Before I get into the main bugs that led me to create this post, here are a few suggestions to make the Circle of Slaughter more enjoyable:
1: Let us save&quit inbetween rounds without losing the entire quest. The Circle of Slaughter in Borderlands 3 is a lengthy ordeal and a single run through all of the 5 rounds can take you upwards of an hour, even more so if you maybe fail a round or two. Making it so you have to complete them all in one go doesn’t really achieve anything other than make it tedious, especially for players who have only limited playtime or are getting tired. Being tired and failing a round repeatedly feels bad and having to decide if you just wanna quit for the time being and lose out on an hour of hard-fought progress or power through it even though you’d rather quit for the day feels even worse. Mind you, in previous installments of the franchise, each round actually was its own quest and you could indeed pause inbetween those.
2: Remove the Jetpack troopers. Not because they are particularily annoying or anything but because they can end up stuck outside the map, making it impossible for you to complete the wave.
3: The rewards really could be a little better. Like, a chest of fairly generic loot and 50k dollars is really nothing to write home about. Sure, you can get better rewards for completing bonus objectives but still, this quest takes longer and is harder than any of the bossfights in the game and still the best loot you are gonna get is the potential legendary drops from all the badasses in the last two rounds. Why not at least make it so the boss(es) drop some good stuff? After all, you cannot farm them over and over again like the Grave Warden (well, you sort of can but you can’t fight them outside the 5th round so you don’t get 1 kill every 3 minutes) so it’s not gonna be broken if they give you something good for your troubles.
4: Very specific, but can we please cut down on the amount of NOGs in the 3rd Round on the Slaughterstar 3000? There’s only so many of those little buggers throwing shield drones all over the place you can add to a round before a challenging fight turns into a tedious one.
Now, with the suggestions out of the way, this is my Circle of Slaughter experience: My first attempt was rather short because I reset it after failing the 2nd round so I could get different Mayhem modifiers (turns out, if you mustn’t die during a quest, having the modifier that cripples your shields is not really optimal). I did however run into the aforementioned bug where a Jet trooper ended up outside the map, preventing me from finishing a wave. I eventually managed to kill him with a storm front but yeah, doesn’t matter because I re-tried anyway. My second attempt went a lot better and I progressed sort of quickly through the rounds (thank god the circle of slaughter doesn’t have a timer attached to it like the proving grounds), even though the 3rd round took me longer than I am willing to admit (all those bloody NOGs). However, the real weirdness began in the 5th round. My first attempt was fairly normal, I managed to get to the last wave and died because I somehow didn’t notice in time that there was a second massive robot boss on the other side of the arena. Whatever, ■■■■ happens, I retried. That’s when it got weird. Halfway through the second attempt one of the waves started before I actually was done with the current one, leading to me getting swarmed by an unholy amount of super tank Maliwan bots and Heavies. I somehow managed to beat them anyways and arrived at the bosses. And killed them. And didn’t beat the round. I figured there might be another trooper stuck somewhere and searched the entire arena. Nothing. Not a single red dot on the minimap. After at least 15 minutes of looking I had a bit of a mental breakdown (probably the most upset I have ever been playing this game, not even the time the game deleted all items in my bank vault was that bad) and after I recovered from that, I tried again. And the game did again spawn in a wave prematurely, not even only once, but twice. This time I got unlucky and got just swarmed (that, and there were more enemies on the field than the wave was supposed to have) and died. Then, the successful attempt. Again, premature waves. The success consisted in Torgue suddenly announcing that I had made it, halfway through a wave, and that I could go and collect my rewards. I kept clearing the room, that’s when the actual final wave and the bosses spawned in. Eventually I managed to beat them and officially finish my Circle of Slaughter run.
Final Verdict: In my opinion the most challenging content this game has to offer. It makes for a lot of fun, generally speaking, but there are some issues that need adressing, both on a conceptual level and just mechanically. Roughly guessing, this entire run took me at least 3 hours if not more and I think that it could have been at least one hour faster if everything worked how it was supposed to. Long story short, get those bugs fixed, make the whole thing a bit more rewarding and reduce the amount of NOGs in round 3.