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What We Know About Endgame in Borderlands 3

Michael Bitton Posted:
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The Borderlands games started out as fun co-op adventures with friends, but players have gotten more out of each game over the years due to an increase in focus on endgame. Gearbox added the series’ first “raid boss” all the way back in 2010 with the Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC for the original Borderlands and the sequel with all of its DLC now features a whopping 10 (!) raid bosses. Gearbox layered on additional endgame options with Borderlands 2, including the Raid on Digistruct Peak, OP Levels, and more.

With all of that endgame focus over the years, what does Gearbox have in store for Borderlands 3? Well, this time around the game was designed with endgame in mind from the beginning and we learned quite a bit about what Gearbox is bringing to the table at this year’s Gamescom and PAX West shows over the last few weeks. Let’s dig in.

Proving Grounds

Similar in a way to Diablo III’s Rifts, Proving Grounds are challenge maps where the goal is to defeat all of the enemies as quickly as possible and complete bonus tasks for greater rewards. There will be six different Proving Grounds in Borderlands 3 at launch. Hopefully more are added over time!

This mode sort of fills in for the Raid on Digistruct Peak from Borderlands 2 as both function similarly. The key difference is that Proving Grounds are all meant to be tackled in 30 minutes or less, so these are shorter sessions than your typical Digistruct run.

Circle of Slaughter

The Borderlands series is no stranger to horde modes. A trio of Circle of Slaughter missions were one-off horde mode affairs in the first game. Borderlands’ Mad Moxxi’s Underdome was Gearbox’s first stab at a true horde mode in the series and it wasn’t too well received. Gearbox doubled down and added a number of horde mode missions as well as the Creature Slaughterdome to Borderlands 2, which faired a bit better.

It wasn’t until Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel that Gearbox (or in this case, 2K Australia) really struck horde mode gold.  Once players completed the excellent Claptastic Voyage DLC, they gained access to a mission called L33t h4X0rz which allowed players to set a number of mutators to increase (or decrease) the challenge level of the wave-based repeatable mission. These options ranged from mutators such as Vampires, which constantly drained players’ health but restored health on kill, to Shoes Made of Acid, which dealt corrosive damage to players anytime they touched the floor. It was surprisingly fun.

And now horde mode returns to the series with Circle of Slaughter in Borderlands 3. Hopefully, Gearbox has taken some inspiration from 2K Australia’s success and we have some fun mutators to play around with in Borderlands 3.

Guardian Ranks

While this isn’t necessarily endgame content in and of itself, Guardian Ranks do represent alternate advancement similarly to the way Badass ranks did for Borderlands 2. Guardian ranks work differently in a number of ways, however.

Instead of getting tokens from challenges, players will get Guardian ranks from “leveling up” past the level cap. The options available when redeeming a token are still a number of randomized selections from a larger pool, but there are additional things to consider this time around. The various bonuses are now split into three different categories and spending a token on a bonus will increase the rank of its respective category, unlocking permanent rewards at a number of different milestones. These rewards can range from cosmetics to highly impactful unlocks, such as the ability to ADS in Fight For Your Life or regenerate a grenade every 10 kills.


There aren’t a whole lot of details on this just yet, but Gearbox confirmed that raids would return to the series in Borderlands 3, starting with a free update set to drop sometime this Fall/Winter. Raids are particularly exciting to me this time around due to the fact Gearbox has clearly improved on its design of boss mechanics. Bosses in the older games were mostly boring or easily exploitable affairs and unfortunately, raid bosses were not much different. From what footage we’ve seen of Borderlands 3 so far, simple campaign boss fights look to be a lot more interesting, so I expect even more from whatever raid bosses Gearbox cooks up.

Mayhem Mode

Once players beat the campaign, they can up the difficulty with (currently) three different Mayhem Mode levels. These levels increase loot quality, experience/currency,  enemy toughness (shields/health) and also add a number of randomly selected modifiers to keep players on their toes. The values demoed were placeholders, but they included modifiers such as Eridium Masks, which reduces the damage enemies take from critical hits to Defendarious, which give enemies a % chance to reflect projectiles back at the player.

And that’s just about all we know for now! What’s your take on endgame in Borderlands 3? Has Gearbox packed in enough for launch? Or are there some features you were hoping to see that were left out?


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB