Borderlands 3 is finally here! While it maintains the series’ beloved cycle of shooting and looting, there’s plenty of new mechanical intricacies and a truly massive world to get to grips with, so new players might find themselves a tinsy bit overwhelmed.
Here to help we’ve put together a few essential tips and tricks to get newcomers started. Welcome to Pandora, Vault Hunter.
1 – Choose your character carefully
There are four playable characters in Borderlands 3 in the form of Amara, Moze, Zane and FL4K, and each of these vault hunters possess distinct skills, dialogue and modes of progression. They have a huge impact on the overall experience and how you will learn to approach combat encounters. So, it’s vitally important you know exactly what each one entails before making a concrete decision.
I only had that foresight with a couple of characters, and decided on Amara due to her badass psychic powers and rather attractive physique. I loved her snarky dialogue, brash overconfidence and range of varied powers, but couldn’t help but feel I was missing out after learning what the others were capable of. Moze can summon a pilotable mech from the heavens, while FL4K commands a legion of ferocious pets. Doesn’t that sound awesome?
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My advice is to research both the starting and later abilities of each character before taking your pick, because there’s always a chance that the path of progression you take might not match up with personal tastes. You can rejig your skills at anytime, but you’d need to level a separate hunter from scratch which will take some serious time investment.
2 – Explore every nook and cranny
The world of Borderlands 3 is far more vast and filled with things to do than its predecessor, offering a greater incentive to explore areas you’d otherwise believe were completely empty. In the early hours you’ll gain access to your first vehicle and be free to explore the sandy plains of Pandora at your leisure. This freedom is surprisingly liberating, and something I’d recommend using to your advantage.
You’ll notice the mini-map fills in areas you’ve explored as you pass through them, indicating parts of the world you’ve yet to visit on a dynamic basis. This works wonders for ensuring you’ve not missed out on anything, since there’s oodles of region-specific quests, audio logs and other hidden goodies to uncover that will make the coming fight far easier. It’s also a great way to gain experience simply by existing in the world and not grinding through endless firefights.
3 – Use environments in the middle of battle
Destructibility is far more prominent in Borderlands 3, with the majority of cover and various aspects of the environment now vulnerable to gunfire, explosions and other manners of mayhem. If you pile enough projectiles into a piece of debris an enemy is cowering behind, chances are they’ll be revealed and blown away as a result. This adds a much-needed sense of dynamism to each encounter while also ensuring that flanking isn’t the only course of action.
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Boss battles require a fairly liberal use of cover and first-person gymnastics to avoid attacks and ensure you aren’t blown to pieces by devastating area of effect spells and projectiles, while foes use so frequently it’s almost frustrating. This is where Borderlands 3 and its elements of traversal become incredibly handy. Each vault hunter is a force to reckoned with, capable of mantling, sliding and pulling themselves into areas you’d assume inaccessible. Don’t stop moving and watch your back, and throw in a bit of old-school circle strafing for good measure.
4 – Experiment with your skill trees and abilities
It takes a while for the true meat of Borderlands 3’s progression system to show its face, emerging roughly 6 or so hours into the campaign when you’ve already explored several planets and established a base of operations. But be patient, since the wait is more than worth it once you’re crafting a trio of bulky skill trees and swapping between abilities on the fly. Each character has three skill trees, each one delving into a distinct skill and several passive abilities which slowly build your hero into an unstoppable bandit killing machine.
Chances are you’ll be piling the majority of skill points into a single tree or dishing them out evenly, I’d go for the former if you’re hoping to do some serious damage with skills in the later hours. For example, reaching a certain point in Amara’s trees will grant her melee and weapon attacks an elemental damage bonus, dealing damage overtime to baddies on top of what you’re already doing. This proves invaluable during tough encounters, and also acts a way a to familiarise yourself with the elemental properties that dominate Borderlands 3.
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5 – Complete all the optional objectives
A number of main scenarios and side missions will offer optional objectives to complete such as collecting a certain amount of objects or defeating bosses in a specific way. One early example involves downing a boss by only shooting them in the butt, delivering a bit of tongue-in-cheek karma to proceedings. While you’d be tempted to pass such tasks by in other games, Borderlands 3 can offer some serious rewards if you put the work in.
Oftentime you’ll only gain bonus experience and a couple of extra items, but I can think of several occasions where a character would utter some unique dialogue before opening up a locked room with a chest inside. Upon opening it I was rewarded with new guns, shields, skins, class mods and goodness knows what else. Go the extra mile, it’s definitely worth it.
6 – Hijack enemie vehicles for new parts
As I mentioned earlier, the world of Borderlands 3 is much bigger than anything we’ve seen before, so you’ll be traversing much of it through vehicles spawned from Catch-a-Ride stations. You start off with a very basic selection of vehicle skins and parts, and it takes a while for the strategy to gaining more becomes clear.
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Turns out, all you need to do is murder the drivers and passengers of evil vehicles and take them to the nearest station. From here, any new parts will be salvaged and available for your custom ride going forward. There’s a bunch of new vehicle types and weapons in Borderlands 3 and they’re all a blast, so you’d be doing yourself a favour by trying them all out.
7 – Speak to every character you come across
Borderlands 3 is filled with personality, and much of that is thanks to its diverse cast of characters. You’ll find familiar faces aplenty during the campaign, all of which are happy to dish out quests and satisfy you with optional dialogue that provides a deeper look into their backstories. If we’re honest, this isn’t best finest writing we’ve seen in gaming, but it’s charismatic enough that a lot of lines draw laughs and leave you wanting to hear more.
While you’ll only find a handful of important characters across the open regions of planets, Sanctuary 3 is absolutely filled with people to converse with. Acting as your main base of operations, this spaceship is home to the likes of Lilith, Claptrap, Moxxi, Tannis and countless other memorable personalities you’ll want to set aside time to familiarise yourself with. As the campaign progresses they can add more context to the story while also offering tasks that offer plentiful rewards.