A Complete Guide on Arms Race – Borderlands 3 Designer’s Cut

This Borderlands 3 Arms Race Guide is Sponsored by 2K Games
How to win Arms Race - Borderlands 3
How to win Arms Race - Borderlands 3

What is Arms Race?

Arms Race is the new stand-alone game mode in Borderlands 3. It’s part of DLC5, the Designer’s Cut, which you can purchase individually or as part of the second season pass. Arms Race is a Battle Royale-Like game mode where you drop in a map without any gear or skills and need to collect loot while surviving the badlands. While undergoing this 1-life challenge run, Axton and Salvador will provide commentary to the game.

Arms Race TLDR

  • Randomly drop in a map without any gear and try to survive
  • Hunt for Red Chests throughout the map as the play zone shrinks
  • Collect all the gear so you can sell them to buy better gear at vending machines
  • Defeat the Boss at the center of the map
  • Send a limited number of badass weapons to your bank in the main game

Arms Race Walkthrough

Borderlands 3: Arms Race Guide

  1. Pick up your starter gear

    Once you’ve entered the portal inside the Dahl Geodome, you will be dropped in a random location around the center of the map. There will always be a white chest at your drop location. Occasionally, you can trigger the enemies when dropping in. Usually, the dropzone is clear of enemies and you can “calmly” look around to find it.Arms Race Starting Gear - Borderlands 3

  2. Run towards the chest marked on the map

    When you obtained your first items from the white chest you want to make your way to one of the chest locations on the map. At these spots, you will find red chests with high-quality gear. However, they are well guarded, so you won’t be getting them without a fight.

    Along the way to one of the chest locations, you will encounter enemies. Swiftly take out the enemies and loot their stuff. Don’t go daydreaming and look under every rock and stone because the clock is ticking. Because once Arms Race begins you have 3 minutes before the storm will come in and claim your life.Arms Race Red Chest Locations - Borderlands 3

  3. Hoard Weapons and avoid Vending machines at first

    You want to prioritize the red chest locations on the map. You even can find a few loot chests along the way. You don’t want to go for a vending machine at first as you won’t have the funds to buy something.

    When you do manage to loot one of the red chest locations, you probably have some gear on you. Now you could make your way to a vending machine to sell stuff. Hopefully, the vending machine has something good on sale for you.

  4. Check for Airdrops

    Probably around this time additional loot drops have been marked on the map. Try to claim one or more of these. Beware as such a loot drop will spawn additional enemies. So if a combat zone is still packed with enemies, you will have to face-off against an army. Therefore, it’s not wise to move in too fast.

    Loot drops do spawn human enemies. So if a loot drop is located in a zone filled with Spiderants, they will fight each other. This keeps them distracted and makes things easier for you. Loot drops contain multiple chests and sometimes it also contains a vending machine.Borderlands 3 Arms Race Airdrop

  5. Ready to Extract

    Depending on your efficiency and how quickly you navigate the map. It’s probably time to make your way back to the center of the map.

    Depending on your location on the map and the loot you obtained, you might want to visit one of the extraction beacons to send some gear to your bank before taking on the final boss.

    It’s possible that the storm has made it impossible to reach one of these beacons. This is something to consider when plotting your route through the map.Arms Race Extract Loot - Borderlands 3

  6. Stock up before the Boss fight

    When the storm is reaching its final stage, you want to be in the center of the map. Just before you jump down into the bunker and confront the final boss, you want to stock up on ammo and health.

    There are vending machines just outside the entrance. Sell everything you don’t need. With this money, you could potentially buy a nice grenade mod or shield. If the vending machine has anything nice to offer.Arms Race Prepare for Boss Fight - Borderlands 3

  7. Fight the Boss

    The final boss has all 3 different life bars. Shield, Armor, and a Health bar. When buying and selling your gear before the fight you want to consider this and keep a few elemental weapons that are strong against these different life bars.

    The final boss will be riding a beast during his Shield and Armor phase. His pet will be defeated once you make your way through these life bars.

