You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: every video game launch is a minor miracle. So many decisions have to be made. So much content needs to be finished. So many variables have to fall into place perfectly. For massive triple-A titles like Borderlands 3, releasing an end product takes years of dedication and persistence. More and more, however, the launch is not the end – it is only the beginning.
While Borderlands 3 isn’t technically a ‘live-service’ game, we’ve treated it that way to make sure every week it’s a better game than the week before. To keep this loot shooter alive and thriving, we have relied on the passion and determination of our incredible development teams, who have continued development against the backdrop of a pandemic that has fundamentally changed the way that we had to work on.
Later this week, more than 18 months since the base game launched on PlayStation 4, we plan to release the Director’s Cut add-on for Borderlands 3 on April 8, featuring an all-new raid boss, a series of mysterious murderous missions. , new Daily and Weekly Challenges via Vault Cards, and a cache of never-before-seen behind-the-scenes content, not to mention new Legendary gear and cosmetic items. To mark the occasion, we wanted to go back to everything we’ve released since launch and pull back the curt ain on what it takes to keep a triple-A game fresh.
Overall, we have been guided by three major goals since launch. First, to continue to tweak and improve the game by addressing reported performance issues. Second, strive to maintain a balanced experience so that building diversity can flourish at the end of the game. And finally, to deliver a variety of new content, whether it’s free or as part of a paid campaign DLC, at a constant rate.
This first goal is the simplest of the three. Almost every week since launch (up to and including this week), we’ve released a patch to adjust the content that’s already available. We’ve also added plenty of quality-of-life improvements, such as more backpack and bank space, extended ammo storage, and performance and UI improvements. In the interest of transparency, the patch notes are always available on borderlands.com.
Yes, a few updates have removed the power from overperforming gear or skills, but much more often we’ve improved gear and characters. We’ve made all of these changes with the goal of improving the long-term health of the Borderlands 3 experience. We always want this experience to be both challenging and rewarding. From the start, that’s what guided us as we approached the adjustments we’ve made to the balance of the game.
While these weekly updates are often the result of our own internal game testing and the direction of our live team, they are just as often the result of fan feedback. Have you ever wondered, “Do developers actually read their game subreddits?” Well the answer is: yes of course! We read all of these reviews because we know these comments are from the most passionate members of our community.
These weekly tweaks keep us busy, but the real work – and the real joy of Borderlands 3 – comes from that third goal: releasing a variety of new content. And when I say variety, I really, really mean it. In the first year after launch, we released four story-based campaign add-ons It ranged from a romantic cosmic horror comedy and gritty Western tale to a super space casino heist and a journey into the broken psyche of a psychopath. After that we released the Designer’s Cut add-on, which added a whole new version of the Borderlands formula with Arms Race, as well as a new skill tree for each of our four Vault Hunters.
And that was just the paid content. Plus, we’ve released a slew of free additions, once again building on the variety that a game like Borderlands 3 makes possible. We’ve revamped the endgame loop with Mayhem Mode 2.0; we challenged top players with the intense and original Takedowns; and we’ve given the whole community new reasons to play with rewarding seasonal events like Revenge of the Cartels and Bloody Harvest. We’ve even given players a way to contribute to real-world science research with Borderlands Science, an in-game game that helps map the human gut biome (we were all pretty proud of that).
Perhaps our biggest free addition, however, was the PlayStation 5 upgrade that launched last November, right next to the console itself. If you own a PlayStation 5 and a copy of Borderlands 3 for PS4, you can download the next-gen upgrade for free, enabling frame rates of up to 60 fps in 4K resolution in single player and co-op. online. The upgrade also adds local split-screen co-op for up to four players and support for some of the PS5’s unique immersive abilities such as Adaptive Triggers, Play Assist, and Spoiler Block. For us, getting closer to that moment felt like relaunching the game, but it was worth it.
So what does all this take? Where do the ideas come from? How are decisions made and content created? These are big questions, but the answers are ultimately quite simple: It takes dedication and hard work. Ideas come from everywhere. For the campaign DLCs, the entire Borderlands team were invited to pitch any idea they liked. The ones that generated the most enthusiasm were ultimately selected and created. Other times, it might just be a simple conversation between a few developers – that’s exactly how Arms Race was originally born. Then, of course, the community became an important part of the development process; features like the next anointing revival machine are a direct result of our community’s contribution.
In many ways, we feel extremely lucky. The massive reach and flexible tone of Borderlands 3 allowed us to explore all kinds of ideas, including a lot of ideas that would likely have been deemed too bizarre for other triple-A titles. Whether it’s a narrative premise or a new gameplay hook, we’ve always been able to make our ideas work within the context of the universe. This freedom was crucial not only in keeping our own passion for the game in-house, but also in keeping the experience fresh and engaging for the community.
If you are part of this community now or if you have done so at any time in the past: thank you. We are so grateful that you took this trip with us and gave all of our ideas a chance.
We also have a new content add-on, Director’s Cut, coming out on April 8, along with other in-game events scheduled for the rest of the year. (Remember, you need to own a copy of the base game in order to play our content add-ons.) We’re not stopping now, so there’s never been a better time to jump. See you there, Vault Hunters!