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Vault Hunting 102: Pre-Sequel Basics for New Players Part 1

Your spoiler-free guide to characters, gear, loot, quests, and skills for your first play-through, covering Helios Station through Serenity’s Waste to Concordia.

Hello, fellow Vault Hunter! If you’ve just picked up The Pre-Sequel for the first time, and especially if you’ve never played any of the other Borderlands games, then this guide is for you. I’ll be taking a couple of brand new characters through the first play-through, known as Normal Vault Hunter Mode (NVHM) as I write this. Hopefully, it will answer many of the questions you have as go through the game with me.

Special thanks to the following for comments and corrections: @Poisonedbite, @khimerakiller, @Worblehat, @farsight37, @TempNight

Note: Cyan headings denote missions, while other colours denote main sections, gear and weapons, or skills entries. Primary map names are shown in yellow and secondary maps in light yellow, while specific named locations are shown in light blue. If you find any errors, parts that are unclear, or just have a question, highlight the relevant bit and hit the “quote reply” button to post a message; I’ll try and respond to everything in a timely manner.




Beginning the Story
Athena the Gladiator
Wilhelm the Enforcer
Nisha the Lawbringer
Claptrap the Fragtrap
Jack the Doppelganger
Aurelia the Baroness

Helios Station
Combat Basics
Weapon Basics
Action Skill Basics

Serenity’s Waste (1)
Oxygen and Oz Kits

Quests and Side Quests
Shooting and Looting in Low Gravity

Regolith Range

Serenity’s Waste (2)
BAR Challenges and Loot

Save Points and Spawn Points

Triton Flats (1)
Enemies on Elpis
Enemy Types and Loot

Crisis Scar
Lasers Pew! Pew! Pew!

Back to Concordia
Levels, Scaling, and XP

Triton Flats (2)
Elements and Elemental Effects
Stanton’s Liver
Let’s Talk Torks
The Grinder
Dahl Garage

Outlands Canyon

Outlands Spur

Pity’s Fall
Missable Story Challenge 1
Missable Story Challenge 2
The Secret Chamber
Fresh Side Quests
Map Area Challenge 1

Lunar Junction
Map Area Challenge 2

Titan Industrial Facility
Missable Story Challenge 3
Missable Story Challenge 4

Titan Robot Production Plant
Missable Story Challenge 5
Map Area Challenge 3

Concordia (2)

Hyperion Hub of Heroism
Jack’s Office

Research and Development

Science and Violence
Stalking Stalkers
More Side Quests
Nakayama Side Quests

Watch Your Step
Veins of Helios

Lunar Launching Station
Eye to Eye
Eye of Helios

Beginning of the End

Vorago Solitude
Outfall Pumping Station

Tycho’s Ribs


Last Side Quests

What Next?



Beginning the Story

When you start the game up, the New Game prompt asks you to select a character. Which one you choose at this point is immaterial, since you’ll be able to change it shortly.

The game starts in the post-Borderlands 2 world, with the main title sequence introducing the game as a flashback narration that explains how events unfolded between the original Borderlands and Borderlands 2 as a flashback narration. It’s worth watching at least once, since not only does it introduce the main vault hunters, but gives some insight into their relationships and sets the stage for the game environment.

Note: This game contains significant spoilers for and extensively references both Borderlands and Borderlands 2. If you haven’t played those yet, you may want to consider doing that before tackling this game. You can find my guide for Borderlands 2 here.

After the intro cut-scene, you get a chance to confirm your initial character selection or switch to one of the others. Note that there really are no bad choices here: some will likely fit your preferred play-style better than others, but they are all well-balanced, well-rounded characters with diverse and interesting skill trees. Once you’ve decided on a character, make sure you give it a unique name (so you don’t accidentally overwrite any previous save) and jump right in to the game. The choices in the vanilla game are:
Athena the Gladiator:

Athena has a badass shield with a sword for melee, and a mix of elemental, melee, and weapon skills. She is a solid first-time choice for any player, whether solo or co-op. You can learn more about Athena by (1) playing the Borderlands 1 Knoxx DLC Knoxx DLC and (2) finding the lost echoes in the first half of Regolith Range.

Skill tree: https://borderlandsthegame.com/skilltrees/athena.html 592 (needs Flash)
Wilhelm the Enforcer:

Wilhelm can deploy two drones that provide attack (Wolf) and healing (Saint). A good weapon/soldier class with cyber upgrades if you want to go that route. Wilhelm is also encountered (somewhat briefly) as a boss in Borderlands 2. You can learn more about Wilhelm from the lost echoes in Triton Flats. Note that one skill allows you to “paint” priority targets by tapping the action skill key/button; holding down the key/button will cancel the action skill (useful for reduced cooldown if everything’s already dead).

Skill tree: https://borderlandsthegame.com/skilltrees/wilhelm.html 301 (needs Flash)
Nisha the Lawbringer:

Nisha is a bull-whip-wielding gun-slinger, who can slow time and auto-aim during her action skill. Something of a glass cannon, she can be built into an insanely powerful character. Nisha also appears briefly as a boss in Borderlands 2. If you like fast and furious action, Nisha is for you. You can find her lost echoes in Outlands Canyon. Nisha’s action skill allows you to quickly target multiple enemies with boosted damage etc.; one of her capstone skills also lets you dual-wield pistols.

Skill tree: https://borderlandsthegame.com/skilltrees/nisha.html 401 (needs Flash)
Claptrap the Fragtrap:

It’s Claptrap, so you know he’s going to be weird. He honestly has to be experienced to be understood. He can be a solid explosives character but also has a very quirky skill tree and a most unusual action skill. While this puts some off (along with him being Claptrap), he is the funniest vault hunter to play as, and still makes me laugh out loud. Claptrap also has skill tree options that make him an interesting choice for co-op (ask @Hattie and @FunkJunkie about that, or watch some of their game play). Claptrap’s lost echoes are scattered through the second half of Regolith Range

Skill tree: https://borderlandsthegame.com/skilltrees/claptrap.html 270 (needs flash)

Two additional characters were added as DLC, but are included with the Handsome Collection for PS4/XB1.
Jack the Doppelganger:

Not actually Jack but, if you’ve played Borderlands 2 you already know some of the skills to expect. Exploit corporate power and digital weaponized holographic decoys to wreak havoc on lesser mortals. Once understood, this is one powerful vault hunter. You can’t quite call in moonshots to obliterate whole areas, but you can get pretty close! Another excellent co-op choice. There are related lost echoes in Jack’s Office. Like Wilhelm, Jack’s action skill can be cancelled by holding down the key/button, reducing cooldown.

Skill tree: https://borderlandsthegame.com/skilltrees/jack.html 408 (needs Flash)
Aurelia the Baroness:

She will freeze you to death! An elemental sniper class with out-standing co-op opportunities. The voice actor’s accent is a bit off but, if you can stand that, she’s a killer queen with a cryo laser beam. She also has an interesting melee… Like Claptrap she also has skill options that boost performance specifically in co-op play (providing your partner co-operates!)

Skill tree: https://borderlandsthegame.com/skilltrees/aurelia.html 320 (needs Flash)

Tip: never delete a character! You can always come back and respec them later.

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Helios Station

Story Missions:

Welcome to Helios (level 1)
Lost Legion Invasion (level 1)

The action starts on the Helios space station. You will be met by a guide who will nag you to follow them as rapidly as possible. Take your time though – there’s no actual need to hurry, and the initial area does have some Hyperion ammo and loot crates for you to open. Plus, you can only access this map at the start of the game.

Note that you can pick these items up individually, or use the on-screen prompt to “pick up all”. It’s best to open all the crates in one area first and then pick up, as this maximizes your chance of getting more ammo for the weapons that you need it for most.

Check your gear in your inventory as soon as possible – different characters get slightly different starting equipment, although none of them will have a shield in first play-through (normal vault hunter mode or NVHM).

Note: There are several possible sort orders for stored gear in the inventory; use the controls shown at the bottom of the inventory (LT/RT on console) to change the sort order.

There will also be a personal log giving you a bit of character back-story. I strongly recommend that you wait until the background dialogue has stopped before you select it, and then stay put until it’s finished playing. Note that the audio will not play immediately on selection in your inventory, but only when you leave it.

Note: One of the oddities of this and BL2 is that audio triggered by moving through a certain location or initiating a certain action will cause other dialogue (such as the echo log recordings located on each map) to stop playing. If the audio for the personal echo gets cut off, just reselect it in your inventory.

Your guide will lead you into the Supply Station, and your first combat. Clear the area of enemies and loot all the crates before heading to the mission objective and advancing the story.

Combat Basics:

The controls are the same as Borderlands 2, and will be familiar if you’ve played other first-person shooters. A few general things specific to the Borderlands series:

Reloading a weapon before it empties does not cost you ammo (with the exception of Tediore guns due to their manufacturer gimmick). You can cancel the reload animation by hitting melee or weapon swap.
Ammo from weapons you pick up from enemies and chests is added to your storage; when you drop a weapon it gets emptied first
The bars over the top of enemies indicate their shield and health status.
A blue bar indicates a shield, which can be stripped faster with a shock weapon
A red bar indicates health for flesh enemies, which are more susceptible to fire damage)
A yellow bar indicates armoured enemies, which are. more susceptible to corrosive damage
The bottom-left of the HUD shows your own health and shield (and later your oxygen) status
Red dots on the minimap indicate enemies, while a diamond indicates the current objective location/direction
You can aim down sights, which zooms in the view but also slows your movement and aim speed (use LT on console)
Learn the critical hit locations (eg. head); critical hits do more damage, and some weapons have significant critical hit damage bonus multipliers
Keep moving and learn to shoot from the hip. Standing still in one place while aiming down sites is a good way to be an easy target. Scope in, shoot, scope out, move.
Use the terrain to your advantage; there is no shame in backing out of combat for a quick breather to reload, restock, and heal up.
If you “take a knee” and go into Fight For Your Life (FFYL) you do have some time to get a second wind by killing an enemy. If nothing is in sight, check your minimap – there may be a target behind you.

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Your guide will take you through to Moonshot Control, where there will be an even bigger fight. Make sure you pick up any weapons dropped by your opponents when you kill them – the ammo from such weapons is automatically added to your inventory, plus you can either use or sell them later. Again, clear all the enemies on the map and then thoroughly explore before heading to the mission marker and advancing the story.

In addition to the usual loot and ammo crates, there is also one large weapon chest in a corner. The contents will be limited in your first play-through (since there is a minimum level requirement for each category of weapon or equipment), and may also be one level higher than your character. Don’t worry though: you’ll probably level up as soon as you turn the current mission in, and there’s going to be way more loot before you’re done! Also, take some time to just look at the awesome art design
around you!

Weapon Basics:

The weapon and loot systems are the same as those in Borderlands 2. This consists of item type (pistol, SMG, etc.), rarity, and parts. Higher rarity items will generally perform better than lower rarity of equivalent type and level, while unique items with red flavour text on their item card will have unlisted special effects. The rarity levels in game are colour coded as follows:

rare and unique
very rare
glitch (in the Claptastic Voyage DLC)

Different weapon types have different minimum map and player level requirements before they can spawn in the game. The weapon types are:

Assault Rifle
Sniper Rifle
Rocket Launcher
Laser (see Part 2)

In addition to parts, weapons can also come with accessories that add extra utility (such as a scope or increased accuracy) to the weapon. These can also change things like recoil, sway, and recovery. These properties are in addition to those listed on the item card, so you should always test fire weapons when choosing between them. You can learn more about the parts system (from BL2) here:

Part Spotters Guides

Grenades and shields also come in different types with different characteristics, such as secondary effect, elemental type, and performance.

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You are now going to follow

around for a bit. One thing you’ll appreciate if you’ve already played Borderlands 2:

Each vault hunter has specific character dialogue that plays when they interact with the key NPCs in game. So, your conversation at this point in the game will be different depending on who you picked to play.
You’ll also hear occasional “flashback narration” as the story unfolds, so take your time and don’t rush from one area to another. There are also differences in this dialogue between your first and second play-throughs

Now on to the Moonshot Ordinance Observation, with a few more pauses for dialogue and a cut-scene that introduces your principal protagonist and hints at what is to come. Your initial path forward is blocked, so you need to head elsewhere. Follow your guide to a platform on the outside of the station and marvel that this one has an atmosphere and gravity! More troops are dropped on you by Fighter Jets, which you can also shoot down for extra XP if you’re quick and have good aim. More forces land while you’re in the external area, and you’ll probably hit level 3 unlocking your first skill point.

Action Skill Basics:

Your character’s action skill is unlocked by putting one skill point into the base level skill in their skill tree, which you can access through one of the pages in your inventory. Additional skill points will be acquired every time you level up, and can then be spent to add all kinds of augments to your action skill.

Don’t worry too much at this point about what to choose or how to build your character. It’s hard to go wrong in NVHM so put the points into whatever interests you. You’ll always be able to respec once you unlock maps with Quick Change stations, such as Concordia.

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Continuing the main story, follow your guide through Thermal Transfer, triggering a save point along the way. There’s another weapon crate in this area, so a second chance for an upgrade to your current weapon. Dropping down into the next area will trigger a cut-scene and the first boss fight.

POSSIBLE GLITCH: After this fight it is tempting to run straight to the mission marker. Some players have reported a game-breaking glitch here, where your guide fails to hit the right spot to advance the game script. This can be avoided by doubling back and checking the whole area for loot, meaning that you don’t interfere in the AI’s pathing. Plus, you’ll probably want that cash, ammo, and health!

This boss fight has two distinct stages, and you’ll have additional enemies drop in for the second stage. There is a one-in-ten chance that the boss will drop a legendary item. Once the area is clear and you’ve looted to your heart’s content, follow your guide to advance the game script. At this point you’ll have to make a second detour, which will take you past an ammo vending machine. You shouldn’t really need the ammo, but you can at least sell off all the stuff you don’t want.

POSSIBLE GLITCH: Another possible game-breaking glitch lies ahead, where your character can end up stuck in a container and unable to exit. I strongly recommend that you continue through the next few stages right up until you reach the first Fast Travel Station (read on) before quitting. Don’t worry, it’s not more than 10 minutes play time away!

Follow the instructions from your guide, and work your way through the story. There’s one more room with a red Hyperion Chest in it for more loot, so do explore before you hitch a ride out of Helios. (Also make sure you hit the Health and Weapon vending machines conveniently located in the gift shop before the ext!). Eventually, the Map Transition to Serenity’s Waste will become available to you; activate it to trigger the next cut-scene and get the heck out of Helios.

POSSIBLE GLITCH: Do NOT save and quit at this point! Keep going a little longer!

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Serenity’s Waste (1)

Side quests:

Tales from Elpis (level 3) – shock sniper
Land Among the Stars (level 3) – Oz Kit which unlocks:
Follow Your Heart (level 3) – pistol/rifle


Three vault symbols
One other challenge

After the cut-scene and successfully exiting your container, you have a new guide to follow. You are also now on the moon in a low-gravity air-less environment. The oxygen thing will be taken care of momentarily; for now, experience the joy of just how high/far you can jump!

Follow your guide to the Oxygen Dome Generator – an odd pylon looking thing that emits a constant beeping noise that gets louder as you get closer. (If you check your minimap you’ll see that it’s marked with a greeny-blue diamond, as are the oxygen vents that scatter the moon’s surface. This is important information, so note it well!). There’s a pad on the pylon to toggle the Oxygen Generator on and off; they can also be activated by a shock weapon.

Keep following your guide to their building at Ozless Harbor and head inside. Once inside, you’ll be able to breathe and talk to your guide to advance the story script. Also, if you need to save and quit, moving further into the building will trigger the auto-save at the Fast Travel Station. There are also numerous chests and a couple of vending machines, so make yourself at home.

Once you’re ready, head back outside through the upper door of the building and point yourself in the direction of the mission marker (the white diamond. There are a series of oxygen vents along the way, and an Oxygen Dome right outside your destination. You’ll want to activate this straight away, since you’re about to be attacked by the first of Elpis’ many homicidal native species.

Deal with the beasties, follow the instructions, and grab the mission objective item. At this point, you should wait for your guide to join you so you can turn the mission in and get your first ever Oz Kit. This also ends the first phase of the story (Lost Legion Invasion) and starts the second (Marooned). It also makes the first side quests available to you, both of which you should probably take.

Oxygen and Oz Kits:

Being on the moon, there’s a distinct lack of oxygen to breathe. When you don’t have a source of O2, you start taking health damage. Fortunately, you don’t have to agonize over micromanaging your O2 supplies, as the developers have made it really easy to keep stocked up. The game has four sources of oxygen outside of buildings, two of which we’ve already mentioned:

Oxygen Dome Generators are dotted around every map, usually in an area where you might have to wait for a while (near a door or a zone with a boss fight)
Oxygen vents are also dotted around every map, usually along the routes you need to take to get between locations for missions
Oxygen canisters are common loot drops (along with ammo, cash, and health) that can be obtained by killing enemies or smashing the various rock piles that litter the surface
Oxygen geysers are high pressure vents capped by a rock. Knock the rock off and enter the geyser, and get both oxygen and a vertical boost

Equipping an Oz Kit gives you your own personal oxygen mask. It has a finite capacity, shown as a white bar just below your health bar. Running through any oxygen source will replenish your Oz Kit a little bit; standing in the source will refill your Oz Kit to maximum capacity. Auto-pickup of Oxygen canisters also replenishes your oxygen by a fixed amount.

Oxygen Kits replace relics from Borderlands 2. In addition to providing a store of oxygen, they can also impart various perks to your character and gear. They also give you the ability to boost by tapping the “jump” control, effectively giving you the ability to double-jump or jump and then change direction, or jump and boost along parallel to the ground. Note that they can have different attributes depending on whether you are in an atmosphere or vacuum.

Finally, they give you the ability to slam by pressing the “crouch” button; slamming drops you down hard, creating a pressure wave on landing that can damage and knock back enemies. Some Oz Kits will add elemental or explosive damage to the pressure wave. They are therefore extremely versatile; use them to get to places you wouldn’t think you could reach, escape the clutches of melee enemies, get a height advantage to hit foes behind cover, and generally cause magnificent mayhem.

You can find more information on Oz Kits here:

[GUIDE] OZ Kits – LV60 | Max Stats

TIP: The only time I have run out of O2 was playing co-op. In solo, going into your inventory pauses the game (or at least slows it down) so you don’t consume O2. In co-op, O2 can become fully depleted while in your inventory. So always make sure you’re standing in an O2 source when checking your gear!

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Note that the weapon from Tales from Elpis can be very helpful in completing the boss fight ahead in the main story line. The Land Among the Stars side quest teaches you how to use an Oz Kit, and gives you a choice of a couple of blue unique ones that will also be very helpful. Finally, Follow Your Heart can be done alongside the main story quest; you can either double-back and turn it in before continuing with the main story (so you get the XP and rewards first), or wait until you complete Marooned. I recommend doing all three during your first play-through, at least.

Quests and Side Quests:

Your current quest, objectives, and any optional side objectives will be shown in the upper-right of your HUD, just below the minimap. The compulsory objectives are listed in white text, while optional objective appear in coloured text.

To switch your current objective (and therefore change which mission the current mission marker refers to), go into your inventory and go to the left-most page. You’ll see current accepted, available, and completed missions listed here, broken down by map. Note that you can change the sort order as well, which is helpful when you’re further into the game.

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As you’re running through the open areas of Australia Elpis smashing rock piles, you’ll occasionally find items called Moonstones. These are a secondary in-game currency that function in pretty much the same way as eridium in Borderlands 2, although they actually have more uses. These will simply accumulate in your inventory for now; you’ll find out what to do with them once you’ve completed Marooned

Onwards with the main quest: Work your way from the main location (Spring’s Garage, past the building where you found the Oz Kit and on towards the mission marker. There are actually two exits from Serenity’s Waste to Regolith Range, although the nearer one won’t appear until it’s been unlocked from the other side.
If you get lost:

Activate the Map Transition and pass through to Regolith Range.

Shooting and Looting in Low Gravity:

Being in low gravity and having an Oz Kit makes for some really fun game play, although it can also catch you out if you aren’t careful.

Use the boost of double jump to get air; slam down hard near a group of enemies to damage them and send them flying
Human opponents need oxygen too! Head-shot them to shatter their mask and leave them gasping for air – they can actually suffocate to death.
Your human enemies can also boost, double-jump, and slam. If you see one coming, double-jump yourself to avoid their nova, then slam down right beside them.
There is nothing more satisfying than nailing head-shots with a sniper rifle while soaring through the air; one-shot-one-kill is perfectly doable in NVHM

Remember: if you’re not catching air, you’re doing it wrong! Besides this, watch out for barrels – these are littered everywhere and, when broken, will deliver some form of elemental damage: corrosive, fire, shock, or cryo (freezing). Use these to your advantage, rather then letting them take you down: wait until just the right moment, then unload on the barrel to hit that rushing enemy before they can get to you.

Cryo functions a bit like slag in Borderlands 2 except it works much better. Not only do frozen enemies become immobile and take freezing damage over time, they are also more susceptible to other forms of damage.

Finally, looting: all small loot containers are pressurized, so when you open them ammo and cash can go flying. Since auto-pickup is a thing, put yourself in the line of “fire” before you open the crate and do a quick “pick up all” to grab the contents as efficiently as possible.

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Regolith Range

Discoverable side quest:

Last Requests (level 4) – skin and access to a hidden loot chest. Look for the ! marker on your map/minimap.


Three vault symbols
One missable challenge (story mission related)
Four other challenges

You arrive at Dead Drop beside a couple of vending machines. Note that, as a secondary map Regolith Range has NO [color=lightblueFast Travel Station[/color] – if you save and quit, you’ll respawn at the nearest map transition when you resume your game.

If you’re doing Follow Your Heart you’ll want to head forward and then to the right. Otherwise, just press on down the left side of the map towards the mission marker. Things will get intense either way as you fight through a whole bunch of Scavs (the equivalent of Bandits from Borderlands 2).

After some back and forth, it’s on to your second boss battle. This time, it’s a spacesuit-wearing, jump-pad-using Scav by the name of
. This fight has given many players problems: it is in a multi-level environment, the boss has a pretty massive shield, his homing ranged attack can hit pretty hard, and every so often he


That said, if you got the shock sniper rifle earlier from one of the side quests, you can demolish the boss pretty quickly. Again, use the terrain to your advantage: there are a couple of spots you can duck out of the way for a respite if your’re having problems. Note that if you back out of the building too far, the fight will reset and the boss will get all his health and shields back. When you finally defeat this guy, you’ll get your first laser weapon 20.

Spoiler: If you’re having trouble with this fight, you can take a look at how I did it here You should be able to take him out completely from the floor just where you enter, using the small building as cover to dodge shock orbs – this should net you both the missable challenges and the two other challenges all at the same time. Note that you need to wait for the dialogue to complete after killing this boss before the Dead Weight challenge achievement triggers.

You’ll need to continue through the “lair” to the second part of Regolith Range through Kraggon Pass to the Dahl Waystation, where you can complete both the main quest and the Last Requests side mission. Eventually, you’ll reach Moon Zoomy Run and be able to unlock a vehicle and head back to Serenity’s Waste.

To get to the map transition, you’ll need to jump a gap across a lava river. Drive up to the edge slowly first to take a look at the layout: you want to boost your vehicle (LB on console) from the highest point on the near side to the lowest point on the far side. Once you’ve figured out the alignment back up a way – maybe 3 to 5 vehicle lengths – then push forward and boost to jump your way across the gap. Note that you need to boost before you get to the edge, since there’s a short delay while the acceleration kicks in.

Once you’re safely back in Serenity’s Waste, head straight back to Ozless Harbor to hand in Marooned and start Systems Jammed. Janey will also have two new side quests for you, both of which take place in Serenity’s Waste and Regolith Range.

It’s up to you whether or not you do them. Since the rewards are level-locked in NVHM, though, there’s no point in saving them for the end of your play-through. Note that the first of the side quests requires you to boost back across the lava: use the same strategy by first figuring out exactly where to line up so you jump from high to low point; I usually take the jump on the left side (heading away from Serenity’s Waste)

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Serenity’s Waste (2)

Side quests:

Nova? No Problem! (level 4): moonstones and a keepable unique shield as mission item
Torgue-o! Torgue-o! (level 4): unique shotgun 25 or laser 23 plus a temporary mission item

TIP: The second side quest (Torgue-o! Torgue-o!) gives you a temporary mission item, a unique pistol. You lose this item when you turn the mission in, however if you are playing a melee character you may want to accept then leave the mission in order to keep the item: it’s red text perk is that a portion of damage dealt while holding it is returned to you as health. (Hat-tip: @khimerakiller’s post)

Otherwise, grab a vehicle and boost yourself across the broken bridge to the north side of the map, enter the building, and proceed to Concordia, “Mightiest of Space Ports” (on Elpis, at any rate).

BAR Challenges and Loot:

As you’ve been playing, you’ve probably seen the little notifications that pop up in the bottom-left of your screen, or noticed your character comment on completing a challenge; now seems like a good time to unwrap that.

There are multiple challenges associated with game play. Some of which are tied to using particular gear or killing specific enemy types, while others reward exploration and looting, or specific activities on certain maps. You can check out the full list by going to the last (right-most) page in your inventory.

Completing a challenge earns you a set number of badass rank (BAR) points. Acquiring a certain number of such points earns you a BAR Token, which you can then redeem to boost a particular perk for your character (such as an increase in maximum health or gun damage). Some of these challenges are also tiered: they can be completed up to five times, each time requiring more of whatever the target is and earning more BAR points.

Although your challenge completion is tied to your character save, your BAR points, BAR Tokens, and assigned perks are shared across all your saves, so you can build up fairly large bonuses by playing multiple characters.

If you read through the map-specific challenges, you’ll see references to finding Cult of the Vault symbols; these are scattered throughout each map (except the very first one). Some of the challenges are also missable in a given play-through, since they need to be completed during specific story mission or sequence.

If you want to maximize your BAR, check out this post.. If you’re having difficulty finding some of the symbols or object locations, or want to know if you’ve missed loot chests, there is a comprehensive set of maps linked here; note that these do contain some limited spoilers, however.

