who like to rush their teammates, and so for that, classic mode will still be available.
This is probably my favorite new addition to Borderlands—the lost and found located in the new Sanctuary. Now when any loot gets lost or left behind, say, after a major battle or in the process of cleaning out your inventory, it will show up in a special box where it can be accessed and retrieved. Given the game’s focus on loot and how easy it is to lose it (guns in the past have had a habit of slipping through the floor or disappearing once they are dropped) this will help keep frustrations low during group runs, and is a great way to reinforce the value of its most entertaining feature.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.