It’s been a long time in between Borderlands games. The last true installment came out back in 2012, and the world was a radically different place back then. That was two Batmen and two Jokers ago. The Rock had just joined the Fast & Furious franchise. There were still a few Blockbusters open, and you couldn’t rent a single Annabelle movie from any of them. If you stepped out of a time machine into September of that year, when Borderlands 2 was released, you’d legitimately need an afternoon to adjust. Or maybe you’re used to the disorientation of the time stream by now. I don’t know. It’s your time machine.
The loot-and-shoot action RPG series from Gearbox Software released a follow-up installment to the massively successful Borderlands 2 in 2014. But Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is more like a gigantic DLC expansion for Borderlands 2 than its own game. Fans have been waiting seven long years for a true sequel, and they finally got one last month with the release of Borderlands 3.
Exact sales figures are notoriously hard to pin down in the video game industry, but Borderlands 3 shipped 5 million units to stores in 5 days, which is twice as many as Borderlands 2 shipped in the same time frame. Basically, that suggests there’s a significant number of players who are jumping into the series for the first time.
The point is, a huge number of new players are joining fans with seven years of rust built up in their controller hand bones to boot up Borderlands 3, and the experience can be daunting for both. It’s like buying a ticket to see Avengers: Endgame when the last Avengers movie you saw was Wonder Boys. The game does a decent job of making sure you don’t necessarily have to know the plot of the previous games to play this one (although most of the game’s dramatic moments are going to lose their impact if you don’t have any idea who the hell these characters are), but there’s still an intergalactic mooseload of things to do, systems to navigate, and abilities to understand and master.
But don’t worry! In the interests of community outreach and a possible future presidential run, I’ve written a helpful list of 10 things you should know when starting Borderlands 3 that is actually a list of 11 things, because Borderlands has a history of cranking it to 11. These are all tips that, after buying three copies of the game (one of which cost $250 and came in a giant plastic box full of collectibles with the combined carbon footprint of a pipeline explosion) and playing for 70+ hours, I wish someone would’ve told me when I started. All I ask is that you share this list with other new players, maybe send me a legendary weapon or two that you don’t want, and submit my name to the Nobel Committee.