The Borderlands series has always been known for having billions of guns, with each gun randomly generated. But all of these weapons also make noises when they shoot, like the loud crack of sniper or the blast of a rocket launcher. And as explained by the senior sound designer at Gearbox, Joshua Davidson, it took a lot of work to create over 5000 gun sounds for Borderlands 3.
In the older games, like Borderlands 2, Gearbox was limited by how much memory the consoles had. These limits forced the developer to limit how many gun noises could be shipped with the game. In Borderlands 2, Joshua Davidson estimates there were only about 350 individual weapon sounds. So when you picked up a Jakobs pistol, it didn’t matter if it was long, short, big, or small it would sound basically the same as any other Jakobs pistol.
In Borderlands 3, thanks to more powerful consoles, the team was able to implement many more sounds, with Davidson estimating over 5,500 individual sounds were created and shipped with the game.
The system for creating unique and different gun sounds for each randomly generated weapon in Borderlands 3 is very similar to how guns themselves are put together. As explained by Davidson in a video on his personal YouTube channel, each gun in Borderlands is made up of various parts. These parts can be combined into millions and millions of different weapons. To create the sound system, Davidson and the sound team “piggybacked” on the weapon part system. They linked different sounds to different parts. So if a sniper rifle had a long, plasma barrel on it, then it would sound different than a sniper with a short, laser barrel.
The end result of all this work and over 5000 sound files is that each weapon you pick up in Borderlands 3 will often sound different than a similar weapon you might already have. This helps make each weapon feel unique and interesting.
The full video is filled with a lot of behind the scenes information about creating sounds for a big video game like Borderlands 3. It might be a bit too technical for most folks, myself included. But it is still amazing to get a peek behind the curtain of how massive and complicated video games are made.
Gearbox continued its trend of weekly Borderlands 3 hotfixes with a whopper this afternoon, weakening some of the game’s best legendary guns and grenades in the process. The severity of these nerfs differs from item to item. In a few cases, it isn’t the end of the world, but a portion of the community is struggling to understand why the developers would so drastically alter some of the borderline overpowered weaponry.
While I was perusing the Borderlands 3 patch notes this morning, I was devastated to see my two favorite guns—the triple-barrel Lyuda sniper and the rapid-fire Butcher shotgun—had been hit with significant nerfs. As it turns out, the Lyuda was actually firing four bullets at a time when it should have only been firing three, so that bug has been removed and the critical hit damage bonus decreased, whereas the Butcher has had its accuracy and damage lowered.
“Well,” I thought to myself, “there go my main farming weapons!” Fortunately, I was wrong.
After taking the latest Borderlands 3 hotfix for a spin, I can safely say my guns are still super strong. I’m still able to defeat my favorite boss, Graveward, with ease, and none of the areas I traveled through provided much of a challenge, even with negative Mayhem mode bonuses boosting enemy defenses. That’s not to say that it isn’t obvious they’ve been nerfed, because it is, but the differences are minimal. Battles end in two or three blinks of an eye rather than one, which I can live with.
Other players weren’t so lucky. The Flakker, a shotgun capable of producing huge explosions and melting anything that stands in its way, saw a massive reduction in effectiveness. Every shot now fully depletes the gun’s magazine, meaning users will need to spend a lot more time reloading. Its damage was also reduced by one-third.
“Flakker was greatly outperforming other shotguns due to the number of projectiles and the high rate of fire,” the developers explained in their official patch notes. “This change encourages players to capitalize on different stat bonuses to maximize the weapon’s damage output.”
Another change with which Borderlands 3 players are grappling has to do with the Hex grenade mods. These legendary explosives seek out enemies and generate elemental area of effect damage that, when stacked, is capable of depleting health bars in an instant. Most characters use this kind of equipment like a cherry on top of a sundae, but certain playstyles, like Moze’s infinite grenade build, rely on Hex grenades to generate damage. Today’s hotfix reduced that damage by 70 percent and reduced the amount of time a Hex is active to just three seconds.
That said, several items received improvements, which might mean more diversity in the kinds of builds and loadouts Borderlands 3 players use. It’s just going to take time for folks to experiment and see how everything shakes out. There are also quite a few inarguably good changes, including health increases for Moze’s Iron Bear mech, FL4K’s pets, and Zane’s digi-clone, which should make them all a little more useful in the end game. I’m also really happy to see shield boosters—health items that drop from certain shields when you take damage—are now picked up automatically, reducing the amount of scrambling I have to do during particularly chaotic battles when my shield gets low.
