Arms Race is a stand-alone game mode for Borderlands 3 as a part of the DLC5, the Designer's Cut. Arms Race is a Battle Royale-like game mode where participants drop in on the map without any gear or skills and need to collect loot while trying to stay alive. Axton and Salvador provide commentary to what is going on in the game.
Once the participants enter the portal inside the Dahl Geodome, they will be dropped to a random location around the center of the map. There will always be a white chest at the drop location which, most times, is clear of enemies. This gives the participants enough time to look around and find their bearings.
Before they venture out to explore the area, there are few things for the Vault Hunters to keep in mind:
- Participants have no passive skills or guardian ranks to help them out. Health boosters are the only way of restoring health therefore shields with health regeneration or booster shields are something to look for.
- Arms Race has its own balance numbers making weapons and gear to perform differently as compared to the main game. White-rarity weapons and gear are surprisingly powerful and more so are those of higher rarity. Legendary weapons that are not so great in the main game are very powerful in the Arms Race.
- Maliwan weapons with the right elements are very effective.
- Tediore reloads are extremely powerful in the Arms Race but come with relatively high ammo consumption.
- Although the participants have have no action skills, there are still useful anointments that can be triggered:
- On Grenade Thrown, Weapon, Grenade, and Action Skill Damage are increased by 25% for 6 seconds.
- Gain 300% increased Weapon Damage against enemies above 90% Health.
- While exploring the map, use cover while avoiding direct line of sight; this greatly reduces the damage taken.
Surrounding the island is a murder hurricane that will "shred the flesh and/or metal off of a Vault Hunter in no time at all!" As the show goes on, the safe zone slowly but steadily shrinks down. In no case the participants should allow them selves to be caught by the Murdercane.
As deadly as it is, the Murdercane - as pointed out by Axton - is very predictable. Once the show starts, an on-screen timer shows how much time is left in the current phase.
- 3:00 minutes remaining – Starting time. The Murdercane stands still and the whole map can be explored.
- 2:30 minutes remaining – Murdercane is now moving and slowly shrinks to the size of a small circle.
- 4:30 minutes remaining – Murdercane has stopped. After about 25 seconds Airdrops will show up on the map at 3 random locations.
- 2:00 minutes remaining – Mudercane is moving again and slowly shrinks to the size of a small circle.
- 4:00 minutes remaining – Murdercane has stopped again, there is still time to collect some loot.
- 1:30 minutes remaining – Murdercane is moving again and closes in faster.
- 2:00 minutes remaining – Murdercane has stopped shrinking once again. Not much time left to explore and loot.
- 1:00 minute remaining – Mudercane is moving once again only leaving enough time to loot chests close to the center of the map.
- 1:00 minute remaining – Mudercane has stopped shrinking.
- 0:30 minutes remaining – Mudercane starts shrinking again and forcing the participants towards the boss arena entrance.
- 2:30 minutes remaining – Murdercane has stopped. Vault Hunters should use this time to stock up on health and ammo or for last-minute purchases for better weapons and gear.
- 0:30 minutes remaining – Murdercane has completely consumed the map. Jumping down into the boss arena is the only way to go.
Exploring the map
Once the initial items from the white chest are collected, it is a good idea to head towards the loot chest locations marked on the map. As Murdercane slowly but steadily tightens his grip over the map, it is a good idea to go for the loot chest closest to the map edge. All these locations have two Red Chests which often spawn high-quality loot. These chests are well guarded but they are, save for some random White Chests along the way, about the only source of high-quality items. Vault Hunters should avoid skirmishes with enemies encountered along the way. They should get in, pick up any items that might be useful, and get out as fast as possible.
Every now an then, an Airdrop is announced. Two chests - White, Red or any other combination - drop in accompanied by a small enemy force. It is possible to loot the chests while receiving acceptable damage before leaving the drop zone. If the opposition is too strong, luring them away and then coming back to the drop zone might be a better option.
It is a good idea to visit the nearest Gear Extractor and send the DLC exclusives to the bank. Ammo and Medical vending machines are located right next to the arena entrance. Any items collected but not needed should be sold in exchange for ammunition and perhaps a better grenade mod or a shield. Heavyweight Harker and his Hound are well protected with shields and armor and Vault Hunters should plan their loadouts accordingly.
The arena is relatively small with not much cover for the participants to use. Several ammo crates placed along the perimeter can be used to replenish ammo and grenades.
Heavyweight Harker is equipped with a strong shield, wears armor, and has a high health pool. During the Shield and Armor phase he is riding the Harker Hound, a massive Nullhound. Heavyweight Harker will keep calling in additional forces. Although they make the fight more challenging, these are relatively weak units. They are easy to kill and are great second wind targets. They also drop ammo and health boosters when killed.
Harker Hound gets destroyed once Heavyweight Harker's shield and armor are depleted. From this point on, Heavyweight Harker continues the fight on foot as a fleshy target vulnerable to incendiary damage. Rapid-firing assault rifles, SMGs or powerful shotguns should be weapons of choice.
With Heavyweight Harker defeated and before leaving the arena, Vault Hunters should check the loot and use the Gear Extractor to extract any items of interest.