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The biggest unanswered questions we still have about Borderlands 3

With the most recent installments of the Borderlands series released back in the autumn of 2014, fans were beginning to wonder if Borderlands 3 would ever see the light of day. Well, Gearbox made those fans very excited when they dropped a teaser entitled "Mask of Mayhem," which featured some familiar Borderlands characters and weaponry. This teaser all but confirmed that a Borderlands 3 announcement was incoming. Sure enough, on March 28, 2019, Gearbox took the stage for their panel at PAX East 2019 to officially announce and debut the first trailer for Borderlands 3. The trailer is a real blast, incorporating familiar and new faces alike from the Borderlands universe and showcasing a little bit of the mayhem that gamers can expect when the popular series returns.

With this announcement, however, comes quite a few unanswered questions. The trailer acted as more of a sizzle reel than anything else, showing off some great visuals, but revealing very little in the way of actual story details. While many of these will likely be addressed as the game's release date gets closer, it's still fun and worthwhile to speculate on where the series may be headed and what fans may be able to expect from the plot and gameplay of this new installment. So come on, Vault Hunters: it's time to go over some of our biggest unanswered questions about this latest quest. 

Beware: there will be spoilers ahead for the events of the previous games.

When does it take place?

The most pressing questions after the new trailers are probably the ones concerning the timeline of Borderlands 3's story. In particular, how long after the events of Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel does this take place? In the first teaser and the full trailer, we see fan-favorite character Tiny Tina, seemingly all grown up. We also see Maya, the Siren character from Borderlands 2, sporting much longer hair than the last time we stepped into her boots. 

With the mysterious Eridian Watcher's warnings of a war coming at the tail end of The Pre-Sequel, it leaves us to wonder how much time has passed in the world of the series. It seemed as though the warning was urgent, so what exactly happened? Has the war already begun? Who has fallen? 

And if the war has started already, how the heck is Claptrap still alive? The little guy could barely get out of a scrap with a bullymong without losing an eye. Claptrap has to be the luckiest robot in the universe.

Where will it take place?

The Vault Hunters have looted all over the planet Pandora and have previously visited gigantic moonbases and Pandora's moon, Elpis, but the new trailer seems to imply that this new game will show off so much more of this galaxy. There are a few shots that are recognizably the desert surface of Pandora (maybe the Arid Badlands?), but some of these landscapes appear to be entirely new to the series.

Will we be able to teleport to new worlds by using the Fast Travel stations established in the previous games? The landscapes seen in the Borderlands 3 trailer are so varied, it's hard to believe they'd all exist on the same planet. Considering Elpis' low-gravity maps included hovering Moon Zoomy vehicles, it's also exciting to wonder what new types of transportation could be added to aid the Vault Hunters in these new worlds.

Also, do these new planets have anything do with the vast star chart seen in Borderlands 2's ending, which revealed the locations of all of the other existing Vaults? With so many new places to explore, it looks like maybe Lilith was correct: there really is "no rest for the wicked."

What is this "rupture" they speak of?

In the new trailer for Borderlands 3, we can briefly see a giant marquee that bears the words, "RUPTURE UPON US — HOLY IS THE MOUTH THAT BLEEDS." The meaning of this sign is unclear. The only previous reference to a "rupture" of any kind in the Borderlands series came in the form of a trophy in Tales from the Borderlands. By completing Episode 3, Chapter 5 of the Telltale Games series, players were awarded with the achievement "Rupture." That certainly doesn't clear anything up, but there are a few theories about the meaning of the sign.

Judging from the exterior of the building the sign hangs from, it could simply be an advertisement for some form of bandit arena, similar to Fink's Slaughterhouse or Mad Moxxi's Underdome. Then again, perhaps it's meant to indicate that Pandora has experienced a geological shift similar to "the Crackening" that changed the surface of Elpis prior to the events of The Pre-Sequel. The fact that it's such a brief tease leaves it open for wild speculation among fans of Borderlands lore.

Did they just say "Guns with legs"?

Why, yes. Yes, they did.

One of the funniest moments from the Borderlands 3 trailer came moments after the announcement of "over one billion guns." This was followed by the reveal of a special type of gun, running along on two legs. While this is hilarious, it also raises a few questions about how these guns will be deployed in the new game. 

In previous titles, gamers have had the use of special armaments that could be deployed as part of their specific characters' Class Action skills. For example, in Borderlands 2, Axton the Soldier had an upgradable turret he could send out to lay waste to enemies. Meanwhile, Gage the Mechromancer could summon Deathtrap, a floating robot with sharp claws and a laser attack that could be upgraded with further elemental damage effects. There have also been bizarre, seemingly intelligent gun variants that are accessed through various missions in the game, like Boganella, the talking shotgun from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

Whether these running rifles will be a basic gun that can be looted in the wild or a character-specific asset has yet to be revealed. Still, the mental image of a battlefield filled with these little guys is more than exciting enough to keep fans hungry for more information on them.

Just who are the new villains?

The Vault Hunters will have some new villains to fight in Borderlands 3. While it will be hard to top Borderlands 2's Handsome Jack as an antagonist, the two baddies seen in the new trailer are looking pretty tough. While not much is known about them, the female of the two is clearly a Siren (the mystical character class in the Borderlands series), as evidenced by the glowing marks on her arms. Her male counterpart also cuts an imposing figure with his massive cybernetic arm.

