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It is said that the Greek god Zeus fought for 10 long years against the titans, only to have the battle end in a draw. We at Atlas like to believe Zeus could have won the fight in half the time if only he had one of the guns from our legendary line of firearms. All Atlas guns offer exceptional rate of fire, damage, and an epic level of high technology. Regardless of your god, you need not look to the heavens for salvation from adversity. Atlas weaponry can answer your prayers and grant you a power few mortals have ever experienced. Prove yourself as a true believer. Join the select ranks of Atlas owners and become a god among men!
— Atlas sales pitch, Official Borderlands Guide

Atlas is a weapons manufacturing corporation supplying arms to the Pandora market. Weapons manufactured by the Atlas corporation may be randomly generated in Borderlands, where their signature feature is their pearl handles[1], and in Borderlands 3, where their signature feature is their smart projectile tracking system.

Background

The Atlas corporation is a massive interplanetary megacorporation involved in the development and manufacture of everything from spaceships and stardrives to small arms. During the Corporate Wars, a struggling Atlas corporation began hiring explorers from around the galaxies in search of ancient alien technology. One such explorer hired by Atlas was Typhon DeLeon, a Pandora-born turd farmer who snuck aboard a merchant ship bound for Promethea in search of adventure. Due to the efforts of Typhon, a Vault would be discovered on Promethea at the Kasmarian Quarry, and Atlas would be handed the corresponding Vault Key by Typhon in exchange for a large sum of money.

Soon, Atlas opened the Vault and began reverse engineering the Eridian technology from it in order to manufacture machines and weaponry with the benefits of this new technology, allowing them to produce high performance equipment that excels in every area without trade-offs. The project also brought Atlas to the forefront of weapons manufacturing, and was extremely profitable. The immense success of the Atlas corporation's venture inspired other megacorporations, such as the Dahl corporation, to explore other frontier planets, like Pandora, in search of more alien technology and similar resources. Not all such ventures were immediately successful, as the case of Pandora shows, even though items of value still exist buried within the planet.[2]

Involvement

Crimson Lance

The Crimson Lance is a highly trained and well-armed private military force created and financed by the Atlas corporation. It can be assumed by Crimson Lance involvement that the Atlas Corporation is attempting to secure the Vault in order to maintain its technological edge over its competitors, but the original game leaves this matter unclear. In The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, General Knoxx's report to high command (a recording of which was recovered and listened to by the Vault Hunters) confirms that Steele was sent to secure the Eridian technology that the Pandoran Vault was rumored to contain. By the time the Vault Hunters arrive, though, there are indications that the Lance operation appear to have been abandoned by Atlas, as both they and the Dahl corporation began to doubt its existence after a fruitless search, and the continued stay on Pandora was possibly simply a power grab by its Pandoran leader, Commandant Steele. Helena Pierce's statement that the Lance soldiers have been invading towns and turning them into "Lance fiefdoms" supports this possibility. These efforts bring them into direct conflict with four highly dangerous and resourceful adventurers that came to Pandora.

Despite the eventual discovery of the Vault's true contents, Atlas has nevertheless decided to maintain their grip on the planet Pandora, and in this interest, have deployed heavy reinforcements to the planet under the command of Crimson Lance General Alphonso Knoxx. General Knoxx did make multiple attempts to kill the Vault Hunters (as ordered by command), however their skill and his disdain for his job resulted in Knoxx's death.

Defeat

Shortly after the opening of the first Vault and the death of Knoxx, Atlas decided to "cut their losses" and left Pandora abandoning the entire Lance brigade stationed there. This decision prompted many ex-Lancemen to turn towards banditry, while others joined up with similarly former Lanceman Roland who formed the Crimson Raiders.

A digital version of Handsome Jack later claimed that he owned Atlas and had destroyed them, showing an apparently legal Atlas Certificate in his office, this was proven false by Atlas still having functioning Crimson Lance bases and military presence.

Revival

After Jack's demise, Rhys later reclaimed the certificate, seeking to gain full control of Atlas as a result, along with their top secret base on Pandora. At that point, Rhys is building Atlas back up, being different from the old.

