Welcome back to Pandora, Vault Hunter! The planet that's a lot like Australia - everything on or in it is trying to kill you. Including the locals, who again are much like Australia in that they're all post-apocalyptic psychopaths.
I may have gotten everything I know about Australia from the movie Mad Max. To all Australians reading this, I apologize for any stereotypes I may have reinforced, and apologize for the fact that your country is a death trap that inspired a movie that then inspired a video game.
Didn’t know that Borderlands had Australian roots? It’s true! Much of the aesthetic for Pandora’s insane denizens can be traced back to Mad Max. That’s not the only Australian connection; when Gearbox, the makers of Borderlands, was looking to make the sequel to Borderlands 2 (confusingly called Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel) they tapped 2K Australia to develop it. The entire Borderlands series begins and ends with Australia.
Borderlands’ Aussie connection is just one tidbit in a franchise that’s chock-full of crazy and weird things you had no idea about. Which makes sense considering how Borderlands is a crazy and weird franchise. I mean, this is a game series where the villain keeps bringing you back to life after you die even though you’re out to kill him and there’s a robot programmed to only speak in innuendo.
Here’s 15 even crazier things you might never have known about Borderlands.
15 They Left One Of The Best Guns In The Game Just Laying Out In The Open
If there’s one thing you can say about the design of Borderlands, it’s that almost every quest rewards the player with shiny and powerful loot. But you don’t need to go to all that effort since in Borderlands 2 they leave one of the best guns in the game just lying on the ground. If you explore the caves in the eastern part of Frostburn Canyon you’ll eventually come across the Lascaux submachine gun submerged in a shallow pool.
Who would ever leave such an awesome gun to rust in a puddle is beyond me. The Lascaux is a powerhouse that nearly any character can use effectively given its incredible fire rate and hidden two bullets fired per shot. Zoom in and it’ll fire in burst mode, which could fire anywhere from 18 to 28 shots per trigger pull. And you can just walk up and get it very early on in the game.
14 Krieg Is Tiny Tina’s Father?
There’s a popularly held fan theory that Krieg, the psycho Vault Hunter added in Borderlands 2, is actually Tiny Tina’s father. As evidence, they point out that Krieg was created when Handsome Jack tortured him with slag experimentation, and Tiny Tina’s parents died while undergoing the same experimentation.
Well, her mother did at least. We hear her last screams in the audio logs during Tiny Tina’s sidequest, while the father remains conspicuously silent in the fourth audio log. Meanwhile, Krieg will briefly ask, “Where is she? Is she still alive? Did she get away?”, but never explain who this mysterious “she” is.
Head Borderlands 2 writer Anthony Burch has thus far only commented on the matter by saying “Tiny Tina’s parents are dead”, but perhaps he only meant it in the figurative sense. Who else would Krieg be referring to otherwise?
13 The Glitch That Let You Loot To Your Heart’s Content
As solid a game as most of us remember Borderlands to be, there are actually tons of glitches and bugs that are still in the finished product - we just don’t think of them as glitches. We’ll get into a few more later, but we’ll start with probably the best glitch of them all: the General Knoxx’s Armory glitch.
At the end of the Borderlands DLC, The Secret Armory Of General Knoxx, You defeat Knoxx and enter his titular armory. Normally the armory is rigged to explode after 3 minutes, giving you that long to loot as much stuff as you can get your blood-stained paws on. But if you wiggle your way inside through a glitch in the wall leading to the armory, the timer never starts and you can loot as much as your backpack can hold.
12 Easter Eggs Galore!
I could create a whole other list dedicated to all the easter eggs you can find in the Borderlands series. The developers were very fond of their own little secrets and they loaded them into their games like a fat kid loaded up on chocolate.
The original Borderlands had Tannis riding a giant fish in Treacher’s landing (and again in Sawtooth Cauldron in Borderlands 2), a hidden vending machine in New Haven, and a tiny bandit riding in a model car inside Marcus’ shop in T-Bone Junction. Borderlands 2 had too many to list: there was the Dark Souls reference and Minecraft Creepers in Caustic Caverns, the Double Rainbow in The Highlands, and a giant teddy bear in the Wildlife Exploitation Preserve.
