Borderlands 3 continues the series tradition of giving players named characters to choose from, rather than blank ciphers. And while your choice of character may not affect your interactions with the world, it will definitely affect how you play. Do you want to rush in, guns blazing? Do you prefer to hold back, guns blazing? Or are you the kind of player who wants to punch enemies with magic arms, guns blazing? Regardless of who you pick, you’re going to be doing a lot of shooting, is what I’m saying.
We have individual guides up for each character where you can learn more about their abilities, but if you just want a high-level view of their differences, you’re in the right place. I’ve played most of the previous Borderlands games, so I have a pretty good sense of where each of these new Vault Hunters fits into the series dynamic. Read on for help figuring out which of these lovable rascals you want to take with you to Pandora.
Zane, the Operative (aka the Gun Man)
Zane readily fits into the Borderlands tradition of characters like Roland and Axton. Historically, they’re the normiest Vault Hunters available, though Zane at least has a neat older fella look going for him. In terms of gameplay, though, Zane is much more tricky than his predecessors. He has access to not only a combat drone, but a protective shield and a hologram system. His range of abilities makes him especially useful for anyone who’s going to be playing Borderlands 3 solo, as between his three Action Skills he can simulate the additional firepower of another player while also drawing fire away from himself. Not to mention, Zane can equip two action skills at once, albeit at the cost of using grenades.
Key strengths: Versatility, trickery, self-sustainability
Good for: Solo players, Call of Duty fans, anyone with a thing for silver foxes
Bad for: Anyone who just wants to smash stuff
Amara, the Siren (aka the Magic Lady)
In every Borderlands game there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the bandits, the robots, and the forces of capitalism. She is the Siren. And this time, that’s Amara. Like past Sirens in the series, Amara’s abilities focus on area control. Unlike those older characters, they manifest as huge, buff psychic arms. That means that Amara often wants to get up close and personal. She’s got plenty of skills that protect her as she closes the distance with her foes, including movement speed and shield regeneration boosts , as well as one in her Brawl skill tree that instantly revives her and provides her with a powerful shield when she’s downed.
Key strengths: Area control, elemental damage, survivability
Good for: Genji mains (she gets Swift Strike), anyone who stubbornly wants to avoid using guns in the game about guns, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure fans
Bad for: Snipers, anyone who is (rightly) afraid that Amara is going to dunk them into a basketball hoop
Moze, the Gunner (aka the Big Gun Guy)
Does the memory of your father telling you to get in the robot haunt you even today? Relive those upsetting experiences with Moze in Borderlands 3. Moze’s Action Skill summons the Iron Bear, a vaguely Soviet-themed mech equippable with a variety of weapons. One skill even unlocks a manned turret on its back that another player can hop into. Fun! In general, Moze is pretty straightforward, though figuring out which weapons to use on Iron Bear will take some experimentation. Depending on your preferences, you can turn your mech into a missile-launching area denial tool, a focused DPS machine, or even a rock-em-sock-em robot.
Key strengths: Guns. Big guns. Lots of them
Good for: Players who just want to shoot stuff, people who wish they were playing a new Mechwarrior, Russophiles
Bad for: Players who favor trickery and mischief, cowards, the craven-hearted
FL4K, the Beastmaster (aka the Bird Person)
Listen. Every Borderlands has a bird person. First you had Mordecai in Borderlands, then Wilhelm in The Pre-Sequel. Borderlands 2 doesn’t technically have one, but Zer0 is a bird person in spirit if not in literal game mechanics. Anyway, FL4K commands not just a bird, but also two other animal friends. They can switch between them at will, send them to attack their foes, and augment their abilities with their Action Skills. FL4K favors stealthy play and in addition to being the bird person is also the “sniper” of Borderlands 3, though they can also be played aggressively. Additionally, they’re good for both newcomers and experts. Beginners can rely on their pets and use the Stalker skill tree to turn invisible and up their health, while experienced players might want to tap into the Critical Hit-focused Hunter tree.
Key strengths: Stealth, sniping, distraction
Good for: Metal Gear Solid V players who loved the dog, min-maxers, fans of 1980s sword and sorcery films
Bad for: Anyone who doesn’t like managing pets, spray and pray-ers