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Main story: Systems Jammed (level 6) – class mod

Once you’ve entered Concordia you’ll need to get through customs and decontamination. No real issues with any of this stuff, although if you follow Nurse Nina’s instruction carefully

. Once inside, you’ll have a series of searches to run that serve the purpose of introducing you to the key locations for all your looting needs:

The Bank – store spare gear here (for example, items you’ve out-levelled but want to keep to pass down to another character later)
The Stash – you can store up to four items here so that you can transfer them between your own saves
The Black Market – yep, Crazy Randy Earl is back, and will give you additional bank, backpack, and ammo storage upgrades in exchange for moonstones

A few other features in Concordia worth knowing about are:

Janey Spring’s Grinder – instead of selling unwanted gear, why not grind it into something useful? Requires unlocking through a side quest in NVHM For more detail on the grinder, see part 3
Shifty Sheldon’s – an in-game location to enter SHiFT codes and make Golden Keys available for use
The Golden Chest – where you redeem unlocked Golden Keys for a chance at purple rarity loot that is guaranteed to be at your level
Multiple vending machines – these are worth checking regularly since the Item of the Day has a chance of being unique or legendary
The Bounty Board, where you can occasionally pick up extra side quests
The Quick Change station – check out those skins and heads as you collect them, rename your save, or respec your skill points.

Once you’ve finished running around following the story mission, you’ll finally get your chance to go talk to the most famous NPC in the entire Borderlands universe (and no, it is NOT Claptrap!). This leads to a parkour-style mission across the roofs of Concordia; before you start jumping around, however, check the list of challenges for this map. That’s right – there’s a missable challenge associated with this section of the story mission. So you may want to thoroughly explore all the rooftops before you complete any of the mission objectives.
If you need help:

There’s quite a lot of jumping from one roof to another, and you’ll need to watch out for some turrets at one point. Eventually, though, you’ll know that your next destination is Crisis Scar. You’ll need to get out of Dodge Concordia first though, and

. Fortunately, the famous NPC knows the way. Finding her unlocks one of the funniest cut-scenes – take your time (and discover just how much of a Borderlands lore nut you are based on whether you knew this secret side to our NPC).

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Save Points and Spawn Points:

We’ve glossed over how saves work in this game, but this is an appropriate time to mention them. Automatic updates to your save file are triggered whenever you:

pass a New-U station
pass or use a Fast Travel station
pass or use a map transition
when quitting the game normally from the paused game menu
when turning your BAR Perks on or off from your inventory

If you are playing co-op, this will happen whenever any member of your party does any of these things.

GLITCH: if you force-quit (dashboard) or crash out of the game while the save file is being updated is that the save file may become corrupted and un-recoverable (unless you kept a backup). This can also happen if you are playing co-op and the host quits while your game is attempting to save. For this reason, it is always a good idea to have guests to save-quit out first.

Also worth noting is that while you will always respawn at the last triggered New-U, Fast Travel, or map transition when your character dies, you will only respawn at the map’s Fast Travel or map transition after quitting normally and restarting.


Triton Flats (1)

Main story:

A New Direction (level 7)

Side quests:

Wherefore Art Thou? (level 7) – shield/oz kit (pick up in Concordia)
All The Little Creatures (level 9) – sniper/grenade (bounty board)

Map challenges:

Three vault symbols
Four other challenges (none fail-able)

We pick up in Concordia having just found the way out. Turning the mission Systems Jammed in to Moxxi advances the story to A New Direction and unlock’s Moxxi’s back door. Before you leave, however, pick up the side quest Wherefore Art Thou? from the Bounty Board in the corner of the main square nearest The Up Over Bar.

Head back to the back door and take the map transition to Triton Flats. You’ll find yourself in Guttersnipe’s Pass on the south-east side of the map. Follow the obvious route around the building to the Diemen’s Crater Moon Zoomy station. (This building contains several vending machines and the Triton Flats Bounty Board.)

Note: While you can use a vehicle to kill enemies (and there are BAR challenges for this), you will earn more XP for killing enemies while on foot. (A vehicle kill earns ~20-25% of the XP you’d get on foot.)

With the side quest active, head to the area marker. You’ll find your first objective within this region, but you’ll be attacked by the locals (human and non-human) while you do so. Picking up the mission item triggers some dialogue and a second marker, so head on up to Burraburra. You’ll need to exit your vehicle and fight your way through a bunch of scavs.

Note that the scavs here periodically level up as you progress through the story, so it’s a good spot to come back to if you need XP or gear. Once you’ve completed dialogue here, you’ll need to head to the next location (north-west corner of the map), then return to turn in the side quest. Along the way, you will encounter more of Elpis’ many enemies.

Also useful (once you’ve unlocked the grinder) is the fact that the two weapon crates in the main building here always contain three oz kits each – very helpful if you want quick grinder fodder.

Enemies on Elpis:

You’ve already met some of them, but here’s a quick break-down of the main ones you’ll meet though the next sections of the story and side quests.

Kraggons are the skags of Elpis. These rock monsters will charge, claw, bite, and (for higher tier variants) shoot elemental gobs at you. They come in different elemental varieties. Best to double-jump-slam, use area-of-effect grenades, or shoot them in the mouth when they roar at you. Keep an eye on any you see sticking their head in a lava or methane pool…
Shuggaraths are large, floating, slow-moving behemoths that can fire various elemental attacks at you (cryo darts, shock beams and balls, etc.). They can also fire off novas after spinning up, and are home to colonies of rathyds. Shoot for the eyes and other smooth, rounded features.
Rathyds are annoying bat-like flying critters. Higher-tier versions can fire a slag-like beam at you.
Scavs are the bandits of Elpis, and come in equivalent varieties to all the ones you know and love from Pandora. Shoot them in the head.
Lunar buggies are just like the ones you can drive, and just as explosive when destroyed. Don’t let one hit you while you are on foot! They are armoured so weak to corrosive damage.
Turrets can fire rockets, heat-seeking missiles, or laser beams at you. They are all armoured and have shields. For maximum efficiency, use a shock weapon to strip the shield then switch to corrosive to finish them off.

The environment itself will also try to kill you. In addition to the perils of the vacuum you will find:

Barrels which will deal corrosive , cryo, explosive, fire or shock damage when they blow up. Note that these can be set off by weapon fire, grenade damage, or shield and slam novas. You can use these to your advantage if you notice an enemy near one.
Cryo vines which can be triggered by either by damage or simply by walking to close to them. Like barrels, they reset a fixed time period after being triggered.
Lava Crust – you can walk on this dark red-black layer, but will take burn damage when you do so
Red Hot Lava – touching this is insta-death
Cryo pools – will obviously deal cryo damage as well as imparting a freezing status effect
Special Ice – you can walk across this but will take cryo damage while you are on it

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Resuming the main story, you’ll want to head up to The Causeway (be sure to stop in for a cuppa and some XP at The Teapot!) where you’ll be redirected to The Grabba (past The Troll Booth and over Vertigo Bridge). This is the second Scav camp on the map that will periodically level up. Note that the main entrance of The Grabba contains both the map’s Fast Travel and numerous vending machines, as well as another Moon Zoomy station.

You’ll need to find your way through and up the building, moving in and out of doors along the way. Note that although it is possible to double-jump and slam indoors, it’s a lot harder to do so than outside in low gravity – especially if you jump while moving forwards. If you missed the hint about jump pads and are having difficulty getting upstairs SPOILER:

As you run around up top of the structure, you’ll find one of the many named enemies in the game, a scav by the name of Fair Dinkum. (Yes, the developers did put every single Australian stereotype and joke in this game!) While he doesn’t have a designated drop, he is one of the higher tier enemies in the game and so drops more gear than others, as well as moonstones. Note that, like the other scav camps on this map, the Darksiders will occasionally level up with you, providing another source of levelled XP and loot should you feel the need.

Once you’ve cleared the tower, collected all the mission items, and explored/looted to your heart’s content, head back to your quest-giver and receive fresh directions. This will take you to Flinder’s Needle and another scav camp, ultimately taking you to the map transition to Crisis Scar. Note that once you pass through this transition and activate the Fast Travel station on the other side, you’ll be able to hop back to Concrdia should you need to – even though the doors are locked, for some reason the Fast Travel still works!

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Enemy Types and Loot:

The games loot system is essentially the same as that for Borderlands 2. Enemies are classified into different types or tiers, with higher tier enemies having progressively larger loot pools and higher chances to drop higher rarity items. The tiers are:

Super Badasses
Ultimate Badasses
Raid bosses

Named bosses (like Flameknuckle or Deadlift) are typically badass or super badass tier, and often have a designated drop pool containing one or more unique or legendary items or rare skins/heads. In addition, each tier has improved odds of dropping more cash, ammo, and moonstones, along with regular world drops. Although this feature was not fully implemented at game launch, all the bosses in game are runnable, meaning that you can fight them again for repeated chances of obtaining their designated drops.

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Crisis Scar

There is a common glitch that can affect story progression at this point. It can be avoided fairly easily by simply pushing all the way through to the final mission location once started. This means that if you want to visit Concordia or catch up on any side quests first, you should do so now and then re-enter Crisis Scar from Triton Flats. Using the Fast Travel to Crisis Scar and then passing through and back the map transition should be sufficient to avoid the glitch.

Discoverable side quest:

The Empty Billabong (level 7) – look for the ! marker on the map


Three vault symbols
Three other challenges

Leave the building containing the Fast Travel station and follow the obvious path up-hill, stopping to pet the kraggons along the way (after all, they are so friendly and happy to see you!). When you come through the archway at the top, you can either continue on towards the main story quest maker, or detour to the left for the discoverable side quest.

Personally, I always do the side quest because I love the reference, and the writing is a brilliant piece of fore-shadowing for the end-game missions. If you’re collecting vault symbols, you’ll need to hit then locations associated with this side quest anyway, so why not? Either way, you’ll end up crossing the rocky river of lava and heading up to an oxygen generator.

Warning: it is tempting at this point to turn right and open the second map transition to Triton Flats; this seems to cause a problem with the main story script progression, however, resulting in you being prevented from continuing. My advice would be to simply keep going with the story; should you need to head back for any reason (or save-quit and restart later) and then encounter the glitch, see the solution indicated above.

Turning left at the oxygen generator you’ll see a group of scavs ahead of you; taking them out results in the way forward getting blocked, but you don’t have any choice about this. They will scatter as soon as you attack them, but if you happen to have acquired a singularity grenade or even a rocket launcher, you can do quite a bit of damage while they’re still all bunched up! Once you’ve cleared the path to the front door, you’ll need to get through a bit more fighting before the gate to the Comms Facility opens.

Tip: If the gate refuses to open even after dealing with

, it is possible to use the structures just to the right of the gate as a base to double-jump to the top of the wall. Once inside, you may run into the progression glitch or you may be fine. Generally, keep moving around the area, dealing with anything that moves, until the front gate opens.

Assuming the gate opened normally, you’ll want to enter and fight your way through several waves of scavs until you arrive at a second, closed, door. There will be two guards either side of the door and, as you approach, you should see the door open and a big dude emerge. If, after clearing all the enemies from the area and thoroughly exploring, this door still does not open, your progress is glitched and you’ll need to head back to the map’s Fast Travel station as mentioned above.

Tip: There is an echo recording in the building to the left of the gate that gives you an important clue for the big boss fight up ahead. It’s also another famous Aussie reference…

Continue through the building, picking up any loot you need along the way (there are a couple of larger chests in this building, along with multiple lockers and cash boxes.) You’ll encounter several more waves of scavs when you emerge back outside, but the way forward is pretty obvious. Make full use of the various levels, stairs, platforms, and bridges to literally get the jump on the enemy. Once you’ve fought your way into the final building, you’ll see a bunch of vending machines in front of you and a New U save point to the right. Going left will trigger the next boss fight, so make sure you buy/sell/restock/heal up before doing so.

Lasers Pew! Pew! Pew!

All right, time to talk LASERS! (thanks to @khimerakiller!) These take the place of Eridian Weapons in Borderlands 1 and E-Tech Weapons in Borderlands 2. Although all lasers take the same common ammo type, they function quite differently and are further differentiated through the specific weapon gimmicks associated with each manufacturer. Here’s a break-down of the key information:
Laser Type Fire Pattern Equivalent Weapon
Beam Continuous discharge SMG/Machine Pistol
Blaster Rapid fire bolts Assault Rifle
Railer Slow single bolts Sniper Rifle
Spiltter Divergent pulsed beams Shotgun

The most utilitarian type is the blaster with its high rate-of-fire. Beam weapons can be pretty powerful, but have higher recoil: the aim-point wanders during continuous fire, so it is sometimes better to fire off short bursts. Like shotguns, the Splitter can be lethal at close range but, at long range, the divergent path of the laser bolts makes it harder to reliably land critical hits.

Lasers come in the four main elemental types: corrosive, fire, shock, and cryo; they cannot come in explosive however (with one notable legendary exception). The other thing to mention about lasers is that they all have a set range limit; the laser will only reach so far before it will no longer register a hit on a target. So, if you fire at a distant enemy and see no damage, it might not be because you missed – the target might simply be out of range.

There are also many unique and legendary lasers throughout the game, each of which has its own associated red text special effect. Where specific ones are mentioned by name in this guide, I have linked them to the relevant Borderlands Wiki entry. Lasers add another interesting variation to the fight dynamics in the game, so be sure to try the different types and manufacturers out.

Oh, and in case you were wondering why there are no lasers in Borderlands 2, the side quests given by Mr. Torgue drop some not-so-subtle hints!

Time for another Boss Fight! As you enter, you’ll get a quick view of the arena before the cut-scene triggers, so take a quick note of the layout. There’s a central area surrounded by lower then upper concentric rings. The fight goes in two stages, with the break triggered part-way through. Concentrate on the bigger boss, taking note of the hint from the echo you picked up earlier (you did that, right?)

