Borderlands 3: Beginner's Tips

For the first time in series history, Borderlands now lets players choose between Easy and Normal modes before they begin the game. This is a great inclusion to make it more accessible for newcomers or those who may not want a challenge. If that isn't enough for you, there are a few tips to make your journey across the galaxy even easier, or at least less frustrating than it should be.

Returning players should switch to the classic controller scheme

This isn't necessarily a tip for new players, though I do think it will be useful to them too. For returning players, make sure to set your controller button layout to Classic instead of Default. You won't be able to swap out missions on the fly with your D-pad anymore. But it will allow you to switch between each equipped weapon more effectively, so you aren't rotating between all of them to get to the exact weapon you need. It rebinds your equipped weapon slots to the D-pad, as they should be.

If you try to remap the individual buttons themselves, you'll have a difficult time. One button cannot be mapped to two different functions, no matter what that function is. And it doesn't allow you to map a button so that you need to hold it down instead of press it, which would free up more options.

Item scores are pretty much arbitrary, don't worry about them

Borderlands 3 item scores

Borderlands 3 item scores (Image credit: Windows Central)

Every weapon in Borderlands 3 has an item score, which is supposed to be an easy way to tell how powerful and effective that weapon is. There doesn't appear to be any logic for how an item score is determined, which is a problem. Items with a higher score are often less useful than items with a lower score. And item scores have almost nothing to do with a weapon's rarity or level, making the inventory system a clunky mess. My rare level 46 pistol has a higher item score than my level 47 legendary shotgun? Sure, why not.

TLDR: Item scores are arbitrary; don't worry about them.

Melee Eridium shards and complete challenges to earn Eridium

More of a "beginning/middle" of the game tip, melee the purple Eridium shards you see to earn more Eridium. You won't be able to use a normal melee attack against them. You'll need to wait until after you've defeated the first Vault boss and earned a special melee attack. Then you can go around smashing any Eridium you'd like. This also lets you open up Eridian weapon chests that were otherwise inaccessible.

Alternatively, collecting dead Claptrap parts and finding Typhon de Leon logs will also nab you some Eridium. You can spend that at Crazy Earl's shop aboard Sanctuary for anointed weapons or cosmetics.

Use vehicles to cheese areas if possible

Let's not act like we all don't use cheeses from time to time. I don't fully recommend this method for everyone because it's not as fun, but the option is there if people need it. A lot of areas in Borderlands 3 are gated so that vehicles cannot enter them, effectively forcing you to get out and fight. There is a way to get around this intention, though. Simply drive up to one of these areas, get out of your vehicle, aggro some enemies, and hop back in your vehicle. The enemies should still be in sight, and you can shoot them from the safety of your vehicle. If you're crafty, you can even shimmy your vehicle into the area with the right use of your boost and some nearby objects to elevate the tires.

This is isn't a competitive multiplayer game where players are cheating against one another. This is just a method for players who are overwhelmed to make their experience a bit easier if they choose to. You can go be elitist somewhere else if you have a problem with that.

Use radiation damage often

Radiation elemental damage replaced Slag from Borderlands 2, and it's even better. Slag was fairly useless unless you swapped between weapons to take advantage of an enemy's weakened state. With radiation, you get the best of both worlds. Not only does radiation weaken enemies, it also actively harms them over time. Radiation can even spread to nearby enemies by proximity or when an irradiated enemy dies.

Unless you're playing in a Mayhem Mode that buffs enemies' resistances or are fighting against an already-irradiated enemy by default, radiation practically harms everyone you'll come up against. It's one of the most versatile and useful elemental effects in the game.

Check your mail in the social menu

Borderlands 3 introduces brand loyalty rewards. If you happen to take a particular liking to a specific manufacturer and perform enough kills with a Jakobs weapon, for example, you'll receive mail from the Jakobs corporation with new weapons. Using a Maliwan SMG frequently will reward you with even better Maliwan SMGs from the company. You can access your mail by going to the Social option in the main menu and scrolling to Mail.

You will also be able to earn weapons in the mail by completing tasks for characters like Zero and Sir Hammerlock. Both characters have several special enemies that they'd like you do kill, whether it's a special beast or an assassination target.

Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.