The last “main” entry in Gearbox Software’s Borderlands franchise, Borderlands 2, was released way back in 2012 to rave reviews, huge sales figures, and more post-launch content than you could swing a Claptrap at. Fans are eagerly anticipating a sequel to resolve the story’s cliffhanger ending and build on its role-playing shooter game mechanics ever since. Though the series has expanded with a pair spin-offs: 2K Australia’s Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! which bridged the gap between the two primary games, and Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands, but Gearbox is finally working on a new direct sequel, which may or may not be called Borderlands 3… probably.
Here’s everything we know about it so far.
There’s going to a “Borderlands 3,” but it might not be called ‘Borderlands 3’
Back at PAX South 2015, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford confirmed what pretty much everyone already knew: the studio is planning to release another Borderlands game. Speaking at a Borderlands panel, Pitchford simply referred to it as “the big one,” and announced that the company would be hiring new staff to work on the game.
More than a year later, Pitchford brought up the game again at Gearbox’s PAX East 2016 panel, noting that, while the game is in development, the game could very well be called something other than “Borderlands 3.” Pitchford announced that Gearbox’s “Creative Champion” Mikey Neumann, who wrote the original Borderlands and games from the Brothers in Arms franchise, would be writing the game. Pitchford also said that Borderlands 2 art director Scott Kester will return for the sequel.
Mike Neumann, the game’s lead writer, has left the studio
In June, 2017, Polygon reported that Borderlands 3 lead writer Mikey Neumann resigned from his position at Gearbox due to health complications stemming from multiple sclerosis.
It’s unclear what kind of impact Neumann’s departure will have on the game’s development. With few known details, it’s unclear how much of the story has been completed. There’s been no word of who, if anyone, will take over Neumann’s role.
Bits of the game are already out there
No, you can’t play any of Borderlands 3 right now, but Gearbox has hidden an Easter egg related to the game inside Battleborn‘s Attikus and the Thrall Rebellion DLC. YouTuber “HandsomeJackBoy” spotted graffiti on a wall located behind a gate in the DLC which appears to say “Promethea,” and also contains a Vault symbol. Promethea is a planet in the Borderlands universe and could very well be the setting for Borderlands 3 — the Atlas corporation found alien technology on it, which was then reverse-engineered to create more powerful weapons.
Pitchford also said that the character “Scooper,” the son of the mechanic Scooter, may be a character in the game — Scooper was originally created as a non-canonical joke.
A hint at what’s to come
Borderlands 3 hasn’t seen any “official” gameplay or other videos released to the public as of yet, but we now has a little more insight into what the final game will look like when running on the Unreal Engine 4.
At GDC, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford showed off a tech demo for what was possible with the signature Borderlands art style using the upgraded engine. The current-generation technology has allowed Gearbox to experiment more with the thick black outlines seen around objects and characters in the series’ world. Instead of all sporting a uniform “line weight,” this will now be varied to give a more nuanced look. There is also more line detail seen on the inside of objects as opposed to just the outside.
The line work and advances in lighting technology are particularly impressive when a character model is shown. The “ray of god” can be seen coming through the character’s armpit, and light can actually shine through objects to create a shadow on the environments behind people. Pitchford was also rather secretive about the identity of a character shown in the tech demo, suggesting that she may be in the final game.
It won’t be on Nintendo Switch
Sorry, Switch fans who have beaten Breath of the Wild and want anything else to play. Though the Nintendo Switch has attracted plenty of third-party developers including Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and Borderlands publisher 2K Games, we won’t see Borderlands 3 come to the console.
Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford revealed the news when questioned by a fan on Twitter, saying that the studio had talked to Nintendo but “that stopped for some reason” and Nintendo has “other priorities.”
Elon Musk’s flamethrower may get a cameo?
Little is known about the weapons players will be able to use in Borderlands 3, but there is a chance we’ll be able to see a harbinger of death from none other than Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Musk’s The Boring Company is currently taking $500 pre-orders on what it calls the “world’s safest flamethrower,” which looks like it was pulled out of an Alien film. The flamethrower’s design seems perfect for a Borderlands game, and when asked by Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford about possibly including it in the still-unannounced sequel, Musk agreed.
“Elon — I’m going to add this to our next Borderlands game. Super serious,” said Pitchford. “Let me know if you want to write the flavor text. You may have already done so — we’ll just lift if from one of your tweets.”
Musk’s flamethrower will likely need a power boost if going to be of use as a weapon in the game. The current version only launches flames a few feet, making it fairly ineffective in most combat situations. Perhaps that’s for the best, especially for customers who don’t opt to purchase the $30 The Boring Company fire extinguisher, as well.
When can we play it?
Publisher 2K has not announced a release date for Borderlands 3, but 2K Games’ parent company Take-Two may have teased a release window for the game during its March, 2017 investor call. At the time, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said that it had “a highly anticipated new title from one of 2K’s biggest franchises” in the works for its fiscal year 2019, which begins next April. Zelnick made a similar statement in another investor call in August, 2017.
It’s possible that this could refer to any franchise published by Take-Two, such as XCOM, Mafia, or even Grand Theft Auto, but with Gearbox’s willingness to show off potential game assets during technical demonstrations, Borderlands 3 certainly seems like a reasonable guess.
While you wait for Borderlands 3, why not play something else? Here’s the best PS4 games currently available, the best Xbox One games you can play right now, and the best Nintendo Switch games you’ll find anywhere.
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