Once he’s down, take out the smaller one. Note that L’il Scavs will start spawning in to the rings part-way through the fight, so there will be second-wind fodder. Once the fight is over and the remaining L’il Scavs dealt with, look for the loot which could include the unique SMG RedBelly’s Black Snake 25 (1 in 10 drop chance).
Tips (spoilers):

Once you’ve cleared the area, it’s safe to loot and double-back to the vending machines before opening the access to the staircase and heading up top. Follow the instructions and markers until you find yourself outside again. After activating a console, there are three targets around the base of the giant radio dish you need to disable. You will, of course, have to deal with more scavs, turrets, and even some stolen jet fighters, but this wouldn’t be Elpis without lots of opposition!

Spoiler: Here’s my run 9 of the fight from the boss to clearing the tower.

Once you’re all done, you can head back the way you came and unlock the map transition to Triton Flats at The Causeway. Grab a laser lunar buggy and kick it back to the Diemen’s Crater map transition and return to Concordia.

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Back to Concordia

Time to rescind the lockdown: accompany Jack and take down the hired gun scavs until all is done. At this point, Janey Springs will be in town; talking to her completes A New Direction and starts Intelligences of the Artifical Persuasion, as well as unlocking several side quests in Concordia and at the Triton Flats bounty board.

Side quests:

Bunch of Ice Holes (level 11) – from Nurse Nina
rewards are a choice of the unique weapons the Ice Cream 18 assault rifle (Nina) or the Two Scoops 11 shotgun (Barbot)
Grinders (level 11) – from Janey Springs
reward is a skin

Levels, Scaling, and XP

You’ll have noticed that some of these missions have levels above your character, and are labelled as TOUGH instead of NORMAL. Every mission in NVHM or TVHM has a set level or range of levels that it can be obtained at. For those with a range, the mission will be whatever level your character is provided your level is within that range; otherwise, it will be either the lowest or highest level, depending on whether your character level is below or above that range.

NOTE: Mission rewards are locked to whatever level the mission or sude quest is when it is accepted.

Health and base damage dealt scale with level for both your character and all enemies within the game. This means that the XP earned from kills also scales; here, however, the amount of XP obtained for any given enemy depends on the difference in levels between them and the player’s character: the more under-levelled you are compared to the target, the greater the XP reward. Conversely, the more over-levelled you are, the lower the XP rewards.

The scaling and progression is smoother and more balanced in TPS than Borderlands 2. As a result, you should not have too much difficulty in completing missions and side quests while somewhat under-levelled. There are a couple of points in the story where there is a sudden jump in mission level, but these will be pointed out when we get to them.

Should you at any time be feeling under-levelled, the best sources of XP (from highest to lowest) are:

Handing in story missions and side quests
Killing runnable bosses
Killing other tier enemies while on foot, especially the scavs at
Banjo POint
Troll Booth
The Teapot
The Grabba
So Much Serenity
Shimmer Island
The Wreck of the Dundee
Killing other tier enemies while in a vehicle

You also get XP for finding new map locations.

We left off back in Concordia, having started the next story mission Intelligences of the Artifical Persuasion. We’ll need to head back out to Triton Flats, but first I recommend picking up the two side quests:

Bunch of Ice Holes (level 11) – from Nurse Nina
rewards are a choice of the unique weapons the Ice Cream 5 AR (Nina) or the Too Scoops 6 shotgun (Barbot)
Grinders (level 11) – skin from Janey Springs

You’ll need the second of these to unlock the Grinder anyway, and the rewards from Ice Holes are useful since they are both cryo weapons. If you have any moonstones then this is also a good time to visit the Black Market and get some backpack and ammo storage upgrades. When you’re ready, I’d recommend taking the map transition to Triton Flats that is between the Black Market and Janey Spring’s Emporim O Stuff.
Triton Flats (2)

As soon as you arrive, you’ll find two quests on the Bounty Board and another two discoverable ones (look for the ! markers on the map).

Side Quests:

To Arms! (level 11) – legendary Oz kit 20
All the Little Creatures (level 9) – sniper/grenade

unlocks Recruitment Drive (level 11) (timed mission)

Discoverable Side Quests:

Pop Racing (level 11) – shotgun/pistol (timed race)
Zapped 1.0 through 3.0 (level 11) – unique shotgun 11

My suggested order for completing these (assuming you want to take them all and taking into account the various locations and objectives) would be:

Start collecting guns for To Arms while completing other quests
First part of Grinders followed by Ice Holes
Zapped 1.0 (see box below) which can be combined with the main story up until

at the Dahl garage
Creatures with Zapped 2.0 followed by part 2 of Grinders in Stanton’s LIver
Zapped 3.0 in Concordia
Main story up to just before heading to Outlands Canyon
Optional: Recruitment Drive and Pop Racing

Note that you only need to do all the side quests if you want to get the relevant trophy/achievement (since this requires all side quests be done with one character in the same play-through). The missions with unique or legendary rewards are worth doing now since these rewards are level-locked in NVHM. In other words, there’s not point leaving them for later, because they’ll be highly ineffective by the time you reach end game.

Grinders is also worth doing as soon as possible because it activates the Grinder in Springs Emporium O Stuff, which makes it possible to upgrade gear using junk items you found during regular play. Zapped should also be completed early not so much for the ultimate quest reward (it’s gimmick makes it tricky to use well) but because the required mission weapons don’t scale well and can become badly underpowered. (It’s a bit like the mission weapon in the Borderlands 2 side quest Medical Mystery: X-Communicate in that regard.)

Elements and Elemental Effects

There is an optional objective in the Zapped 1.0 side quest that highlights the two different types of elemental damage implemented in the Borderlands games. Basically, the four main varieties of elemental weapon deliver:

elemental damage on initial impact associated with the projectile
a chance for a status effect imparting subsequent damage-over-time (DoT)

So a fire weapon deals fire damage (increased damage against flesh, reduced damage against armour) for each projectile that hits. Further, each projectile has a certain chance (based on weapon stats and character modifiers such as rank skills and BAR perks) to apply a burn status effect, which deals additional fire damage and specific intervals (game ‘ticks’) over time. Such status effects have an associated texture which is applied to the target (in this case, black charring) and corresponding visual effect (flames) which persist while the status effect lasts. If you have damage numbers enabled in game (the default) you’ll see the additional fire DoT ticks coming off the target.

The issue with Zapped 1.0 is that the optional objective is misleading: when it says “Set enemies on fire” it actually means “Kill enemies with a fire DoT”. That means that the damage that kills the target must be one of the burn DoT ticks and not an additional fire projectile, a nova from a slam attack, or grenade damage. The optional objective count only increments when the target is killed by the burn effect. So, once a target is on fire, wait out the burn unless the target still has plenty of health.

Back on topic, the same thing applies to the other elements: shock weapons can impart electrocute DoT, for example. Corrosive projectiles similarly have a chance to impart corrosive DoT (presumably calling the damage type acid might have affected the game’s rating?), while cryo deals freezing damage.

Explosive isn’t included here, because it works in a different way to the main four elemental types (it’s a splash damage mechanic with no DoT component.) If you want to learn more about the mechanics of how elemental and gun damage works in these games, the following links provide lots of details:

[Guide] Basic Gun Damage Formula
Complete Splash Damage Guide

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If you’re not running the side quests right now, you can skip ahead to the Dahl Garage otherwise read on!
Stanton’s Liver


One set of lost echo recordings

Note: This map contains a couple of special surprises. Spoilers ahead!

Enter this map from Triton Flats by using the jump pad near the Moon Zoomy station in The Pale to access the map transition. Moving forward will bring you to Stanton’s Gate.

Note: If you jump up the rocks to the right of the sign at this point, you will find a short-cut across the lave to The Ventricles. This is useful if you are coming back either for Zapped 2.0 only, or to farm the runnable boss The Swagman for theWet Week blue unique sniper

Pushing straight down into the first camp triggers numerous scav spawns. Once this area is cleared you can either head across the bridge, or boost-jump off the roof of the building to bypass the camp on the other side of the bridge and make straight for the All the Little Creatures quest marker.

You may notice…

If you took the bridge route you’ll need to fight your way across the bridge and clear the industrial structure in front of you before continuing to the right. The marker for All the Little Creatures (The Duct) will be below you to the left, while that for the Grinder (St. Pancreas Station) and Zapped 2.0 (The Ventricles) will be ahead of you. You will find your Oz Kit indispensable throughout all these areas, both to access locations and to deal with the hordes of scavs and Torks that will descend on you.

Let’s Talk Torks

Torks are to Elpis what Varkids are to Pandora – annoying critters that come in a bewildering variety of flavours. The small ones will run and leap at you, then bite you in the ankles (if you let them.) The easiest way to deal with these is to shoot them before they get to you; should they get to close, though, a quick melee with a double-jump up out of the way is a good tactic.

There are flying variants which spit corrosive bile at you, a burrowing form that will burst up from below sending you flying, one that sticks its thorax in the ground and spews multiple corrosive geysers out of ground, and an even bigger one that can fire a corrosive beam. About the only thing they don’t seem to do is evolve from one form to another.

Generally, just keep running, jumping, and slamming. For the burrowing variants, an area-of-effect grenade (such as a shock element Tesla or Quasar) can help since you know it will pop out below you after a set time: once you get a feel for the timer, you can jump just before you get bounced and drop the grenade on top as the tork emerges. For the other badass and ultimate tier variants, aim for the smooth shiny areas (typically on the underside) which are their critical hit spots.

One thing these tork infested regions are good for is farming moonstones, which are useful for both purchasing storage upgrades and when using the Grinder – using moonstones guarantees that the resulting weapon will be of higher rarity and maximum level, and gives a chance to add a third Lunsehine accessory for an extra weapon bonus.

When you enter…

Head back out the way you came to resume the story mode. Note that turning in All the Little Creatures unlocks the related side quest Recruitment Drive.

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The Grinder:

Once you’ve picked up all the parts and returned to Janey Springs in Concordia, you get to fix and use the Grinder. This takes three items (usually of the same rarity) and turns them into one new one, with a certain chance that the new item is a higher rarity than the originals. You can also include moonstones if you have sufficient quantity, which guarantees a higher level rarity product and gives a chance for an additional weapon bonus.

There are multiple recipes, some additional combinations of item rarity you can use, and some specific exclusions of things that can’t be ground at all (or at least not the way you think!) Full details can be found starting in the following posts:

A list of the recipes for what you can put in and what you get out
A survey of the odds of getting a higher rarity item without using moonstones

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Dahl Garage

The main story location is on the north side of The Grabba. You can get there by passing to the left or right, but you’ll need to run past at least a few Shuggarath either way. Unless you really want the XP, I’d cut go to the leftT and immediately cut across the back. The entrance you want is actually on the north side on Shimmer Island; you will of course be beset by Scavs.

You’ll need to activate a combination lock: you can change the numbers by either meleeing or shooting the arrow indicators. If you decide to shoot them, use a single shot weapon such as a Jakobs revolver or assault rifle (make sure it doesn’t have a multishot accessory or you’ll have a frustrating time with the additional projectiles!) Once you’re done with this part of the mission, you’ll have yourself a Stingray to play with.


Stingrays are to Lunar Buggies what Oz Kits are to Relics: not only are they a rapid single-person transport, but they can boost (LB on XB1) and slam (RB on XB1) just like Oz Kits. As a result, they can get you into more areas and over obstacles easier than a Lunar Buggy.

The boost/slam function does more than give you more air time: you can boost and then slam down on enemies to kill them (although this does also damage your Stingray). Because the Stingray hovers above the ground, it won’t auto-pickup ammo, cash, or health; you can however use the boost/slam mechanic to grab such items without having to dismount.

Note that when you select the Stingray option in the Moon Zoomy Station, there’s an additional selection where you can switch between Stingrays 1 & 2 and Stingrays 3 & 4 (LS on console). If you lose one while in co-op, you can go up to the handlebars of another Stingray and use the prompted key/button to spawn another from it.

Now to use our newly-discovered Stingray to get to Outlands Canyon…

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Outlands Canyon

Discoverable side quests:

Boomshakalaka (level 11) – character skin
unlocks Space Slam (level 10) – launcher/pistol


Three vault symbols
One set of three lost echoes
Three other challenges (one missable – side quest related)

From the Dahl Garage, cut across The Pale into the canyon guarded by a couple of turrets. You’ll need to jump across Split Fire Pass which can only be done using a Stingray. Because the Stingray flies above the ground, you’ll want to boost after you’ve hit the part of the ramp that slopes upward: boost too soon, and you won’t get the trajectory from the ramp and end up crashing into the lava; too late, and you drop into the lava anyway.

Once through the map transition to Outlands Canyone you have two choices for route, depending on whether you want to get as much from the map as possible first, or if you just want to run through as fast as possible to unlock the map’s Fast Travel and gain access to the next mission area (Outlands Spur). If you haven’t found a rocket launcher yet, I’d take the first option since its an easy pair of side quests to unlock one.

If choosing the second option, use your Stingray’s boost to jump across the series of rock islands and drive straight up through The Crater of Misplaced Enthusiasm. You’ll need to take the switchback path up out of the crater, then push on through some rock arches. Eventually, you’ll find yourself at the entrance to another scav camp.

If choosing the first option, dismount and head left into the Research Facility. Fighting your way through waves of scavs and stolen fighter jets will let you access the discoverable side quest at The Court of Dreams. Located just behind here is also the map transition to the secondary map the Abandoned Training Facility. This is the location for the Shock Drop Slaughter Pit, a pre-order bonus that is also included with the Handsome Collection version of the game. The exit on the far side of the Research Facility will lead you to a Moon Zoomy Station; from there, it’s a short distance to the camp mentioned in the first option.

