Following that innocuous tweet from Gearbox Software after all the mess its CEO Randy Pitchford went through, it seems the original loot-and-shoot action RPG Borderlands is making a comeback.

Whether it’s going to be a sequel or a giant-ass remastered collection of parts 1 and 2, we’ll never know until the company’s PAX East 2019 panel on 28 March. So let’s gather up what we know about the possible sequel.

Borderlands release date

There isn’t any that’s concrete, but publisher Take-Two said in an earnings call that it may be out before Fall 2019.

Publisher Take-Two seems keen on a potential 2018-2019 launch window, as suggested by an investors call report from March 2017. In it, CEO Strauss Zelnick included a “highly anticipated new title from one of 2K’s biggest franchises” as part of the publisher’s fiscal 2019 outlook, a span of months ranging between October 2018 and September 2019.

Zelnick’s comments appeared again in subsequent reports in August, November, and February 2018, increasing the likelihood of a solidified timeframe. But keep in mind Borderlands 3 wasn’t named specifically so Zelnick could’ve been referring to another game. Plus, those plans could’ve changed in the past year.

Still, Borderlands 3 is a strong contender for Take-Two’s plans, especially considering the known quantities of the studio’s annual sports releases, the juggernaut omnipresence of Grand Theft Auto 5, and the radio silence from Steam sale darlings XCOM, Civilization, and BioShock. It has until fall 2019 to make that window.

Borderlands 3 rumours so far

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Borderlands Reddit posters have rounded up a few slips that could indicate Borderlands 3 previews and livestream partnerships are coming in spring 2019, which could point to an impending reveal.

Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition was rated in Taiwan in January 2019 and in Korea earlier in 2018 by a developer that’s done port work and contributed to Borderlands development in the past, suggesting the possibility of an HD remaster this year. That’s not directly connected to Borderlands 3, but it may be something to hype up players for the new game. There haven’t been any recent hints about Borderlands 3 itself.

Where does Borderlands 3 take place?

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Definitely outside of Pandora, if the ending to Borderlands 2 is of any indication.

While the plundered planet could make a repeat appearance (that’s five, counting the Pre-Sequel and Telltale spin-offs), it’s far more feasible that we’ll visit one of the many other Vaults dotting space, a welcome change of scenery teased during Borderlands 2’s conclusion.

Hints of a new world named Promethea were discovered by Battleborn sleuths, including hidden graffiti of a Vault symbol and peculiar audio patterns heard from portal anomalies beckoning listeners to Promethea and warning of Patricia Tannis, the hilariously crazy scientist researching the Vaults’ mysterious origins. Promethea’s candidacy was strengthened most recently by a tweet from the official Borderlands account that restated the Battleborn Easter eggs.

In the Borderlands canon, Promethea is where the gargantuan Atlas Corporation first harnessed the alien Eridian technology to manufacture advanced weaponry and starships. The Crimson Lance, Atlas’ private military and playable character Roland’s former employer, would return to prominence as it keeps a major base planetside. Promethea also houses the first Vault discovered by Atlas which would eventually kickstart the rush of hunters and rival corporations plying the stars in search of riches.

With all clues pointing to Promethea’s importance, there would be little reason to pass up the chance to understand the true nature of the Vaults, perhaps bridge the connection with the magical Sirens, and, of course, loot one of the juiciest motherlodes in the galaxy.

But what about the loot system?

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Expect the usual bevy of wacky weapons and bizarre effects—and a fire-spitting gun straight out of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s laboratory.

We’re serious: back in January, Elon Musk got Randy Pitchford’s attention when he debuted a novelty flamethrower from his side. He joked on Twitter that the flamethrower was sentient and came with a free cryptocurrency blockchain. It’s dubbed the “Boring Flamethrower”.

We’re all for this; this is from the game that gave us a screaming SMG and a shotgun that makes kill-tastic comments in a robotic voice. Don’t be surprised if there’s a gun that creates physical blockchains out of cryptocurrency that explodes in your face.

What has the company said so far?

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Not much, since Borderlands 3 is going to be their golden goose. That hasn’t stopped CEO Randy Pitchford from drip-feeding progress updates on the game.

During PAX South 2015’s Gearbox panel, Pitchford opened recruitment for Borderlands 3’s development team, saying, “We want to think about the future, and we want to think about what the next Borderlands is, and we’re going to need some help”.

Later, at PAX East 2016’s panel, Pitchford noted that “obviously there’s going to be another Borderlands.” He also mentioned the transfer of Battleborn art director Scott Kester onto the team in a similar role. Staff changes are common for large projects, but this aligns with Gearbox’s plans to refocus manpower onto Borderlands 3 after Battleborn was finished.

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During the same panel, Pitchford pondered whether the next Borderlands would use a number or a more exotic designation. “We don’t even know if we’re going to call it that,” he said. “We could call it Borderlands 4 for all we know”. The tongue-in-cheek style of Borderlands’ comedy might involve a box cover poking fun at colons and buzzwords. Long story short, Gearbox’s intent for delivering a “really big, worthy” continuation instead of an offshoot like the Pre-Sequel, as Pitchford explained in a September 2017 IGN interview.

Another major Pitchford preview surfaced in April 2017 with a tweeted photo of the man himself wearing a motion capture rig. The getup was for a shoot that “may or may not be a psycho bandit in a video game we may or may not be working on”. Seeing as psychos are the babbling poster-mobs of Borderlands’ wastes, it’s almost assured a Borderlands 3 is on the way teeming with more masked madmen.

Also, an Unreal Engine 4 talk at GDC 2017 included a very Borderlands-looking sequence. Pitchford presented the engine’s features of improved lighting and shadow effects that would “power the next Borderlands game” but was quick to disclaim the footage as just a “technology demonstration” and not a snippet of actual gameplay. The previous Borderlands games ran on the Unreal Engine, so it makes sense if the next entry kept tradition with snazzier tech.

Around 90 percent of Gearbox is working on Borderlands 3. Pitchford told a PAX West panel audience that the studio was full steam ahead on a project “most of you guys want us to be working on”. We highly doubt it’s “Aliens: Colonial Marines 2”.

 

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