Even if players don’t always agree with it, it’s clear that Gearbox has a very specific vision for how it wants weapons to compare and contrast with one another in Borderlands 3. It’s strange and sometimes a little frustrating to see a developer to put so much time into balancing a game without any sort of competition involved, but the amount of attention it’s already paying to Borderlands 3 bodes well for its future.
We’ve reached the third week of unique Borderlands 3 events, and this time around Gearbox has seen fit to tweak the numbers to make Eridium, a secondary currency that’s much harder to find than regular money, drop more frequently. The only problem is that there’s still very little on which to actually spend these purple space rocks.
Eridium was first introduced in Borderlands 2, where it served two very important purposes: expanding backpack space and ammo reserves as well as eventually purchasing entrance to arenas that housed the game’s uber-hard raid bosses. In Borderlands 3, however, Eridium isn’t quite as useful. Upgrading your Vault Hunter is instead done with cold, hard cash, and raid bosses haven’t been added to the game yet. Instead, series mainstay Crazy Earl will exchange Eridium for cosmetic items—heads, skins, emotes, and the like—and special “Anointed” weapons, which provide character-specific stat bonuses.
There’s also a special slot machine in the game’s main hub, Sanctuary III, that takes Eridium instead of space dollars or whatever it is the Vault Hunters use, but it’s generally not very fun pulling the lever over and over again for the small chance that you’ll get a piece of gear that’s much easier to find farming bosses.
This week’s event, “Show Me the Eridium,” only makes the currency’s relative worthlessness that much more apparent. In addition to boosting the amounts of Eridium that drop, prices have also been reduced on items that can be bought with the mysterious stones—from what I can tell, Crazy Earl’s wares have been marked down by 25 percent, and the slot machine now costs five Eridium a pull rather than the usual 10.
Gearbox’s patch notes mention that normal enemies will now also drop Eridium, which was previously exclusive to just Badass variants, mini-bosses, and bosses, but it wasn’t enough to make a noticeable difference during my recent loot expeditions.
After the fun of last week’s festivities, which saw rare enemies make guaranteed appearances and drop unique loot, Show Me the Eridium is a bit of a letdown. Everything that Eridium purchases in Borderlands 3, from cosmetic items to Anointed weapons, can also drop from enemies and appear in chests. Furthermore, most hardcore players have already accrued a massive amount of Eridium, and without anything new to buy, the currency is practically meaningless.
The smart move for players is to simply hold onto whatever Eridium they earn during this event and wait for Gearbox to provide more opportunities to use it, whether that’s via raid bosses or something special like modifying weapon attributes, a common request in the Borderlands community.
Although Gearbox has been clear from the beginning that these weeklong events were simply the appetizers leading up to the big Halloween-themed Bloody Harvest celebration at the end of October, the offerings have so far been more disappointing than fun. I’m still playing Borderlands 3 because I love Borderlands, but my ongoing commitment to the game hinges almost entirely on the next few updates.
It’s so easy to miss things that are hiding right under your nose, especially in a video game as big as Borderlands 3. I did manage to find, for example, the microbrewery dungeon that’s completely optional. But I completely missed this fully-functioning roller coaster that you can ride, despite the dozens of hours I’ve spent playing the game. As of this morning, I have now ridden this roller coaster. You should too.
I was alerted to its presence by a post on the Borderlands 3 subreddit from a user who sounded just as incensed that they had not previously known about it. “Why was I not made aware of such a cool thing?” user __JinxY__ asked the universe, posting a video of a character riding a roller coaster in game and shooting targets along the tracks. Immediately recognizing that roller coasters are awesome regardless of context, I immediately yelled the same thing at my computer. Then I booted up my Borderlands 3 save to find it for myself.
The coaster isn’t even that well-hidden. It’s just off the beaten path in the Splinterlands, a region of Pandora you visit late in the game while on a quest to rescue another character. Since you come to the Splinterlands in the middle of a quest chain that has you doing lots of driving around, it’s tempting to just make a beeline for the main quest goal—which is a chop shop across the map—and ignore everything else. Also, Pandora is a desert, so there’s not much to catch the eye while you’re on the road.
Completists (and Burning Man attendees, I suppose) know, however, that the desert is precisely where one would go to find interesting things. You can find it either by chance or if you make a habit of finding every Typhon Log hidden on each map. If you do that, you’ll eventually find yourself at the foot of a stairwell near the center of the Splinterlands. That stairwell leads up to, well, a damn roller coaster. With really no other context.
Because this is Borderlands, there are some dudes to shoot first, but get past them and you are free to board the roller coaster, fire at the lever that starts it, and have fun trying to hit the targets on the track. Hit them all and you’ll unlock a room with some sweet loot.