Whichever route you took, you’ll end up having to dismount at Bogan’s Warren. You can choose to clear and loot the camp or just run through; there’s an oxygen geyser on the far side that will make getting out quicker. From here it’s a short distance to the map’s Fast Travel station and vending machines, and just a bit further to the mission marker at Fingersmith Halls. Talk to the NPC at Fingersmith Halls to advance the story mission and unlock the map transition to Outlands Spur.

Warning: Don’t turn your back on this little ankle-biter, or he’ll nick your stuff!

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Outlands Spur


Four vault symbols
Three other challenges

When you enter the map, veer to the left and cut a bloody swath through the first set of buildings towards the mission marker. Keep an eye out for oxygen geysers and jump pads to make your life easier as you navigate through frozen pools, scavs, and kraggons. Cross over to the Processing Plant and work you way through to the marker.

Tip: loot the very lowest level of the Processing Plant now, as you won’t have access to it later

Make good use of the multiple levels and jump pads. This being a Borderlands game, no surprises when you have to partially retrace your steps to get to the Pumping Station. Don’t forget to trigger the New-U Stations and oxygen generators along the way, since you never know when you’ll need them! Enjoy the massive Kraggon fights along the way. (Remember: boost, toss grenades/shoot, then slam!)

The Pumping Station will go pretty much as you might expect and, of course, you’ll have to go on to the flow control station at Height’s Perch Camp. Note that as you approach this complex, there’s a small room to the right with another New-U Station which is very much worth triggering (plus, the room has an atmosphere!).

As you work your way up the structure, you’ll have to deal with three Stolen Dahl Jetfighters. If these are giving you trouble, there’s a small room with two entrances you can duck into part way up. If you’re using a weapon with slow-moving projectiles, don’t forget to lead your targets. Once you’ve activated the mission objective,

At this point, I’ll often deke back to the Fast Travel and visit Concordia (grinding, selling, upgrading) or Triton Flats (guns for To Arms). When you’re ready, however, push back through to the Processing Plant, which will now look a little different (and colder!) A whole new bunch of scavs will have spawned in, so take your time.

Once you’ve completed the mission objective you can safely cross the lava to the other side; well, after taking out a bunch of kraggons anyway… Keep on eye on your surroundings at this point: it’s very easy to lose track and end up going through a hole in the ice into red hot lava. And yes, that ends about as well as you think it does! When all is calm again, scale the cliffs and take the map transition to Pity’s Fall and the wreck of The Drakensburg.

We left off having opened the way up to Pity’s Fall. At this point, you may want to head back to Concordia to re-stock and buy further storage upgrades, or wrap up any outstanding side quests in Triton Flats. Whenever you’re ready, hit the Fast Travel to Pity’s Fall to resume the main story.

Special Note for “To Arms”: The final end of this side quest has some interesting dialogue, but moving around too soon can easily cut it off mid-sentence. Pause and enjoy the moment, then go check out your new Oz Kit

Pity’s Fall


Three vault symbols
Two miss-able challenges (main story)
Two other challenges

Discoverable side quest:

Only appears after completing the main story objective on the map

Note: This map alternates between interior and exterior areas repeatedly. One thing you’ll notice particular on this map is the difference in gravity between the two areas: you can still double-jump and slam inside, but you won’t go as high or be in the air for as long as if you were outside.

You’ll spawn in to Pity’s Fall at the Drakensburg Gate, beside some vending machines. You’ll see the way foward and upward through a series of ramps and debris, with the inevitable scavs. Don’t forget to use your double-jump abilities to help you get around and hit enemies who have gone behind cover. Work your way up the Drakensburg Gangway to the main door, where you’ll also need to deal with some turrets. There are more vending machines here if you need them. Note that, from here on in, there are a lot of references to standard science fiction tropes, along with some explicit references to well-known franchises – if you enjoy such trivia, keep your eyes peeled!

Once inside you’ll find yourself in Core Systems but unable to continue forward. Clear the area and wait out the full extent of the dialogue, at which point a side door will open to the Starboard Ascent. This area is mainly catwalks, platforms, and jump pads: if you go over the edge, it’s insta-death, so be careful. Remember that, in addition to straight-out boosting, you can use your Oz kit to maneuvre while in the air so you can control your descent to some extent.

After fighting through several waves of scavs and dealing with turrets and stolen Dahl jetfighters you’ll reach the Hanger Bay where there’s an ammo vending machine. Pushing through takes you back outside to a large area with multiple levels on each side. Your goal is one of the two entrances on the upper level on the far side (either will do). Watch out, as some of the ridges on the terrain can get you stuck if you simply try to run forward everywhere. There are plenty of lootable objects here, along with several oxygen sources, so feel free to take your time.

On the other side you’ll hit the Briefing Room on your way up a couple of jumps to the Engine Room. There are more vending machines right outside here and, again, you’ll need to wait for the dialogue to complete before the door opens. Note, however, that the scavs can (and occasionally do) pass and/or shoot you through the barrier!

The Engine Room itself is a large, almost square room with multiple catwalks down each side accessible by jump pad from the far end (as you come in). You can use these catwalks to access the main engine area (near end as you come in) by jumping and boosting across the gap. There are also a couple of small observation room at the end, and plenty of both enemies and loot.

Missable Story Challenge 1: During the Engine Room sequence, you’ll here the dialogue refer to the FLOW REGULATOR and your invisible NPC companion (seriously) will be instructed to hit a switch. When you look around, you’ll see that the first target has appeared (it has the usual glowing skin on it that marks it as a mission objective). DO NOT SHOOT THIS if you want the challenge. There’s a way to get up to it using jump pads and your double-jumps, where you can either melee it or hit is with a sticky grenade. After you’ve destroyed this item, you’ll be sent to unlock the second item that you should also avoid shooting if you want the challenge. Note that you can ONLY achieve this during the story mission, but you can do it on any play-through.

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If you need help with the missible challenge:

Once you’re done, the mission marker will move and you can head to the next area

. You’ll now be in Engineering which, if you look closely, appears to be off the map! There’s a couple of chests and lockers as you move through. Pause to reload and reassign your weapons before you hit the jump pad across to the Shattered Aft, especially if you want to get the next missable challenge.

Missable Story Challenge 2: I would recommend equipping your best rocket launchers into your first and second slots and making sure both are reloaded before hitting the jump pad. Turn to the right as soon as you land, jump over the lip in the floor, and be ready to unload as soon as the door opens; if you need to take multiple shots, better to swap weapons than reload.

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Once through the door and inside, you’ll need to fight your way across the chasm to the Crew Quarters and then drop down to Security. Note: drop down the right side of the elevator shaft, or you’ll hit the return jump pad on the left! Make sure you hit the switch on the console in Security, which will turn off the force field; continue on through Core Systems (which looks totally different coming from this direction even though you’ve already been here!) and fight your way across the Suspension Bridge.

Use the jump pads on the far side to get up, and restock/sell junk at the vending machines beside the elevator to the Command Center. This is also a good time to select your weapons and make sure they are all reloaded, as taking the elevator triggers a cut-scene and then you’ll be straight into a boss fight with The Bosun

Boss FIght Chellenge: There is a challenge associated with this fight. Since The Bosun is a runnable boss, however, you can do this on subsequent visits if you didn’t succeed during the story mission.

This fight can be tricky until you’re familiar with the various phases and attacks. The Bosun has a fairly large shield which is most efficiently taken down using a shock weapon; after that, it’s straight health damage (unless the shields get recharged). Scavs will also start spawning in, which is both good and bad – they can obviously damage you, but you can second-wind off them if needed.

I would recommend against staying in the elevator, as there’s really no cover there. Going to the left will lead you up to a jump pad to the upper catwalk, which goes around the centre of the room in a U-shape. There’s cover to be had here if you need it, along with extra ammo. At the end of the fight, check the loot pile as The Bosun has a chance to drop the legendary launcher The Cryophobia 2 or the legendary SMG The IVF 5.

Once done, continue through the Command Center to the AI Hub to complete the story mission and acquire your first SDU Weapon Equip Slot. This allows you to equip three weapons instead of the initial two, so assign something now. This also unlocks the discoverable side quest The Secret Chamber, which provides access to the unique pistol Zarpedon’s Cyber Eagle 8. I would take this now, since the weapon won’t be obtainable at any higher level in NVHM and it is a rather useful shock weapon.

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The Secret Chamber

This is a fairly straight-forward mission, except that you go back and forth a few times and you will need to remember the trick for over-powering the jump pads. Head back from the AI Hub to the Command Center and grab the mission item, then work your way back through to the Crew Quarters. Once done, turn to the nearest jump pad and over-power it to boost yourself up and across the gap in the direction of Engineering; you’re aiming for the upper-most level and the inactive elevator.

Once you’ve done what you need to, you’ll be back down a level but need to get to the second floor of the Crew Quarters. The easiest way is to repeat the previous steps. Once up on the second floor on the opposite side turn around and follow the floor out to the right. This will put you close enough to jump-boost across to the steel girder sticking out from the floor opposite you; from there, it’s just a quick jump to your destination.

After that, just follow the markers until you’re done. The fastest way back to the map entrance is back down to Security and across the Suspension Bridge, then cut across the room by the elevator to the Command Center and jump down on the far side.

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Fresh Side Quests

Whether you opted to take The Secret Chamber or not, you’ll need to head back to Pickle in Outlands Canyon to hand in the story mission. The fastest option is to use the Fast Travel at Drakensburg Gate. Turning in Intelligences of the Artificial Variety advances the story to Let’s Build a Robot Army, as well as unlocking a bunch of new side quests:

From Pickle: Treasure of the ECHO Madre (level 15) – SMG/launcher
This in turn unlocks Another Pickle (level 15) – unique shotgun The Boganella 8
From Janey Springs: Nothing is Never an Option (level 15) – AR/shield; unlocks a chance for the unique grenade The Baby Boomer 1 or the legendary AR The KerBoom 3 from a runnable boss
From Nurse Nina: Rough Love (level 11) – pistol/grenade; unlocks a chance for the legendary SMG The Fatale 8 from a runnable boss
From the Concordia bounty board:
Wiping the Slate (level 13)
Home Delivery (level 11) – the unique sniper The Razorback 3; accesses map areas The Re-Remembered Cave and Seymour’s Silo
Discoverable side quest in Triton Flats: No Such Thing as a Free Launch (level 12) – the unique launcher The Volt Thrower 4

Of these, you’ll want to do Treasure of the ECHO Madre (and possibly Nothing is Never an Option) if you’re looking to complete all the map challenges and/or earn the map achievement/trophy. Similarly, you can unlock another achievement/trophy by doing both Wiping the Slate and Home Delivery, while No Such Thing as a Free Launch. makes it easier to complete one of the Triton Flats map challenges.

Map Area Challenge 1: There’s a map challenge at the end of Treasure of the ECHO Madre when you enter Rabid Adam’s Treasure Trove. The best advice for this is to avoid using area-of-effect and/or splash damage weapons (launchers, grenades, spike/nova shields, the 3DD1.E Oz kit, etc.), and make sure you land all your shots on target. Should you fail to get this during the side quest, you can try again later since Rabid Adams is another runnable boss who has a chance to drop the unique SMG Marek’s Mouth

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Lunar Junction

Time to get back to the main story. You’ll want to head to Lunar Junction which is at the north (top) end of Triton Flats: grab a Stingray from either the Concordia or The Grabba Fast Travel and head along either west (across the bridge and down through So Much Serenity or east (across Burraburra and The Pale. When you arrive, follow the marker and dialogue instructions to catch a train!

WARNING: Stay off the tracks once you’ve activated the mission objective!

Map Area Challenge 2: There’s a specific challenge related to Lunar Junction and the shuggaraths that spawn inside by the tracks. On the story mission in NVHM you can do this by going straight to the mission objective without stopping to loot anything along the way. I usually go back to the bridge and either stay on top or head part way down the platform on the elevator side.

When each shuggarath appears at the far end of the platform across the tracks from the elevator and nearest Triton Flats, ignore the rathyds it spawns and take it out as fast as you can. It should be possible to complete the challenge this way.

If not, the shuggaraths should respawn after a save-quit-restart, so I believe you will be able to try again later. (If anyone can confirm this, please let me know!)

Once the train is in the station, it provides the map transition to the abandoned Dahl Titan Industrial Facility.

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Titan Industrial Facility

On arrival, you’ll be at the Titan Transportation Hub at the map Fast Travel station. Note the oxygen generator directly in front and below you – don’t activate this if you want to complete the related map challenge. There are vending machines right there as well, immediately below where you are standing. Oh, and more torks will soon be upon you – you know what to do!

The main story mission flow is quite staight-forward through this map. Three of the map-specific challenges can be a bit of a pain, but they are all doable. For the oxygen dome challenge, the main thing is to avoid triggering them accidentally. To this end, avoid using (unequip!) any shock weapon, grenade, nova or spike shield, or the 3DD1.E Oz kit 3.

You should be able to pick up enough O2 canisters from clearing enemies to make it between buildings. If at any time you find yourself short of O2 canisters, look for and shoot one of the many tork nest eggs – you should score a canister and some other stuff from busting it open and killing the tork inside.

