When 2K announced a second season of Borderlands 3 DLC content, we didn’t know what to expect. The first year brought three unique stories to the game with the last being Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck, so to be perfectly honest we were expecting more of the same. Borderlands 3: Designer’s Cut was not what we were expecting. A new PvE Battle Royale complete with a ‘murdercane’ (we’ll get to that later) and a new talent tree for each of the four characters, Designer’s Cut shakes Borderlands 3 to its core bringing players a new way to enjoy the game.
Borderlands 3: Designer’s Cut kicks off with a poster on the wall in your Sanctuary ship. This then opens up the option to fast travel to an abandoned DAHL facility called Stormblind Complex which is located on Pandora. This intact military base is the perfect place to host a gameshow, but this gameshow isn’t exactly what you’re expecting. Say good-bye to your weapons, your shield, grenade mods and other gear and even your action skills and passive abilities. You’re dropping in to this base in a completely vulnerable state where you not only need to survive against enemies coming at you from every direction, but you also need to explore, dodge a huge ‘murdercane’ (we’ll get there), and beat a boss at the end. This is an Arms Race.
Upon arrival at Stormblind Complex, you approach a semi-spherical room with boarded up windows. Once you restore power to the facility, the windows reveal the huge military base which you’re about to get dropped into. Once you start Arms Race you’re going to need about 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay because what lies beneath is a non-stop shoot-em-up where you’ll be traversing the map attempting to find loot all while avoiding the crazy ‘murdercane’ (almost there) that keeps changing its path. There are twelve new enemy types in Arms Race, along with dozens of familiar Spiderants, Skags, Children of the Vault and Maliwan mobs which means you never know exactly what kind of fight you’re going to get.
Once the clock starts ticking in Arms Race, you’ll be frantically scurrying around the map looking for loot and trying to thwart off enemies. At first, you’ve got no shield and a very small amount of health but this can be fixed with a few lucky loot crates or good kills. There are several chests marked on your map that contain better than usual loot, though experienced players should be aware that they won’t be filled with legendary weapons and mods. In fact, while legendary gear does appear (you can get a few in each playthrough), you can’t use them inside the Arms Race and must reach an extraction point to get them out. You can also complete the current session of Arms Race by killing Heavyweight Harker, the boss. We found Harker wasn’t particularly challenging, though it can entirely depend on how lucky you are with the weapons you find, how good your friends are, and how much of the map you’re willing or able to explore before taking him on.
Ever-present is the ‘murdercane’, a snowy blizzard that only appears when you start straying from the very visible safe-zone circle on the map. It’s a standard dead-zone system where your health starts decaying to eventual death unless you get back inside the circle, as we’ve seen in games like PUBG and Fortnite. The difference in Arms Race is that the murdercane moves across the map as an unstoppable force which both opens up and shuts down different parts of Stormblind Complex. While you can just hang around the middle of the complex, better players will find their way to the edges where most of the good loot crates are. Just make sure you keep an eye on the timer.
The other big addition in Designer’s Cut is the new skill trees which ironically aren’t usable in Arms Race. FL4K, Moze, Zane and Amara each get a fourth skill tree giving them new skills that will change the way you play the game, giving you the perfect excuse to start again on New Game Plus mode. FL4K’s new Trapper skill tree turns your pet into an absolute tank, giving you a trap action skill called Gravity Snare which raises your opponents in the air for a few seconds before slamming them back into the ground causing damage. Moze’s new Bear Mother skill tree gives her an autonomous mini-mech called Iron Cub and will give you huge boosts if you’re using fire, so you’re going to want to find some Hard Point weapons if you choose to play this class.
Zane’s new skill tree is called The Professional and is probably the biggest change to any class. This new skill tree gives Zane the MNTIS Shoulder Canon, a crazy railgun which snipes enemies from afar. If you combine the gun with the No Way Out skill, it turns it into a grappling hook allowing you to traverse the worlds in a whole new way and find more loot crates. Finally, Amara’s new Enlightened Force skill tree gives her a Phaseflare, a giant orb that you can control which causes elemental destruction in its waste. The skill tree however is focused on freezing enemies, so you’re going to want to use a combination of elemental and freezing weapons and mods for maximum damage.
While Arms Race provides a brand-new way to play Borderlands 3, with new enemies, new weapons, and the ability to play a co-op battle royale with friends, it’s not a huge addition to the game. When we heard about the new mode, we thought we’d get a few maps, maybe using some locations that already exist in Borderlands 3, or even lending to previous games in the series. All we’ve ended up with in Borderlands 3: Designer’s Cut however is just one new map and one new skill tree for each of the four playable characters, so we’re not sure how much this DLC will add for the average player.
Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Borderlands 3: Designer’s Cut on Windows PC via Steam in 2k60 using review code provided by the publisher. It is also available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with next-gen updates at 4k60 coming at launch for the Xbox Series X on November 10th and PlayStation 5 on November 12th. For more information, head to the official Designer’s Cut website.
- New way to play - New skill trees to try.
- A very limited DLC