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Inside the astonishing world of Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 marries entertainment with health with an innovative game-within-a-game. Read on to find out how the project came to be

5 mins read time

There are so many reasons to play Borderlands 3 – the latest iteration in the genre-defining and award winning franchise – from its best-in-class shooting, irreverent humour, memorable characters and its irresistibly compelling storyline. Based on the planet Pandora in the Borderlands universe – a violent wasteland consisting of a group of planets at the edge of a galaxy ruthlessly exploited by militarised corporations – a crazed cult known as The Children of the Vault has emerged and is spreading like an interstellar plague, stopping at nothing in its murderous devotion to the Calypso twins. Whether you play solo or co-op as one of four unique Vault Hunters, you can join over 8 million players worldwide with one goal in mind, to score as much loot as possible and save the galaxy from this fanatical threat.

Explore new worlds

There is a stunningly varied network of planets to discover in Borderlands 3. The Children of the Vault make their home on the planet of Pandora. Pandora's searing-hot deserts, vicious wildlife, and burgeoning bandit population have proved too much for all who have tried to tame the planet and exploit its resources. The ruins of Dahl, Atlas, and Hyperion facilities litter the landscape, inhabited by all manner of Skags, Rakk, Varkids, and Spiderants that are intent on eating and killing you.

The game will take you to several other planets for your missions, including the metropolitan warzone of Promethea, home to the Atlas corporation, under siege from the weapons manufacturer Maliwan. Your travels could also take you to the uncivilised swampland of Eden-6, covered by lush greenery and stagnant waters, dotted with occasional settlements and the rusted hulks of crashed spaceships.

Beyond Borderlands

Another remarkable aspect of the game is Borderlands Science – a mini-game within Borderlands 3 where your playtime generates tangible data contributing to valuable research into the microbiome of the human gut. But why is this even necessary?

Computers are perfect for so many different data analysis tasks, however when it comes to mapping the genetic material of microbes within the human body, there are simply too many to be able to effectively sequence. Multiple small mistakes can snowball into widespread data corruption.

“I believe that Borderlands 3 players advancing microbiome research will change how we think about video games.”
MMOS CEO and co-founder Attila Szantner

Trillions of microbes inhabit the human body – some of which may be associated with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, allergies and more. If we were able to map all the microbes in the human gut, the implications for future diagnostics and treatments could be huge, and so far, the results have been extremely encouraging. After launching in April of this year, Borderlands players completed 36 million puzzles in the first month alone, which is the equivalent to almost 400 years of data curation.

How it works

Borderlands Science is the result of international partnerships with researchers and scientists at McGill University, Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS), and The Microsetta Initiative at UC San Diego School of Medicine, together with the producers of the game Gearbox Software and 2K.

The game encodes the DNA of each gut microbe as a string of bricks of four different shapes and colours. Players connect those coloured shapes to help scientists estimate the similarity between each microbe. The more puzzles players solve, the more they help decode the human gut microbiome, all while earning rewards that can be used in Borderlands 3.

“We see Borderlands Science as an opportunity to use the enormous popularity of Borderlands 3 to advance social good,” says Gearbox Software co-founder Randy Pitchford. “Borderlands Science is the vanguard of a new nexus between entertainment and health: an innovative game-within-the-game, complete with scores, progression and rewards, where your playtime actually generates tangible data that will be applied toward improving research, helping cure diseases, and contributing to the broader medical community.”

MMOS CEO and co-founder Attila Szantner is similarly enthusiastic about the project’s early success. “We created MMOS to connect scientific research and video games as a seamless gaming experience, and that is exactly what this has become. I believe that Borderlands 3 players advancing microbiome research will change how we think about video games. We had a huge player base during these first weeks, and we hope that this success will entice additional AAA titles to include citizen science projects in their games,” he says.

Pick your character

Ready to play Borderlands 3? It’s time to choose your player. Play as one of four all-new Vault Hunters. You can customise your Vault Hunter with several personalisation options and use their distinct skill trees to tailor abilities to your preferred playstyle. And remember, the more puzzles you complete in Borderlands Science, the more in-game currency you’ll earn, which can in turn be redeemed for unique Vault Hunter Heads and Skins, as well as timed boosters that buff your stats, loot quality and even experience gains.


Gifted with powerful Siren abilities, Amara is a renowned champion of the people. Using her action skills, she can Phaseslam the ground to damage nearby enemies and knock them into the air, Phasegrasp enemies in place with a giant ethereal fist, or even Phasecast an astral projection of herself that deals damage to everything in its path.

Access new content

Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck

Hungry for more? Continue your Borderlands 3 adventure with the Season Pass, featuring four story campaign add-ons, the most recent of which will see you venture into the twisted mind of Krieg – the most badass psycho of them all – who is in search of a mythical secret that induces madness. Krieg's imagination is a dangerous place, filled with memories of slain enemies and the manifestations of deeply repressed demons. You'll have to team up with both of Krieg's opposing personas—a raging murder machine and a calm inner voice—to make it out alive.

Borderlands 3 is available now on Xbox One, PS4, Steam, Epic and Stadia and the latest campaign add-on, Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck, is available from September 10th.

Watch this video for a taster of what you can expect.