I love that this seems to be here for no reason other than that it’s cool. I didn’t find a side quest nearby, wasn’t sent here on a main story quest, and was otherwise ignorant of its existence for nearly a full month after this game’s release despite, again, having played this game for many hours. You can’t even call it an easter egg, because it’s not like it’s that hidden. All you have to do is veer a little bit off the direct path during the story quest and you’ll crash into it. But maybe you, like me, did not see this until someone did the kindness of showing it to you. If I can spare you the anguish of missing out on a roller coaster where you thought there was none, it’ll all be worth it.
Borderlands 3 is currently running through a series of week-long events leading up to a big Halloween-themed blowout later this month. While last week’s legendary gear hunt was a bit of a bummer, developer Gearbox’s latest attempt to keep folks interested in their flagship looter shooter gives players the chance to fight some unique enemies that are easy to miss the first few times through the game.
There are several types of enemies in the Borderlands series, ranging from basic grunts to bosses. Somewhere in the middle lie unique spawns, named foes that provide a decent challenge and special loot but aren’t guaranteed to show up in their designated areas. It’s possible to never encounter them if you don’t comb the entirety of each Borderlands map or if the game’s inherent randomness doesn’t swing your way.
For the next few days, Borderlands 3’s unique spawns are guaranteed to appear, along with a greater chance to drop legendary and unique gear, during the “Rare Spawn Hunt” event. Looking over the news when it was first announced, I was surprised to find just how many of the listed enemies I hadn’t encountered during several playthroughs. Last night I set out to hunt them down.
To be honest, players aren’t missing life-changing encounters by not seeking these enemies out. They’re essentially mini-bosses, made more exciting by their rarity and the unique items, like the enemy-weakening It’s Piss grenade, they drop. They have character, though: Rakkman is a parody of Batman who is encountered in a remote cave on the sprawling Carnivora map. El Dragón Jr. is an homage to the masked luchadores of professional wrestling. The Mother of Grogans and her ability to summon fire-breathing lizards calls back to Daenerys Targaryen of Game of Thrones fame—she can even be defeated with a single melee attack.
I haven’t found much to be excited about here in terms of farming opportunities—I’m currently wiping out packs of Demoskaggons and Force Troopers squads in the hopes of finding the class mod that continues to elude me—but the Rare Spawn Hunt has given me a reason to go back through areas I’ve previously picked clean. I love the randomness of these unique enemies, but having them guaranteed to appear during the event is nice too, since even when they spawn, they can be easy to miss in the middle of the game’s chaotic battlefields.
The Borderlands series has always been filled with Easter eggs, references and hidden secrets. For example, you could literally find Creepers from Minecraft in Borderlands 2. But one Easter egg has popped up in every Borderlands game without fail and it involves shooting some barrels and a giant fish. And this classic secret returns in Borderlands 3.
As showcased in a video released by YouTuber and Easter egg hunter FunWithGuru, Borderlands 3 continues the series tradition of containing a shit load of references and Easter eggs. You can find Pickle Rick from Rick and Morty, a shotgun that plays the Doom (2016) guitar riff, a parody of Batman and a lot more.
But my favorite Easter egg in Borderlands 3 is the one that involves shooting some barrels to get a woman to spawn who eventually rides a giant fish. This same weird secret can be found in the originalBorderlands. It can also be found in Borderlands 2and The Pre-Sequel. Even Tales From The Borderlands makes a reference to this fishy secret.
By the way, the woman on the fish is Patricia Tannis, a character from the series. Why is she riding a giant fish? I don’t know. Maybe Borderlands 4 will answer that question.
We’re currently in the midst of a week-long Borderlands 3 event, during which players can expect bosses to drop specific legendary loot with greater frequency. As someone still looking for a decent class mod, this was an exciting prospect for me, but after spending some time farming the bosses in question, I don’t see myself changing up my loot-hunting habits any time soon.
After completing the Borderlands 3 story and as many side quests as I could find, I recently hit level 50 with Moze the Gunner, my main character. But as with other looter shooters, reaching the level cap in Borderlands 3 is just the beginning. I’ve spent this time tinkering with my skill trees, finishing the difficult end-game arenas, and most importantly, hunting down legendary loot.
Since my build is focused on landing successive critical hits to return bullets to the current magazine, the mid-game boss Graveward and its large critical hit points make for the perfect farming target. It absolutely melts under the onslaught of my Lyuda sniper and Butcher shotgun, meaning I can get a bunch of kills in quickly without it feeling like too much of a slog.
