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This page contains unmarked spoilers for the entire Borderlands franchise built up thus far. Read at your own risk.
"The Children of the Vault is a psycho cult. 10 billion followers demand we join, or die. (While Flipping the Bird) We've got another proposal for them."

Borderlands 3, developed by Gearbox Software, is the fourth main installment of the commercially praised and successful Borderlands series.

Taking place seven years after the events of Borderlands 2, the epilogue of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! and the final episode of Tales from the Borderlands, vaults have opened up all over the galaxy, and a new cast of Vault Hunters are taking up the mantle to help the Crimson Raiders find them. With Hyperion no longer ruling over Pandora, the resulting power vacuum has allowed a Siren by the name of Tyreen and her brother Troy the opportunity to start a cult named the Children of the Vault, and they want to harness the vaults' powers for themselves.

The new Vault Hunters include:

  • Moze the Gunner: When Moze needs backup, she digistructs her mech – Iron Bear – for a sucker punch of additional firepower.
  • Amara the Siren: A confident, capable brawler with the ability to summon ethereal fists, Amara uses her Siren powers to smash her enemies.
  • FL4K the Beastmaster: FL4K lives for the hunt. So do the loyal beasts that follow their master’s every command. Their preferred prey? Unsuspecting bandits, those poor suckers.
  • Zane the Operative: Specializing in battlefield gadgetry, Zane is extremely proficient at slipping into combat, creating chaos, and sneaking back out as if he were never there.

Borderlands 3 was released on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One on September 13, 2019. The PC version of Borderlands 3 was exclusive to the Epic Games Store until March 2020. It was also released for the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X, with the 9th-gen version being free for those who already own it on current consoles. While yet to be implemented, cross-play support between each platform is planned. A Nintendo Switch version with all of the DLC was released on October 6, 2023.

The game's first season of DLC consisted of four campaign packs, which can be bought individually or acquired through a Season Pass. It includes the following:

  • Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot: Released on December 19, 2019. The DLC deals with the titular Handsome Jackpot, a space station casino created by the late Handsome Jack that Moxxi plans on taking for herself.
  • Guns, Love, and Tentacles: Released on March 26, 2020. The DLC deals with the wedding of Alistair Hammerlock and his boyfriend Wainwright Jakobs on the planet Xylourgos... or it would if the ceremony hadn't been interrupted by a cult devoted to a long-dead Vault Monster.
  • Bounty of Blood: A Fistful of Redemption: Released on June 25, 2020. The Vault Hunters travel to the planet Gehenna to claim a bounty on the Devil Riders, a gang of beast riders as they work alongside others to protect the town of Vestige.
  • Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck: Released on September 10, 2020. Tannis and the Vault Hunters enter the mind of Krieg in an attempt to discover the mysteries of the Psychos as well as the secrets of the mythical Vaulthalla.

This was be followed up by a second season of two DLC packs:

  • Designer's Cut: Released on November 10, 2020, the DLC's main feature is Arms Race, a Roguelike gamemode where players take part in the galaxy's latest reality game show with Axton and Salvador as commentators. The players are sent to Stormblind Complex without their usual gear and must instead make use of what they find on the battlefield. The pack also features a fourth skill tree for each vault hunter.
  • Director's Cut: A variety pack released on April 8, 2021. The DLC adds a classic-style raid boss, Hemovorous the Invincible, to Ascension Bluff, as well as a series of story missions where players help Ava record her murder-mystery podcast Mysteriouslier. The pack also includes "Vault Cards", which allows characters to earn weapons and cosmetic rewards by completing daily missions; a battle pass, in other words. Cut story content and behind-the-scenes stuff are also included.

Followed chronologically by spinoff Tiny Tina's Wonderlands and canonically by spinoff New Tales from the Borderlands.

Always remember that you are a Troper, and you will never be clean.

