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Feature Article

Everything We Know About Borderlands 3: Release Date, Vault Hunter Skill Trees, And More

The wicked can't seem to get any rest.

After years of waiting, Borderlands 2 is finally getting a full-fledged sequel. Revealed at PAX East, Borderlands 3 has been met with plenty of fanfare within the Borderlands community. The game's big debut sparked excitement and a ton of questions, and Gearbox has been more than happy to follow up with more details in the weeks since.

That means there's a lot to keep track of, sp we've compiled all the latest news, features, impressions, and trailers, we know. Be sure to check back often as we update this article with even more new information about the newest entry to the franchise that popularized the idea of the loot shooter.

What Is Borderlands 3?

Borderlands 3 is the highly anticipated third game in the popular Borderlands franchise, a series whose mechanics and conventions predated many of today's most well-known loot-based shooter franchises, such as Destiny and The Division. Like the Borderlands games before it, you take on the role of one of four treasure-seeking Vault Hunters who set out on a quest to put an end to larger-than-life villains and collect all the loot you can find. However, this time, the story is extending beyond Pandora and sending you to other planets.

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Release Date

After having been leaked beforehand, Gearbox confirmed that Borderlands 3 is coming out on September 13. The game will launch on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. The PC version of the game will have a limited-time exclusivity deal with the Epic Games Store, but will release on Steam in 2020.

First Trailer Impressions

We got our first trailer for Borderlands 3 nearly seven years after the release of Borderlands 2. Although Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has released since then, it felt more like the final chapter of the Handsome Jack saga, not the next step in the franchise. So with so much time passing, we expected the announcement for Borderlands 3 to wow us with the rambunctious humor, colorful visuals, and ludicrous plot that makes the franchise what it is, while also getting a glimpse of something totally brand-new. We did not get that. You can watch our full impressions in the video below.

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First Gameplay Impressions

Where Borderlands 3's announcement fell short, its first gameplay reveal succeeded. Not only did we recognize everything we love about Borderlands in the 90-minute demo that we played at a press event, the gameplay wowed us with a bunch of new mechanics and features. Combat is a lot faster now, thanks in large part to the addition of Titanfall 2-inspired mechanics, and there's more strategic potential in how you build and outfit your chosen Vault Hunter with the game's new features. You can watch our full impressions in the video below.

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Playable Vault Hunters

Like previous Borderlands games, Borderlands 3 gives you the choice of four playable Vault Hunters right at the start. Pictured below--and going from left to right--they are Amara the Siren, FL4K the Beastmaster, Moze the Gunner, and Zane the Operative.

This time around, Borderlands 3 is changing things up by giving all four Vault Hunters three unique active skills for each of their three different skill trees. This vastly increases the amount of builds you can create for each character, and makes it far easier to make a more balanced Vault Hunter suitable for solo play.

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So far, Gearbox has only revealed the skill trees for Amara and Zane, as well as what's special about each one that differentiates them from their fellow Vault Hunters. In Amara's case, her skill trees allow her to change the elemental effect of her active skills, meaning she can dish out whichever elemental damage you like using the most. Zane, on the other hand, can sacrifice his use of grenades to equip two of his three active skills at the same time, allowing you to create builds that take advantage of the operative's vast array of high-tech gear and hologram technology.

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New Mechanics And Features

Borderlands 3's combat is a lot faster than its predecessors, thanks in large part to the addition of sliding and vaulting. Enemies strategically move around the map more often instead of just charging you, and the environment can regularly be used to your advantage. This creates combat scenarios where you hunt down enemies, as opposed to engaging in stationary battles.

To help, many of Borderlands 3's guns have alternate fire modes. With this minor addition, your arsenal in Borderlands 3 is basically twice as large as it was in Borderlands 2. It's easier to take advantage of elemental effects as well, since the addition of alternate fire modes allows you to more easily utilize a wide range of elemental damage. Borderlands 3 also doubles down on the differences established by gun brands, making unique effects for each one. All of these differences can be viewed in the video below.

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To help you keep track of where you're looted, Borderlands 3's new 3D map tracks both your position and elevation, as well as where you haven't been before. If you don't want to miss out on any loot, and you're playing with other people, you can enable a new option that makes sure every piece of loot drops for every player present--and every gun will scale to your respective levels too.

Confirmed New Characters And Villains

It wouldn't be a Borderlands game without some memorable new allies to befriend and enemies to kill. On one of the new planets you visit, Promethea, you meet a resistance fighter named Lorelei, who's penchant for murder is only quelled once you've delivered her a cup of coffee and a burger. Throughout the game, you'll be going up against the Children of the Vault, a cult devoted to its leaders, the Calypso twins, who are inspired by "really annoying" streamers.

Unfortunately, Handsome Jack is gone for good, but his presence will still be felt in Borderlands 3. His daughter, Angel, will most likely as well--despite being dead--as she's one of the Sirens, all of whom are "very important" to Borderlands 3's story.

Confirmed Returning Characters

Many of the series' characters are returning in Borderlands 3, which includes folks from Borderlands, Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and Telltale's episodic spin-off Tales from the Borderlands. Below you'll find the confirmed returning characters so far.

  • Brick
  • Claptrap
  • Ellie
  • Lady Aurelia
  • Lillith
  • Marcus
  • Maya
  • Mordecai
  • Moxxi
  • Rhys
  • Sir Hammerlock
  • Tannis
  • Tiny Tina
  • Zer0

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

mgespin

Matt Espineli

Matt Espineli is an Editor at GameSpot. He loves MGS, film noir, and westerns, but he very much loves YOU too.
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