The current Borderlands 3 event, Bonus Boss Loot, encourages players like myself to leave our comfort zones and try rematching one of the several other bosses in the game. Early-game adversary Mouthpiece, for instance, now has a greater chance to drop the Gatling Gun, a powerful Jakobs assault rifle that features a fully automatic firing mode, while main antagonist Tyreen can reward players with the Bitch, a regrettably-named SMG that has been a franchise mainstay since the very beginning.
As compared to previous games in the series, it’s a little more difficult for players to find the specific gear they want in Borderlands 3 because every enemy and chest has the chance to hold any item. The Bonus Boss Loot event therefore seems like a godsend on paper, especially when it comes to obtaining legendary class mods. Right now, I’m looking for a Bloodletter class mod with the right mix of skill boosts. I’ve found a few during my time farming Graveward, but not the particular kind I’m looking for.
During the Bonus Boss Loot event, I have two targets in my search for the perfect Bloodletter class mod: Katagawa Jr. and Pain and Terror since Gearbox has imbued these bosses with a greater chance to drop legendary class mods for every character. Now the problems start setting in, the first being that their boss arenas are located at the end of two huge levels that require a good deal of on-foot travel to reach.
In contrast, Graveward is a great boss to farm not only because it’s easy to land critical hits against it, but also because the area in which you fight it is located right next to one of Borderlands 3’s fast travel stations. Plus, with an ammo shop situated outside Graveward’s arena, players can easily restock before each fight. This convenience is notably missing from the places you fight Katagawa Jr. and Pain and Terror. “But what the heck,” I thought. “As long as they drop a bunch of class mods, it should be worth the trouble.”
A decent Graveward kill. Ignore the missing sounds, I usually listen to music while farming.
But after fighting Katagawa Jr. a couple of times, I wasn’t seeing the class mod drops I expected. Other players posting on social media seemed to be having the same issues, with many skeptical that Gearbox had increased the loot values at all.
Further issues immediately became clear during my first go at the Agonizer 9000, the giant death machine piloted by Pain and Terror. While the boss normally has pretty high health, these numbers are increased dramatically in the end-game Mayhem 3 mode, which also boosts loot drop chances. This, combined with the robot’s few and easily-destroyed critical hit spots, makes Pain and Terror an absolute grind compared to how quickly Graveward can be farmed, and I soon gave up on the Penn and Teller-inspired duo entirely.
I gave Gearbox a day to work out any lingering kinks and sat down this morning for a quick experiment. Katagawa Jr., despite the inherent randomness of his boss battle, is a much easier foe to defeat than Pain and Terror, so I decided to go a few rounds against him to see how his loot drops stacked up against my old favorite, Graveward.
After 10 runs, I had accrued two legendary class mods—neither were my precious Bloodletter, sadly—out of a total of 10 legendary drops. Four of those runs yielded zero legendary items whatsoever. The entire ordeal had eaten up about 40 minutes. Graveward, on the other hand, dropped three legendary class mods out of 16 total legendaries in the same number of battles. While that may not seem like much of a difference, it took only 20 minutes, meaning I was likely to find triple the class mods from Graveward for the same farming time.
My conclusion? Players should probably stick with their normal farming routine, especially if that routine revolves around Graveward. The hulking monstrosity is a dead simple enemy whose predictable fight can be repeated much faster than those of most bosses in the game. Plus, it’s almost guaranteed to drop at least one or two legendaries after every defeat. During my time participating in the Bonus Boss Loot event, I was disappointed to find that my regular farming tactics were working just fine—a change of scenery would have been nice—and in fact provided greater opportunities for gear acquisition than the bosses that were purportedly boosted with loot drops. Here’s hoping the bonuses in future events are more substantial.
On Friday, Borderlands 3 developer Gearbox Software released a hotfix update to the game with a wide-ranging set of buffs to general weapon performance and Zane’s abilities. If all runs as advertised when the hotfix is pushed live “on or before 3 p.m. PST,” Zane’s Digi-Clone and SNTNL Drone action skills will get huge damage boosts—38% for the Digi-Clone and 50% for the Drone. This fixes a big problem with Zane—while his barrier shield is useful in many contexts, his offensive skills always felt like pea shooters good for a few moments of distraction and little else, especially at high levels.
Of course, one big buff usually means an equally big nerf is inbound, and FL4K’s unstoppable critical hit machine build is being reined in a little bit. The Guerrillas in the Mist skill—which added a 50% critical damage boost for 8 seconds—is being reduced to a 25% boost for 6 seconds. FL4K mains will have to take it for a spin to be sure, but this nerf doesn’t seem like it kills FL4K’s crit builds, just thins the insane performance lead they have over every other option in the game.