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  • Aborted Arc:
    • One of The Pre-Sequel!'s biggest plot points was Lilith taking revenge on anyone even remotely connected to Handsome Jack's rise to power and subsequently Roland's death. None of this is ever addressed. Borderlands 2's Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary DLC gave her a bigger problem to focus on with taking over as the leader of Sanctuary, while in this game she instead deals with the Children of the Vault and the Calypso Twins, with Jack seemingly being a bad distant memory.
    • The ending of The Pre-Sequel! implied that it was imperative to remain on friendly terms with the likes of Athena and Aurelia for what comes ahead. The Watcher doesn't appear in this game (or any of its DLCs), Aurelia ends up becoming no better than Nisha and Wilhelm, and it took until the later released spinoff New Tales from the Borderlands to know the whereabouts of Athena.
  • Actionized Sequel: Yep, possible even in a franchise like this one. There are more guns, leveling up is faster, even early skills are often noticeable and the passive perk system gives you huge bonuses as you spend more guardian tokens in it. In short, the already action-packed gameplay of Borderlands 2 is cranked up to eleven.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When hunting down missing syringes in "Just A Prick", one is found on Claptrap, pinning a "kick me" sign to him. Removing it causes the normally no-nonsense Tannis to let out a small chuckle and admit that he does need a good kicking.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Oh so many quality-of-life features are implemented here, compared to the previous games, to the point of having its own page.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's unclear if Lilith's Heroic Sacrifice actually killed her. We haven't seen her powers pass to anyone else, and Tannis is implied in the credits illustrations to be searching Elpis for her.
  • And Starring: Chris Hardwick as Vaughn, Ice-T as BALEX, and Penn & Teller as Pain and Terror receive "Special Appearances By" billing in the credits, before any of the other voice actors.
    • Subverted in that Terror never speaks, so Teller doesn't "voice" him, but Teller does voice a different unrelated character in a side mission, and his name appears in the regular credits in alphabetical order.
  • Anyone Can Die: Aurelia Hammerlock dies at the hands of the Vault Hunter, and Maya is drained of her powers by Troy in such a way she crumbles to ash. Even Lilith sacrifices herself in the end.
  • April Fools' Day: A hotfix on April 2020 temporarily made action skill summons (drone, clone, pets, and Iron Bear) really tiny. Any co-op players that hopped on Iron Bear's turret remained full size, resulting in quite an interesting sight. In 2021, the new abilities from the fourth skill trees joined in on the fun, even Zane's MNTIS cannon and Amara's Phaseflare orb.
  • Arc Words: Family. On both sides, the theme of family comes up several times, and the word is constantly repeated.
    • The Crimson Raiders are described as a family by Lilith and Ellie, and this is shown by how they support and worry about each other.
    • Rhys refers to Atlas as a family, and Rhys is shown caring about Atlas and its employees. This contrasts him with Katagawa Jr. who refers to Maliwan the same way, but is a Bad Boss.
    • Wainwright Jakobs feels he does not live up to the family legacy, hinted to be the source of a lot of his insecurities and friction with his father. His boyfriend Alistair Hammerlock gives him support, and their love makes Wainwright step up to defend Alistair and the Jakobs family legacy. Fittingly, they get engaged in the ending.
    • The villains meanwhile have a recurring theme of trying to kill members of their family, or perverting the term.
      • The Calypso Twins: Tyreen killed her mother. Their dad, Typhon tried to kill them when he saw what a monster she was. Fittingly the twins abandoned their family name. Tyreen and Troy turn on each other. Tyreen and Troy refer to the Children of the Vault as their family, but they also openly point out this is merely manipulation, and both are pretty open about how the CoV are but a means to an end, and food for Tyreen. Tyreen later personally kills her father near the end of the story.
      • Katagawa Jr. of Maliwan killed all of his siblings so he'd inherit the company. Well, all but one of them, anyway. He refers to Maliwan as his family, and how he wants Rhys and Atlas to join that "family". But at the same time he expresses complete disregard for his employees.
      • Aurelia Hammerlock lives only to hurt her brother, physically and emotionally. Alistair recounts stories of how she killed her own pet as a child in a way to make Alistair think he'd actually killed it. She even refers to family as a "competition" which believes the sister should win. She aligns with the Twins merely for the chance to hurt Alistair, as she doesn't actually care about owning Jakobs.
      • In a sidequest, Handsome Jack's and Angel's backstories are explained in detail. It took Angel's uncontrollable powers that would accidentally kill her mother to initiate Handsome Jack's Start of Darkness.
      • In Guns, Love, and Tentacles, the main antagonists of the story, Eleanor and Vincent Olmstead, truly do love one another, but in their obsession with the eltrich being Gydian, start a different cult, and will do absolutely everything to stay in power and cling to life, whether it be to posess countless people or melt an entire spaceship.
    • Characters also often say "lots of rest for the wicked". This is an ironic Call-Back to Borderlands 2, where the main storyline ends with "Well... no rest for the wicked!", in reference to how the Crimson Raiders went from being a superpowerful command of one-person armies to being almost entirely wiped in this game.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Enemies can have one or more limbs blown off when they die. In a call to the player, Tyreen Calypso tells them her followers will do anything for her and tells one to cut off his favorite leg. He cuts off both legs and tries to stand on the stumps, forcing her to kill him.
  • The Artifact: It's possible to travel to fast-travel stations from the main menu instead of having to reach a fast-travel station to do so. There are still one-way fast-travel stations in areas such as after boss arenas that act as a reminder or indication that this is the end of the level even though they aren't technically necessary.
  • Asshole Victim: It takes a special kind of asshole to read the diary of an orphaned teen girl aloud, laughing at her misfortune the whole way, and Private Beans shows it off in spades. Naturally, you kill him off at the end of the Invasion of Privacy mission on Athenas.
  • Becoming the Mask: In "Handsome Jackpot," you can find a series of ECHO Logs titled "Lost and Found" from a Trashlantis Citizen who came to the city for safety, to get whatever she can and to get out. On a scavenging run, she finds her old luggage, tossed down into the garbage after bandits picked her old hotel room apart. She considers her clothes gross, but not "this smells like the wrong end of a dead ratch," but more like why materialism ever mattered. She leaves the clothes behind, grabbing a tube of toothpaste for the town to share.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Ratches are about the size of a larval Varkid, but they're abundantly present all throughout Promethea. They seem to be some bizarre mix of rats and cockroaches (hence the name), giving the worst aspects of both pests.
  • Big Head Mode: One of the "Easy" Mayhem Modifiers is a Big Head Mode that also increases headshot damage.
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you look into the scope of a Vladof gun, you'll see words "УНИЧТОЖЕНИЕ" and "ГОСПОДСТВО" ("destruction" and "dominance" in Russian) written on the crosshairs.
    • The name of the Eridian homeworld is Nekrotafeyo, Greek for "graveyard."
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Retrieving a missing syringe from a dartboard causes Tannis to vocally roll her eyes and remark that games are for simpletons and children.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Children of the Vault are thwarted, but Maya is dead, Hammerlock is forced to kill his own sister after she suddenly betrays him and the Raiders, and Lilith has to pull an Heroic Sacrifice at the end in order to prevent the Great Vault from opening and destroying Pandora.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Gibbing and dismemberment in Borderlands 3 is much more comparable to the original Borderlands than its sequels. Arms, legs, heads, or even everything above the waist can be blown off into chunky salsa, and players no longer need to be over-leveled to do so.
  • Blown Across the Room: A well-placed shotgun blast can now send enemies ragdolling backwards even if it doesn't kill them outright, as do explosions too. With the right shotgun, you can even send foes flying and shoot them in middair like clay pigeons. This gets especially silly in low gravity, which can become strangely reminiscent of Bulletstorm as you juggle enemies with shotguns.
  • Body in a Breadbox: A butler for the Jakobs family can be found in a closet in the Jakobs manor, prompting a sidequest.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Takedowns, which is functionally designed to be scaled for four players at all times (even though options to exist as of recent patches to play it at easier difficulties).
  • Boom, Headshot!: Landing a final critical blow on an enemy's head produces a satisfying SNAP as their skull explodes. It also interrupts anything they were saying.
  • Boring, but Practical: The newly-revamped Dahl weapons. Their select-fire gimmick has been changed to a toggle setting like in many other FPS games, rather than automatically switching while aiming down the sights. The resulting weapons aren't very flashy compared to a Children of the Vault or Torgue weapon, but are some of the most versatile choices in the game. Lampshaded by the item description of the Dahl weapons: civilians tend to prefer flashier weapons but the Dahl brand is aimed at military professionals looking for dependable general-use weapons.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Almost all of the anointed, people supercharged with Eridium until they glow purple. Several of them are straight up bosses, but even the "normal" kind are usually at least hard enough to count as a Mini-Boss, due to Teleport Spam, a lot of hp, and often times at least one special attack. Thankfully, they turn into masses of Eridium when killed, which, when shattered, give you a few pieces of Eridium as well as a couple of Uncommon or better items.
  • Bowdlerise: Midgets have been renamed to "Tinks" due to "Midget" having negative connotations. This is given some in-game justification by many of these revamped enemies utilizing gadget-based special abilities, including the ability to construct turrets from junk piles, thus giving the new designation literal meaning as in "Tinkerer", but simple "Tink Psychos" with no such tech-based abilities to speak of still exist as well. It's worth noting that "Midget Psychos" had previously been renamed to "Lil' Psychos" and "Midget Goliaths" becoming "Lil' Goliaths".
  • Brawn Hilda: Hags, Giant Mooks that are members of the Children of the Vault, show up near the end of the game. They have mannish faces with huge upper bodies and pink hair. They also tend to have Tinks riding piggyback on them.
  • Breaking Old Trends:
    • The game didn't keep the "dead skag in the intro cutscene" Running Gag set-up in the first two mainline games and Tales. This time, it's more of a Bait-and-Switch though - Even if the skag in the intro is about to walk in the road, it is the psycho who gets rammed by the vehicle instead. Besides, this skag is different anyway, since it is a pet of FL4K.
      • When you return to Pandora later in the game, that's when you get a cutscene of a skag being run over.
    • This is also the first mainline BL game (second, counting spinoff Tales from the Borderlands) that doesn't feature Fyrestone or the surrounding area in the Arid Badlands from 1 in any form.
  • Brick Joke: In the beginning of the game, Claptrap gives you your ECHO-3 device and explains that the previous model, the ECHO-2, was recalled and rebranded as grenades after they started spontaneously exploding. As it turns out, the ECHO-2 is an actual grenade mod that can be found and equipped.
    • Also during a side mission you meet a man who has a collection of 139,377 brown rocks. In Borderlands 2, one of the ridiculous tasks Claptrap tries to give you in his side mission, 'Claptrap's Secret Stash,' is to find exactly that number of brown rocks. He hired Claptrap to get him the rocks and you never helped.
