Borderlands Science initiative could help actual scientists while giving Borderlands 3 players in-game boosters

Borderlands Science is a new in-game initiative for Borderlands 3 which Gearbox reckons could benefit actual scientists who are studying the makeup and effects of the human gut. 

That's a lot to take in, so let's break this down piece by piece. Gearbox is working with McGill  University, The Microsetta Initiative, and Massively Multiplayer Online Science to support research into the microbes present in the human body, namely the gut (hence the abundance of poop jokes in the announcement above). "By mapping these microbes," Gearbox says, "the hope is that scientists will be able to better understand these ecosystems, which may help guide future research into novel treatments and interventions" for conditions like diabetes, depression, and more. 

So, how does that connect to Borderlands 3? Well, as of today, players can now access a new arcade terminal in Dr. Tannis' lab on Sanctuary 3. This terminal is home to a series of block puzzles - think Tetris meets match-three - which are based on DNA strands pulled from the aforementioned microbes. Our current understanding of these DNA strands is flawed due to errors caused by the sheer quantity of data that needs analyzing, and by having players solve these block puzzles, the Borderlands Science board is hoping to identify those errors. 

"Colored tiles representing different nucleotides appear on a grid; by nudging them up within their columns, you attempt to organize them into the correct rows," Gearbox clarifies. "It's not always possible to line up all of the tiles correctly, but attempting these puzzles is still helpful as you're identifying errors in real-world computer analyses." 

Each puzzle has a target score that you'll need to reach in order to earn credit for solving it, but you can continue fiddling with puzzles even after hitting their targets in order to contribute more gut data. By solving multiple puzzles, you'll earn currency which you can spend on cosmetics for your Vault Hunter as well as "timed boosters that buff your stats, loot quality, and even experience gains." 

This is oddly similar - albeit more vague in its purpose - to the University of Washington's efforts to decode coronavirus proteins in search of a cure using a video game. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.