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The ending of Borderlands 3 explained

During the lengthy campaign of Borderlands 3, you'll shoot a lot of guns and loot a lot of guns. Along the way, an assortment of wacky characters will talk to you (or at you) through your ECHO device. By the end of your first journey, you might have accrued a couple legendary items, but you might have also shed a few tears at the bittersweet ending of the story.

What does the ending mean for the overarching Borderlands lore though? The series spans across five games now, along with a couple of non-canon comic books, so Gearbox has definitely built up a rich world full of twists and turns. We've lost some important characters and gained a couple new ones. However, some previously major characters didn't get much attention in this long-awaited sequel, leaving us with many questions about the future of Borderlands.

Before we dive into True Vault Hunter mode, let's take a retrospective look at what the ending means for the series. Of course, we'll be spoiling everything about the end of Borderlands 3 (and some other games in the franchise). If you haven't conquered the Calypso Twins yet, steer clear.

What happened at the end of Borderlands 3?

In Borderlands 3, your main quest puts you at odds with the Calypso Twins, a duo of powerful Sirens who want to become gods. The two also host a livestream where they amass a cult following and kill people for followers, which is a whole other mess to emotionally unpack.

Nonetheless, Tyreen absorbs the power of many creatures, hoping to unleash the ultimate Vault Guardian on Pandora: The Destroyer. Turns out, Pandora itself is the Great Vault that housed The Destroyer. Elpis, Pandora's moon, is the key that unlocks the Great Vault. Once unleashed, she fuses with the Vault Guardian, becoming a living god herself.

You (and up to three other friends) are the only thing standing between Tyreen the Destroyer and the destruction of Pandora. After defeating Tyreen, though, Elpis sets on a course to crash into Pandora, which would destroy it. Lilith, after regaining her powers from the dead Tyreen, sacrifices herself to keep Elpis at bay. This marks the moon with a gigantic insignia of the Firehawk, which Ava says is Lilith continuing to light the way for future Vault Hunters.

Is Borderlands 3 Lilith's last game?

Lilith may be gone, but is she really dead? She saved Pandora from assured destruction by flying up to the moon, but the game doesn't really show what she does. Sacrifice seems like a fitting end for a hero like Lilith, who gave up so much for the Crimson Raiders.

But what if she isn't dead? After the light show dies down, Tannis remarks that Lilith is gone. However, Ava responds, "Not entirely. She's lighting the way." While this could simply be a heartwarming recognition of Lilith's lasting legacy, there could be more than meets the eye here. Sirens are known for doing crazily powerful things in the Borderlands universe. Surviving something like this wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility.

Furthermore, during the credits, we see a sketch of Tannis furiously searching for Lilith. She has a board with all sorts of clues surrounding Lilith's face, and the word "WHERE???" is circled on it. Tannis prides herself on being pragmatic, and as the leading expert on Eridians and Vaults, she knows a good lead when she sees one. She wouldn't be hunting for a dead person without good reason.

Sirens are as unpredictable as ever

Sirens are some of the most powerful creatures in the universe. They can do wild things, like hack into technology from afar or trap creatures in telekinetic bubbles. Their tribal-like tattoos (like Lilith or Maya) are a telltale sign of a Siren. They all had another thing in common: they were all women.

At least, that's what we believed up until Borderlands 3. For all we know about Sirens, Gearbox loves to buck the trend. Typhon DeLeon, father of the Calypso Twins, reveals that his conjoined twin children were born as Sirens. That means from birth, Troy, a man, was a Siren, circumventing the rule we've known for years.

Furthermore, the Calypso Twins have Siren powers we've never seen before. They have the ability to leech life from others, and if they do so with Sirens, they steal their powers. We've never seen a Siren do that. To be fair, we've also never seen a Siren summon six burly arms before, and Amara does just that. This goes to show that whatever Gearbox has next for Sirens up its tattooed sleeves, we can expect the unexpected.

The Crimson Raiders post-Borderlands 3

Throughout Borderlands 3, we see a young but skilled Ava grow up quickly, ultimately earning her place as the new leader of the Crimson Raiders. We first find her on Athenas under the care of Maya. The kid is spunky, but she has heart and potential. She latches onto every story Maya tells about being a Vault Hunter. Furthermore, she carries those lessons with her after Maya dies at the hands of Troy Calypso. After killing Troy, Ava inherits Maya's Siren powers, signifying the passing of the torch. Ava quickly shows off how much she's learned, using those powers to save Lilith and Tannis from Tyreen.