Borderlands 3

In Borderlands 3, an explanation for the lack of Atlas weapons in Borderlands 2 is provided through Echo logs in the Meridian Outskirts. It is revealed that after Atlas went out of business, Marcus Kincaid was the only weapon salesman on Pandora who had his own store of Atlas weapons. However, Marcus quickly realized that Atlas installed brickware on every single one of their guns, thus disabling them entirely once the company was dissolved. While he was ready to unload the disabled weapons to the bandits of Pandora, Rhys approached Marcus in an attempt to become business partners; this was quickly turned down by Marcus, who humored himself over the thought of Atlas regaining their footing. Marcus eventually had to eat his words, as Rhys began creating his own new tech, and both of them eventually agreed upon a rocky but agreeable partnership together. These events rebranded Atlas to what it is known today.[3]

Atlas returns in full force in Borderlands 3. Now owned by Rhys, the company has a huge corporate headquarters, and the Crimson Lance has returned. Atlas's new CEO is Rhys, with Zer0 working for him.

Atlas's revival did not go unnoticed however, as Katagawa Jr., a Maliwan executive, took interest in the company, but most importantly acquiring Rhys's friendship. In the only way he knew how, Katagawa Jr. attempted a forced takeover of the company by sending Maliwan troops to Promethea. Maliwan was mostly successful in their efforts until four Vault Hunters from the Crimson Raiders showed up, and Katagawa Jr. was unable to secure Rhys's friendship. After the destruction of his pleasure yacht, Katagawa Jr. gave up in trying to absorb Atlas and decided to destroy the company instead, but he was killed by the Vault Hunters, ending Maliwan's forced takeover.

Armaments

Borderlands

Atlas guns tend to have high damage and fire rate, without sacrificing magazine capacity and reload.[4] Indeed, Marcus Kincaid sometimes says, "Buy an Atlas, and you too will know what it is like to hold the power of the gods in your hands!" Atlas guns tend to be among the rarest guns in the game. Despite their overwhelmingly powerful portrayal in the game, this does not mean Atlas guns are always the best choice.

Products

Atlas manufacturers combat shotguns, machine guns, repeaters, revolvers, and pump-action sniper rifles.

The following are produced by Atlas:

Unique weapons:

Legendary weapons:

Class mods:

Grenade mods:

  • Rain - Explosive, Corrosive, Incendiary, Shock

Shields:

  • Shock Resistance - Grounded, Anionic, Cationic

Pearlescent weapons:

  • Revolver - Aries (The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC only.)
  • Shield - Omega (The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC only.)

Weapon Tiers

  • Atlas Champion = Level 1-18
  • Atlas Heroic = Level 19-26
  • Atlas Herculean = Level 27-35
  • Atlas Legendary = Level 36-42
  • Atlas Titan = Level 43-69

Quotes

  • "Buy an Atlas, and you too can see what it feels like to hold the power of the gods in your hands!" - Marcus Kincaid.
  • "Atlas spares no expense in making guns that excel in every area!" - Marcus Kincaid.
  • "Pandora. A planet that once knew only peace and prosperity under the fair and noble direction of the Atlas Corporation. But there were those that sought to disrupt our perfect existence. Thieves and murderers. Perverts and scoundrels. The lawless garbage unleashed an unspeakable evil upon Pandora not known since the age of the Gods. But together, we shall not despair. Atlas has not forgotten you. We are returning and we will restore order and security to your planet. When we arrive, we will..." - From the intro cinematic of The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, an Atlas Educational Film entitled "Respecting Your Superiors"; continued as a quote by Athena.
  • "Atlas believes in customer service above all else. Though all sales are final." - Atlas propaganda announcement.
  • "Do not worry. Pandora is the thirteenth most important planet within our interglobal dominion. We might not spend much of our budget on you, but at least you're not on Promethea!" - Atlas propaganda announcement.
  • "Give us your hungry, and we'll give them our leftovers! Give us your poor, and we'll give them a job that might pay! Give us your weary, and we'll make them sing us a song! We are Atlas!" - Atlas propaganda announcement.
  • "Atlas shall return to break the bothersome shackles of freedom and choice that have plagued your weary minds!" - Atlas propaganda announcement, after the completion of The Secret Armory of General Knoxx.
  • "Fight like a God. Buy Atlas." (Mad Moxxi in The Underdome Riot)
  • "Bring an Atlas. Fear nothing." (Mad Moxxi in The Underdome Riot)
  • "Atlas ... Wield the weapons of the gods... get an Atlas." (Mad Moxxi in The Underdome Riot)
  • "Atlas ... Good enough for Gods and mortals alike." (Mad Moxxi in The Underdome Riot)

Borderlands 3

Atlas gear returns from their absence since the first Borderlands and have had a complete design overhaul. Instead of having overall excellent stats, Atlas weapons feature "Smart Bullets" that home onto enemies marked by their alternate firing modes (see below), but they have slow fire rates and slow projectile speeds. All Atlas guns fire non-elemental rounds, though some legendary variants possess limited elemental capabilities (Rebel Yell, O.P.Q. System and Multi-tap).