Work your way through the first tork infested building until you emerge on the other side at the Stingray Factory Apron. You’ll be delayed here a bit, but you’ll eventually get redirected to a jump pad located on top of one of the circular structures that dot the area. Boost during the last part of the jump to make sure you land on the roof at your immediate destination for the next mission objective.

Once inside, work your way forward to the next objective marker. Once you’ve done what’s necessary, ascend up to the Stingray Factory Atrium amd clear the room. Grab the loot before continuing up and around the corridor to the next marker. There’ll be a bit more dialogue just as you reach a closed door activated by a wheel: pause here before you open the door to prepare for one of the map challenges.

Missable Story Challenge 3: The first missable challenge is directly ahead. You’ll be entering a long rectangular room with a lowered floor featuring plenty of obstacles between you and the far exit. Progress far enough in, and three Lil’ Scavs will rush to close that door. The best strategy for killing them before they can do so is to freeze them in place, which will take:

a cryo launcher or longbow grenade
a clear view to hit them while they’re still grouped together

Your best bet is to do this co-op, and have one player push forward to trigger the action while another hangs back with a clear view to take the shot. If you miss it and the door closes, you’ll need to either wait until the next play-through (TVHM) or join someone eles’s game.

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Once the area is clear, it’s time to move on. If (like me :frowning: ) you didn’t get the Lil’ Scavs before they closed the door, you’ll need to jump up to a broken catwalk to get out. The easiest way to get up is to stand just in front of it and to the right side. Jump and then boost straight up, and only push forward on your movement controls (LS on console) when you’re at the top of your double-jump. You can then head out to the Stingray Factory: Main Hall (something of a misnomer – I think the developers stuck the name on the wrong part of the map!)

Once insde the next building, you’ll see a very prominent mission marker; approaching it will trigger some dialogue which will then get you back outside. Watch yourself here, as it’s easy to over-jump and go off the edge of the map. If you do find yourself drifting too far off course, try hitting your boost for some extra momentum in the right direction.

This will get you back inside to an area where you can hit some vending machines while the dialogue sequence plays out. At the end of this, exit out the other side to the Titan Industrial Facility Nexus. There’ll be a bunch more torks spawning here. Note that if you shoot one of the barrels in this first area, the other will detonate too; use this to your advantage!

As you press forward through multiple waves of torks and scavs you’ll see a set of metal stairs heading up on the far side; there’s a building on this upper level to the left and an the open area to the right of this has an oxygen generator which you can hear beeping. Entering the open area and pushing forward will trigger the next missable challenge, so you might want to claer as many enemies as possible while you’re still some distance away. You can use a combination of the oxygen geysers and jump pads in the lower area to get up on some of the other structures for a better look without getting too close.

Missable Story Challenge 4: The objective here is to kill the scavs at the far end of the open area before they can rush into the building at the very end and close the doors. Your best options are the same tactics as for the previous similar challenge. Again, if you miss this, you’ll either have to do it in someone else’s game or wait for the next play-through and try again.

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Once you’re done everything, enter the final building – the Titan Robot Production Plant: Entrance – where you’ll find a vending machine and the map transition to the Titan Robot Production Plant for the next stage of the story mission. Note that the oxygen dome challenge is completed when you stand immediately in front of the map transition so that the control for it activates. Pass on through to access the next map and its Fast Travel Station.
Titan Robot Production Plant


One vault symbol
Two story mission challenges (both missable)

You’ll enter the map in the Titan Robot Production Plant: Core Systems area, right beside the Fast Travel Station. There is also a full set of vending machines near here. The next stage can be quite long (longer than the one just completed), so take a break now if you need one. This is also a good time to travel back to Concordia if you want to store/trade/grind/upgrade.

BUG WARNING: There is a game-breaking glitch that can occur part way through the main story mission on this map. The mission consists of a series of quests to find something, install it, and activate transport for the next step. You can double-back to the vending machines, use the Fast Travel, and even save-quit during most of these stages except one. I’ll clearly indicate this just before you get to that stage in the quest.

You start at the north end of the map with a main hall to the south and a security office above you. I prefer to take the stairs immediately to the left up to the security office and start clearing from there, especially since it allows you to check the layout before you start fighting. Or, you can just charge in if that’s you’re preferred style. Many of the scavs in this map will have rocket packs, so expect to see them coming from all directions and levels.

Once you’ve cleared the final wave, one of the gates on the side of the main hall will have opened and you’ll be good to go through to the Power Control area for your first objective. Once you’re done here, head up the stairs, open another gate, and return to the security office up top (I just boost-jump across from the upper catwalk straight into the office – much faster than taking the stairs!)

Note: The areas on both sides work the same way; try to open as many of the gates in any given area as possible as you pass through, since this will make subsequent trips easier.

Your next objective involves more waves of enemies but, once done, gather up the items you need (if you didn’t take out the targets rapidly yourself, they can be scattered throughout the map on multiple levels, but they all have location markers on your minimap) then go and open up the gate to the Oculus Lab. This section is also pretty straight forward, then it’s back to the hall to unveil the prototype.

Tip: This is a good point to head back to the map entrance and sell/restock, or make a quick trip back to Concordia should you wish to grab more storage upgrades or grind stuff.

Once that’s done, it’s off to the next room to the south – the Assembly Hangar. If you want to do this in style, ride the prototype on the crane system; otherwise, you can either take the elevator up from the far end, or get through from the catwalk on the left side. Your next objective is to enter the Testing Facility on west side of the Assembley Hangar.

BUG WARNING: A game-breaking glitch can occur if, at the end of this segment, you advance the mission by activating the console back in the Assembly Hangar and then either leave the map or save and quit. If you are hosting a co-op session, you might want to warn the other players ahead of time if you do not intend to complete the sequence that takes place immediately after you’re done with the Testing Facility

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This next section is great fun if you enjoy mobbing, and an excellent way of levelling up quickly. As you walk in to the targeting area you’ll notice a garage door straight ahead of you and two entrances at raised platforms either side. If you want to maximize your XP gains, ready your grenades and fast-firing weapons, then position yourself in front of the garage door. The faster you can kill the scavs that emerge from in front of you (and occasionally from the sides as well, so keep one eye on your minimap), the longer you can prolong this fight and the more XP, moonstones, and loot you can accumulate.


Missable Story Challenge 5: The next missable story challenge is on the way out from the next area. This can be extremely hard to pull off solo even in NVHM if you allow [spoiler]Felicity[/color] to exit ahead of you. To succeed, you’ll need to be able to take out multiple enemies quickly: make sure you have high DPS weapons with fast reload available to you and your team.

Spoiler: Here’s a cool video by @Kurtdawg13 showing how to make this challenge much easier/

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Now go to the east side of the Assembly Hangar through the large gate that opens. (This gate is the source of the problem if you leave and come back at this point – it will be closed on you, preventing you from continuing with the quest unless you do it in someone else’s game.) Work your way through, killing off the scavs along the way. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in the Locomotion Assembly room.

Make sure you loot and reload before activating the console to advance the objective if you are attempting to beat the missable challenge to kill all the scavs on the way out before
does; note that some will spawn in behind you as well as in front, and that

will frequently get in your way if you’re trying to do this solo.

Back to the Assembly Hangar, where you can take the elevator up to the Transit Area. Much fighting and a couple of ambushes later, you should have cleared the room and be ready to go to the final area on this map. If you need ammo, there are plenty of crates before you go on, and there is a full set of Vending Machines on your way. Clear some space in your inventory for the final boss fight ahead (just in case!)

Once you’re ready, jump down and pass through the tunnel in to the Unit Embarkation area. Before doing anything else, it’s a good idea to look around and get a sense of the room layout, including the central pillars, the raised area around the far end, and the multiple ammo crate locations. Check which weapons you have equipped: I like to have something shock to take down shields, something corrosive for armour, and a cryo or explosive launcher for emergencies. When you’re ready, activate the console to trigger some dialogue and then retreat up on to one of the side areas before the cut-scene and subsequent boss fight commence.

Map Area Challenge 3: Remember the components you attached to the Constructor? To succeed, you’ll need to destroy the legs before destoying any of the three turrets (one on each side and one on top); good marksmanship is rewarded here! Avoid using area-of-effect grenades until after the legs are off if you want to get this challenge. Fortunately, if you miss this one you can come back after a save-quit-restart and try again, since the boss becomes runnable once the story mission is completed.

There are at least two phases to this fight (more if you struggle to take the boss down), and it can be a bit confusing if you aren’t familiar with Constructors and their fight mechanics from Borderlands 2. A few general tips:

The turrets on the side and top can be taken out separately, but will reduce the total health when you do so.
Any orange shield WILL reflect bullets back at you, so shoot at something else (such as whatever might be generating the shield)
Keep moving, use cover when reloading, and match elements for the most efficient combat

You will notice that the appearance and position of the boss change as each stage progresses; also keep an ear out for the dialogue between Jack and Gladstone, as this will give you clues to what might happen next. Note that, when you take down the last of the health bar, friendly bots will spawn in and then there will be a mini-lootsplosion: you’ll want to position yourself on the main floor in front of the boss just before this happens to catch any goodies, because the friendly loaders will pick up weapons lying on the floor if you let them.

Rewards: The boss here has a chance to drop the legendary grenade mod The Quasar as well as a set of unique character heads and skins. The heads can only be obtained during the story mission, so if you’re aiming to collect them you’ll either have to dashboard/force-quit (exit the game without saving) or hope you’re luckier on your next play-through. If you should by any chance end up with a head or skin you already have unlocked, hit the relevant trade section in the forums – someone will want it!

Once all is well and good, there’s a loot room off at the rear left, and a Fast Travel station you can trigger to head back to Concordia at the rear right.

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Concordia (2)

Once you’re ready, head back to Concordia. You may want to clear a little backpack space before heading to see Jack at Moxxi’s Bar. Talk to Jack to turn in Let’s Build… and start Home Sweet Home. You’ll get a one-time-per-playthrough chance to loot Moxxi’s Toy Box, where you’ll find the unique Moxxi gear the Vibra Pulse 5, the Slammer, and the Kiss of Death 1. Head back to Jack and then follow the vanguard to the Fast Travel and head to the Helios Hub of Heroism.

Hyperion Hub of Heroism


Set of three vault symbols
6 other area challenges

Side quests:

These become available upon completion of successive story missions

You arrive at the map’s Fast Travel near a couple of vending machines near the Helios Immigration Station. Proceed through and out into the Central Terminal. You want to fight your way across diagonally to the right of the elevator tower straight ahead of you, then throuhg the arch and straight ahead ot the mission marker. Of course the way will be blocked, so retrace your steps to the Central Terminal and find yourself a CL4P-TP unit.

There now follows one of the more bizarre mission segments in the game (and for a Borderlands game, that’s saying something!) Basically, hang around the elevator entrance and listen in while defending yourself from waves of Dahl Lost Legion forces. Eventually, the way will be open and you’ll be able to take the elevator map transition to Jack’s Office.
Jack’s Office


One vault symbol
One area challenge


Four lost echo recordings

Enter and proceed through Hyperion Customer Service (an unsurprisingly small cubicle farm) to unlock the map’s Fast Travel. Follow Jack. Note the Bounty Board on one side (facing the desk); this will become active later on when the story brings you back here.

Tip: keep following until Jack says, “Oh hey! Over here!” Trust me on this – you would not believe how many players have gone multiple characters and missed this every time.

Once you’re ready, head back out through the map transition but this time hang a right out of the elevator and head through the World of Shopping. Once you’ve cleared your way through to the Road to Research you might want to double back and complete the challenges in the World of Shopping area. Otherwise, look around and then unlock the map transition at the far end of the Road to Research. This will let you pass through to Hyperion Research and Development.

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Research and Development


Set of three vault symbols
Three area map challenges
Note: the camera challenge does not show the number of cameras, or increment a count while completing it. There are actually 32 cameras on the map.
One story mission challenge (missable?)

You arrive in Research and Development beside the Fast Travel and near a couple of vending machines. Your immediate objective is through the corridor to Indigenous Species Research where you’ll find some escaped torks and be reunited with Gladstone Katoa: talk to him to turn in Home Sweet Home and advance to Science and Violence (level 19), earning your final SDU Weapon EquipSlot upgrade.

Note: the map will not appear on the list straight away – I believe you need to complete the next story mission Science and Violence before it is added. If you need to head back to Concordia before continuing the story mission, it’s best to return to Research and Development by way of Jack’s Office, as all enemies on the map will respawn.

Science and Violence

After talking with Gladstone, he will let you through to the Stalker Biome and everyone’s favourite Pandoran critter, the stalker. Clear the area down to the marker to talk to the first trapped scientist, who needs you to retrieve something, then continue through the biome until you reach Stalker Observation Room 11-B. Once you’re done there, head back and talk to the scientist to advance the mission; he will open the way to the Aquatic Observation Area. More torks and stalkers ahead, along with more Dahl Lost Legion troops.

Note: If nothing seems to happen after talking to each scientist but you notice them waving their arm, head over and stand close to them; you need to do this before they will go and actually unlock the door to the next area.

