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 have been 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. 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 also announced that Gearbox’s “Creative Champion” Mikey Neumann, who wrote the original Borderlands and games from the Brothers in Arms franchise, is writing the game. Pitchford also said that Borderlands 2 art director Scott Kester will return for the sequel.
More: Gearbox CEO says Borderlands 3 isn’t coming to the Nintendo Switch
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
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.”