Nowadays, DLC content is a staple of the gaming industry. Everyone is making DLCs — even Breath of the Wild broke Zelda convention by introducing some DLC adventures. Of course, some franchises have been doing it for a lot longer than others, and one game preserving that tradition is Borderlands 3. It’s been out for only a year, and it’s already winding up to release its fourth downloadable expansion involving the Borderlands 2 DLC character Krieg. It’s not surprising that Borderlands 3 has so many DLCs already, or that the developers are thinking about doing more. However, there is one type of DLC that Borderlands is skipping this time, and it has to do with the likes of Krieg again.
Randy Pitchford, the CEO of Gearbox, recently sent out a tweet asking fans what they’d like to see out of a hypothetical second wave of DLCs, yet it only takes a moment of scrolling through the replies to see that there’s a lot of demand for additional playable characters. Borderlands 3 still only has four character options, and additional characters are conspicuously missing after a year of expansions. Pitchford stressed that there’s no guarantee that the game will get any more expansions, so the window for more characters is closing. What are the odds Gearbox turns around and puts out character DLCs?
Borderlands does have some significant precedent of adding player characters in expansions. Borderlands 2 had Gaige the Mechromancer and Krieg the Psycho, while Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel added Jack the Doppelganger and Aurelia the Baroness. Two characters for each of those games is no small amount of work, so for a little while, it looked like Gearbox wanted to establish a pattern of adding characters. A large part of a Borderlands game’s replay value comes from the option to pick up a new character with a new playstyle and experience the game a different way. DLC characters only enhance that.
However, around the time Borderlands 3 came out, the developer stated in no uncertain terms that there wouldn’t be any Vault Hunters added to the game after launch. It explained that, although there often appears to be high demand for extra characters, they have data that indicates the DLC characters don’t see very much playtime. The explanation seems logical too: many players don’t want to abandoned their main to start up a brand new class. In other words, as long as Gearbox thinks there’s a disparity between player demand for this brand of expansion and actual player investment in it, there isn’t much hope for new Borderlands classes.
From a development standpoint, it’s hard to blame Gearbox for being hesitant to meet this fan demand. According to its data, it might be a bad investment for them to dedicate resources to developing and balancing a whole new character while expecting low returns on their work. However, what if Gearbox is thinking differently about it now? Borderlands 3 sold extremely well and it would seem the DLCs have sold well enough that Gearbox is floating the idea of making more. If it thinks the fans’ hunger for more content is bigger than expected, it might reverse its hardline statement from earlier and try making a new Vault Hunter or two. After all, while the data doesn’t translate to gameplay time, it’s clear that characters like Jack’s Doppelganger, Gaige, and Krieg are popular as they appear in current Borderlands 3 DLC as NPCs.
Of course, that’s purely hypothetical, as Pitchford gives no clues in his tweet about what kind of DLC Gearbox is thinking about. In fact, the Twitter poll nature of the tweet might mean it doesn’t have any concrete ideas at all and is still at the stage where it’s feeling things out. Even so, that could bode well for a character expansion. If Gearbox is feeling open-minded about where it takes Borderlands 3 in its second year of life, there’s a much better possibility for additional characters than ever before. Now that Pitchford has teased more hypothetical expansions, the Borderlands community will be on tenterhooks waiting for a follow-up.
Borderlands 3 is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, Stadia, and Xbox One.