Borderlands Science is an interesting idea, and one that can be used to do some good! I’m not certain how my efforts within the mini-game are actually helping researchers out, but I’m more than willing to play it, pay myself on the back and call myself a scientist now.
Anyway, here’s how it works: Over on Sanctuary, you can hustle on over to the lab of Patricia Tannis. In the corner of the mad Siren’s introversion lair, is an arcade game that you can pump a virtual coin into and play a few rounds of Borderlands Science. It’s a mix and match game where you arrange tiles to connect with the goals on the side, posing just enough of a brain teaser to get you thinking and not too challenging to risk your grey matter overheating.
The overall real-world goal is for players to flex their brains doing puzzles that will help map out the human gut biome, research which in turn can save medical professionals “hundreds of thousands of hours in training computers to do the same” according to Gearbox.
Borderlands Science encodes the DNA of each gut microbe as a string of bricks of four different shapes and colors. Players connect those coloured shapes to help scientists estimate the similarity between each microbe. The more puzzles players solve, the more they help decode the human gut microbiome, all while earning rewards that can be used in Borderlands 3.
It’s good fun for a good cause, with some properly good rewards as well! Every puzzle you solve earns you some coin, and while the initial rewards can only be described as a mere pittance when you look to spend them, later puzzles start dropping a ton of cash. An hour into the puzzle game, and I’ve amassed a small fortune that can be used to buy a bunch of great buffs for use in the core game.
For between 500 to 1000 coins, you can apply 25% extra combat XP to characters, 10% more damage an upgrade in loot quality. There are more buffs, with each one ranging from one to two hours in length. For anyone looking to quickly power-up their additional vault hunters (I’m dying to see how Zane operates at a higher level), it’s a godsend of a boost when combined with Mayhem mode as you farm for loot and experience points that’ll send your stats skyrocketing into orbit.
Not too shabby, considering just how much coin you’ll earn for doing seconds of work. I think the buffs may even be broken because a quick logout of the game while you have one active results in the timer being dialled reset. “We see Borderlands Science as an opportunity to use the enormous popularity of Borderlands 3 to advance social good,” said Gearbox Software co-founder Randy Pitchford.
Borderlands Science is the vanguard of a new nexus between entertainment and health: an innovative game-within-the-game, complete with scores, progression and rewards, where your playtime actually generates tangible data that will be applied toward improving research, helping cure diseases, and contributing to the broader medical community.
It’s a neat mini-game regardless of the rewards though, and knowing that your pew pew action is helping SCIENCE is just icing on the cake.