Even Tales From The Borderlands gets in on the action by naming the fish Tannis rides in the first Borderlands Splorghuld the Flesh-Slayer and telling the player it had really bad breath.
11 Borderlands 2 Had More Shakespeare References Than Any Other Game Not About Shakespeare
Borderlands as a franchise is generally full of pop culture references, but there’s also a ton of literature references you might have missed if you didn’t major in English Lit.
To start, there's Hamlet, which for some reason the psychos inhabiting Pandora love to quote. In fact, occasionally one will recite the entire "Oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt" soliloquy from Act 1, scene 2 of Hamlet (and he nails it). Goliaths, upon dying, will sometimes say "Goodnight, sweet prince," another Hamlet reference. And then there's the weapon inscription on The Morningstar, the sniper rifle that berates the player for using it, which says "A Rose by any other name...", which is a reference to Romeo and Juliet.
There are way more classic literature references too, like Moby Dick, Gone with the Wind, Alice in Wonderland, and Twilight.
What? I like young-adult vampire novels.
10 A Quest That Took Seconds To Complete Took Months To Create
If you’ve played Borderlands 2, then you probably remember this quest. There’s a guy in Thousand Cuts called Face McShooty who’s wearing a sign which points to his face and literally cannot stop screaming about how he wants someone to shoot him in the face. If you talk to him, he’ll give you a quest to do just that. He’ll even give you money after you kill him. Somehow.
The funniest part? Apparently, that took months of development to get right. According to head writer Anthony Burch, "That was one of the single most complicated quests in the entire game. In all seriousness, it's a super easy quest to complete but there are so many exceptions to the regular rules of how quests work - just in terms of the way that was built - that it was a nightmare. They were working on that quest on and off for months.”
9 Bullymongs Or ....?
Pandora is full of deadly creatures that would like nothing more than to tear you limb from limb. The first such creature you meet in Borderlands 2 is called the Bullymong, but they don’t have to stay that way.
A fairly early quest takes you under the wing of Sir Hammerlock as he tries to rename the species. He eventually gives up and in a fit of rage calls them “Boner Farts,” to the point where even the in-game description of the creatures change to be just that. You can then stop doing the quest and go the entire rest of the game with that name as the official name of the alien baddie.
The whole quest to find a better name for the Bullymongs actually came from real life. “Bullymong” had always been intended to be a placeholder name while the writers came up with something better, but then it caught on in the Gearbox office so they just kept it.
8 Unintentional Nepotism?
Anthony Burch was the lead writer for Borderlands 2. When he was imagining Tiny Tina he confessed that he always pictured his sister, Ashly Burch, while he was writing her dialog. At the time Ashly was already semi-famous from her YouTube series called Hey Ash Whatcha Playin'?, but she still had to audition for the part like every other voice actor when they actually made the game.
But Ash had a bit of an unfair advantage in the fact that no one can act like her better than she could, so when the writer imagines a character literally based off her… Needless to say, she got the part.
To be fair, I think Ash did a fantastic job and Tiny Tina is one of the most memorable characters from the series, but it’s still a little shady.
7 Borderlands Protagonists Get More Chatty With Each Game
As was the style at the time, Gearbox originally made Borderlands with the intent that all the playable characters would be almost entirely silent. They say a few things here and there, but the original four Vault Hunters were mostly mute.
Then, in Borderlands 2, the vault hunters started getting a bit more chatty. They still didn’t necessarily acknowledge being given a quest (or even being addressed directly), but a series of personal audio logs helped give each Vault Hunter a bit more backstory. Then when the Tiny Tina’s Assault On Dragon Keep DLC dropped, each Vault Hunter would have enough voice lines to engage in conversation during quests.
It turned out that players were tired of the whole silent protagonist thing, and were really into the fact that everyone, even the player, had witty repartee. By the time you get to The Pre-Sequel, the Vault Hunters can’t shut up.
6 Angel Without Video Editing Is Super Weird
One of the more iconic characters from the series is Angel, the mysterious woman who helps the original Vault Hunters in Borderlands and helps the next set in Borderlands 2. It was hinted in the original that she might be some sort of artificial intelligence but is later revealed to be a real person with fantastic psychic powers.
Gearbox got the message across with some fancy video editing, but the raw footage shows that most of Angel’s filming was just close-ups in the desert under a blue sky with a fan blowing in her face. Oh, and making weird, random facial expressions.