A few of the less-appealing weapon types that have become a joke in the last two weeks are also getting a leg up. Maliwan weapons, for example, were widely derided for their trademark elemental stat boost hardly being worth their low damage and the charge time required to fire them. They’ll be getting a 25% damage boost, while their fire rate will be upped 20%.
The hotfix also comes on the heels of the first major Borderlands 3 patch, released yesterday. It was a more wide-ranging update, tweaking UI glitches, fixing optional boss Killavolt’s overpowered Shield Storm attack, and nerfing the popular Porcelain Pipe Bomb grenade mod.
Updates like these underscore that while Borderlands 3 feels very much like its predecessors, Gearbox is effectively treating Borderlands 3 like a live service game, balancing its characters, gear, and loot drop rates as needed—as well as fixing some weird problems that the game shipped with, like how often your character screams when suffering from elemental damage. (Thank God.)
Hopefully these updates and seasonal events like next month’s Halloween-themed Bloody Harvest event keep Borderlands 3 interesting and well-balanced for a good long time.
Fine Art[Fine Art](https://kotaku.com/c/fine-art) is a celebration of the work of video game artists, showcasing the best of both their professional and personal portfolios. If you’re in the business and have some art you’d like to share, [get in touch!](mailto:[email protected])
Borderlands 3 is out, so tonight I figured we’d take a look at a bunch of art that went into the game’s production.
Below you’ll find a cross-section of works from throughout development of the game, from the earliest sketches through to completed character art. And while it’s not everything from everyone involved, it’s a good showcase of stuff that’ll give Borderlands fans a cool look behind the scenes of where everything in the game came from.
You’ll find links to each artist’s portfolio in their names below.
Shotguns in previous Borderlands games could be great weapons to use, but even some of the better shotguns in the game didn’t feel satisfying in a fight. They were loud and did a lot of damage, sure, but they didn’t feel like powerful cannons of death. Borderlands 3 changes this and finally gives the series shotguns that are exciting and feel really powerful.
Shotguns in older Borderlands games were great weapons to pick if you planned to do a lot of close-quarters fighting or if you wanted a weapon to take out fast-moving creatures. If you got a powerful shotgun, you could even one-shot enemies and destroy them. That felt good. But most of the time shotguns just did a lot of damage. You’d see a health bar get lower and that’s basically all the feedback you got from shooting something. It worked, but it never felt like I was using a powerful 10-chamber-death-cannon. This is honestly a problem most guns had in Borderlands 1, 2 and The Pre-Sequel, but shotguns always stood out to me as needing more oomph.
Shotguns in video games have a long history of being awesome. The shotgun in Doom is one of the best guns in the game and has become an iconic weapon. The shotgun in Halo is incredibly fun to use and feels powerful and dangerous. GB Burford, a friend, and frequent Kotaku contributor, summed up shotguns in videogames by saying “A good shotgun makes you feel like a champion, capable of taking on the world.”
Less than 30 minutes into Borderlands 3 I found a shotgun after killing an enemy. I picked it up because I love shotguns in games and also it did more damage than my crappy pistol. But I wasn’t expecting much after playing years of Borderlands games. A moment later some Skags charged me and I fired my new shotgun. To my surprise, one of the Skags I shot flipped over and another flipped back. I felt incredibly powerful at that moment and started using the shotgun in every subsequent encounter.
It’s funny how one small addition can vastly improve something. Adding ragdolls and knockback to shotguns has made them my favorite type of weapon in Borderlands 3. I can blast enemies off tall cliffs. I can knock bigger and tougher enemies off their feet for a few seconds, buying me more time to run up and do more damage. Shotguns add a new tactical option to the combat of Borderlands 3 and I’m so thankful for it.
The shotguns in Borderlands 3 might be some of my favorite shotguns in gaming. This is a huge improvement over what were mostly forgettable weapons in the older games. It is also a nice example of how you can make guns stronger and better without just increasing the damage of the weapon. Even less damaging shotguns are still fun and useful because they can knock down enemies, stopping charges or slowing crowds. Add in some elemental effects and other abilities and you can easily spend hours running around, blasting everything sky high.
Later on, I found an area on Pandora where enemies would just keep spawning. I ended up spending far too long in that spot, running around and getting kills with my shotgun. One of the enemies dropped a new shotgun and it was even better than my current shotty. I quickly picked it up. I guess I’m starting a shotgun collection. Maybe I can fit them all into one massive shotgun and fire them at a boss? Gearbox, if you are reading this, take that idea for free.