EUREKA! Solving borderlands plotholes without retcons/rewrites

So, thought about it and there’s a simple way for gearbox to fix the borderlands story, without any retcons or rewrites. Just use the (slightly messed-up) lore that they’ve already created.

So, the story of borderlands 4 would be as follows, with you being a new vault hunter (one of 4-6). Here goes:

You begin at the bottom of a mountain, in dense vegetation, fighting off attacks from various creatures (like apes, big cats, super-fast lizards, etc), and climbing up the slope, until it rapidly becomes rocky and then snowy (with no vegetation). At the top, you enter a cave and find a pedestal, with a space missing in the top.

When you activate the pedestal, your character places a large object in the space, shaped like a cone, with glowing sides. It’s a vault key, and as soon as it clicks into place, an arch like the vault symbol glows in the wall. A doorway opens up and a monster barges through, attacking you. It has four legs and two huge appendages sticking from it’s back, like wings without any membrane, just the bones, and a head covered in short spikes, with two long tusks.

You kill it.

As the monster explodes into a pile of loot, the doorway stays open behind it, and (once you have anything you want) you enter the vault to claim your prize. Inside, the vault has a familiar layout, with a bridge leading to a diamond shape, with a pool surrounded by statues in the center, and in front is a statue holding its hands up, almost cradling a floating object.You highlight the object and the description refers to it as “some weird alien doodad”.

When you take it and exit the vault, a face appears at the top of your screen. It’s the Firehawk, whom you recognise. She congratulates you on looting the vault and informs you that some of her best friends were on their way there and you’ve beaten them to the prize. She invites you to join the crimson raiders as a vault hunter, and help her hunt for more vault treasures. She also promises that her expert on alien technology will help you figure out what you found.

You accept and head back to the start of the map, where Brick, Mordy and Tina are waiting for you, with a ship. Along the way, Lilith explains that she’s been recruiting vault hunters to help with an upcoming war, she’s not sure of the details but “a friend” warned her she’ll need everyone she can get.

When you get to the B team, you speak to them and board the ship, which flies you up to Sanctuary.

Once there, you’re met with the instruction “Talk to Lilith”, and a waypoint that takes you straight to the bridge. The path is linear, with all other routes blocked off. Once there, you see Lilith standing at the controls, alone.

She turns, siren tattoos glinting in the light, and says “Heya, killer. Welcome to Sanctuary 2.”

You hand her the doodad, and she gestures behind you, where Tannis has now walked in. Tannis takes it, her arms exposed and not bearing the tattoos of a siren. She examines the doodad and explains that it is an advanced guardian mind core, like those she’s read about.

“They allow you to access different universes,” she explains, “either more chaotic versions of the same universe, or even alternate timelines where events happened differently.” Tannis looks at Lilith. “I’ve been wanting to find one of these ever since I first read the eridian’s writing about them. I’m hoping there might be an alternate universe where they’re still around and I could interact with them directly. Just think of it.”

Lilith stares at Tannis. “So, there might be a universe where Roland didn’t…”

Ellie walks onto the bridge. “A universe where Scooter isn’t…”

Maya steps out from behind Ellie, joining the others, her siren Tattoos visible. “A universe where Krieg hasn’t…”

Claptrap darts past them and up to Tannis. “A universe where my product line wasn’t WIPED OUT! Think of the possibility.” His voice is that of borderlands 2, not 3.

Tannis frowns at Lilith. “Maybe it’s not worth the risk. The eridians clearly locked these things away for a reason.”

Claptrap waves his arms around. “Awww man. Screw that noise. Let’s use it.”

Lilith looks between Tannis and Claptrap. She pauses for a moment. “I say we use it.”

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You’re sent on a mission while Tannis rigs up an interface on the ship, and you have to explore sanctuary 2 and talk to its inhabitants, including Marcus, Dr Zed, Aurelia and Alistair Hammerlock, Moxxi, etc. The ship looks different to that of Borderlands 3, but similar in general. When you return, there’s a stand in the control room, with a space to insert the mind core. Lilith hands it to you and tells you to go ahead.

When you insert the mind core, the ship shakes a little, and there’s a weird glow, but nothing major happens. Tannis accesses a computer and declares that she’s found 7 alternate worlds where another mind core is active, which means she can create a link to them. She pushes a button and a doorway opens up in front of the mind core stand.

A moment passes and then an enemy appears through the doorway. It’s a pirate who lunches towards you. As soon as you kill it (or one of the others does, if you are slow), an echo message plays, while more pirates appear and attack.

