Just picking up Borderlands 3 for the first time? Skip out on the previous three games? Well, you’re in luck! We’ve gone ahead and made ourselves a list of the most important Borderlands 3 tips and tricks you need to know before starting out. Despite how similar the sequel is to the rest of the franchise, there’s still a lot of important ground to cover. So new players and returning fans alike are welcome to check out our Borderlands 3 tips guide. Let’s take a look at what’s new!
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Buy an SDU or Two – Borderlands 3 Tips
It’s not long into Borderlands 3 that you can acquire your first SDU. Remember where to buy them, too, because you’re going to want as many of them as you can get. SDU stands for “super duper useful” (at least according to Marcus), and that’s not a bad descriptor. These items increase your total inventory capacity, ammo storage, bank slots, and Lost Loot Machine size. Whenever you have enough money, spend it on an SDU. Here’s a complete guide to how to unlock SDUs in Borderlands 3 while we’re at it.
Experiment and Respec, but First… – Borderlands 3 Tips
There is no way to test characters before you start the game. You can read up on all their skills, or check out our guide to picking your Borderlands 3 character. Either way, though, nothing beats real combat experience. You just need to take the plunge and try out a character. Luckily, you can have multiple characters on the same profile. And just as luckily, you can respec your skill points at almost any time. You just need to stop by a Quick Change Station — where you can alter your appearance, as well.
However, there is one very important tip about every character respec in Borderlands 3. It comes with a cost: specifically, 10 percent of the total cash you have on-hand. Put another way, it’s cheaper to respec if you have less money. That’s why I’d wait until you can purchase your first SDU before proceeding. SDUs are the absolute best use of your money early on in Borderlands 3. Buying as many as possible before you respec, every time you do it, tips the Borderlands 3 economy in your favor.
Look for the Little Green Markers – Borderlands 3 Tips
Early on in Borderlands 3, you will unlock special side quests called Crew Challenges. These mostly manifest as fetch quests strewn across the galaxy. Claptrap wants you to build him a lady friend; Tannis wants special recordings; Moxxi wishes you would turn off some radio towers. Simple! No, really, it’s actually all very simple. You get a great deal of instant experience for it, too. Make sure you always watch the mini-map for green icons indicating you’re near one of these useful pick-ups.
Sort by Gear Score – Borderlands 3 Tips
There aren’t many sorting options in Borderlands 3. You can’t filter by damage, rarity, or anything useful like that. Instead there’s an opaque “score” tied to each weapon and piece of equipment. This is a general overview of what the game thinks is more or less powerful than other stuff. Personally? I don’t think it’s always that accurate. And I’m much rather be able to sort certain weapons by damage, or reload speed, or what-have-you. But the score gets close to moving the worst (and typically the least rare) stuff to the bottom. That’s very useful when you want to do a gear check or sell your inventory.
Grab Those SHiFT Codes, Baby – Borderlands 3 Tips
SHiFT codes are an obvious ploy to get you to sign your email address away. But you’ve probably already done that a thousand times at this point, and likely to companies slightly more insidious than Gearbox. What’s one more? If you don’t already have a SHiFT account collecting dust from a previous Borderlands game, you can sign up directly in Borderlands 3. This will allow you to punch in the hundreds of SHiFT codes that will no doubt flood Reddit posts for the next several years. These, in turn, unlock golden keys and other goodies you can use in-game. They’re not limited per person, either. Any number of people can use a single Borderlands 3 SHiFT code! Although some of them are time limited.
Damage Types Are Better Than Weapon Types – Borderlands 3 Tips
Just about every weapon type in Borderlands 3 is perfectly fine. Well… As I’m writing this, sniper rifles are in rough shape, but that might change with future patches. Pretty much everything else is fine. It all comes down to personal preference and the luck of the draw. That being said, you ought to keep weapons of at least three different damage types around if you can. Shock, Incendiary, and Corrosive all counter different enemy types in a rock, paper, scissors sorta way. You can read our full outline of Borderlands 3 damage types here. Otherwise, just remember that Shock beats shields, Incendiary beats flesh, and Corrosive beats armor.