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Stalking Stalkers

These critters are a pain because, when their shield is active they can cloak and go invisible. If you managed to inflict some damage-over-time on them before that happens, you can still see a faint outline, but it will fade in time. They also run and leap at you, and can easily run faster than you can back-pedal. The best way to deal with them is:

Equip a shock spike shield so their shield is stripped when they jump you
Use shock grenades such as Teslas or the Quasar
Jump over them – you can turn faster than they can (Hat tip: @Prismatic_Me)
Otherwise jump and slam, and dodge or run sideways; NEVER simply back up, as you will get pinned

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The trapped scientist in the Aquatic Observation Area needs you to retrieve something for him as well. He’ll let you through into the Aquatic Life Stabilization Area. Note that if you want to complete all the challenges in this area, you’ll need to get at least one enemy to fall into the water before you wrap up this segment of the mission; a singularity grenade of some sort if particularly effective for this, but you should also be able to melee something off the edge. You will eventually find the requested item and meet back up with the trapped scientst, you will then let your through to the Robotic Durability and Adaptability Research area to rescue the last scientist.

Follow the marker into the De Quidt Synaptic Processing Area, where you will meet and need to defeat the runnable boss, X-STLK-23 2, who has a chance to drop the legendary class mod (COM) The Eridian Vanquisher 7 (one variant for each vault hunter) as well as a set of skins. There are plenty of other stalkers here as well just to make things more interesting. Once you’re done, head back and unlock the door, then meet the scientist to advance the mission. After this, simply return to Jack’s Office using the Fast Travel (note that Research and Development is now included on the destination list.)

When you arrive, you’ll notice that the staff have finally shown up for work in Hyperion Customer Service – be sure to drop by for a chat! When you’re ready, head to Jack’s Office and talk to Jack to initiate an unfortunate series of events. Note: Roland and Lilith will greet you differently, depending on which character you picked; each character also responds to subsequent events differently – a nice touch. Once everything is done, talk to Jack again to turn in Science and Violence and start Watch Your Step (level 21).

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More Side Quests

Note that there’s a bit of a jump in the story level at this point, but there’s a whole bunch more side quests and other opportunities unlocked as well. Some of these you can pick up while you’re still in the office, while others are discoverable elsewhere. Also note that the level of the Bounty Board side quests can change between them first appearing and turning in Science and Violence, so you may want to hold off accepting them until you are ready:

Jack’s Office Bounty Board:
Boarding Party (level 17-18) – unlocks access to map challenge locations
Hot Head (level 17-18)
Voice Over (level 17-18)
An Urgent Message (level 17-18) – grenade/AR; also unlocks access to one of the vault symbols and a series of subsequent side quests
Jack’s Office discoverable side quest:
Infinite Loop (level 19) – unique laser/grenade the Mining Laser 8 or Snowball 8 and unlocks access to Automated Weapons Production
Hyperion Hub of Heroism discoverable side quests:
Cleanliness Uprising (level 18) – character head
Research and Development discoverable side quests:
It Ain’t Rocket Surgery (level 19) –
Fresh Air (level 19) –
Outlands Canyon discoverable side quest:
Sub-Level 13 (level 22) – unlocks additional mission; best in four-player co-op for the achievement/trophy (can be done in four-player split-screen on console)
Triton Flats discoverable side quest:
The Voyage of Captain Chef (level 16) – character head

Tip: After turning in Science and Violence there are three areas in the Hyperion Hub of Heroism where you may run into the map’s runnable mini-boss Corporal Bob. One of the area challenges is related to him. In addition to the challenge (which can be completed at any time), he has a chance to drop the legendary Ack Ack Oz Kit

Nakayama Side Quests

If you are aiming to complete all area challenges and/or get the achievement/trophy for discovering all named locations, you’ll need to do this series of quests. It also supplements (or prepares for) related content in the Hammerlock’s Hunt DLC (BL2) and events in Tales from the Borderlands.

To start this series, pick up An Urgent Message from Jack’s Office Bounty Board, then head out to Hyperion Hub of Heroism. Go left from the elevator and fight your way into the security office otherwise known as Harren Lockup. The mission sequence is very straightforward, and turning it in at the end unlocks the related side quests:

Handsome AI (level 18)
Paint Job (level 18) which in turn unlocks:
Kill Meg (level 18) – laser/class mod (COM)

During this, you’ll be able to complete the challenge to enter three stores, although for the Flower Shop you don’t actually go inside – just get as close to the door as possible. Note that the last side quest also unlocks the runnable boss Meg 2 who has a chance to drop the legendary SMG The Torrent 11.

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Watch Your Step

To continue the story mission, travel to either Jack’s Office or Research and Development: exit to Hyperion Hub of Heroism and head towards the mission marker. Clear your way through the areas that were protected by a force field previously, and open up Helios Access Tunnel #27-B to access the map transition to the Veins of Helios
Veins of Helios


Set of five vault symbols
One missable side quest challenge (unlocked after story mission)
Four other map area challenges

This is an extensive map with multiple isolated indoor and outdoor areas that are connected by a series of jump pads. It is rather easy to get turned around the first few times through the map, especially since the multiple different levels aren’t easily distinguished on the main map tab in your inventory. I would recommend leaving exploration until after you’ve worked through the main story, since this map has no Fast Travel Station and it is easier to get to some locations from the map transition for the next primary map (Lunar Launching Station)

Tip: If you hit the jump pads aligned with their direction and leave your motion controls centred, you should land securely at the destination. You can push forward a little bit on some landings, but take care not to push your controls sideways or backwards, or you may miss the landing and take the long fall to the blue and white tunnel.

You start off inside in an area bounded by observation windows – take time to marvel at the Jetfighters flying by! You’ll meet a new class of enemy here, many of whom are wearing what look like welding masks – pop those off with a head shot to expose their noggin and make it easier to finish them off. Work your way through the connected areas; note that unlike other maps, the indoor areas are still low gravity so your boosts and slams will be highly effective. Eventually you’ll reach the first airlock to the outside: if you wait too long to pass through after activating and opening the inner door, it will close on you and you’ll have to hit it again.

From here, you’re at the south end of the map and will want to head west, just as soon as Jack has made it possible. Fight your way across to the second oxygen dome and then jump across to the building directly north. You can either go down through the inside or outside. If you want to explore, make for the roof opening and boost sideways once you see the opening to the first landing. You can keep doing this through multiple levels.

Tip: Remember to turn on oxygen domes and let the dome fully establish itself before opening any nearby ammo crates. That way, the contents won’t go flying! Plus, fire weapons will be much more effective for you.

Either way, you’ll find yourself much lower down and fighting across a roof towards an oxygen dome and a pair of jump pads: the lower one takes you back to the first airlock, while the upper one will ultimately take you to your destination. After some more dialogue, you’ll need to jump across and down to the next area north and fight your way into Central Maintenance. This consists of three rooms which interconnect on different levels. Once back outside there’ll be an event and some more dialogue.

After this, take the obvious jump pad across to Plasma Facility A, drop through the roof, and fight your way down to blow stuff up. The easiest way to get to get to Plasma Facility B is to go back up as high as you can (preferably to the roof) and then make for the ledge you can see to the north on the east side. You can run along this to get to your next marker and repeat. If you miss, you’ll see an oxygen dome and jump pad down at the very lowest level; the latter will take you back to the north side of Central Maintenance so no worries, mate!

Tip: I like to take out the northern, mid, then southern targets. When you take out the last of the three, position yourself on the short walkway facing the target (not the long walkway you use to get from one end to the other) before you take it out. You’ll soon see why!

You’ll ultimately end up back on the north side of Central Maintenance again. From there, look across and slightly down to see the exit: the easiest route is to once again take the jump pad to Plasma Facility A, run across the roof, drop down to the ledge, and again from there to the exit. Once inside the final tunnel, you can take the map transition to the Lunar Launching Station

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Lunar Launching Station


Set of three vault symbols
Three other challenges
Runnable mini-boss with a chance to drop character skins

Discoverable Side Quests (can be failed but may be re-accepted in same play-through):

To The Moon (level 22) – unique shield Sunshine 5
unlocks Lock and Load (level 22) – AR/SMG

You spawn in at the south-east corner of the map beside a set of vending machines at the end of a tunnel that leads out to the Moonshot Supply Depot – basically, the other side of where you left Helios via the Moonshot Cannon right back at the start of the story. There’s one Bounty Board here, and another at your immediate destination.



Special Note: Although it really isn’t a big deal for NVHM, many players like to get the final story mission reward at maximum level in True Vault HUnter Mode (TVHM). This in turn means that you have to be at level 50 before turning in the penultimate mission. If this is your goal, I suggest levelling up as much as possible before completing Eye To Eye. To maximise your XP gains, you may also want to complete as many of the existing side quests as possible before turning in Watch Your Step so that you aren’t too over-levelled (which reduces your XP gain along the way.) See the quote in this post for the story mission level ranges in TVHM

Fight your way through to the marker and open the door to the elevator room, then ascend to the Laser Command Center. You’ll get to activate the Fast Travel station here. Once everything is done, talk to Jack to turn in Watch Your Step and start Eye to Eye. You’ll now find extra side quests both here and back at Jack’s Office on the respective Bounty Boards:

Laser Command Center Bounty Board
Red, Then Dead (level 22) – unique shotgun The Moonface 3
Things That Go Boom (level 22)
Jack’s Office Bounty Board
Quarantine: Back On Schedule (level 22) – shotgun; unlocks Veins of Helios map challenge location and additional side quests
Veins of Helios discoverable side quest series:
Quarantine: Infestation (level 22) in Quarantined Area
In Perfect Hibernation (level 22) – unique SMG The Fridgia 3 which further unlocks:
Trouble with Space Hurps (level 22) – character skin (missable area challenge)
Subsequently from Jack’s Office Bounty Board:
Eradicate! (level 22) – Oz kit/pistol
Don’t Get Cocky (level 22) – shotgun/sniper
Research and Development discoverable side quest:
Lab 19 (level 19) – unlocks map location of same name; unique shotgun The Octo 2. The quest miniboss also has a chance to drop a character head

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Eye to Eye

Tip: This is a good opportunity to polish off one of the two area Powersuit challenges. You’ll notice as you run around this map that Power Cores (cylinders filled with blue plasma) pop up repeatedly as you pass them. These are the things that you should either activate or avoid activating, depending on which challenge you want to complete.

To activate them, use the prompt button/key, which will turn the contents red and turn the cylinder into a giant exploding hazard. Note that you (and/or your shield) will take damage from these when they are detonated by weapon fire or DoT, nova, melee, etc.

To continue the story mission from the Lunar Launching Station Fast Travel or Laser Command Center, simply jump back down the large ramp and double-back through either tunnel beside it to come out in the Laser Amplification Nexus. You’ll want to fight your way straight north to the Helios Targetting Centrum, at which point the inevitable occurs.

For the next stage, follow the obvious lines on the floor until the branch; at that point either go left for Power Core Alpha or right for Power Core Beta and work your way through the opposition until you reach the mission marker and objective. As you approach the final point, take note of the red-lit tunnel with an “Access Denied” sign over the opening – you can use these as short-cuts for rapid return to the Helios Targetting Centrum.

After a defence stage (including some banter over the echo between the various NPCs “assisting” you else-where) the way will be clear to the map transition to the Eye of Helios secondary map. Note before you go through that there’s a room directly below the main terminal structure in the Helios Targetting Centrum with some crates, a chest, and a vending machine; there will be additional vending machines on the other side of the map transition.

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Eye of Helios

Jack will spawn in with you once through the map transition, and you’re best off not getting too far ahead of him (especially when he tells you to wait!) Naturally, the shortest route to the BFL (beside the vending machines is blocked, so you have to take the long way round. Once Jack is close enough the doors to one of several elevators in this section will open and you can ride up to a platform named, appropriately enough, The Long Way Round. Stay facing the elevator button to be facing the exit at the top; a major cut-scene will unfold and then it’s time for a boss fight.

The arena you’re fighting in presents a number of features: the side you enter on has structures ringing it but the opposite side is wide open for you to fall clean off the map – something to remember if, like me, you tend to back-pedal a lot. There are several sets of power cores arranged around the middle that will pop up when you are near them and can be activated. There are also several grids that the boss uses in the first phase to recharge shields: this causes them to become shock hazards afterwards, so map awareness is key.

If you want more help with this fight:

When it’s all over, take a little time to enjoy the cut-scene and have a good look around: there’s a chance for several cool drops including the legendary laser The ZX-1 5, the shield The Prismatic Bulwark 5, or a set of character heads.

Time to blow up the Death Star! Er, shut down the laser safely. Take the other elevator down to the Hyperion Contingency Armory. There are multiple loot chests here, but you have to pass near them to trigger their digistructing appearance. I usually circle the room to get them all spawned in, then circle again to check the contents. Once ready, pass through to The Laser Core. This section is pretty self-explanatory, and there are no enemies to be fought here. Just a couple of notes:

Definitely follow Jack’s advice about staying out of the firing chamber when the laser is on. The sound effects should cue you one when it’s not safe to venture across.
You come in on one side of the actual main chamber and will need to exit through the door on the opposite side to get to the mission marker, but you’ll need to wait until the dialogue ends before it opens

Once everything is done, follow Jack to a one way Fast Travel and head back to the Lunar Launching Station Fast Travel Laser Command Center for the end of this sequence. Once the major cut-scene is over, turn in to Jack to advance the story to The Beginning of the End and unlock the discoverable side quest Picking Up the Pieces (level 19). This is a good time to head back to Concordia and take care of any side quests, grinding, or upgrade purchases.

Beginning of the End

We finished off last time having shut down the laser (although not very safely) and being tasked with finding the entrance to Elpis’ Vault. The first task is to open up access to the old Dahl refinery, so travel to Triton Flats via your favourite route, grab a vehicle of some sort, and make for the marked entrance (between the ramp down from Diemen’s Crater and the Pop Racing location). Once there, Jack opens the way to Bradman’s Quarry and you’ll be able to take the map transition to Vorago Solitude. Note that there will also be some extra side quests at this point in various locations, depending on what you’ve already completed.