      • Similarly, one of the tasks Claptrap tries to give you in his Secret Stash quest is to find the lost staff of Mount Schuler. In this game, Mount Schuler turns out to be a medical facility rather than a mountain somewhere (presumably) on Pandora, with the staff being the facility's employees, rather than an actual staff. And like above, the mission contact hired Claptrap to do the job, but it never got done.
      • In fact, all of Claptrap's Secret Stash tasks return as "Claplist" side missions in this game: Including the ones already mentioned, "Collect 139,377 brown rocks" is "Raiders of the Lost Rock", "Defeat Ug-Thak, Lord of Skags" is "ECHONet Neutrality", "Pilfer lost staff of Mount Schuler" is "Healers and Dealers", "Defeat Destroyer of Worlds" is "Trans-action Packed", and "Dance, dance, baby!" is "Baby Dancer".
    • Early in the story, Amara says that in some places, her name is also the name of a hair care product. At the end of Guns, Love, and Tentacles, she says that she's the brand ambassador for Amara leave-in conditioner.
  • Brought Down to Normal: An early encounter with Troy and Tyreen at the start of the game results in Lilith losing her siren powers and tattoos. The "We Are Mayhem" trailer had her confirm that she used to be one of the six Sirens who could ever exist at any given time.
    • Arms Race strips the player of all their skills, gear, and Guardian bonuses, forcing them to rely on scavenged gear that often comes with anointments you can't use.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Takedowns, which are post-launch challenges balanced around a full team of end-game Vault Hunters in which players must go through a gauntlet of high level enemies that culminate in a Raid Boss. Player feedback led them to be nerfed to take the player's party into account, but it's possible to turn this off.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: Eden-6, home of the Jakobs corporation is a massive swamp filled with all sorts of dangerous critters.
  • Call-Back:
    • At the end of the "The Borderlands Are Yours" trailer, we hear a very familiar "HEYOOOO!" from the Series Mascot Steve the Bandit.
    • In "Guns, Love, and Tentacles," Claptrap refers to Gaige as "Minion," the nickname he had for the Vault Hunters from 2 (including Gaige).
    • An area in the Fantastic Fustercluck DLC, Sapphire's Run, has all of the bandits use voice lines (and some character models) from 2.
    • One of Amara's heads is named "Cat's Unforsaken Roar," a quote from Scooter in one of his side missions.
  • Carcass Sleeping Bag: Tannis crawls inside a recently killed skag when the climate control in her infirmary fails, causing its interior temperature to drop far below freezing point.
  • Cardiovascular Love:
    • The ball that Rhys uses in Skywell-23 has a Heart Symbol on it for this reason. It's a pleasure-sphere.
    • Hearts also appear when FL 4 K pets his Skag (but not the other two pets), and when anyone pets Ava's pet Hermes.
    • The Broken Hearts Day event involves such heart symbols spinning around enemy's heads to indicate them being in love. As the event name suggests, your goal is to shoot the hearts before killing the enemy, which short-term buffs (to you) or debuffs (to your enemies), and grants you further bonuses when shooting many of them (10, 25, 50, 75, and 100).
  • Checkpoint Starvation: While checkpoints themselves are plentiful, vendors to replenish your ammo/health were rare enough that Gearbox added extra ones via a patch a few months after launch. For example, Athenas is something of a Marathon Level, yet had only one ammo/health vendor at the start of the level. Now it has vendors at the halfway point and just before the levels' boss fight as well.
  • Chess Motifs: Spiderants apparently have this type of hierarchy with Queen, King, Knight, Rook and Bishop types aside from normal and Spinderantlings. Pawn only appears for the milky spiderants that appear in a side quest.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Neither Dr Zed nor Nurse Nina make an appearance; nor even a mention, beyond Zed continuing as poster boy for medical vending machines. Instead, the infirmary on Sanctuary III is occupied by Tannis, despite being primarily a scientist and archaeologist with little, if any, medical acumen.
  • City Planet: Promethea appears to be one of these and is governed by the Atlas Corporation.
  • Clarke's Third Law: In the second DLC, it is implied that most of the supernatural happenings are due to Eridian technology.
  • Cliffhanger: Subverted. It appears Tyreen has killed Tannis, Lilith, and Ava. She gives a snide remark, apparently to the player, and walks off. Fade to black, with the words "To Be Continued in 4," which hangs for a second then turns into "3... 2... 1..."
  • Climax Boss: This game has many, most of which are for the Vault keys fragments of the worlds.
    • Captain Traunt, a Maliwan Heavy soldier leading the siege on Athenas, and guards the first Promethea Vault Key fragment.
    • Katagawa Ball, a gigantic Death Ball controlled by Katagawa Jr, which is fought after the hijacking of his laser and destruction of his personal 'space pleasure yacht,' Zanara, for the second Promethea Vault Key fragment.
    • Katagawa Jr., Head of Maliwan Mergers and Acquisitions and heir to the corporation, he is revealed to have been masquerading as Zer0 to screw with Rhys. He is fought for the last Promethea Vault Key fragment, which is kept by Rhys.
    • The Rampager is the guardian of the Promethea vault, the first vault of the game.
    • Billy, The Anointed, the first super-powered Goliath known as an Anointed that Troy creates using his powers, and is fought for the second piece of the Eden-6 Vault key.
    • GenIVIV, The Combat AI for the Jakob's corporations' ship, the Family Jewel. She's sided with Aurelia Hammerlock and tries to deliver her a Vault Key fragment in exchange for a Maliwan Dreadnought ship to devastate the stars with. She is fought for the first piece of the Eden-6 Vault key.
    • Aurelia Hammerlock, the ice-wielding sister and arch-enemy of Sir Hammerlock, who tires to kill him and his boyfriend, Wainwright Jakobs. She is fought for the final piece of the Eden-6 Vault key.
    • The Graveward is the guardian of the Eden-6 vault.
    • Pain and Terror, piloting the Carnivora, hold Tannis hostage after she's kidnapped after the Eden-6 vault is looted.
    • Troy Calypso is fought back on Pandora, attempting to bring down Elpis to Pandora to unlock its vault.
  • Composite Character: The Bandit Bruiser is a bit more Gonk-ish and beefier in the shoulders, and has the capacity to use shields, making them akin to the Nomads in the previous game.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The game sees returning characters from all of the preceding games, including Tales and DLC for The Pre-Sequel.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Marcus is telling the story at the beginning, he says that Pandora is a planet full of death and horrors, but you can do well provided you have "the skills to pay the bills".
    • Subverted during the intro cutscene, where we see a bandit and a Skag face to face. You would think that the Skag would be the one biting the dust, much like it happened so far, and it being overran by a vehicle would make a nice nod to the intro cutscene of Borderlands, complete with "2K Games Presents" appearing on the screen. However, while the nod is in there (complete with the vehicle's rail saying "A Gearbox Software Game"), the one that bites the dust is the bandit instead.
    • At the end of the same intro, after the town is cleared from bandits and Marcus's bus appears, he walks down of it proclaiming "It's a beautiful day, full of opportunities". Also, much like 1, your selected character is propmted by the man himself to walk down from the bus, and you start your game at the bus stop with Claptrap greeting you.
    • Lilith's introduction cutscene has her phasewalking, killing bandits with the resulting explosion, and saying "Sup!", much like her cutscene introduction in 2. Her card calls her "Commander of the Crimson Raiders", much like Roland in the past game.
    • Much like one of the first missions Dr. Zed gave you back in 1, the first mission Marcus tasks you with is repairing a damaged machine in order to buy some necessary goods from it.
    • One of the biggest is all of Claptrap's "Claplist" missions which all refer to the fake objectives of the Claptrap's Secret Stash side-mission.
  • Continuity Snarl: While blaming her for Maya's death, Ava states Lilith killed Handsome Jack. Wam Bam Island, however, has Gaige state plainly that "[She] killed Handsome Jack!" Both were canonically present for his death, though, so a Royal "We" situation could be in effect, and of course Lilith could have justifiably claimed responsibility for the deed either way as the commander of the Crimson Raiders.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Borderlands 1 and 2 have the MegaCorps Atlas and Hyperion as their main enemy factions (with the latter being led by the charismatic Handsome Jack) but the Children of the Vault is a massive cult consisting of fanatical bandits that are led by Brother–Sister Team/Siblings in Crime Tyreen and Troy Calypso. The corporate villain expy this time around is Maliwan, but they act more as a Starter Villain and only appear on Nekrotafeyo after their sound defeat on Promethea.
  • Crapsack World:
    • Pandora has never been a fun or healthy place to live on, but what little information has been told about Promethea in past games indicates that it's much worse. True enough, Promethea is a bustling-yet-Dystopian urban developed planet where you either live among the richest of the rich, or you live on the streets, barely able to afford to eat. When Rhys brought back the Atlas corporation, he started by trying to better the lives of its citizens, but then Maliwan muscled their way in and turned the place into a warzone.
    • Being that it's Borderlands, even the relatively benign (by mega corp standards) Jakobs rule their deadly privately-owned homeworld as as de facto royalty; a quest-giver offhandedly says they don't have schools or hospitals, and pretty much everyone drinks to forget they live on Eden-6.
    • It's more like a Crapsack Universe, given there are enough desperate, disaffected, unwanted and insane people to give the Calypsos millions of bandit worshipers.
  • Criminal Convention: The Carnivora, a bandit themed traveling carnival on Pandora, part Circus of Fear, part Crappy Carnival although that last part is more due to being The Theme Park Version of Pandora itself than lack of engineering skills on the bandits part considering the thing turns out to be a Base on Wheels the size of a large building and has a Killer Robot with multiple deadly weapons as a centerpiece.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Pretty much every CL4P-TP you discover and scrap for Claptrap died in either some ridiculous or silly way. They include things like being set on fire, electrocuted, eaten by local wildlife, drowning, or dancing to death.
  • Cult: The Children of the Vault are the central antagonists, led by the Calypso twins, Tyreen and Troy. They also replace the "Bandit" and "Scav" weapon brand from previous games. In the end credits of the game, some of them are shown converting to the Children of the Firehawk, but in the post-game, they're still fighting in Tyreen's memory.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Played with in that the playable Vault Hunters are rarely present in cut-scenes that they should reasonably be in the area for, and thus can do nothing to help. In the only one that they're definitely in, they're Phaselocked and helpless.
    • Special mention goes to the cutscene at the end of Nekrotafayo, where Lilith gets the drop on Tyreen. Lilith approaches really slowly, and despite wielding a Hyperion SMG fires a single shot at her. Additionally, due to the odd camera angles, it looks likes Lilith completely misses. (The implication is that Tyreen teleported out of the way, but the way the scene is shot makes Lilith look like she has terrible aim.)
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Multiple:
    • Zer0's relationship with Rhys implies that he's one of the canonical choices for the ending of Tales.
    • Claptrap offhandedly mentions his bullymong mohawk when salvaging one of the dead Claptrap units as a collectible, meaning that he was the one who got the bullymong fur for a sidequest early in 2. However, Fight for Sanctuary in the same game shows Sir Hammerlock's hat having said fur, which muddies the waters a bit.
    • While blaming her for Maya's death, Ava states Lilith killed Handsome Jack. See Continuity Snarl.
  • Cyber Cyclops: FL4K has a single glowing (and blinking) cybernetic eye.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Major bosses have a lot more health and take much longer to kill compared to earlier Borderlands games. While for each game the Final Boss is always a Damage-Sponge Boss, in Borderlands 3 basically every major story boss is like this. This isn't helped by the fact that bosses also have lengthy periods of invulnerability that mostly serve to prevent you from draining their health too quickly.

