Borderlands is essentially the bastard child of Quake III and Diablo II. It combines old-school first person shooting with hack-n-slash RPG mechanics, one of which is the inclusion of randomized loot.
Finding new loot is exciting, but figuring out if new loot is better than your current weapons isn’t always a straightforward process. Even if two weapons are the same type – say, a Pistol – they can be very different. One weapon might do heavy elemental damage but fire slowly, while the other does much less damage but fires more quickly and is more accurate.
The fact that you can only have a maximum of four weapons further complicates matters. Choosing between two guns can feel like deciding which child you love more. This guide will help you make your decision.
The first and most important attribute of a weapon is its type. This is the general category of weapon the gun falls into.
Combat Rifles: Essentially an assault rifle. These guns tend to have large ammo capacities and fire quickly. Most are accurate, and some are nearly as accurate as sniper rifles.
Pistols: These firearms tend to do a small amount of damage but fire quickly. Their accuracy is usually above average and ammo capacity is average.
Revolvers: These guns could also be known as hand cannons, as they usually do a huge amount of damage per shot. Their rate of fire and accuracy is usually average. The big disadvantage of Revolvers is ammo capacity.
Shotguns: Meant for close-range combat, Shotguns fire multiple projectiles at once in a spread. Most Shotguns are very inaccurate, but there is a large variance between different shotguns. Ammo capacity is usually low.
SMGs: These weapons are very similar to combat rifles. They’re usually not as accurate, but that isn’t always the case. Ammo capacity and rate of fire is usually high.
Sniper Rifles: Meant for long-range combat, Sniper Rifles are always much more accurate than average. They also tend to do a lot of damage in one shot and often have a damage multiplier applied to critical hits. Ammo capacities and rate of fire is far below average.
Rocket Launchers: These weapons do a ton of damage and have splash damage. Accuracy and rate of fire is usually below average. Ammo capacity also tends to be low.
Each weapon in Borderlands has a rarity level applied to it. The rarity level is a indicator of how powerful the weapon is, but it does not replace the stats that are listed. It is simply alerts you to the fact that you have found a weapon that is above average. There are eight rarity levels. They are listed below from most to least common.
- Light Orange
- Dark Orange
Again, rare weapons are not guaranteed to be better, but they usually are.
Every weapon in the game has a few core stats that determine how it functions.
Damage: This the base damage of each shot fired before modifiers (such as skill and level) are applied. A multiplier indicates that multiple shots are fired at once. This is most common with shotguns and rocket launchers.
Accuracy: This is the base accuracy before modifiers are applied. Higher numbers represent higher accuracy with 100 indicating perfect accuracy.
Fire Rate: This is the number of shots that can be fired in one second.
Magazine Size: This is the number of shots that can be fired before the weapon must be reloaded.
Elemental Damage: The types of elemental damage available are corrosive, shock, incendiary, and explosive. The multiplier shown indicates the chance that an elemental effect occurs. Your level relative to the level of your opponent also modifies this chance.
Bonuses/Penalties: At the bottom of a weapon information pane is a list of bonuses and penalties applied to the weapon. Pay careful attention to these, as they can sometimes heavily modify a weapon’s stats.
Choosing a Weapon
Usually you’ll want to have a loadout of weapons that make you adaptable. With four weapons choices available you’ll have to pick and choose which is best. This is what I generally recommend.
Close Quarters Weapon: Usually a Shotgun, Revolver or Pistol. This weapon will serve as your sidearm when action occurs in near-melee range. Look out for weapons that provide a bonus to melee damage. You’ll need a gun like this for missions that send out into enclosed buildings.
Medium-Range Weapon: This is likely to be your primary weapon. It should provide a good balance between accuracy, rate of fire and damage. A Combat Rifle or SMG usually works best, but a solid pistol can also work.
Long-Range Weapon: Usually a sniper rifle. This is a weapon you’ll pull out when trying to soften up enemy lines from afar.
Rocket Launcher: Having a rocket launcher as a backup “oh crap” weapon is recommended. Rocket launchers have limited ammo capacities that make them difficult to use as a primary weapon, but they’re great when you encounter a tough boss.
Even when armed with the knowledge above you may sometimes run into situations where it is very difficult to choose between two weapons. When all else fails, try out both weapons for a time. This will help you get a handle on how each gun feels so you can decide on which is preferable.
This post is part of the series: Borderlands Weapons Guides
Take a look at the articles below for a guide to weaponry in Borderlands.