It’s been 5 years since Gearbox released Borderlands 2 and given that the game was beloved by critics and players alike, we wouldn't be at all surprised if a third proper entry was in the words (and no, the Pre-Sequel doesn't count).
Borderlands 3 may not have been officially confirmed but at this point pretty much everyone suspects that it’s in the works.
This isn’t just because it makes sense for Gearbox to develop a sequel based on the previous performances of games in the franchise; there have also been strong hints from the game’s developers which you can read more about below.
[Update: As promised by Randy Pitchford, Borderlands 3 did not make an appearance at E3 2018 and so the game remains an open secret. At the moment there's no sign of when it will make an appearance.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The as-yet-unconfirmed third numbered game in the first-person shoot and loot franchise
- When can I play it? We can't be sure but we suspect late 2018 to 2019
- What can I play it on? It’s likely to be released on PS4, Xbox One and PC
As Borderlands 3 hasn’t been confirmed as being actively in development quite yet, Gearbox has unsurprisingly not given it a release date either.
However, based on a Take-Two investor call, a release window of October 2018 to September 2019 could be a possibility. During the call, Take-Two’s CEO Strauss Zelnick said that a “highly anticipated new title from one of 2K’s biggest franchises” is in development for the fiscal year of 2019 which runs between October 2018 and September 2019.
This doesn’t make any direct reference to Borderlands 3, however, it’s the most likely candidate for “a highly anticipated title” release from an existing franchise given that 2K-owned Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2 is out before the period starts, and Gearbox has said another Borderlands game will be coming.
News and rumors
So, Borderlands 3 hasn’t been confirmed by name as being in development right now. That is true. But there’s been plenty of teasing from Gearbox over the past year or so that makes us feel pretty confident that it’s coming.
Though we still don't have an official confirmation for Borderlands 3, a recent leak on the Walmart Canada page suggests that one isn't far off. Spotted by Wario64, the retailer posted pages for several unannounced games, including Borderlands 3. Though this is an exciting possible leak for those waiting to hear more about Borderlands, it's also possible that these pages were simply being used as placeholders because there are some real strange releases in there – Forza Horizon 5? Gearbox is yet to comment on the leak so take it with a pinch of salt at the moment. With E3 this close at hand, we don't expect to hear anything about a Borderlands 3 plan until then.
Rectify Gaming has reported that Microsoft will have exclusive marketing rights to a handful of games this year, one of which is Borderlands 3.
This wouldn't mean platform exclusives, just emphasis on the Xbox One advertising campaigns and perhaps some exclusive DLC. What's really interesting about this report, though, is that Borderlands 3 hasn't been confirmed yet so if the report does hold some truth there's every chance we could see Borderlands 3 announced at E3 2018.
However, Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford took to Twitter to address these rumors of marketing exclusivity and stated that they're false with "zero basis in reality".
Where are you getting that? Gearbox signed no such thing with Microsoft. How are these things becoming propagated as fact when there is zero basis in reality?April 18, 2018
The Reddit rumors
A recent rumor on Reddit has suggested that Borderlands 3 will be revealed on June 10 for a September release alongside an image that appears to announce the game. The image that's been posted looks, to us, highly suspect, but the date on which the game is being rumored for announcement is smack bang on the day of Microsoft and Bethesda's E3 press conferences.
A reveal on Bethesda's stage is unlikely, but Microsoft's? There's a chance. We would certainly take this with a grain of salt at the moment. Though the post has since been removed from Reddit, it can still be found on Google Cache.
Hope in a press release
In a recent press release from Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Borderlands publisher 2K Games, Red Dead Redemption 2 fans may have been given reason to be disappointed, but Borderlands fans were given hope. Following Red Dead Redemption 2's delay, Take-Two is confident that 2019 will be a successful year financially thanks to this as well as the launch of a “highly anticipated new title from one of 2K’s biggest franchises.”
It wasn't said that this new title would be Borderlands 3, however, given Gearbox's frequent teasing it seems like the most likely candidate.
A recent interaction between Randy Pitchford and Elon Musk has thrown yet more weight behind the rumor that a new Borderlands game is in development.
After Tesla CEO and all-round benevolent billionaire Elon Musk released a 'Boring Company' flamethrower for sale as a reward for the community having purchased 50,000 hats, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford got in contact to see if he could put the gun in the "next Borderlands game."
To everyone's surprise, Musk agreed to the bizarre request - making the Boring Company Flamethrower the first confirmed weapon in the unannounced game.
Elon - I’m going to add this to our next Borderlands game. Super serious. Let me know if you want to write the flavor text. You may have already done so - we’ll just lift it from one of your tweets.January 29, 2018
PAX West 2017
At this year’s PAX West, Pitchford announced during a panel that 90% of the Gearbox team is “working on the thing I think most of you guys want us to be working on.”
Given that he had just acknowledged much of the audience was present at the panel because they’re fans of the Borderlands franchise, we’d say this is quite a heavy-handed hint even though Borderlands 3 wasn’t explicitly mentioned.
The IGN Interview
Around the same time as the PAX West panel tease, Pitchford also took part in an IGN Unfiltered interview where he said that if another Borderlands game were to be made, it would be more of a true sequel as opposed to another Pre-Sequel spin-off.
Pitchford stated that the next Gearbox game will be a “really big, worthy” step forward for the franchise before adding “if we’re going to do one, it’s going to be that” to take the the certainty of his statement down a notch.
Randy takes to Twitter
In April 2017, Pitchford took to Twitter to post a picture of himself wearing a motion capture suit with the caption “Doing a shoot... I may or may not be a psycho bandit in a video game we may or may not be working on. Also, happy Bulletstorm launch day!”
Given that Psychos are a Borderlands enemy we’d say this tweet can be read with a fairly large nudge and wink.
Doing a shoot... I may or may not be a psycho bandit in a video game we may or may not be working on. Also, happy Bulletstorm launch day! pic.twitter.com/5X9ZzC6kdJApril 7, 2017
The GDC presentation
Before all of this Pitchford took to the stage during Epic Games’ Unreal presentation at GDC in March 2017, where he showed off new rendering tech that “may be used in a future Gearbox game.” He explicitly said the footage shown was not from a video game but what was shown was highly reminiscent of Borderlands.
He also revealed that this new tech is capable of simulating different physics depending on a planet’s properties. Specifically he said “there might be different physics and the sun and the moons might be in different positions than what we’re used to on Pandora.”
Not only does this hint heavily that Borderlands 3 is in the works, it suggests that we’ll be able to explore more settings than we have before.
PAX East panel
You’ll notice a lot of the hints that Borderlands 3 is coming have come from Randy Pitchford. That trend continues all the way back through to April 2016 when, during a PAX East panel, he gave the biggest sign that Borderlands 3 is coming.
"It's no secret, obviously there's going to be another Borderlands," he revealed during the panel. On Twitter he also revealed that Battleborn's art director Scott Kester will be the art director on Borderlands 3.
He did, however, say that the game might not actually be called Borderlands 3: "We don't even know if we're going to call it that. We could call it Borderlands 4 for all we know."
If Borderlands 3 is in the works, however, there are likely to be some changes from the first two titles. The first difference will be that writer, Mikey Neumann, will not be on board as he was unfortunately forced to resign from the project due to health complications. The lead writer on Borderlands 2, Anthony Burch, has also since left the company. There’s been no hint with regards to who’ll be taking up the pen after their departures.
Another change is that the voice behind Claptrap, David Eddings, has left Gearbox for Rooster Teeth so it’s unlikely he’ll be taking up the role again.