Despite her young naivete, Ava teaches Lilith a thing or two about what it means to be a Vault Hunter. Later on, before Lilith sacrifices herself to stop Elpis, she remembers something Ava said about Vault Hunters: they always run towards the fire. She then leaves Sanctuary in Ava's now capable hands. As the new head of the Crimson Raiders, we'll be seeing more of her in the future as she grows into a (hopefully) competent leader.

The six Sirens post-Borderlands 3

If you remember your lore from Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack once remarked that only six Sirens can exist in the universe at any given time. Now that we know everything that happens in Borderlands 3, six Sirens are apparent at the beginning. Lilith, Maya, Amara, Tyreen, and Troy are the obvious ones. However, we learn that Tannis has been a Siren since Angel's death, rounding out the quota.

By the end of the game, however, we lose a few of these Sirens. Tyreen and Troy die at your own hands, bringing the count down to four. We lose Maya as well, but she's replaced by Ava before the game wraps up. Furthermore, there's Lilith's sacrifice, which leaves things a little unclear as to the state of her Siren powers. Nonetheless, the universe has room for at least two more Sirens to join the fray.

In future Borderlands content, whether it's DLC or a full-on sequel, we might learn the identities of these new Sirens. Historically, these powerful beings have been the crux of the plot, so you can expect to see more of them, especially after we discovered the Eridian homeworld.

Typhon DeLeon is a bad father

Throughout most of your time in Borderlands 3, you'll be collecting old audio logs from the one and only Typhon DeLeon, the first ever Vault Hunter. However, by the time you get to the last planet, Nekrotafeyo, you learn that Tyhpon's actually been alive this whole time.

You'll journey with him through the Eridian homeworld, and he seems like a fairly cool guy who wants to save the universe. He reveals that he and his wife gave birth to conjoined twins, who eventually grow up to become the Calypso Twins. It makes you wonder how a fellow like him could raise such awful people like them. He told them stories of grandeur, planting the seed of wanderlust (and bloodlust) in their minds. Now, they're livestreamers who literally kill people for attention.

Typhon even calls his kids "monsters," and that's how he justifies the fact that you murdered his son. He basically stays complacent for most of the campaign, all while his monstrous children try to destroy everything. It isn't until you knock on his door that he starts saving the universe.

Will Krieg reach his breaking point?

Fans of Borderlands 2 might remember Krieg. He was insane, but it's not all his fault. He has a terrifying voice in his head that drives him mad. We learn that of the four original Vault Hunters in the second game, he was closest to Maya. They formed a strong friendship, one that hinted at romantic possibilities.

We saw Maya in Borderlands 3, but Krieg was mysteriously missing (along with a majority of the Borderlands 2 Vault Hunters). We can hear Krieg, though, and it's heartbreaking. In Konrad's Hold, you can find audio logs scattered around the map featuring Krieg and the voice in his head. He struggles, trying to control his madness before he sees Maya again.

In the Splinterlands, you can also find an audio log depicting the (presumably) last conversation between Maya and Krieg. The Psycho begs her not to go to Athenas, while Maya claims she has to because it "feels important." We now know that they'll never see each other again. If we ever see Krieg, we might see a reformed Psycho who controlled his inner demons. Alternatively, we might see him angrier than he's ever been.

Borderlands 3 fixes The Destroyer

Back when Borderlands 3's cover art was first revealed, eagle-eyed fans noticed some Morse code on the game's box art that hinted at The Destroyer. Those fans were onto something, as The Destroyer ended up becoming the final boss of the game, in a way. Tyreen fused with it, ultimately becoming Tyreen the Destroyer.

In terms of story, it provided the writers a way to tie the original big bad from Borderlands into this game's climax. In terms of game design, though, it gives the developers another shot at rewriting the public perception of The Destroyer. Even after the Borderlands remaster, people bemoaned how easy The Destroyer was to, well, destroy. It was a lackluster final boss fight that felt like an unfitting end.