Also, she’s not even the voice actor for Angel. The “face” of Angel is Britanni Johnson, while the voice was done by Jennifer Greene.
5 Lots Of Handsome Jack’s Lines Are Ad-Libbed
Handsome Jack is easily one of the greatest villains of all time. Part of the reason for that is he’s constantly buzzing in your ear with some sarcastic remark that not only makes the player laugh but also goads the player to greater acts of violence while reminding them of the story that’s unfolding.
Apparently, a lot of Jack’s more memorable lines were totally ad-libbed by voice actor Dameon Clarke. Perhaps the most memorable one is where Jack reveals he’s so rich he’s recently purchased a horse made of diamonds, and subsequently, calls it Butt Stallion in the Vault Hunter’s honor.
“It's easily Jack’s single most popular line, and I didn't frigging write it. I will never forgive Dameon for this,” Burch would later say in an interview.
4 Perhaps The Most Inclusive Game Made
Borderlands is a very inclusive franchise. There are people from all walks of life: tall people, skinny people, morbidly obese people (that also don’t-take-no-guff-from-nobody about it), hetero people, and best of all, a plethora of LGBTQ people.
On the gay side we've got Athena, a playable character in Borderlands: The Pre Sequel and an NPC in the original Borderlands DLC, The Secret Armory Of General Knoxx. Then there’s Janey Springs, an NPC from The Pre Sequel, and everyone's favorite Sir Hammerlock, the British hunter type from Borderlands 2.
There's also a bunch of people who "go both ways" in the Borderlands universe. Mad Moxxi is famously known to swing both ways, as is Axton, the soldier from BL2, and in a surprise twist so is Mr. Torgue, the muscle-bound and expletive-spouting head of the Torgue corporation.
There’s even a brief audio log that details how Handsome Jack forces Dr. Samuels, a lesbian, to kill a gay couple via Eridium experimentation under penalty of never seeing her wife again. Now that’s inclusivity, right there.
3 Do You Recognize These Voices?
Like many games, Borderlands had a whole cast of voice actors to play the roles of your favorite characters. Most of them have done voice work in countless other games, but there were a few notable exceptions.
Remember Crazy Earl? The mildly insane hermit that hands out quests as well as providing you with upgrades for turning in Eridium? That was actually the voice of Randy Pitchford, President and CEO of Gearbox Software, the makers of Borderlands. Or how about Scooter? The lovable (if somewhat oafish) mechanic? That was Mikey Neumann, the head writer for the original Borderlands and until very recently the writer for the upcoming Borderlands 3. And Claptrap? The even more lovable (if "intimately challenged") robot? That’s David Eddings who, at the time, was Gearbox’s VP of business development.
Moral of the story: if you want to get your voice into a game just start working at the company.
2 It’s Not A Bug, It’s A Feature
As I mentioned before, Borderlands history is filled with bugs that later became features. There are two more big ones worth mentioning.
First is Tiny Tina’s crazy eyes. You may actually have noticed that Tiny Tina’s left eye sometimes seems to point sideways, making her seem even crazier than she already is. That’s actually a bug - the developers decided to keep it when they found that it just seemed to add to her whole crazy persona.
Then there’s Axton, who suffered from a bug which caused him to make a pass at both male and female characters when reviving them. He was originally only supposed to make that pass on female characters, but then the writers decided to keep it and just make Axton canonically that way. I mean, it’s certainly easier than fixing your code.
1 The Best Memorial A Vault Hunter Could Ask For
In your time on Pandora, you may have noticed a helpful non-player Vault Hunter in town who hands out free loot. His name is Michael Mamaril, and he was a real person.
I say was, since he’s no longer with us. Michael was a huge Borderlands fan, who tragically died before the release of Borderlands 2 at age 22. Michael’s friend Carlo sent an email to Gearbox asking that Claptrap read a short eulogy for Michael, and Gearbox actually delivered. On top of that, they promised to include Michael as an NPC in Borderlands 2 as a tribute to their greatest fan. That’s why you’ll sometimes see the fabled Vault Hunter Michael Mamaril wandering around Sanctuary, and why he’ll hand you a fantastic gun just for speaking to him.