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Vorago Solitude


Set of three vault symbols
Set of four lost echo recordings
Three other area challenges (none missable)

Discoverable Side Quests:

Return of Captain Chef (level 27) – pistol/AR
These are the Bots (level 24) – unique laser Toby’s Bright Spadroon 12
The Don (level 24) – character skin

You enter in the centre of the north side of the map, near the fast travel and some vending machines. Note that there’ll be some NPC dialogue as you move forward, so don’t be in too much of a hurry to grab that lost echo. At this point, you have two options:

If you just want to get through the main story mission, head down slope and keep fighting your way through the various camps more or less straight south, following the mission markers
If you want to grab as many challenges and side quests as possible, head east over the cliff and work your way clockwise around the map to the first side quest marker

Note: You’ll encounter two new classes of enemy here:

Guardians – similar to those enoucntered in Borderlands 1 but updated somewhat
Lost Legion Eternals – apparently mutated Legion soldiers who can level up once when they’ve taken sufficient damage, giving them higher health and damage as well as a unique special attack which can be one of:
homing slag balls
lightining slag sphere

You’ll see the latter signal their level-up by appearing to hold their head (looks a bit like they’re having a nose-bleed!) and say a specific line; you can interrupt this process if you can hit them hard enough, otherwise they’ll come out with full health and shields. And as @farsight37 points out, freezing them with a cryo weapon or grenade works wonders!

Side Quest Route:

Work clockwise around the map to the East Pumping Station; clear both the upper and lower areas then take the jump pad up to pick up The Don. This will take you to one of the Dahl camps dotted around the map and back. It’s a timed mission, so just clear the path to your objective, find the mission item, and head straight back. It’s usually on a roof of one of the buildings wherever it falls.

After this, keep working along the south-east section of the map to pick up These Are The Bots – and keep your ear on the NPC chatter as you complete the mission. This will take you back to the north-west side of the map to turn it in. After this, I’m usually at the point of wanting to get back to Concordia to unload, grind, etc. Or you could just dump/reload at the vending machines up at the map fast travel. Finally, work your way counter-clockwise down the west side to Solitude Junction for the Return of Captain Chef. From there, you can continue working around to the main story mission marker.
Solitude’s Edge

The main story mission marker takes you to the large camp on the southern edge of the map. Fight your way through the camp until you work your way inside, and keep pushing through the corridors until you reach the map transition to the secondary map, Outfall Pumping Station.

Note: This next fight has triggered a significant number of anguished posts and rants since the game came out. It’s definitely possible solo, but having the right gear and the right strategy is pretty much essential *especially for the harder difficulty modes. You’ll want at least one decent high DPS (high fire rate short reload) corrosive weapon, as well as something to strip shields and a good emergency “get this thing off of me” weapon. You’ll mostly be fighting in a vacuum although there are several oxygen domes scattered around the map. If you felt under-levelled getting this far, you may want to head back and wrap up a few more side quests before trying this fight.

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Outfall Pumping Station

Time for another Boss fight, vault hunter! Before you take the elevator down, note that there are vending machines on the upper catwalk to the left. Also note that when you’re in the elevator, you’re in a vacuum. Stepping out of the elevator at the bottom triggers a cut-scene introducing your new foe, after which there will be a short period of dialogue during which you can look around and take stock a little.

You’ll notice that there’s a central platform, jump pads to that platform on both the left and right sides, and higher cliffs facing (just to your left as you come out of the elevator) and opposite; these also have jump pads on them. There are collections of chests on the cliffs, to the right of the elevator, and either side of the central platform.

The goal is obviously to take down the boss while surviving multiple waves of Guardians and Lost Legion. One thing to know if you’re using lasers: the boss will occasionally withdraw and circle round at a distance that is beyond the range of most beam lasers, as well as some of the other types. It’s also far enough that you will need to lead the target slightly with some projectile weapons.

If you need help:

Hopefully, you survive the various waves and phases and emerge victorious. Note that the boss will do one final pass after health is fully eliminated for the loot drop, which happens on the right-side of the arena. Quite a bit of cash drops down on either side of the platform though, so run around and grab whatever you want before heading into the tunnel to take the one-way map transition to Tycho’s Ribs, where you’ll find a couple of vending machines and a fast travel station

Tip from @Worblehat: If you’re wanting to maximise your return on investment here, grab as much of the junk stuff as you can fit in your inventory, then take the elevator back up to the map’s vending machines. Repeat until you’ve made maximum moolah, and then go through to Tycho’s Ribs

Why do it this way? Because the game phases out items in order to keep the in-memory list to a safe size. When it does this, it prioritizes elimination of the lowest value (least rare) items first. If you go through the transition, you’d have to fast-travel back to the beginning of Vorago Solitude and fight your way back in again, by which time pretty much everything will have disappeared off the floor.

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Tycho’s Ribs

This map is an impressive piece of functioning Eridian architectural machinery, unlike anything seen in Borderlands 1 or Borderlands 2. Although indoors with atmosphere throughout, this map (and the next) are also low-gravity environments. Like pretty much any alien installation (hello, HALO!) there’s no obvious compliance with Occupational Health and Safety regulations, so it’s entirely up to you to avoid falling to your death or getting zapped by massive elemental discharges. You have been warned!


Set of two vault symbols
Set of seven lost echo recordings (some on next map)
Two other area challenges

Discoverable Side Quests:

Z8N-TP (level 26) – Oz kit/COM
Don’t Shoot the Messenger (level 26) – unique sniper rifle Fremington’s Edge 6

Oh, and did I mention the


You spawn in by the fast travel in a small room with some ammo crates, an Indiana Jones reference, and a couple of vending machines. This connects to a second similar room, which then opens up into your first battle area, the Observation Deck which overlocks a massive central shaft with some impressive looking machinery in it.

Achievement/Trophy Note: If you’re going for Collateral Damage, this is the place to do it. Take out the turret immediately facing the door (you can safely retreat so the door closes if you need to) then look to the tent on the right for a Lost Legion Eternal Take his shield and health down: you want this dude to evolve into a Magus. If he evolves into anything else, polish him off fast. Once you have a Magus it’s just a question of positioning yourself between him and other Lost Legion, dropping their health carefully, and letting his slag balls finish them off. (See the comment in the post below about why I call them this.)

Note that this is much easier if (a) you’re over-levelled so you can tank out the damage and (b) don’t have a spike or nova shield, or other shield or oz kit that attacks your attackers. An under-levelled gun for nibbling away at health also helps. If you run out of troops (because they died by other causes), run down to the next area and kite a few more back up; the Magus sadly seems to remain in the upper area and won’t follow you down the hill.

Once you’ve cleared and looted the first area, continue down the hill towards the giant elevator; from there, jump down to the next level and raid the Compression Chamber (there’s a bunch of chests in the back room which unlocks once you’ve cleared the mini-boss out of the way.) Your route from here is to continue down and cut through the Particle Collection Chamber to the next giant elevator. The jump pad here will take you to one of the discoverable side quest locations; I’d pick this up now if you want to complete all the side quests, since it’s easy to do while running the main story mission on the final map.

Note: Contrary to some information posted on the internet, it is possible to bypass the Particle Collection Chamber. This is a tricky jump, however, requiring you to land on the crystal formation on the outside support pillar and remain there without falling off while the cooldown on your oz kit’s boost function runs out. An acrobat oz kit helps make this easier. Bypassing the chamber avoids some combat, but means you’ll miss some ammo and weapons crates and one map challenge location.

Keep going down to the third giant elevator. (Note: If you want all the achievements, there are items on the levels both above and below you at this point.) Fight your way through into Maintenance Access 42 (avoiding the elemental discharges along the way) and work through the tunnels to the Exhaust Port and the Very. Large. Cannon. Getting the challenge here is simply a matter of jumping around in front of the shield wall and not dying. Again, no harm in picking up the other side quest while you’re here. After that, it’s a short running fight to the map transition and a pretty cool cut-scene sequence that should answer the question, “Who’s Tycho, anyway?”

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One vault symbol
Additional lost echoes (from Tycho’s Rib challenge)
One misison-related challenge (missable?)

The map is circular, subdivided into quadrants by giant ribs. You spawn into the north-east quadrant not far from the fast travel and a set of vending machines.

Note: It is difficulty to clear the story-related map challenge and do the Z8N-TP quest at the same time. I would suggest prioritizing one or the other.

Work your way south down through the quadrant. Your goal is to get through a doorway to the inner circuit around the map that then allows you to work your way back north to trigger access to the actual mission marker location. Use the floating islands and the tunnels to do this, until you emerge back near the start and trigger a very brief cut-scene followed by a mini-boss fight. This ultimately opens another doorway through to the interior; keep going across the islands and through the corridors until you trigger the ramp system. Follow up a series of ramps through another mini-boss fight and use the portal to enter the Vault of the Sentinel.

Time for the BIG boss fight! This takes in what is basically a walled arena in two stages, each of which has three distinct phases. The first stage isn’t too bad, as many of the moves are similar to the ones that Zarpedon used earlier with one addition: use the pillar in the arena to break line-of-sight and so avoid damage from the beam attacks while your enemy is airborne.

NOTE: You cannot harm the boss during the end-of-phase shield recharge animations, so save your weapon fire and action skill until both the shield and health bars are fully up.

If you need help:

Once you’re done, there’ll be a long cut-scene, so just sit back and enjoy as the end of the story unfolds. You can fast-forward through the credits using your movement control; it’s worth sitting through them (even if you “fast-forward” them) as there’s a bunch of drawings that appear filling in events between the end of the story you’ve just completed and the opening sequence of Borderlands 2.

After this, you’ll have a chance to loot the place before exiting and making your way back to the Fast travel station; head to Jack’s Office to hand in the final story mission to Jack and receive your reward. This unlocks the second playthrough – True Vault Hunter Mode (TVHM) – as well as the final batch of discoverable side quests. If you’re like me, your inventory is probably stuffed at this point, so head on back to Concordia first for some trading, stashing, and grinding.

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Last Side Quests
Guardian Hunter (level 29) in Vorago Solitude

unique shield the Asteroid Belt 9 or unique AR The Wallop 10
Unlocks the related mission Sterwin Forever in Eleseer (level 29) – sniper/grenade

Note that, besides being a tribute to the late Steve Irwin, the Guardian Hunter mission is popular amongst players for power-levelling characters in higher modes – particularly Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (UVHM). You really don’t need to do this in NVHM.

For higher modes, the usual tactic is to never capture any of the Guardian Wraiths and simply camp at the first spawn point killing them repeatedly. As a more interesting alternative, Sterwin Forever can be used instead (which means you can pick up the reward for the first side quest). This is a more frantic fight, however.
The Bestest Story Ever Told (level 28) in Concordia

unique SMG The Frostfire 9

This is the Raid Boss version of the final story boss. He is somewhat tougher than the story version, and has some extra attacks he uses, although the flow of the fight is the same. To fight the Raid Boss, you need to deposit 20 moonstones in receptacles just outside the entrance to the Vault of the Sentinel; you will more than recover the moonstones invested. After this side quest, you can revisit and decide which of the two you want to tackle – if you want the regular boss version, simply enter without depositing moonstones.
The Super Secret Raid Boss

Yes, there is such a thing. No, I’m not going to tell you where it is! Well, not without spoiler tags anyway.
Are you sure you want to read about:
The Super Secret Not-Quite-A-Raid Boss

There’s one more, who is more boss than raid boss level. This one involves a little parkour.
Read on to find out about…

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What Next?

Turning in the final story mission to Jack in his office unlocks a second play-through, True Vault Hunter Mode (TVHM) This replays the entire story (minus selected extended cut-scenes) and allows you to level your character up to 50. You start with all the gear, skill points, and BAR perks you had previously. Some of the mission rewards change (for example, you no longer get additional equipment slots) but otherwise the game is the same except for higher damage scaling.

Note that, if there are any side quests you didn’t complete during NVHM you can still switch back and forth between modes and pick up where you left off in each one. Just hit the character select button at the main game menu and chose your character (even if it is already selected or you only have one) from the list; you’ll then be able to select the mode you want to play in. One significant difference between BL2 and TPS is that your location is now saved separately for each mode. So you can be in Concordia in NVHM but Serenity’s Waste in TVHM.

The other thing you can do is tackle the two DLCs – the Holodome (a very large, five-round combat arena with a repeatable badass round at the end) and the Claptastic Voyage – a further mission-orientated trip into the back-story of the Borderlands universe that takes you into the mind of Claptrap. This includes multiple maps, brand new enemies and bosses, multiple side quests, and a new weapon category. It also includes a shooting range with three different types of targets, perfect for those who want to do in-depth weapons tests. You can complete these in NVHM (like the last two DLCs in BL2, Claptastic Voyage will scale up to level 35) or in TVHM, or both.

And then there’s a third play-through, Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (UVHM), which lets you take your character all the way to level 70. You might want to try different characters out and get them through at least one mode first, though – the XP scaling in UVHM means it can be a bit of grind, so some variety is always welcome.

And that’s it! You’ve now unlocked all sorts of back-story and Borderlands lore. If you’ve also completed Borderlands 1 and 2, you’ll be perfectly ready for Borderlands 3 when it finally appears!


Vault Hunter Hub