  • Darker and Edgier: The Bounty of Blood DLC is a Western tale of vengeance played as straight as possible with relatively little of the wackiness typical of the series (Aside from the side missions). Even the character intro cards are relatively subdued.
  • Deconstructive Parody: The Calypso twins are a parody of social media influencers if they had no boundaries and had an audience of bloodthirsty sadists.
  • Demoted to Extra: Of all of the playable characters from the previous games, only Lilith and Maya play prominent roles in the story of 3.
    • From Borderlands 1, Brick and Mordecai make a return, but are only present in one story mission and are mainly relegated to side quests.
    • From Borderlands 2, only Maya and Zer0 make an appearance in the main story. Zer0 is only present as one of Rhys' subordinates. Salvador is only heard from a remix of his voice clips that randomly plays from radios and an Echo recording by Marcie's father reveals he still plans on extracting revenge on the "horrible killer who murdered [his] genius daughter at the prime of her life", referring to Gaige. Axton has apparently found a new job as a model, as his shirtless image can be found on a magazine cover in-game and even an Iron Bear skin for Moze. Gaige eventually returns in the "Guns, Love and Tentacles" DLC while Krieg becomes the star of the "Fantastic Fustercluck" DLC. Axton and Salvador would become the hosts of the Arms Race game mode, but as a non-story-based stage, the two of them don't receive the usual Borderlands intro titles.
    • Zed, who had played at least a supporting role in the past two games, doesn't appear in 3 other than through his vending machines. A radio commercial indicates he's running a mobile clinic on Pandora (and still isn't licensed to do so). Tannis largely supplants his role as Sanctuary's doctor.
    • Despite the implications that they would play a major role in later games, Athena and the Watcher from the end of the Pre-Sequel are absent, with the Watcher only being referenced in one of Nyriad's Eridian logs. Aurelia returns in person on Eden-6 as an antagonist and Timothy returns in the "Handsome Jackpot" DLC.
    • While Rhys and Vaughn play prominent roles in the plot, both Fiona and Sasha are absent, with the only mention of Sasha being that she is covering her tracks to make sure she isn't found.
  • Developer's Foresight: One Anti-Frustration Feature introduced in this game is non-player allies being able to revive players should they go down, negating any worries about kill-stealing for the sake of getting a second wind. This also applies to Moxxi's Bar if somebody is the victim of a grenade prize, saving the player from an embarrassing death.
    • Before you fight Joey Ultraviolet, you're baited into his arena with a staircase leading into a room with a loot chest. As you get close, the room closes, and the stairs retract, making you fall into the boss arena. If you actually manage to get into the bait room before it closes (such as using an artifact that boosts slide speed), then you can find a little button next to the door that opens it so you don't have to fast travel back to the start of the map.
  • Dual Boss:
    • Tom and Xam from Guns, Love, and Tentacles.
    • Evil Brick and Evil Mordecai from Psycho Krieg.
  • Dueling Player Characters: Katagawa Jr. is as close as this gets for players of Borderlands 2. He looks and fights pretty much like a Zer0 player would: using his clones as distraction and picking you off with a sniper rifle or charging headfirst in an attempt to deal heavy melee damage.
    • Lady Aurelia Hammerlock who is fought for the final piece of the vault key at the end of the Eden-6 story. Aurelia uses her Cold As Ice trap against you initially, however as the battle progresses she starts using new tricks like creating ice tornadoes and a barrier of ice to quickly regenerate her shield.
    • In Psycho Krieg, the player fights against evil versions of Lilith, Brick, and Mordecai. While Evil Lilith does things the playable Lilith couldn't, Evil Brick and Mordecai fight more like their playable selves, with Brick always trying to melee you and Mordecai hanging back to snipe you. Evil Mordecai will even send Bloodwing after you, which is your only source of Second Winds here.
  • Dung Fu: Jabbers will throw their own corrosive feces at the player.
  • Dynamic Entry: Maliwan Breach Troopers love to greet you with a rather painful flying kick to your face.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Implied to be the result should Troy attempt to unlock the Great Vault - Pandora itself - by phaselocking Elpis and attempting to "open" Pandora using the moon as a giant key. Luckily, he's stopped, but it takes Lilith sacrificing herself to stop the moon moving any further to truly prevent a catastrophe.
  • Egopolis: The titular Handsome Jackpot is a casino built by the late Handsome Jack themed after himself. This being Jack it's a tourist trap both figuratively and literally meant to drain gamblers of their money and trap them in debt slavery. After his death the casino went on lockdown, trapping everyone inside.
  • Eldritch Abomination: While long dead, the Gythian in the second DLC is a Lovecraftian monster that is responsible for the supernatural happenings of the DLC.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Aurelia Hammerlock was a playable character in the Pre-Sequel. In this game, she's the primary antagonist for the missions on Eden 6.
  • Fat Bastard: There are numerous Goliaths with a very large gut just hanging out of their shirts. The Goliaths in Borderlands 2 had a little bit of a gut, but were still bulky Dumb Muscle. Here, they're just fat. That is, until you shoot off their helmets.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Tannis having inherited Angel's powers is hinted at several times. First she speaks to the vault hunter in their mind, like Lilith did before, but using a white portrait like Angel's, instead of Orange like Lilith's. Second when Maya is lost, Tannis has the vault hunters bring the key fragment to them, and produces a fully charged key, despite the Crimson Raiders' seeming lack of a Siren to do the charging.
      • When you first meet Tannis she doesn't get Boss Subtitles like every other major character. That's because her reveal as a Siren is her real introduction.
    • Nyriad's logs gives a lot of lore behind the existence of Sirens. Collecting all of them gives a cryptic nod that a seventh siren exists, has always existed, has never passed her powers onto another, and that she must never be found. It's implied that this connects to the supposed great war that the Eridian warned the Vault Hunters was coming at the end of The Pre-Sequel.
    • On Athenas, when Maya uses Eridium to power up her siren powers to unlock the door to the vault key, she mentions her power-up makes her feel like she could phaselock a planet. Later in the game, after Troy steals Maya's powers after killing her, he was able to phaselock Elpis after being charged up with a ton of Eridium.
    • Lilith is introduced as "Commander of the Crimson Raiders", the same title her ex-boyfriend Roland was introduced with, and who died during the events of Borderlands 2 trying to stop that game's Big Bad. At the end of the game, she stops the Big Bad, but in order to save Pandora, she has to make an Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Multiple:
    • In the reveal trailer, the words "ВКЛЮЧАЙ МОТОР"note  flash for a split second at the 0:42 mark.
    • Right at the very beginning of the game, when the player receives an ECHO device from Claptrap and turns it on, a message "BOOTING ECHO v.3.091319" (Borderlands 3 being released on 09/13/19) pops up.
    • Shortly after starting your ECHO device for the first time, you have to accept Dahl's in-universe EULA. You have to screenshot it if you actually want to read it, but hidden within it are jewels of satirical legalese like this one:
      Except as otherwise stated, the term "legal" can, at Dahl's discretion, mean and refer to, individually or in any combination: (1) something defined and protected by Core Law; (2) something defined, protected and proactively enforced by Dahl's private military forces ("The Legion", "Project Blackrakk", "Thresher Company" et al.); or (3) something defined and implied to be protected by personal threat of injury, death or insult as per Pandoran common law and lawlessness set forth by Chieftain Oort in the landmark statutory case "Psycho (Anonymous) v. Bandit (Recently Legless Gary).
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: As far as the main plot is concerned, the main characters might as well not exist. Everytime a cutscene kicks in they vanish into thin air, leaving the NPCs to play out their drama as if there wasn't a trained asassin, a bunch of man-eating monsters, another Siren and/or even a giant robot in the room.
    • A more minor one comes in an Eden-6 side mission where the Vault Hunter voices trepidation at base jumping. Thing is, not only do you not take fall damage, you're even encouraged to dive off of high ledges to perform a ground slam.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Downplayed when it comes to the bandits. While some such as the iconic Psychos still wear masks, most regular Fanatics and their Tink counterparts lack them, sometimes wearing face tattoos or handkerchiefs.
  • Gatling Good: Multiple:
    • Vladof's "Spinigun" model is a pretty iconic representation of their brand. It's an assault rifle with a Gatling barrel on the end. How does Vladof up their ante in Borderlands 3? By adding two rotating barrels instead of one.
    • The "Gatlin'" variety of Jakobs guns are hand-cranked gatling guns that happen to be one of the few automatic Jakobs guns.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: Subverted. While Sirens have always been known to be restricted to females, Troy's shown sporting red tattoos on his left arm. This is explained as him originally being Conjoined Twins with Tyreen.
  • Genius Loci: Lilith seems to become some version of this, as she phaselocks the entire moon and becomes a huge (as in, covering the entire hemisphere of the moon facing Pandora) phoenix-like being.
  • Green Rocks: In addition to Eridium from the main game the planet Gehenna from Bounty of Blood has its own green rocks called Core. According to the Narrator the megacorp that colonised Gehenna was interested in it for its mutagenic properties and Core is a contraction of its scientific name that the locals use. Core grows in treelike crystal formations and hitting it causes an energy discharge in the opposite direction that shatters the tree before regrowing after a few moments.
  • Ground Pound: Derived from the Gravity Slam mechanic from The Pre-Sequel, all of the playable characters are now capable of a ground pound attack from the air.
    • Amara has this as one as one of her Action Skills, Phaseslam, and is intended for crowd control and can be customized to have various effects. However, it doesn't count as a ground slam according to one of the ground based doors requiring a regular slam to open.
  • Guide Dang It!: You may get a small popup icon below the minimap that indicates that you have new mail from a corporation, as a reward for killing enough enemies with a corporation's weapons or for completing a challenge from Hammerlock or Moxxi. Mail can be accessed from the Social menu and provides useful guns, but the game doesn't tell you this. Expect to find a large backlog of guns you've long since outleveled in your mailbox if you're only just finding this out.
  • Hand Wave: In the "Fantanstic Fustercluck" DLC, Tannis reassures the Vault Hunters that any loot found in Krieg's Mind will work in the real world as long as they don't stop and think about it.
  • Hard Light: Much like The Pre-Sequel's Jack the Doppleganger before him, Zane can digistruct a "Digi-Clone", which pulls enemy fire towards it while dealing damage with its own gun. Zane can also instantly teleport to its location if he needs.
  • Harder Than Hard: Mayhem level 4 gives enemies a massive boost to their health (+850%) and armor/shield (+1000%). While the positive modifiers of the lower mayhem levels are present, many of the negative ones aren't so the game remains actually playable. Mayhem mode 2.0 ups the ante on the already harrowing Mayhem mode with levels going all the way up to 11. It's so hard that it makes the UVH Ms from the previous games look and feel like a stroll through Barbie Horse Adventures. Of course, this amount of challenge is not without...