This time around, The Destroyer packs a lot more punch, thanks to Tyreen. Its attacks engage the player much more, requiring you to skillfully dodge arena-wide attacks. At certain points, you'll even need to climb onto its back to do more damage, creating a sense of urgency rather than complacency, which was the dominating feeling in the first game.

Who watches The Watcher from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel?

The road from Borderlands 2 to 3 wasn't a particularly straightforward one. We took a few detours, and one of those was Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. If you took the time to beat it (or just looked up the story), you'll know that it told us about Handsome Jack's rise to power in Hyperion. It ends with Lilith trying to execute Athena, one of the main characters, but before anything rash can be done, an Eridian stops them.

Simply called The Watcher, this character stops the execution from happening and warns them that they all need to band together. The in-fighting will only hurt them because "war is coming." Presumably, The Watcher was talking about the Calypso Twins' campaign to absorb The Destroyer.

However, this leaves us with a lot of questions about the story of Borderlands 3. For one, if they truly banded together, where's Athena? Furthermore, where was The Watcher this whole time? We explore the Eridian homeworld and stop the oncoming war, but The Watcher is nowhere to be seen. Was it talking about a different war we haven't seen yet? Or did Gearbox forget about The Pre-Sequel?

The Vault of the Traveler

Another detour on the road to Borderlands 3 was an outside venture from Telltale Games. Called Tales from the Borderlands, this narrative-focused game told the story of Rhys, Fiona, and their gang of misfits as they searched for a vault on Pandora. They ultimately succeed, finding what's called the Vault of the Traveler. They open it, and the story ends with Rhys and Fiona opening up a chest in the vault.

Jumping to Borderlands 3, we see Rhys made a name for himself by restoring Atlas to its former glory. Vaughn became a bandit leader, which we also saw in the Borderlands 2 DLC Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary. But what about everyone and everything else?

The whole story of Borderlands 3 revolved around multiple vaults, yet the Vault of the Traveler isn't mentioned once. Furthermore, we don't see Fiona, who was arguably just as important as Rhys in Tales from the Borderlands. Rhys' love interest, Sasha, makes an appearance as a photo on the Atlas CEO's desk. Yet, he doesn't talk about her at all. Maybe these questions will be answered in future DLC, but for now, they're left pretty open.

The Children of the Firehawk reignited

In Borderlands 2, a series of main quests puts you in contact with Incinerator Clayton, the leader of a small cult called the Children of the Firehawk. This group of nutjobs worshipped Lilith like a god, intentionally sacrificing themselves to fire to "appease" her. This group wasn't all that widespread, though, and they were confined to a small area in Pandora.

However, after her noble sacrifice at the end of Borderlands 3, you'll notice that the Children of the Firehawk make a reappearance in the credits. A sketch shows four bandits standing in front of a banner, praising the Firehawk. Furthermore, the banner reads "Children of the Firehawk," but "Firehawk" covers up part of the original text. More than likely, the banner initially bore the words "Children of the Vault," the main opposing army throughout the game.

Does this imply that Lilith became a martyr for her own cult religion? After all, the Firehawk insignia is now emblazoned upon the moon for everyone to see. She might have ignited a flame in the hearts of new worshippers, converting former enemies into possible allies.

Will we see a Borderlands 4?

Borderlands 3 has sold well since its launch, moving five million units in its first five days. With those high sales numbers, a Borderlands 4 could very well be on the horizon. Luckily, 3 sets up a relatively neutral starting point for a sequel.

For one, many new yet likeable characters could become central to a brand new story. Ava leads the Crimson Raiders now, and Balex (voiced by Ice-T) navigates the now-spaceborne Sanctuary. Amara, Zane, Moze, and FL4K could become new NPCs in future games, as well.

Furthermore, older characters have new tricks up their sleeves, opening up new plot points for them to explore. Arguably the biggest change is Tannis' new Siren abilities, which could help her uncover more secrets about the Eridians. Additionally, now that they know where Nekrotafeyo is, Eridians could play a more present role in future Borderlands stories. Additionally, Tannis' quest to find Lilith could bear fruit, becoming a central plot point in future content.

If Gearbox moves forward with a new Borderlands game, there's more than enough plot hooks and clean slates for them to use. The Borderlands 3 DLC could shed light on the franchise's future, too.