“This is Captain Ava of Sanctuary 3. We are under attack from a space pirate calling herself Scarlett. She is blocking our fast travel and long range communication systems, but if you can hear this, we need help immediately. My Crimson Raiders are holding them off, but we’re outnumbered. Please help.”

Lilith seems confused. “Sanctuary … Three? Dunno who this Captain Ava is, but sounds like she could use a hand. Come on Vault Hunter, let’s go show her how we deal with pirates.”

“Not without me, you don’t.” Maya calls. The two of them are now beside the doorway, each holding a large SMG, ready for a fight.

“Can you hold the ship, Ellie?” Lilith asks.

Ellie appears, holding a huge rocket launcher. “Don’t you worry about me. Get going.”

They turn to you, waiting. “Lead the way, vault hunter.”

The doorway to Ava’s ship (and the universe of borderlands 3) awaits.

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Looks interesting.

Multiverse mechanic seems to be working for comics. I think it could help Borderlands too. What is your vision of main villain for Borderlands 4: to the Hovismetaphorverse?

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FYI the Sanctuary 2/3 dumbness is a copyright thing, with none other than Disney :smiley: I kinda see why they 'd prefer to steer clear.
The Mortal Kombat series just pulled something like this, just one game after a reboot of the story. Personally I’m not a fan, there were still so many threads, so many possibilities for the story, and it wasn’t so old that I was bored of it or anything either.
I want to follow this storyline, even if Maya’s death is horsecrap. Even if you tie back into the original, if there’s alt universes full of spare characters, it takes away from tension, and makes things muddled, imo. For instance, I personally like “six sirens in the universe” rule. This would mess with that (then again, lots of sirens running around could also be cool).

But I do like the idea of BL4 starting with us, an unknown, killing a vault monster.

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Well, the first problem I see is that you think the story is broken and needs fixing, I am not so sure Gearbox feels the same way.

Second, the issue with a multi-verse is that it essentially IS a retcon providing a way to undo all that has been done from Borderlands 1 to now. “Hey look guys, everyone is alive and everything that has been done from Day One can now be reimagined!”

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No, not everyone would be alive, in bl2 universe Roland was already gone and by the end of tales so was Scooter. This carries on from the end of TPS, with the promise of a huge war coming and the raiders trying to gather vault hunters and other powers, with a few years having passed, rather than a seven year jump with no war, a missing eridian and us killing other vault hunters that we’d already recruited (Aurelia).

Definitely Agree that the current gearbox team doesn’t seem to care about how much they’ve messed around with the lore or see the need to fix anything, but I think a LOT of players do and hopefully that might convince them to stick to the story as it exists rather than creating the next game with a massive tangent that changes the lore. Seriously, they went from “there’s a huge war about to kick off, and dozens of vaults marked on this map” to “Kill some bandits and their lazy, useless streamer gods but we don’t know where any vaults are”. That’s just bad writing to try and justify the fact that the new team wanted to do their own thing and not stick to what went before.
You only need to read what they said about Aurelia and how they decided she had a good personality for the villain they wanted to add, ignoring how she behaves/reacts in TPS.

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Thanks. =]
I’m thinking the main villains are the vault monsters themselves. It’s gonna turn out that the eridians opened doorways to other universes (using the mind cores) and one of them is controlled by an alien race, which sent scouts/soldiers through. The eridians fought some off, before using the various vaults to trap the rest, and lock away the super-dangerous mind cores in the process.
The plot would involve us releasing an army of vault monsters and having to hunt them all down/ engage in a massive war with them (lots of chances for raid bosses, since that seems to be what most players want more of).
We’d fight alongside the vault hunters from our (bl2) universe and the 2nd (bl3) one, plus one where Roland survived but Lilith died at Jack’s hands. And a universe with a bunch of new vault hunters, not included in any game so far, plus a bunch of claptrap units. The other universes would have already fallen to the vault monsters.

Also, I’d end with everyone having to go back to their own universe, for some reason, so Lilith and Roland, Ellie and Moxxi and Scooter, Maya and Kreig and Ava, claptrap and the other claptraps, etc, all end up having to say goodbye, in order to close the doorways and lock the vault monsters away.

EDIT: plus, I’d kill off a bunch of characters in Bl4. Since it’s a multiverse, there’s scope to off anyone, even fan faves and still have at least one version still around, or go crazy and kill every version of a given character (like wiping out every Lilith or something). This is supposed to be the BIG WAR. That needs high stakes, so plenty of death. It justs needs to be done well.