  • Hard Mode Perks: Mayhem levels also boost the quality of loot, the amount of money/eridium you gain, and gives you bonus XP. The only drawback is that the game gains an element of randomness, and upon entering a zone you are given a bunch of positive and/or negative modifiers you need to work around. The current maximum makes enemies tanks (see the trope above for the exact numbers), but also gives you 100% more XP, increases money value by 75% and increases loot quality by 700%.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Krieg's "Welcoming Party" in the Fantastic Fustercluck DLC starts off with an upbeat poppy dance tune. However as the battle draws on the music becomes ever more distorted until it's nothing but a wall of grinding electronic distortion. Luckily, Sane!Krieg intervenes to stop the madness before your eardurms explode
  • Hopping Machine: Despite its sheer size and thus incredible weight which would come with a machine with so many guns and rockets, one of Wotan's quickest ways to move around is jumping.
  • Hub Level:
    • Sanctuary, the large vessel that the Crimson Raiders use as their headquarters. Every time the Vault Hunters are directed towards a new planet, the ship must travel to said planet and prepare a drop pod for their initial landings.
    • The Lodge in Guns, Love, and Tentacles, which provides passage into both Skittermaw Basin and Cursehaven.
    • The Psychoscape serves as this in Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck. Unlike previous hub's, this one has entry to all levels of the DLC. And much like Vestige, the environment changes in accordance to story progression.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: The Vault Hunters are treated to a delicacy known as Kife, and they embark on a hunt with Hammerlock to get more from a beast called a Wendigo to use them to melt through an ice wall. After killing it, it turns out that... well;
    Moze: Wait, the balls? THAT'S Kife!?
  • Idiot Ball: Following Troy's death, Tyreen Calypso also seemingly dies from the stress of the ritual she and Troy were attempting. Lilith, Tannis, and Ava then show up and spend a minute or two patting themselves on the back. At no point does anyone think to do a precautionary double-tap on the most dangerous person in the universe lying mere feet away from them. Surprise, surprise, Tyreen was just unconscious and upon waking sweeps everyone out of her way, calls you a loser, and heads off to wake the destroyer.
  • Interface Spoiler: The attack on the Cathedral of the Twin Gods is set up like the grand finale, but you might notice that Zer0 has a couple Target of Opportunity posters left unmarked, Hammerlock has empty plaques for Legendary Hunts, and Ellie has multiple unfinished Hijack Targets in the cargo hold.
    • While on Gehenna, killing certain creatures will count towards the "Problems in Paradise" challenge. What does that challenge entail? Killing Eden-6 creatures.
  • I See Dead People: In the second Cold Case side-missions, Burton Briggs and the Vault Hunters come across a pistol that lets them see ghosts through the scope. Aside from Zane, they're all pretty unsettled when they first use it.
  • Jack of All Trades: Zane the Operative, is described as 1 part Soldier, 1 part Hunter, and 1 part Assassin class, with a touch of Baroness and Enforcer when compared to the previous generations of playable Vault Hunters. He's a well-rounded character who doesn't overspecialize in just a single type of playstyle, and has the added benefit of having two Action abilities to use at any given time.
  • Joke Item: The "Bounty of Blood" DLC has "The Shoddy" a unique common-tier Jakobs shotgun that fires out pellets that immediately drop to the ground upon firing in a quest where a con artist sells it to you for a chunk of cash and you proceeding to hunt him down for it. In the base game, both types of TK's wave also return as legendary-tier weapons (though some would wonder why they were promoted to such status to begin with).
  • King Mook: Multiple:
    • The first miniboss of the game, Shiv, is nothing more than a Badass Psycho who runs the CoV Propaganda Center.
    • The two Traunts are beefier versions of the Maliwan Heavy Gunners.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: In traditional Borderlands style, the opening cinematic that introduces the Vault Hunters leaves the odd man out. Fl4k as the Beastmaster, Moze as the Gunner, Amara as the Siren, Zane as himselves.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Multiple:
    • As is tradition for the series, all major characters get an introductory frame shot upon first meeting them. Lilith's title card says "Title cards brought to you by Marcus Munitions" in the background underneath her name. Similarly, Rhys' title card is provided by Atlas, and Maliwan provides ones for their employees.
    • When Rhys uploads himself into a ball on the asteroid, he asks "Has this changed my voice? It still sounds like me, doesn't it?" This is a reference to Rhys' voice actor having changed since Tales From The Borderlands.
    • The New-U stations assure you that you will always respawn unless you died in a cutscene.
  • Leet Lingo: FL4K, The Beastmaster. They're a robot, but everyone pronounces their designation number as "Flak".
  • Left the Background Music On: A side mission in the Fantastic Fustercluck confirms that the ominous and oppressive music in the Benediction of Pain level is actually being played deliberately by the Warden of the facility in order to demoralise the prisoners.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: The Cryo element returns from The Pre-Sequel, allowing you to freeze enemies and shatter them.
    • Upon defeating an anointed enemy, their body will get covered in crystallized eridium. To get their loot, you have to shatter them with the crystal smasher
  • Long Song, Short Scene: A strange example with Jackpot, the final boss of the first DLC pack: The battle has four phases and the soundtrack version of the track changes several times, implying that the music was to change dynamically as the battle progressed. The fight can potentially go on long enough for the entire track to loop several times, yet the accompanying music only loops the first segment repeatedly for the entire fight.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Zig-Zagged. Par for the course of any video game incorporating Cosmic Horror, as the Eldritch Abomination can be defeated, but the Love, Guns and Tentacles update brings plenty of humor to a Lovecraftian setting. Despite this, the setting and story includes some of the darkest elements in the game, and its main antagonists are treated dead-seriously.
  • Lumber Mill Mayhem: About a quarter of Eden-6 is comprised of lumber yards and mills, which the Jakobs corporation uses for the wooden components on their guns. A few story missions require the Vault Hunters to fight through waves of cultists while making their way through them to objectives, including grabbing a ride on a lumber transport to get inside a heavily fortified area.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Multiple:
    • During the fight with Wotan the Invincible, the giant mecha will make liberal use of missile hailstorms. Even once the upper body separates from the lower, he will still continue hailing missiles unhindered.
    • Some Atlas rocket launchers fire a burst of rockets at once. The rockets are extremely inaccurate unless you have locked onto a target, in which case they will all home in on it.
  • Mad Scientist: The Tinks (short for "tinkerers") who wield incredibly advanced weaponry and can deploy sentries. According to one of Tyreen's messages, one of them tried to kill the Player Character while they were riding the bus in the intro, and just barely missed, killing himself in the process.
  • Magikarp Power: Multiple:
    • The revamped rank system works like this. As in Borderlands 2 and The Pre-sequel, most upgrades in the rank system give of miniscule bonuses, but they now come in 3 different trees. Investing enough points in a tree eventually unlocks powerful upgrades that affect every save file as long as you don't turn off the guardian rank system. With enough points you can do things such as aim down sights in FFYL mode, trigger shield recharge after every kill, decrease shield charge delay based on missing health and cause enemies killed by critical hits to explode, damaging nearby enemies.
    • And of course, this applies to the vault hunters themselves. For example, Zane with a certain class mod, a fully upgraded digi-clone and certain kill skills allow him to heal himself with almost every bullet that hits an enemy, while enjoying a damage boost the clone brings with it.
  • Marathon Boss: Most bosses have a couple phases. Wotan has six, and has a massive health pool (given he's designed to be a raid boss). Without a solo build, almost every attack he launches will send you into fight-for-your-life even on no Mayhem.
  • Marathon Level: It takes a long time to gather the Vault Key pieces for Eden-6 and open its vault. There's a number of detours in the process. Get used to fighting bandits in the jungle for a while.
  • Masked Luchador: A unique enemy that can sometimes spawn in certain locations on Eden 6 is El Dragon Jr., a hulking luchador who strikes poses and yells in Spanish.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Unlike Hyperion most of Maliwan's military consists of human soldiers, but they use hacked service bots to bolster their forces early in the game. Later on they reveal to have their own special Hoplite and Arbalest units, the latter of which being capable of unleashing a Macross Missile Massacre.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted this time around. There are female psychos and marauders (now named fanatics) among the ranks of the bandits, in what seems to be an even 50/50 split (similar to Star Wars Battlefront II (2017)), in addition to the female only Hags. The Maliwan N.O.G's also have members of both genders. Previous games usually limited female enemies to a special type of enemy like the Crimson Lance Assassins from the first game, or unique enemies, like the female bandit in Vallory's employ, Colonel Zarpedon, Scooter's ex-girlfriend Laney, Motor Mama, or Nisha, the Sheriff of Lynchwood.
  • Metal Slime: Loot Tinks are rare enemies that will constantly drop loot when attacked and have a backpack you can open with a decent chance of dropping high-rarity loot. The catch is, they're very fast and can disappear after only a short amount of time.
  • Might Makes Right: As part of the Freeze-Frame Bonus of Dahl's in-universe EULA:
    Except as otherwise stated, the term "legal" can, at Dahl's discretion, mean and refer to, [...] something defined and implied to be protected by personal threat of injury, death or insult as per Pandoran common law and lawlessness set forth by Chieftain Oort in the landmark statutory case "Psycho (Anonymous) v. Bandit (Recently Legless Gary).
  • Mini-Mecha: Moze can digistruct a mech called Iron Bear to pilot and deal a world of hurt. The mech can be upgraded with a turret on it that other players can use.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Multiple:
    • The Jabbers on Eden-6 seem to be a cross between a primate and a lion.
    • Ratches are a combination of rats and and cockroaches, because they're that much of a pest.
  • Money Spider: The Anointed turn to solid eridium when killed, which can then be smashed and added to the player's stockpile.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Vaughn wears boots, tighty-whitey briefs, and a cape. He also waxes eloquent about his sculpted abs constantly. There's even a sidequest that revolves around finding wanted posters of him to use as blueprints for statues of him. One is of his crotch.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Amara can summon extra arms to help lay the smack down on enemies. She can use them to either Phasegrasp enemies (which is functionally similar to Maya's Phaselock) or to perform a Ground Pound.

