Gearbox teases a Borderlands reveal slated for PAX East later this month

Update: Gearbox knows how many people are aboard the Borderlands 3 hype train, so it's thrown us a bone with a not-so-cryptic tweet teasing a March 28 announcement in Boston, Massachusetts where PAX East is being held that weekend. This faded freeway sign may not look like much at first glance, but 'March 28' is clearly written in the same font as the Borderlands logo, and the landscape has the same cel-shaded look that defines Borderlands' visual style. We still don't know for sure what we'll be getting, but it'll definitely be Borderlands related.

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Gearbox has yet to properly unveil it, but Borderlands 3 is very much a known quantity. The studio started hiring for the game in 2015, and as our sister site PC Gamer reports, the bulk of the studio has been working on a big new title which is almost certainly the next Borderlands. What's more, according to Gearbox's PAX East 2019 schedule, we may see the sequel for ourselves as early as March 28. 

"We will have never-before-seen reveals, exclusives, and surprises," the studio's show description says. Now, these reveals could be anything from Borderlands 3 to the mysterious FPS Gearbox has code-named Project 1v1. The card game-powered FPS will reportedly begin testing this summer, so the timeline fits. However, given that publisher 2K previously said a "highly anticipated new title from one of 2K's biggest franchises" is also scheduled for 2019, Borderlands 3 looks reasonably likely.

That being said, there are a few other things Gearbox could bring to PAX East. 2019 is the Borderlands series' 10-year anniversary, after all, and numerous unconfirmed but intriguing bits of evidence suggest Gearbox has a Borderlands smorgasbord in store. 

For starters, as Gematsu reported earlier this year, Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition was rated for PS4 and Xbox One by both Korean and Taiwanese ratings boards in the past few months. Note that the original Borderlands is not included in the Handsome Collection already available for these consoles. The studio behind the rumored re-release is reportedly Blind Squirrel Entertainment, the same studio that worked on Borderlands 2's PS3 version. Curiously, Blind Squirrel recently started posting teaser countdown images on Twitter. These images suggest something will be revealed this month, but we can't be sure that it's Borderlands-related. We can, however, cautiously speculate, grain of salt in-hand. (Update: Blind Squirrel's big reveal turned out to be a new game called Drifters, a 5v5 competitive shooter.)

That's not all. As ResetEra users noted earlier this year, there's been some curious activity on the Steam Databases for Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. More specifically, both games have seen frequent branch activity in the past few months, and as recently as 10 hours before the time of this writing. Branches are alternate versions of games which, among other things, are used to test new content and updates. So while it would be strange to see such old games receive new DLC (Borderlands came out in 2012), the notion that Gearbox would test new content using these branches does make sense. This seemingly wild idea also starts to make more sense when you look closely at that database activity.

Two pieces of code-named content have been making the rounds in Borderlands 2's Steam branches: Anemone and Mancana. Five months ago, "Anemone: Last stable build" was added. Three months ago, Anemone saw two rounds of QA testing, and just yesterday, February 28, a branch titled "Anemone: Merge With Mancana" was added. This suggests Mancana and Anemone are different builds of the same content which have now been merged. Today, March 1, "Mancana Anemone 2" was added, which supports this theory - and again, this is just a theory. I won't pretend to understand the inner workings of game development, but the bread crumbs seem to be there. Not only that, "Mancana Anemone" is repeatedly listed under Borderlands 2's files as "unused DLC." Ordinarily, I might assume that this is just super old content that never got used, but Mancana, whatever it is, has clearly been updated recently. 

A similar pattern is present in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's database. A branch code-named Ailanthus has popped up several times in the past few weeks, and is also listed as "unused DLC." On top of that, Ailanthus uses the same terminology as Mancana. For starters, as Reddit user revlayle noted, they're all named after trees and flowers. And where the Borderlands 2 database has "Mancana stable" and "Mancana nightly" branches, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has "Ailanthus stable" and "Ailanthus nightly." The latter branch was also added on February 28. If you're wondering, as I was, a nightly build generally refers to the latest version of a piece of software which may or may not be stable yet. Again, this makes sense in the context of testing new content. 

Just as Gearbox could bring virtually anything to PAX East, this database activity could mean anything - or it could mean nothing, who knows. All I know is that this is all extra suspicious since this year is the 10th anniversary of Borderlands. If Gearbox was going to pull out all the stops and release new content to revitalize the series ahead of a long-awaited sequel, now'd be the time. In any case, we'll find out what's coming on March 28. 

While we're being optimistic and all, here are six cool things we'd love to see in Borderlands 3. 

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 staff 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.