There’s really only one reason people play Borderlands 3, and it’s not the story. It’s the guns. And right now, there are more awesome guns than you can shake a Claptrap at.
Borderlands games feature a mind-boggling amount of weaponry. It’s kind of their thing. The first game featured 17.75 million different guns. In pre-launch advertising, Borderlands 2 cheekily touted a total of “870 gajillion” guns. (Fact check: Not a real number.) For Borderlands 3, developer Gearbox dialed things up to a billion. Paul Sage, the game’s creative director, said in a recent interview that the latest entry really does feature more than 1,000,000,000 individual guns. (As for how a developer can implement 10 figures’ worth of unique items in one game, the guns in Borderlands games are procedurally generated.)
Guns (and gear like shields or class mods) in Borderlands 3 get filtered into five conveniently color-coded categories. White stuff is the weakest, and the most common. Green is a bit better, and a bit less common. Blue gear is officially billed as “rare,” but any seasoned player will tell you that, by the endgame, it’s quite common. Blue gear is fine. Purple gear is actually rare, and generally great. Orange gear, fittingly dubbed “legendary,” is the best in the game—and it’s extremely, extremely rare.
Or at least, it was.
Last week, Gearbox kicked off the “Rare Chest Riches” mini-event, an update that, among other things, greatly increases the drop rate of legendary gear in rare chests through Thursday, February 13. Lest you think this is some PR gambit to get more people playing the game... well, okay, sure it may be exactly that. But you really can get a ton of legendary gear right now.
What exactly is a rare chest?
Generally speaking, rare chests—or red chests, to use the in-game nomenclature—are found by beating bosses, completing side quests, or exploring off the beaten path. Most Borderlands 3 zones have three; some have fewer. You can see exactly how many red chests are in a particular zone by opening the map, selecting a specific zone, and clicking the left stick.
Once you loot a red chest, you can’t loot it again during that gaming session. Even if you leave a zone—or switch planets—and return, you still can’t reopen a red chest. But there’s a loophole: Quit to the main menu and reload the game, and most red chests will reset. You can use this trick to repeatedly plunder them to your heart’s content—or at least until the morning of February 13, when Rare Chest Riches comes to an end.
Gearbox doesn’t share info about the legendary drop rate in red chests, and declined to tell Kotaku just how much it’s been increased during this event. However, every shred of available anecdotal evidence suggests that, right now, it’s shot up by 870 gajillion percent.
Scroll through the Borderlands 3 Reddit for a few seconds and you’ll find post after post after post of players finding chests that are absolutely loaded with orange gear. Some players have even been lucky enough to find chests with five (five!) individual pieces of legendary gear.
For what it’s worth, out of all the red chests I’ve opened over the past few days—and it’s been a lot—I’ve found at least one piece of legendary gear in all but one of them. (It was in Carnivora. Screw you, Carnivora.)
In other words, Rare Chest Riches is the best farming simulator of 2020.
Where can I easily find red chests?
It depends. If you’re on your first playthrough, you’ll come across plenty of red chests naturally. And thanks to this event, you’ll reap much better loot than you would’ve if you’d played the game in September, when it came out. Enjoy it. We early adopters aren’t jealous. Really. We’re fine.
For those who’ve already completed the main story—and if you’re farming legendaries, that’s probably you—there are a few things you can do to get orange gear without much of a time-sink.
First, you’ll want to turn on Mayhem. This will ensure that enemies, side quests, and loot all scale up to the level of your character, not the zone you’re in. Enemies are buffed with increased health, shields, and armor—and for your efforts, you’ll earn more cash, Eridium, and experience points. There are many levels of Mayhem, but even setting the game to Mayhem 1 (the lowest level) should appropriately scale red chest loot up.
One easily-found chest is on Promethea, in Meridian Outskirts. Go to the fast travel station that isn’t the drop pod. Head out of the tunnel, into the spillway, and immediately turn left. There should be a suspended platform. Take the elevator up and kill all the enemies. At the far end of the platform, down a set of stairs on the left side, you’ll find a shipping container that’s illuminated by a purple light. Jump to it. You’ll find a red chest inside.
Another easy pair of red chests doesn’t even require you to leave the planet. Stay on Promethea and go to Atlas HQ. If you’ve completed the main story [spoiler warning], Atlas HQ should be devoid of enemies, except for one guy: Katagawa Jr. Walk through the map, which should be a breeze since there’s no one in your way, until you get to the Executive Suite. Drop into the boss fight zone and beat Katagawa Jr. into oblivion. (Yes, during a vanilla playthrough, he’s kind of a pain in the ass. But if you’re equipped with endgame gear, he shouldn’t be too tough.) Once you win, you can find two red chests in the room that opens up.
The first one is in plain sight, to the right of the orange fast travel machine, in the part of the room that looks like what would happen if RoboCop designed a ‘70s-style sunken living room. You can’t miss it. The other is a bit trickier to find: Direct yourself to the now-opened elevator down the hall. Then, rather than taking it back to the top floor, walk through the far-side doors and immediately turn left. There should be a red chest.
But some of the most easily accessible red chests can be found in one of the earliest areas of the game: The Droughts. You can find two very close to primary fast travel machine. Spawn into the area and you’ll see a Marcus’ Munitions machine in a fenced-off area right in front of you. There’s a vertical shaft right behind it. Drop down. You’ll find a red chest in that room.
The second is on top of Ellie’s Garage, all of seven steps to the right of the Marcus’ Munitions machine. Rather than going through the garage, head to the left side of it. You’ll see a tour bus that’s clearly seen better days. Jump on it, and jump from there to the roof. Turn right and go over the shattered ridge board and you’ll see another red chest. That jump to the roof can be frustrating, but I’ve found that sprinting and aiming for the lower corner does the trick.
Another strategy for getting all you can out of Rare Chest Riches involves turning Mayhem off. Yes, I know I just told you to turn it on. With it off, any loot from red chests won’t scale to your level. But the other side of that coin is that you could easily waltz through game zones at a high level, picking off enemies like you’re John Wick and loading up on lower-level legendary gear as you go. Then, you could drop it all in your bank, where your alternate characters can have their pick at legendary gear of various levels—no matter where they are in the game.
Or, you could just play through the game with an alternate. After all, what with all the legendary gear abound, right now’s the best time to do it.
How’s the Rare Chest Riches event been treating you? Found any other great ways to get legendary gear on the quick?