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So, if these folks get to return, how do explain why Handsome Jack, Commandant Steele, Zane’s brothers, etc are dead in every universe and don’t get to come back. No way this doesn’t make complete mud of the story.

Edit…missed a period (.)

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In the bl2 universe, Lilith and Maya were still around, but I had Maya hint that Kreig is gone, instead. So in the few years they’ve been vault hunting across the galaxy, other vault hunters would probably have fallen.

As for enemies like Jack, Steele, the Flynts, etc, they were already dead by this point in the bl2 and bl3 universes, as well as the “Roland lived and Lilith died” one, but you’re right that they could still be alive in the universe with the new vault hunters. As long as that universe didn’t have a past where they were killed off, you could bring them back. The problem would be that they’d have to join forces with us, so not to divert the plot down a tangent, meaning they might have to be slightly different (like Jack appears instead of Handsome Jack and in his universe angel never became a siren). I can definitely see Zane talking his brothers (and nephew Sparky) into joining them, especially if he died in their universe.
Or, alternatively, give some of those villains a sizeable side mission where we face off against them again, but that might feel too repetitive.

You want one retcon honestly, that the Eridian Mind Core is found before any of the interactions with the COV and Typhon Deleon.

That vault key wasn’t found until the Destroyer’s Rift was opened, Tyreen was defeated, and that unknown vault was opened.

Inserting a new random Vault with that Mind Core is a pretty major rewrite that jumps the gun on that whole mechanic sans any insights on the Guardians that came from the echoes that came from going to Promethya and Nyriad’s writings, all of which came from chasing the Calypsos and everything step along the way.

Technically Fight For Sanctuary comes after TPS’s cut scenes, and before BL3, with no idea of how long that time skip was. (Tales from the Borderlands appears to happen right after).

This makes me think FFS may count as the war that was coming. The New Pandoran invasion of Sanctuary was pretty epic.

But yeah, using the Mind Core and alternate realities can be done without going back in time to do it. Heck, the Vault Hunters are more desperate to use it now minus Lilith.

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Well, I wouldn’t count it as a retcon, because I’d put that it the alternate universe, but yeah, kinda.

In Universe A, everything up to FFS is canon (so BL1, BL2, TPS and TFTB). However, before FFS, the crimson raiders took off into space and started hunting down vaults, rather than sitting staring at a map until someone turned up to steal it. As such, FFS and BL3 aren’t canon. Also, Tyreen and Troy are still sat on Nekretofeyo, waiting for a way off, with Typhon preventing it.

In universe B, everything in BL3 and FFS is canon, even if that means that previous games aren’t (to explain any discrepancies).

In universe C, only BL1 is canon. BL2 is canon, only up until the assault on the bunker. Jack shot Roland in the back, but Roland survived (he wore a better shield, I guess?). Lilith teleported the vault hunters and Roland away, so they worked together to kill the warrior. Jack and Lilith kill each other, and Roland takes the vault key. TPS would mostly be canon, except for Lilith in the present day, who would be replaced by Roland. Guessing Roland would free Athena, and then be confronted by the eridian, instead of ordering Athena killed.

In universe D, None of the games are canon. A different set of sirens gain powers, meaning a totally new set of vault hunters and very different events take place. This means that this universe can have characters we killed, possibly.

In the remaining universes, the vault monsters took over, and have killed all humans, including the sirens.

And yeah, the dates when the universes connect might not be the same, since Universe B would be at least 7 years after BL2 (since that’s when BL3 is set), but I’m putting Universe A as only a couple of years after, and Universe C would be about the same as A. Universe D and the others could connect at any point, though.

If it was, that was a pretty lame war, given the massive build up.
I’m assuming the war is still coming, but gearbox might decide that FFS or BL3 count as the war, and just write that off. Which would be a shame, as it was supposed to be a huge war needing tons of VHs.

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I just played through Promethea with two VHs to today & in all the echoes from the Atlas crew they refer to things as “the war”.

On the other hand, they didn’t have all the Vault Hunters they could find, and they lost Sanctuary to the New Pandoran Army, and then lost it forever by the end. On top of that the Crimson Raiders fell apart and they ended up overrun by the COV and lost all of Pandora along the way.

As far as going multiversal, why not start with a small change that creates a butterfly effect?

Instead of killing Zarpedon after their fight, Jack spares her to interrogate her to find out everything she knows about the Vault on Elpis and Pandora?

Imagine a timeline where Jack learns the secret of Elpis & Pandora two games earlier than everyone else?

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This gist of this has lots of life in it and I’d definitely be down for playing some version of this. Let’s hope Gearbox takes note.

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Damn, slow down bro, when did Borderlands become Game of Thrones? :smiley:
Angel’s demise and Roland’s death was an epic moment, don’t fall into the same trap gearbox has, where they feebly try to capture the same lightning in a bottle twice. There’s other ways.

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What if instead of going to help, the VH from the BL4 universe invade the BL3 universe and that invasion is the “Great War” that the Watcher from the BL3 universe warned of? What if, in BL4, “we” are the enemy, come to wipe out the BL3 universe because… reasons?

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If along the way the main character formed a crew of their own endearing characters, then this could be a fun way of shaking up the status quo and giving us something new going forwards. At the moment, Lilith is gone, as are the members of the B team. Ava is in charge and I never much cared for Tannis or Marcus. If Sanctuary III was blown out of the sky this minute then I’d only really care about Moxxi surviving, possibly Claptrap. They could have the fan favourites join up with this new main character and have this as a reason to dispense with the awful story direction of BL3 and set us back on a better road for years to come.

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Seeing a few good ideas coming from this. As I say, the mind core being canonically able to allow travel to alternate dimensions means the door is open to a bunch of interesting new directions and possible stories. If they do it well, it could fix a lot of what fans hate and bring players back. Just hope gearbox consider it, as the current direction seems to be pushing a lot of people away.

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Sticking with my original idea, can’t decide which world be better:

Things are going bad, Lilith is injured and there’s a huge vault monster approaching to kill her when your echo lights up and a masked face from the past appears. A gruff voice fills your ears. “Hey, kiddo, why don’t we kill this thing, then we’ll all go out for milkshakes?”. Lilith mutters a swear word and a doorway opens beside her. She manages to lift her smg toward it, but freezes when something small flies through and hits the ground. As she stares, it unfolds into a scorpio turret, and she lowers her gun. “No way.” Roland steps through the doorway and offers Lilith a hand up. “Just kidding, I grabbed his echo when I killed Jack.” Lilith takes his hand and stands, gawping at him. “And I always said you had no sense of humour.” she whispers. “Yeah, and I didn’t listen.” he replies. The vault monster gets close and they turn to face it, her lifting her SMG and him pulling out an AR.

OR, go with a pop culture reference and have an echo message pop up saying “On your left”, before Roland and his crimson raiders appear through a doorway and join the fight.

  • Callback to BL2
  • Pop culture reference

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Using Roland in that way would be nice touch, but the reason it would be is because of how well the “Bearer of Bad News” mission works (as well as the Echoes around Sanctuary) to portray Roland in a better light than any of his interactions with Lilith in game. And then that’s magnified by Assault on Dragon Keep and how much empathy it creates towards Tina’s mourning.

That said, all those moments lose their impact once we start bringing people back. Borderlands hasn’t learned how to pass the torch from one set of heroes to the next in a satisfying way. A similar thing happened with The Last Jedi. Dare I say that Endgame got it right or at least half-right.

At this point I want anything related to Borderlands 3 and onward to focus on fleshing out the existing characters and their stories leading up to what we experienced. I know it may seems like a really unpopular idea, but I think the best storytelling and character development in the series was in The Pre-Sequel and the Claptastic Voyage DLC. It really did add to the impact of Borderlands 2’s characters, heroes and villains. Borderlands 3 offered a lot of echoes to give some of that but there are probably a few games worth of story in the time skip from FFS to BL3.

Having said that, at this point focusing on the dimensional aspect of Lilith’s powers and the Guardian Mind Core as a way for Tannis to try and figure out what happened to her when she phased the moon feels like the path I’m more comfortable with than the multiverse thing. It’s going to be so played out after DC and Marvel both put out there movies (Flashpoint, Spiderman: Homeyverse, plus Dr. Strange) that going that route with any other franchise is going to feel derivative and the fans service that comes with it might fall flat.

I can change one aspect of your scene that you just proposed that would make it work without the multiverse: Instead of it being Roland, and him referencing killing Jack, have it be Tina that comes through the Doors, and have her quote Roland (correctly for a change)

“I love this damn thing!” “It’s like having another soldier on the field!”

And Tina helps her up, and they embrace behind the Turret’s shield.

If that were the cut scene of Lilith’s rescue in BL4, I’d give it two thumbs up.
Also, instead of it being a Vault Monster, have it be a reanimated version of the Sentinel, and the pit it climbs out of in its second phase, and the fell back into after we defeated it in TPS is an alternate dimension within the Vault’s alternation Dimension, and that’s where Lilith ended up. She Phased Elpis into it’s Vault, which was big enough inside to hold Elpis itself.

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