  • Named Weapons: All Legendary Weapons, as per series standard, such as the "Sellout" gun, for selling out to Tyreen.
  • Nerf: Hyperion Shotguns are no longer the long-range exterminators they were in 2 and Pre-sequel, as their magazine size, range and rate-of-fire have been lowered considerably. That said, the old stats appear in some unique Hyperion Shotgun models to emphasize their power, and Hyperion remains among the more reliable shotgun manufacturers compared to the competition.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: Maliwan takes on the role of the "big bad Mega-Corp" that the player ends up fighting against, just like Atlas, Hyperion, and Dahl in the previous games. Maliwan is terrorizing the Order of the Impending Storm that rules over Athenas, and are trying to absorb the newly reformed Atlas corporation on Promethea. According to Katagawa Jr, the Head of Mergers and Acquisitions in Maliwan, he wants for Maliwan and Atlas to be "One big titanic family"
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: FL4K is a robot beastmaster.
  • Noisy Guns: Guns make a noticeable rattle when you're in the air. Worth noting that the view model gets increasingly shaky when jumping or falling from heights greater than a standard jump.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Multiple:
    • When you take the Sell Out quest, Tyreen calls you up because she needs a fresh murder vid for her followers, and nominates you to do the job because "you're a total gun slut", complete with bribing you with a gun. Should you actually follow through on it, Tyreen hands you the legendary gun "Sellout", no questions asked. The problem: while it is an admittedly sweet gun, Tyreen's voice is recorded on it, with a number of crazed messages, to remind you that you sold your dignity for this weapon. Note that this is the only reliable way to get this weapon; the alternative of shooting out her cameras only gives you a fat wad of cash, and that comes and goes easily in these games. Whether hearing Tyreen's deflated dismissal and calling you a dipshit is compensation enough is entirely subjective.
      Tyreen: Always remember that you're a gun slut, and you will never be clean.
    • Or, if you shoot the cameras and take Tyreen's go-away money, you can just buy the Sellout from Crazy Earl's vending machine.
  • Old Save Bonus: Or rather, new save bonus. Having save data for Tiny Tina's Wonderlands on your system will get the legendary Torgue pistol, TNTina, mailed to you. Unfortunately, this mailed version is capped at level 65. The only other way to get it (at levels above 65) is to defeat Anathema the Relentless.
  • Organic Technology: Various high-end guns have fleshy alien-looking parts on them that drastically enhance their damage.
  • Overheating: The main gimmick of Children of the Vault guns, which have Bottomless Magazines but break if you hold down the fire button for too long.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Unlike the previous games, the game lets you replay Circle of Slaughter missions endlessly, and they even scale with the player's level. They give enough XP that at least one level up is likely, if not guaranteed, per replaynote  Plus they give you guns, cash and a chance to tune your build on top of the XP, so there's plenty of reasons to replay them other than experience.
    • If you own Handsome Jackpot, then you can power-level characters in the Scraptrap Nest. Kill them all, run out when Scraptrap Prime spawns, then wait for him to despawn. Go back in, and the Nest horde will respawn. Even better, turning on Revenge of the Cartels will cause the Scraptraps to sometimes spawn as cartel agents, and they can summon cartel lieutenants, giving you a chance of getting some great cartel legendaries on top of that. Just be sure to save and quit every few rounds so the game doesn't lock up from the excessive amount of ammo drops.
  • Pet the Dog: On Promethea's vault, Maya threatens Troy to get Tyreen to let Ava go. Sure enough, Tyreen... complies. Even Evil Has Loved Ones... that is, until Troy really kicks the bucket, and Tyreen just absorbs his body without much mourning at all.
  • Photo Mode: Features include time of day, filters, and hiding the player. Gearbox Software held a contest for it a month after the release with a variety of prizes.
  • Player-Guided Missile: The "Freeman" Atlas Rocket Launcher will fire a guided rocket that will fly towards wherever you aim the laser pointer.
  • Player Headquarters: Sanctuary III (we don't talk about Sanctuary II) is a Cool Starship that is now the HQ of the Crimson Raiders. It even comes with a personalized room that changes depending on your chosen character.
  • Pocket Rocket Launcher:
    • Torgue guns can swap between impact-Fuse and Sticky Bomb modes, and may incorporate elemental effects due to the revamp of the "Explosive" damage type (bonus Splash Damage rather than a damage type in and of itself. This is justified by having Mr. Torgue sell his stake in the company, letting the Board of Directors re-examine their testosterone-poisoned marketing style.
    • Vladof has underslung mini-missile launchers as a possible Secondary Fire mode for their pistols and sniper rifles.
  • Post Endgame Content:
    • Upon beating the game you unlock the ability to activate Mayhem Mode, which ups the challenge by boosting all the statistics as well as adding various random modifiers but also increases loot drops substantially.
    • Once you beat the game once, you unlock Guardian Ranks. They are essentially the same thing as the Badass Ranks from the previous two games with a few key differences. While they are slower to obtain than Badass Ranks, there are now 3 separate trees, sorted by the type of bonus you redeem; for example, all damage bonuses are in the "Enforcer" tree. Investing enough in a single tree gives you special perks, such as allowing you to aim down sight on FFYL mode, reducing your Action Skill cooldown if your shields are full or even cause enemies you kill with a critical hit to explode. Like Badass Ranks, they are also shared between characters, and unlock in every save after you beat the game once.
    • As of version 1.07, the Maliwan Blacksite Takedown becomes available after completing the game. Originally, the mission took the premise of Raid Bosses from the previous games being balanced around being fought with four max-level players, and expanded this challenge to an entire gauntlet of high-powered enemies leading up to the Raid Boss. The mission is lost if everybody is wiped out, though there is a single respawn point about halfway through the map where they can restart from if it happens. It received a temporary nerf to allow it to be played without a full team, but players enjoyed this so much it was made permanent - with the original option becoming an optional toggle some months later.
  • Power Parasite: Tyreen Calypso's Siren power allows her to drain energy from her victims, which she uses on Lilith to steal her own Siren powers. Troy bears a weaker version of her power due to them being born as conjoined twins, making him an exception to the rule that only females can be Sirens.
  • Punched Across the Room:
    • The trailer shows that Amara can send an enemy flying with a Siren-enhanced palm strike.
    • You can now melee Exploding Barrels to send them flying out from your position before shooting them.
  • Purposely Overpowered: The developers are trying to avoid this. In one blog post, they mentioned they prefer boosting weapons and other items instead of nerfing them, but will probably nerf something if it makes the other items in its class redundant. The skill trees also were so carefully calculated that the first level cap increase only added 3 extra levels so the game wouldn't break entirely. They would later bump the level cap up to 65 as of the Fantastic Fustercluck DLC, allowing players to barely invest enough points to reach the end of two skill trees.
  • Queer Colors: One of the vault hunters is FL4K; a robot who uses they/them pronouns. They have a subtle, but visible pin in the colours of the nonbinary pride flag (Yellow, White, Purple, and Black).
  • Redemption Earns Life: An example in hindsight regarding the the Pre Sequel's Vault Hunters. Athena is presumed to have remained alive and well after the Eridian stopped her execution in Sanctuary, Claptrap is still up to his antics, and Timothy Lawrence, with help from this generation's Vault Hunters, escapes the Handsome Jackpot alive. Meanwhile, Aurelia joins Wilhelm and Nisha in the afterlife after an attempted coup on the Jakobs company.
  • Robot Soldier: Maliwan loves this. Between the mechanical wolves and the mechas, Maliwan loves having robotic sentries on the frontlines as part of their ranks. Wotan the Invincible is probably the logical conclusion, a robot designed to fight a Vault Hunter on its own.
  • Ruder and Cruder: The series is usually light on cursing despite being an incredibly violent series. The third installment, however, isn't afraid to use some stronger expletives, even once dropping a solid F-Bomb courtesy of BALEX.
