In a fiscal report released today, Take Two delays a major 2K franchise game that is currently being development. Bets are on as to what title they are referring to, but conventional wisdom points strongly towards Borderlands 3.
The report explains the title’s release is being pushed back to 2020 to allow for extra development, stressing that they remain invested in the franchise and expect it to perform well commercially. For those confused by the jumble of publisher and developer names, 2K is a secondary publishing arm established by Take Two interactive to house its medley of development studios. Among these are the studios responsible for the trifecta of BioShock releases and the Civilization series among other illustrious alumni.
Now, the skeptics among us are right in finding the connection with Borderlands 3 rather tenuous. A few factors do, however, suggest it is in fact the nebulous game in question. First and foremost, the timing works.
Back at a PAX East panel in 2016, Borderlands developer Gearbox’s CEO Randy Pitchford confirmed they would begin production on the next Borderlands game once shooter Battleborn and its various associated DLCs were finished. Battleborn didn’t fare so well upon release and player numbers have steadily diminished ever since. This prompted Gearbox to issue a final update in October 2017 and confirm future support would be purely maintenance-based, effectively ending development.
For the purpose of Borderlands 3, this bodes well, especially if preliminary work was already underway before Battleborn was shut down, as suggested by reports from a PAX West panel in September 2017, where Pitchford said ’90 percent of Gearbox is working on the thing I think most of you guys want us to be working on’. In addition, after the Battleborn-shaped flop, Gearbox must be eager to work on something with guaranteed clout and appeal. Further compounding the matter, 2K’s new game from a ‘major franchise’ has been mentioned in successive fiscal reports dating back to late 2017 up until today’s release. The timing seems just about right.
Next, we have the case of a curiously revealing Unreal Engine render tech demo showcased at GDC 2017. The images on offer eerily resemble something pulled straight from Borderlands down to the unique art style and post-apocalyptic undercurrent. Predictably, Pitchford iterated numerous times during the demo that the images portrayed a production model, advising against linking them to a specific franchise, though suggesting it could be used for future games. See for yourself what you make of it. Remind you of Borderlands much? I thought so too.
Finally, we have one of the most subtle, yet probably the most revealing clues of all. Once again, we focus on Randy Pitchford, game developer by day and magic aficionado by night, and his Twitter meanderings. Among these is a metaphor borrowed from magic centered on the idea that an audience will believe an illusion is real, while conversely labeling something real as a trick. Basically, we only believe what we want to believe. The metaphor then leads into interesting territory, ‘For example, I could write it out now precisely and specifically that “Borderlands 3” will not be at E3 and many of you will choose not to believe it. Many of you will find a way to interpret the intent to suit what you want to believe regardless of what is true.’
A quick mental exercise leads to all kinds of conclusions, namely that this is in fact a convoluted and purposely misleading tease for Borderlands 3. Or equally, a full blown no-holds-barred confirmation the game won’t feature at E3. The confusion is exactly what gives weight to the aforementioned major franchise being Borderlands 3.
To finish, let’s take Rage 2. Bethesda engineered last week’s Walmart leak into a beautifully executed recovery that led to an official announcement. Given the leak was in fact correct, we can semi-assuredly apply the same tenet to Borderlands 3, which featured among the leaked titles. Rage 2 was real, so why not Borderlands 3?
Of course this is all purely anecdotal conjecture, but it sure is fun. Time will tell and I, for one, won’t be that surprised if Borderlands 3 rears its elusive head at E3 next month.