Another interesting thing to note about these new villains is their demeanor, seemingly completely calm as an army of psychos and bandits run and leap around them. Have these new enemies somehow united the criminals of Pandora under their command? Bandits are enough trouble when they're spread out in little camps across the planet; the idea of them all working together for a common goal is much worse. 

Another intriguing possibility concerns Vaughn, a returning character from Tales from the Borderlands. A former employee of evil corporation Hyperion, Vaughn had an AI in his possession that contained the mind (and a holographic image) of Handsome Jack. The trailer briefly shows what looks like Vaughn accessing a hologram. Could this be how Jack makes some kind of return? We know he's dead, but he hasn't let that stop him before.

Only time will tell, but it seems that our Vault Hunters will have their hands full when Borderlands 3 launches.

Where else can we find more SHiFT codes and secrets?

Also unveiled at Gearbox's PAX livestream was a new table-top card game called Tiny Tina's Robot Tea Party. While most of this announcement was taken up by Gearbox's Randy Pitchford performing a magic trick using the cards, it was revealed that the brand new game involves players using the cards to assemble their own Claptrap robot within a 15-minute time limit. Many of the cards will make up a limb or accessory for a particular Claptrap variation. Also mentioned during the presentation was the fact that the game's box contains a hidden SHiFT code, which is a special promotional code that unlocks different kinds of in-game loot for Vault Hunters. However, it wasn't specified if this Robot Tea Party code was specific to any certain Borderlands installment. 

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that there's yet another SHiFT code spread throughout the Borderlands 3 "Mask of Mayhem" teaser. This code can be redeemed in Borderlands 2 or The Pre-Sequel and will award players with an exclusive skin and five Golden Keys, which can be used to unlock special rare loot boxes in the two games. Continuing to hide SHiFT codes in future Borderlands 3 marketing would be a heck of a way for Gearbox to hype the new game. Whether or not that's what they intend to do, gamers should definitely keep their eyes peeled for more hidden messages, just in case.

Speaking of which …

How many sirens are there?

There was yet another secret message in the "Mask of Mayhem" teaser video: Morse code. In the top left corner of the teaser, there's a pulsing lighted dot that Randy Pitchford claims spells out "Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine" when translated (a cheeky reference to perennial holiday movie favorite, A Christmas Story).

In stark contrast to this silly joke, Games Radar reports that this Morse code actually reads "Count the Sirens." This is a tantalizing hint for fans of Borderlands lore, as Handsome Jack claimed that only six Sirens could exist throughout the Universe at one time. As Games Radar points out, we've seen the deaths of two Sirens already: Commandant Steele in The Pre-Sequel and Angel in Borderlands 2. Did their deaths perhaps pave the way for the rise of another Siren? 

Is this Morse code hint somehow connected to the previously-mentioned Siren villainess we see in the reveal trailer? What does this mean for our other Sirens, such as Lilith, Maya, and the new Siren Vault Hunter, of whom we get a few brief glimpses? Are their numbers in danger of being culled in the new installment?

Are the series' regular voice actors returning?

Both of the trailers so far have featured a ton of action, but zero voice acting. While we do see many returning characters from the previous games, including Lilith, Brick, and Vaughn, there has yet to be any confirmation of who will be voicing them. 

The previous voice cast could always sell the jokes and then shift right into the serious moments with ease, so hopefully they will return.  As noted by Quarter to Three, "A lot of Gearbox's humor is awful on the page, but perfect with the right voice actors. Fortunately, Gearbox is really good at nailing the second part of the equation."

There have been rumors in the past that David Eddings would not be returning to his role as Claptrap in any future Borderlands games due to his move to Rooster Teeth as their new Head of Publishing.

It's worth noting that Brittani Johnson, the face and voice behind Borderlands' Angel, was on-hand at Gearbox's PAX 2019 panel to help announce the Ultra HD version of Borderlands: The Handsome CollectionJohnson may have only been there for the purposes of the announcement, but it could also be taken as a sign that Gearbox is dedicated to preserving at least some continuity with the voice cast.

When the heck is it coming out?

One thing notably missing from either trailer is a solid release date of any kind. This isn't terribly surprising, since those were the new game's initial reveal, after all. Still, now that gamers know that Borderlands 3 definitely exists (and that it's definitely not a battle royale game), they're likely to be even more antsy for the thing to finally come out!

Kotaku has reported that Borderlands publisher 2K Games expects to release the new game at some point within the fiscal year, which ends in April 2020. There's a newly-remastered Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition set to come out on April 3, 2019. While this remaster will be released as a free upgrade for PC players, it'll run around $30 a pop for the console versions. Therefore, it's likely that Gearbox won't want to release Borderlands 3 immediately after. That way, they could allow this Game of the Year Edition a little more time to sell. 

Does this mean that we can expect Borderlands 3 to drop around Sep. 2019? That release window would seem to be supported by rumors previously reported by Game RantIf that's the case, it would certainly be a great way for longtime Vault Hunters to ring in the new year. A fan theory reported by PCGamesN may lend some credence to this release window, pointing out that it would also tie in nicely to the tenth anniversary of the first installment's release.