  • Sapient Tank: Wotan the Invincible is built with some internal mechanical brain, allowing it to make entirely independent decisions while fighting the Vault Hunter. This only gets revealed right towards the end of the fight, but still means this thing is actively assessing the situation and attacking based on an AI. Once you actually defeat it, you can shoot the brain (which tries to scurry away on little robot legs) for a guaranteed legendary drop.
  • Schizo Tech: While earlier games in the franchise showed this to a degree, especially with Jakobs weapons, it's out in full force for this installment. You can switch between ultra-advanced weapons with smart-tracking bullets that shoot lightning to a converted sewage pump that sprays explosive radioactive waste, all the while fighting in a futuristic metropolis filled with flying cars while using an ECHO device that looks like a cassette player which reads cartridges that wouldn't look out of place in the NES-era of gaming.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: When the game returns to Pandora, the player will easily be in the low 30s, jumping off of Eden-six where things were late 20s-mid 30s. The enemies will be at least 30, yes... but then suddenly a slew of missions become available that are suddenly only level 26, complete with Mooks who're only level 26. Then once you enter the Guts of Carnivora, everything jumps up to level 35.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Tyreen Calypso killed her mother in the backstory by accidentally absorbing her with her Siren powers. She kills her father, Typhon DeLeon, at the end of the Nekrotafeyo chapter, very much on purpose.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Jakobs shotguns deal enough damage to explode most enemies with a crit. The epitome is the One Pump Chump, which fires a single, high damage slug that remains accurate at range. Even its unique ability is simply a 50% chance of a free shot, conserving ammo. Jakobs weapons in general, as usual, exemplify this with no alternate firing mode, almost no elemental typing, and the only gimmick they have are riccochet shots. Otherwise, it's raw power and accuracy all the way.
  • Ship Tease: Zer0 probably has a crush on Lorelei, judging from his nervous reaction to her in an ECHO Log (even uniquely messing up a haiku!). Lorelei's reaction to him is more subtle, though: "That's a weird one. Tall though."
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Snipe Hunt: In Guns, Love, and Tentacles, Gaige sends Claptrap on a mission to find the "Pearl of Ineffable Knowledge", a name she apparently picked off the top of her head. Claptrap crosses the player's path several times during the adventure on his quest. Ultimately, Claptrap succeeds and gives the player the Pearl, which turns out to be a legendary artifact that gives massive boosts to a player's damage-dealing potential.
  • Soap Punishment: Moxxi mentions letting Killavolt run his dirty mouth before she and the Vault Hunter "stick some soap in it."
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Maliwan troops have a cartoonishly exaggerated disregard for human life, and will slaughter innocent, unarmed civilians with glee. At least Hyperion's lackeys were Punch-Clock Villains in spite of their leadership's antagonism. Some particular examples include two Badass Troopers locked in a heated pissing contest, arguing over which one is history's greatest monster and constantly trying to one-up each other with the most vile war crimes they can think of. They only stop bickering when one praises the other for killing a man by making him drink the corrosive goo inside of corrosion barrels. Another notable mook is Private Beans, who steals Ava's diary and reads it aloud to his comrades, jokingly treating her Dark and Troubled Past as if it were juicy gossip.
  • Space Cossacks: Flynt is laying low in Pandora in between high-profile assassination jobs.
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: The "Handsome Jackpot" DLC has an unexpected instance of this: One sidequest sees you helping out a defective and benign Loader named Joy who asks you for help fulfilling an unusual request: having a picnic with a friend. Once you successfully gather the supplies and set things down at the picnic site, Joy rewards you with cash before asking you to sit down with them and dropping a bombshell: his power core has been dwindling all this time and he knew all along he wouldn't have much time, so he wanted to cross off his bucket list before expiring. After cheerfully thanking the player and commenting "I had a nice day...", his power core finally gives out, with his body collapsing lifelessly in front of the player.
  • Super Prototype: Wotan the Invincible is a prototype of an unknown intended model of machine. It's possible the Kraken's are more mass-produced versions, or that Wotan is simply a new line of the Kraken models with superior firepower and shield generation.
  • Take a Third Option: Zane players can get an extra outcome to the "Sellout" quest. Deploy the holo-clone, activate the suicide button, then immediately swap places with the clone. You get the gun, don't have to pay a respawn fee, and the Calypsos get a bunch of new followers. Everyone wins!
  • Take That!:
    • The quest "Transaction-packed" is a blistering insult towards buggy, unfinished "live service" games that cheapen their own gameplay with microtransactions. In said quest, you play a virtual reality game full of copypasted enemies that are often just larger versions of basic enemies. Paywalls are represented as literal obstacles between the player and the goal, the entire quest is an intentionally atrocious Escort Mission where the escortee lacks proper walking animations and is constantly whining for you to help her even when it's all clear, and a virtual representation of the developer doesn't seem to care about the story at all. The mission ends with the promise that eventually, they'll finish the game.
      • Similarly, one of the gambling machines in Moxxi's place is called "Loot Boxer", calling out lootboxes for being glorified gambling.
    • The game pretty much starts with Claptrap giving you the Echo-3, which as he tells it is slightly more powerful and twice as expensive as the Echo-2 (a popular perception of how the smartphone industry works), and mentions the latter was recalled because they tended to explode (like a Samsung Galaxy Note 7). Later in the game, you can actually use Echo-2 devices as grenades.
  • Talking Weapon: Once again, there are unique guns with voice lines.
    • The Sellout is a Legendary Maliwan pistol that you get from the quest of the same name if you let Tyreen film you killing yourself. Your reward is a gun with Tyreen's voice constantly taunting you for being a "Gun Slut".
    • The Handsome Jackhammer is a Legendary Hyperion SMG that has Handsome Jack's voice.
  • Team Killer: The legendary Jericho and Backburner heavy weapons are capable of damaging teammates, pets, Iron Bear, Zane's Digi-Clone, and even NPCs.
  • Tempting Fate: Subverted in Guns, Love and Tentacles. Gaige repeatedly mentions Deathtrap is her best friend and how losing him would be devastating. Savvy players now expect him to die at some point - which actually seems to happen later, but it's actually just a Disney Death.
  • Title Drop: "The Borderlands" is used to refer to the planetary colonies on the edge of explored space, similar to the Outer Rim from Star Wars.
  • That's No Moon: Carnivora seems at first to be a colosseum type place were the Children Of The Vault fight to prove themselves. When you go to rescue Tannis, you find out the entire base is this huge tank like vehicle, which you then have to fight while in a car as a Puzzle Boss (specifically, you have to shoot out it's fuel tanks and the like until it stops moving.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Salvador's skill by the same name comes back as a Guardian Rank Perk called "Overkill". When active, any excess damage is applied to the next shot. And with it being part of Guardian Rank, this works with ALL characters.
  • Tinfoil Hat: Hilariously inverted in the early side mission "Bad Reception". One of the antenna replacements Claptrap asks for is one of these being worn by a Psycho. When talking to him, he speaks completely rationally and normal, blaming the nearby satellite dishes beaming thoughts into his brain. Once they are destroyed, he goes back to being a regular Psycho (as the satellite dishes were beaming calming thoughts into his brain) and he must be killed to collect the hat.
  • To Be Continued... Right Now: After Troy's death and absorption by Tyreen, a screen is shown saying "To be continued in 4... 3... 2... 1..."
  • Toilet Humor: There is a gun called the Porta-Pooper 5000, which is covered in feces, and even shoots it as projectiles. Said weapon is the quest reward for helping a bandit who is trapped in a porta-potty, with as much shit jokes as the mission can cram in. And then there's the "It's Poop!" weapon skin which makes your weapons look like they're covered in... well, you get the idea.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Parodied by the Nibblenomicon - a cookbook of eldritch lore that's nonetheless as dangerous as the Necronomicon, driving people insane as soon as they look on its pages, featuring evil food dishes such as Vegan Turducken, Eggplant Harmesan, sugar-free sugar cookies, Damned Chowder, fettucine and demogorgonzola, and a queso that uses cilantro.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Tediore caught on to their brand degradation stemming from how disposable and explosive their guns are. Now their guns have as many effects as your modifiable grenades when thrown, and are twice as weird. Especially the Smart Gun XXL, which sprouts a brain with eyes on top of spider legs, seeks out a target, and explodes in corrosive damage when you dispose of the gun and reload.
