In the distant future, several colonization ships head to Pandora, a planet on the edge of the galaxy. The colonists are drawn there in search of a better life as well as vast mineral resources said to be on the planet, free for anyone's taking, akin to a futuristic gold rush. Some time after settling the colonists discover that there is little the planet offers, aside from some decrepit alien ruins. Those who have money leave, the remaining population devolves into chaos and lawlessness. Some of the settlers seek to get rich quick by discovering alien technology. Most others are just trying to survive. After seven earth years, the planet's slow orbit brings a transition from winter to spring, and many horrifying creatures emerge from hibernation.
A beacon of hope for the remaining colonists emerges in the form of a mysterious vault carved in the side of a mountain. This vault is said to contain vast stores of alien technology and secrets. The only problem is that the people who discovered the vault were completely wiped out by some sort of protective force. The only evidence of their discovery is a scattered radio transmission, proclaiming the vault's majesty, but not its location.
Little is currently known about gameplay, other than the game will feature four player cooperative play along with other singleplayer and multiplayer modes. In addition, players have access to customizable vehicles for "vehicular combat" and will also be able to customize their character. Deceased enemies will drop their equipment, which is available for you to pick up. You will be able to choose from 3 different playable characters, who each have their own unique abilities. It is inspired by the Mad Max film series and Diablo by Blizzard.
Like traditional RPGs, much of the player's time will be taken up by quests. There will be many quests of varying length and complexity. Many of these quests will not be mutually exclusive, and can be completed together. Gearbox wants to encourage the player to push themselves just a bit further to complete the next quest on their list. Each quest carries its own rewards, such as new weapons, or perhaps revealing a new piece of the story.
The game will also have a unique feature similar to Diablo's random level generation system. This new system will generate more than 600,000 different guns as well as 600,000 different item and armor variations. According to the preview of the game in Game Informer magazine,
"We saw a ridiculous amount of guns, but perhaps the strangest was a revolver that fired shotgun shells. Gearbox is constantly surprised with what the system comes up with. They've seen rifles shoot everything from homing darts to rockets. 'One of the guns tracks onto something and locks, and after three seconds, [the target] suddenly explodes,' director Matthew Armstrong says."
The features of the maps will also be randomly generated. While towns, and the general paths connecting them will remain the same, Borderlands features a system that randomly instances the surrounding landscape, with randomly placed things such as bunkers, towers, caves, enemies, and exploding cacti. All of this is done without a loading screen. Gearbox plans that the player will not see a loading screen after they boot up the game.