Atlas guns have unorthodox designs with their pistols and rocket launchers being wrist/shoulder mounted. The aesthetic of their weapons takes influence from futuristic space vehicles in science fiction: their pistols feature UFO-like magazines, their rocket launchers are equipped with massive jetpack-like magazines, and their assault rifles have sleek, curved barrel protectors that give the appearance of a spacecraft. Their weapons fire from multiple side barrels instead of the more traditional linear layout of other manufacturers and their gun accessories being large and unwieldy, usually concealing the main barrel itself. If an Atlas weapon spawns with such an accessory, they will have small fins that open up while firing.

The company's nomenclature follows a research and development theme, with project code names such as AX-19 and Pattern (NULL).

Due to the company's change in command, Atlas appears to have dropped its signature pearl handles in lieu of a red/white/black color scheme similar to its old logo.

Alternative Fire Mode

Main article: Alternative Fire mode

Atlas weapons shoot a tracking round as a secondary fire mode. Any enemies tagged with tracking rounds will glow red, and all regular shots will target a tracked enemy for a time dependent on the nature of tracking round fired. Smart-bullets will travel slower and leave a noticeable red trail while homing on targets. An audio cue will denote when an Atlas weapon has locked onto a target, and small red arrows will appear on the crosshairs.

Smart-bullets will prioritize the closest marked enemy, although if there are multiple targets within a similar range they may split up. Bullets will travel a short distance before arcing, which allows them to fly up and around cover. The user can influence the flight path of the bullets by aiming in different directions. By firing into the air, bullets will rain down from above, making them more likely to score headshots. Smart-bullets will home on targets with perfect accuracy, but they can be blocked by terrain as well as other enemies who might get in the way.

Tracking rounds all have a single round capacity and they will replenish over time. The time needed depends on the type of tracking round.

The duration of a tracking round is dependent on specific gun parts, with a minimum base of 8 seconds for all weapons and a maximum of 15 seconds for pistols, 19 seconds for rocket launchers, and 28 seconds for assault rifles. A purple Q-System has a potential maximum of 42 seconds if it spawns with all possible duration-increasing parts. [5]

There are three standard types of tracking rounds:

  • Tracker Darts: A small number of darts are shot in a shotgun-like burst. Darts can tag one or more enemies and have a short recharge time. Overall the most reliable and effective tracking system.
  • Tracker Puck: Fires a slow-moving magnetic puck that sticks to the enemy it's shot at. Upon the target's death, it will drop off and has a chance to seek out a new target within a small radius. The puck's tagging effect lasts for eighteen seconds. Designed for tracking large, single targets and generally the least effective form of tracking.
  • Tracker Grenade: A grenade-like charge that is shot in an arc. Bounces up on impact with terrain and explodes into hundreds of darts that will track all enemies within the burst radius. The grenade can prematurely explode on directly impacting an enemy. The grenade's tagging effect lasts for twelve seconds. The best tracking system for tagging many enemies at once.

Products

Common weapons

Unique weapons

  • Pistols – Peacemonger
  • Assault Rifles –
  • Rocket launchers –

Grenade Mods

Legendary weapons

Grenade Mods

Weapon Parts

Weapons variants in Borderlands 3 are named based on the type of barrel they possess, and have unique gun parts based on their weapon class.

The list of weapon parts on each weapon can be seen below:

Weapon Part Pistol Assault Rifle Rocket Launcher Notes
Body X X X
Barrel X X X Determines the weapon's name. May spawn with barrel accessories. The Q-System gains its cost-effective prefix from its own barrel rather than barrel accessories.
Grip X X X
Foregrip X X
Magazine X X X Determines the gun's magazine size, base reload speed and reload animation.
Scope X X
Radar X
Wire X
Tracking System X X X Determines the gun's tracking round.

For the full Atlas weapons part list, please check Agent Lomax's weapon part community spreadsheet, listed under "ATL [weapon type]".

Variants

Pistols

All Atlas pistols are wrist mounted and feature UFO-shaped magazines, with a joystick used as a trigger to fire the weapon. The tracking rounds are fired from a barrel in the middle of the magazine, which rotates as the user switches to and from it.