  • The Turret Master: True to their name, Tinks now have the ability to put together deadly, fully-functioning turrets out of nearby piles of scrap in no time, making them much more of a threat than their previous incarnations.
  • Ugly All Along: Typhon DeLeon, the first Vault Hunter. Numerous posters across the game advertise a film called "Typhon DeLeon and the First Vault", starring a dashing, clean-cut actor named Dante Silver in the role of Typhon. When the Player Character finally gets to meet him, turns out he's a Gonk.
  • Uncertain Doom: At the end Lilith has to phaselock the entire moon Elpis to keep it from crashing into Pandora, she flies up to it and then... Turns into a huge phoenix like shape stretching across the entire moon. Whether she's Killed Off for Real, Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, or something else isn't really explained.
  • Unorthodox Reload: Many new guns have less than conventional animations when reloading.
    • Children of the Vault brand weaponry all have Bottomless Magazines, but will overheat if fired for too long, requiring the player use a "Dahl Kidz" water pistol to cool it down, or the replacement of entire barrels.
    • Tediore guns, as always, are thrown when you reload (with a few possible outcomes) and a new one digi-structs in your hand.
    • One quest reward gun reloads by doing a "nothing up my sleeve" style magic trick, with the gun disappearing and reappearing in your hands.
    • One Jakobs legendary pistol has you throw a handful of bullets into the air and catch them with the cylinder.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Some side-quests give you a choice of being nice or a jerk to those you interact with.
    • Ace Baron's side-mission hunting down medical supplies has you go shake down an NPC named Hardin. You could attack him or pay his fee. Paying him off gives an extra reward at the mission's end.
    • "The Life of the Party" as stated below. You could keep the honor of not breaking a recently-deceased little girl marksman prodigy's records, making both her father and Mordecai happy, and still get the extra reward gun for your kindness.
    • Sparrow's side-mission has you go look for a former servant bot named Tern who has become a new-agesque soul healer. Aside from Tern's annoying analyses, he ends up attacking you as part of his treatment, but tells you to not fight back. Doing so, dying, and returning via a New-U Station gives you both the mission objective item AND some Eridium as reward.
    • In the "Handsome Jackpot" DLC, there is a claptrap in a constructor's body that sacrifices itself to save a local settlement. It survives completely immobile due to being fused to a pillar. You get an achievement for visiting him to talk, even though there is no in-game reason to do so, and he is overjoyed to have you.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • There are several violent, horrific ways you can end your opponents, mostly involving hitting their critical hit spots, or elemental weapons in general. Examples include damaging a Flash Trooper's backpack, which causes them to uncontrollably sprint at full-speed and splatter themselves into the nearest wall or other solid object; destroying an elemental Maliwan heavy soldier's tank, which causes them to explode in their respective element as they vainly try to reach behind them and shut off the valve; and using Radiation damage to turn enemies into explosive, radioactive sludge, which can then irradiate and kill everyone around them.
    • The "Life of the Party" sidequest involves attending the birthday party of a young Vault Hunter fan who turned out to have just died recently. Despite this, her father still went out of the way to set up various minigames with records held by her, promising a fancy pistol if you beat them. Beating the records gets you a Legendary Pistol but also result in both Mordecai and the father being in a foul mood. That and you get the pistol whether or not the records are broken, so breaking them is essentially for the sake of being a dick.
    • "The Feeble and the Furious" normally requires the player to do a number of chores across the map for a grumpy old pappy just to get him out of his daughter's hair for a bit. You could do the chores as requested... or just get the vehicle Pappy is riding on destroyed. Doing this prompts the mission to end early and necessitates simply handing in the quest to the daughter, who isn't too sad about her jerkass father kicking the bucket.
  • Villains Learn Faster: Troy murders Maya and steals her Siren powers. The next time you meet him (implied to be a few days later at most) he has complete mastery over them and is already using them in ways Maya never could, despite her having trained for her entire life.
  • Villain Team-Up:
    • Katagawa Jr. struck a deal with the Calypso Twins to help further both of their goals. The Twins will supply their army of fanatical bandits/cultists to support their assault, while the Twins and their cult get shipments of Maliwan weaponry to better arm them all.
    • Aurelia Hammerlock enters into an alliance with the Calypsos in a plot to seize control of the Jakobs Corporation and finally get rid of her brother Alistair.
  • Visual Pun: At one point, Claptrap goes on a tirade in front of Ellie and Lillith about "sticking together through thick and thin". Pun very much intended and commented in-game, as Ellie happens to be spectacularly thick while Lillith is a thin little stick by comparison.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: One unfortunate sap in Guns, Love, & Tentacles is cursed to vomit every time she speaks.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Shares a page with the rest of the franchise.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Maliwan's Skywell-27 Mining Array, a giant asteroid outfitted with a Kill Sat. After the fall of Hyperion's Helios station it reclaimed its title as the most powerful laser system in the galactic sector. Katagawa Jr. uses it to threaten Rhys into submitting by destroying his favorite places. You help Rhys hack it and use it to destroy Katagawa's space yacht for revenge.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Athena and Fiona have no mention or appearance anywhere in the base game. Every other main character who doesn't appear in the game are at least acknowledged to still be around in some form or another. A radio commercial indicates that Dr. Zed is now operating a mobile clinic on Pandora (but he still doesn't have a license). Krieg shows up in various ECHO logs. Gaige is still being hunted by Mr. Holloway for the accidental murder of his daughter while he continues to profit from mass-producing her stolen Deathtrap designs as utility robots (and as of the "Guns, Love and Tentacles" DLC has become a wedding planner). Rhys is searching for Sasha, but Zer0 indicates that she's gone off the grid because she's covering her tracks to make sure she isn't found. Axton and Salvador later show up as the hosts of the "Arms Race" mode.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: One of Mordecai's quests involves attending the birthday party of a young girl named Gracey. When you arrive at her house along with Mordecai, it's revealed that Gracey was killed by Varkids just before the party. Her grieving father nonetheless insists on celebrating, as it's "what she would have wanted," and even challenges the Vault Hunter to break her records for cake-eating, grenade throwing, and shooting to win her revolver. While it's possible to beat Gracey's records, Mordecai will warn the Vault Hunter not to break her father's heart, and will chastise them if they do so anyways. If the player breaks all of Gracey's records, her father will get angry at them for upstaging his deceased daughter and reluctantly hands over the revolver with a subtle death threat.
  • Where It All Began: The grand finale has us return to Pandora, as it's revealed that the entire planet is the Great Vault, and Elpis is a giant Vault Key.
  • Wutai: Athenas has a strong East Asian influence with its architecture. Gehenna from the Bounty of Blood DLC combines this with a Wild West theme.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Unlike previous games, your Class Mod and Relic slots are locked off by story progression (unlocked by clearing Chapter 6 and Chapter 16, respectively), meaning that any mods or relics you find on the way can't be used.



Video Example(s):


The Handsome Jackpot

The Handsome Jackpot is a space station casino built by the late Handsome Jack as his personal Egopolis as well as a tourist trap designed to trap gamblers into permanent debt slavery.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / CasinoPark

Media sources: