Borderlands 3's Arms Race Mode Pays Homage To Battle Royale Games

The new mode coming to Gearbox's looter-shooter is not only a fun diversion, but it also brings back some familiar faces from Borderlands 2.

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The next big update coming to Borderlands 3 is the Designer's Cut, which launches on Tuesday, November 10--that's tomorrow. As the start of the game's second year of content, it will introduce a whole suite of changes, upgrades, and a new mode for players to dive into and experiment with. Previously, we've shown off one facet of the Designer's Cut update in the form of the new skill trees and abilities for each of the vault hunters. However, the other significant addition coming in the November patch notes is Arms Race, which adds in a new way to play the looter-shooter.

We had the chance to get some early hands-on time with Arms Race, and experienced how much it changes the flow of Borderlands 3 and how it leans even further into the core gunplay of the game. To start the quest to play Arms Race, you'll need to access the player hub, Sanctuary 3. While exploring the main hall, players will get a message from returning Borderlands 2 vault hunters Axton and Salvador, who now host a new competition where players get dropped into a battle zone filled with new enemies, bosses, and some fresh loot.

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Now Playing: Borderlands 3 — Arms Race Mode And New Legendary Gun Gameplay

The new map is on Pandora, set in a place called the Stormblind Complex. Formerly a Dahl weapons factory, it's been turned into a large battle zone filled with treasure caches for Arms Race. You're dropped into a random section of the map, and much like in a battle royale game, you have to arm yourself with whatever gear you can find. In addition to coming into Arms Race without weapons or shields, your vault hunter will also have their action-skills and perks disabled--meaning that your survival all depends on quick reflexes and the loot you can find.

Arms Race's core loop is all about arming yourself with new gear, exploring the facility to find the valuable treasure chests, and eventually taking on the boss located at the center of the map. You are free to take him on early, but with only the starting gear you can scrounge up, you likely won't stand a chance. Though it does lean heavily into the tropes of a battle royale game, Arms Race is not a competitive mode. You can play co-op with other players, but you won't be fighting against other players. Instead, you'll be facing off against mercenaries, AI robots, and other badass enemies lurking around the map. But like games such as Call of Duty: Warzone or Fortnite, there's also an element of danger with the environment. Surrounding the Stormblind Complex is a massive snowstorm, and getting anywhere within it will hurt your vault hunter, resulting in death if they stay out for too long.

Interestingly, Arms Race feels like a traditional battle royale game with some influences from The Division's Dark Zone, which gives it a sense that you're behind enemy lines where one death will spell the end of your run. The reward for taking part in Arms Race is the exclusive gear you can find, which you will have to extract to keep in your permanent inventory. One of the cool guns we found was a Torgue flamethrower weapon called the Hotfoot Teddy, which deals impressive damage to a cluster of enemies.

Launching tomorrow, November 10, alongside the next-gen edition of the game on Xbox Series X / Series S (with the PS5 release on November 12), Borderlands 3 is in for some big changes in its second year. In addition to the gameplay for Arms Race, we also have footage for all the new skills and abilities for Moze and Zane, along with Amara and Fl4k on GameSpot. We also have features on our look back on the first year of Borderlands 3, and a full interview with Randy Pitchford about the history of the franchise.

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