Guardian Rank is a gameplay system in Borderlands 3 that gives permanent gameplay bonuses as a reward for continued playing. These bonuses aren't restricted to single characters; they are account-wide so they affect all the player's characters. It replaces Borderlands 2's Badass Rank system, sticking to the basic principle but introducing some major changes.
The Guardian Rank system is unlocked upon completion of the first playthrough (by beating the main story's final boss); any progress during the first playthrough will not count towards Guardian Rank. Once it is unlocked, a second XP bar is displayed above the character level XP bar in the HUD. Just like that, it will be filled by earning XP through killing enemies, completing missions etc. This allows bonus XP from artifacts to remain useful even after the character is max level. The two bars are independent of each other; once the character reaches the level cap, the level bar disappears but the Guardian Rank bar remains.
Unlike the level bar, the Guardian Rank bar always needs the same amount of XP to be filled, no matter how high the player's Guardian Rank is. Once the bar is full, the player moves up one Guardian Rank and receives a Guardian token that can be spent on a passive bonus, and the bar is reset.
A Guardian token gives a small permanent bonus to stats like gun damage, fire rate, accuracy etc. which are distributed across three main categories: Enforcer, Survivor, Hunter. When the player redeems a Guardian token, the game will randomly choose 2 bonuses from each tree (6 in total) and lets the player pick one of these.
Spending tokens on the same bonus will yield diminishing returns: the higher a bonus already is, the smaller the increase from picking the same bonus again. As a stat becomes higher, there is also less and less chance for it to appear as a selection.
A certain number of tokens spent in one category rewards the player with a gameplay bonus or a cosmetic item. The gameplay bonuses are similar to skills, but they are unlocked automatically when reaching the number of tokens required. These perks can be individually disabled at the player's discretion.
This category focuses on increasing damage output.
- Critical Damage
- Grenade Damage
- Gun Damage
- Gun Fire Rate
- Melee Damage
- Vehicle Damage
|Weapon Skin||10||Unlock the Weapon Skin Red Sands.|
|Inner Fury||15||Add 10% Gun Damage to all shots while in Fight For Your Life.|
|Overkill||25||Excess damage from a kill is added to your next shot.|
|Player Skin||35||Unlock the Player Skin Urban Blammo.|
|C-C-Combo||50||Increases Gun Damage by 2% for 1 second with each shot.|
|Hollow Point||75||Killing an enemy with a critical hit causes an explosion around them.|
|C'mon and Slam||100||Slam can now be used at the peak of your jump.|
|Groundbreaker||125||Melee attacks or Slam will trigger an Aftershock, dealing 25% of all non-melee damage you have dealt over the last 5 seconds.|
This category focuses on survival skills.
- Shield Recharge Delay
- Max Health
- Shield Capacity
- Shield Recharge Rate
- FFYL Duration
- FFYL Movement Speed
|Weapon Skin||10||Unlock the Weapon Skin Leather and Regret.|
|Resilient||15||Recover from Fight For Your Life with full health and shields.|
|Dead Man's Hand||25||Allows aiming down sights and removes aim penalties while in Fight For Your Life.|
|Player Skin||35||Unlock the Player Skin Hex Bolts.|
|Shield Reboot||50||Killing an enemy triggers shield regeneration.|
|Emergency Response||75||Improve Shield Recharge Delay and Rate based on missing health.|
|Too Angry To Die||100||Damage dealt while in Fight For Your Life restores your meter. Restoration amount is decreased over time.|
|Dead Man Walking||125||While not moving in Fight For Your Life your meter drains 50% more slowly.|
- Action Skill Cooldown
- Luck (Rare Drop Rate)
- Reload Speed
- Recoil Reduction
- Elemental Damage (Not on first patch)
|Weapon Skin||10||Unlock the Weapon Skin Dead Set.|
|Bullet Collector||15||Ammo pickups provide 15% extra ammo.|
|Tag and Frag||25||Regenerate a grenade every 10 kills.|
|Player Skin||35||Unlock the Player Skin Burning Bright.|
|Topped Off||50||Action Skill Cooldown Rate increases while at full shields.|
|Treasure Hunter||75||Increases luck for 10 seconds after each kill.|
|Harmageddon||100||Enemies take 5% more Damage per unique Status Effect affecting them.|
|Lead or Alive||125||When you enter Fight For Your Life all your guns are automatically reloaded.|
- The minimum required Guardian Rank to unlock all rewards is 375.
- Shield Reboot: Certain shields, such as Roid shields, grant bonuses only when depleted, so this perk can make builds around those shields difficult if not impossible to use. It is highly recommended to disable this perk if using such a shield.
- Dead Man's Hand: This skill will remove "aim penalties" to the Accuracy stat of a weapon, but does not remove the significant aim sway associated with being in Fight For Your Life.
- Topped Off: This skill increases action skill cooldown rate by about 200% when shields are full, letting action skills recharge in a third of the listed time.
- This skill is additive with other cooldown rate increases, potentially limiting the effectiveness of skills such as Adrenaline.
- Borderlands 2's Badass Rank system was based on completing challenges, so it encouraged creating new characters because a veteran character would have few challenges left. The Guardian Rank system is the opposite: since Guardian Ranks are earned with a fixed amount of XP, low level characters will increase them very slowly, so it encourages playing high level characters.