Use Up Cosmetic Items – Borderlands 3 Tips
Cosmetic unlocks, for whatever reason, still take up inventory space. You actually have to pick up the item, go to your inventory, and use them from there to permanently unlock whatever you’ve got on your account. Why is this tedious task still around seven years after Borderlands 2? I have no idea. But remembering to remove these wastes of space will leave more room for guns and gear.
Don’t Open Ammo Boxes Right Away – Borderlands 3 Tips
Borderlands 3 uses an odd respawn system that doesn’t reset the world when you die. Oh, sure. Bosses will get all their health back if you bite the bullet(s). However, ammo boxes won’t regain their contents. That means you can fight a boss, die, and run back only to find yourself unable to resupply this time. Fun! That’s one reason it’s good not to open ammo boxes before you absolutely need to. The other reason is that ammo boxes tend to give you more of what you need when you don’t have it. If you open one when your arsenal is fully fed, ammo boxes tend to give a random assortment of stuff you might not need.
You Can Pick Perks From Different Trees – Borderlands 3 Tips
Not every skill will feel right for you. Most abilities you unlock in Borderlands 3 are… pretty minor, unless you completely upgrade them, too. That means there’s no harm in skipping unwanted nodes on a skill tree. Instead, you can put your skill points to better use on other trees. That’s because you’re not locked into the same tree as your chosen Active Skill! While the game doesn’t make it obvious, you can keep the Active Skill from one tree, and focus on perks from another. They won’t always gel together (especially not the side-grades you equip to your loadout). But they usually work just fine.
Push Off Pandora – Borderlands 3 Tips
You begin Borderlands 3 on the same planet as most Borderlands games. Pandora is a big zone in its own right, but there’s a lot more to see than just this familiar rock. In addition, there are several important mechanics (like SDUs) that you can’t access until you leave the starting planet. We recommend bypassing the opening side quests for just a bit, in order to leave Pandora and access Sanctuary III. That’s the name of your spaceship, FYI. Once you get there, you will unlock a bunch of useful goods and services. You can always come back to Pandora later, too.
Read Your Item Descriptions – Borderlands 3 Tips
As you get more and more powerful weapons in Borderlands 3, they also accumulate more traits. Some of these are simple: like bonus critical hit damage. A lot of them are more esoteric. You might get a shield that mitigates more damage when you’re crouched, for instance. Not to mention some of these can even combo! The crouching shield would pair well with a weapon that does more damage when it fires through that exact piece of gear. You won’t know how everything works unless you read the item descriptions!
Melee Is Surprisingly Effective – Borderlands 3 Tips
Building on that last section, here’s one of our more situation Borderlands 3 tips. You don’t always need to shoot or use space magic. Melee is actually surprisingly potent if you’re at about the same level as your targeted enemy. On top of that, many weapons in the game come with bayonets that let you deal more melee damage. Not to mention freezing folks with cryo guns will increase the melee damage they take even further. Don’t be afraid to duke it out.
Don’t Bother Tagging Junk – Borderlands 3 Tips
At any point in the game, you can access your backpack to tag certain pieces of gear as junk. However, it’s really not worth your time. You can’t tell the game to automatically tag items below a certain score, or of a certain rarity. That means you need to manually tag every item individually. You math aficionados out there might be able to see the problem. This is more-or-less the same number of total button presses as just selling your items individually… In fact, not marking items will save you time spent stopping every 30 seconds to open your inventory.
Weapons Have Alternate Fire – Borderlands 3 Tips
Borderlands 3 doesn’t draw your attention to this one very much. Even weapon descriptions that explain what kind of alternate fire you have don’t explain how to activate it. But the answer is simple: down on the D-pad. You can also check if a weapon has alternate fire by looking at its icon on the bottom-right of your screen during combat.
FL4K Is Great for Solo Play – Borderlands 3 Tips
I started my first Borderlands 3 campaign as FL4K, the Beastmaster, and I do not regret my choice. That’s because I prefer to play alone. FL4K is perfect for this since they can summon one of several different beasts that aid — and can even resurrect — them in combat. They also have tons of skills that regenerate health and boost their damage. That’s great at making up for a lack of extra bodies while playing.