    During his health bar, the boss will keep calling additional forces to make your life a nightmare. Throughout the fight, there will always be a minor enemy to get a second wind on.Arms Race Boss Fight - Borderlands 3

Arms Race Tips

  • Old Skool Shooter Tactics

    • At the start, you have to rely on health pick ups to restore your health bar. Slow and steady wins the arms race.
    • Use cover and line of sight to avoid taking damage.
    • Keep moving and strafe to dodge bullets.
  • Use Maliwan & Tediore Weapons

    • Maliwan weapons are really effective when you use the right elements on your opponents.
    • Tediore reloads are extremely powerful. They are the best thing you can have in this mode. When you get one from your starter chest, you can basically directly run to the boss and defeat him. So definitely use these but keep an eye on your ammo.
  • Shield with health or shield boosters

    • Because you don’t have any passive skills or guardian rank to help you out. You need to find health boosts along the way. A shield with boosters can definitely help you out with your survivability.
  • Legendaries are LEGENDARY

    • Because Arms Race has its own unique balance numbers you may notice that some stuff performs a bit different. Legendary weapons you would skip on in the main game are very powerful in Arms Race. Legendaries are GOD-TIER as they should be.
  • Find an elemental weapon for each of the Boss’ life bars

    • Hang onto a Corrosive and a Shock weapon for the final boss fight as you will have more success in depleting his Shield and Armor bars.  Then you only need a hard-hitting weapon that can blast through his final health bar.
  • Anointments

    • While you don’t have an action skill in Arms Race there are still anointments that are useful and can trigger.
      • On Grenade Thrown, Weapon, Grenade, and Action Skill Damage are increased by 25% for 6 seconds.
      • Gain 300% increased Weapon Damage against enemies above 90% Health.
  • Solo Play Advantage

    • Yes, Borderlands is super fun playing with friends. However, while playing Arms Race solo, you can actually stop the countdown timer of the Murdercane. Whenever you enter your menu, the timer stops. This way you have infinite time to check out your gear and make adjustments without being rushed.

How the Murdercane Works

Once the Arms Race has started a portal will appear. This also starts the countdown on the clock of the Murdercane.   You can stay in the control center all you want but you won’t be safe there, yes, I tried.   Over the course of Arms Race, the Murdercane will close in on you.  But as Axton says, it’s very predictable. Here is an overview of how much time you have in each phase.

Murdercane Time Windows

  • 3:00  – Starting time. The Murdercane stands still and you can go anywhere on the map.
  • 2:30 – Murdercane is moving and slowly shrinks to the size of the smaller circle over the course of time.
  • 4:30 – Murdercane has stopped. After 25 seconds Airdrops will show up on the map at 3 random locations.
  • 2:00 – Mudercane is moving again and will slowly shrink to the size of the smaller circle over the course of time.
  • 4:00 – Murdercane has stopped again, there is still time to collect loot.
  • 1:30 – Murdercane is moving again and closes in faster.
  • 2:00 – Murdercane stopped shrinking once again. You better start towards the entrance of the Boss arena.
  • 1:00 – Mudercane is moving again. You can quickly pick up a loot chest just before the entrance.
  • 1:00 – Mudercane has stopped shrinking
  • 0:30 – Mudercane starts shrinking again and forces you to the entrance boss arena
  • 2:30 – Murdercane has stopped. You got this time to shop and stock up on health and ammo or purchase a lost minute grenade mod or shield.
  • 0:30 – Murdercane will completely consume the map. Nowhere to go other than jumping down to the boss.

Arms Race Legendary Loot

In Arms Race, you can find 20 new legendary items which include class mods for the new Vault Hunter Skill Trees. You can get them from any suitable loot source. However,  each of the Red Chest locations has a dedicated drop with an increased chance to spawn 2 of the DLC 5 legendary weapons.   The final boss in Arms Race is guaranteed to drop 1 legendary item. He’s also a good source to get one of the new class mods.

Borderlands 3 Arms Race Map

Borderlands 3 Arms Race Map

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