Atlas pistols have unique mechanics depending on their name:

  • The AX-7 has the fastest fire rate, but is limited to four-shot bursts.
  • The AX-19 is fully-automatic, but has an average fire rate.
  • The AX-88 consumes 2 ammo per shot and fires gyrojets that deal splash damage. These gyrojets have a limited range before exploding on their own, and fly unpredictably past medium range. It deals the highest damage per shot, but has the lowest firing speed.

The gun's magazine determines its reload mechanic:

Magazine Reload type Base reload time
14 Round (manual reload) Recharges the rear of the gun with a battery. 1.8s
18 Round (Magazine) Reloads via a magazine underneath the wrist mount. 2.3s
26 Round

(wrist-mounted magazine)

Lifts the magazine off the wrist mount with a tool, before replacing it. 2.8s

Assault Rifles

Atlas Assault Rifles are the closest to standard guns in terms of appearance. Parts of the barrel guard will flip outwards when firing, similar to the fins on Hyperion guns. Tracker round mode causes the gun's scope to glow, while normal firing mode causes various small parts on the gun to glow instead.

Atlas assault rifles have unique mechanics depending on their name:

  • The N-System has the highest fire rate, but lowest base damage.
  • The Q-System has the slowest fire rate, but the highest base damage. It is also guaranteed to spawn with the Cost-Effective prefix, making it fire two shots per bullet.
  • The V-System has the second highest fire rate and base damage.

The gun's magazine determines its reload mechanic:

Magazine Reload type Base reload time
22 Round (cone magazine with grips) Replaces the magazine. 2.5s
28 Round (cylinder magazine) Twists the magazine out before replacing it. 2.8s
34 Round

(triangular magazine)

Replaces the magazine. 3.1s

Rocket Launchers

Atlas Rocket Launchers are shoulder-mounted and fired via a joystick. The gun's tracker-firing barrel can be seen positioned on the right side of the screen in first person, which jerks slightly when the gun is fired, and pushed aside when reloading. The actual rocket launcher is positioned offscreen, firing from the top right.

Atlas rocket launchers have unique mechanics depending on their name:

  • The Pattern Black fires a cluster of rockets that travel unpredictably.
  • The Pattern Red fires in three-round bursts, with its rockets flying in a parabolic arc.
  • The Pattern (NULL) fires a single rocket that slowly travels straight before arcing towards the ground.

The gun's magazine determines its reload mechanic:

Magazine Reload type Base reload time
3 Round (Pattern Black) The user pushes the tracking barrel aside before replacing a power cell. 4.5s
6 Round (Pattern Red) The user pushes the tracking barrel aside before replacing a power cell. 4.5s
8 Round

(Pattern NULL)

The user pushes the tracking barrel aside before replacing a power cell containing multiple rockets. 4.5s

Trivia

  • Like a number of other major weapons manufacturers in the game, there is an ancient Greek mythological tie-in with the Atlas corporation. Atlas was the primordial Titan who, as punishment by the Olympian conquerors, was given the eternal task of holding up the celestial sphere (he is frequently depicted in art holding the world upon his shoulders).
  • Many rare Atlas guns are named after mythical beasts from Greek mythology.
  • Atlas has a stake in the canned food industry. In the Earl Needs Food...Badly mission, the cans of Skag Meat have "Atlas" printed on them.
    Atlas Free Range Skag
  • According to the Lance probes fought in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, Atlas also makes coffins and sells life insurance.
  • The Crimson Lance are not restricted to using solely Atlas brand guns, although some do. For example, Lance Bosses Ajax and Kyros both use and drop unique Atlas weapons.
  • Athena hides her ECHO messages to the Vault Hunters among ads for Atlas's Engorge male enhancement product in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx.
  • After their defeat at the hands of the Vault hunters, weapons manufactured by Atlas are no longer sold in Pandora and did not appear in Borderlands 2.
  • The loss of their Third Starbourne Brigade may have been a serious blow to Atlas, but it is possible they still hold claim to galactic supremacy elsewhere. Nevertheless, it is evident that as of Borderlands 2 they have completely abandoned any official ventures and sales in the Pandora system.
  • There is, however, a small octagonal ATLAS sign texture in Borderlands 2. It is a common feature among corrugated roofing structures throughout the second game.
  • There is also a small wanted poster located primarily in Sanctuary on different walls, which contains an ad that says "WANTED ANY AND ALL ATLAS ASSASSINS." It contains two pictures of Atlas Assassins from the first game. The posters include more, including a reward section, but the wording is mostly illegible. 

References

  1. Borderlands preview – Gamespy
  2. [1]
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOPkdb2bJjc
  4. [2]
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVqWR0HVFY4
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