Touring Borderlands 3's Sanctuary III Spaceship

Source: Borderlands 3

In Borderlands 3, players will be able to visit new worlds aboard the Sanctuary III spaceship. We get the low-down on how the ship is designed to feel like a town from Pandora flying through space.

During the live Borderlands 3 gameplay event, Gearbox Software revealed that players will be able to leave the planet Pandora for the first time in the franchise. But visiting new worlds doesn’t mean that players will completely leave the old one behind. Aboard the Sanctuary III spaceship, players will be surrounded by familiar feel of Pandora while exploring an all-new setting.

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Piecing Together the Sanctuary III Spaceship

As its name suggests, Sanctuary III is the successor to the town of Sanctuary from the previous game (nobody talks about what happened to Sanctuary II). It will serve as a home base for players to return to between missions. Although Borderlands 3 will take players all across the galaxy, the creators felt that it was important to have a centralized space for the players to call home. Here, players can meet up, trade loot, and prepare for their next mission. 

In Borderlands 3, the Sanctuary III spaceship will be the player's home base.
In Borderlands 3, the Sanctuary III spaceship will be the player's home base.

The developers at Gearbox Software explained that they were heavily inspired by the Serenity starship from the Firefly franchise. The TV series and subsequent movie fully embody the “sci-fi Western in space” theme that the Borderlands franchise is known for. Whether or not its rear section lights up when it jumps to faster-than-light speeds remains to be seen.

Firefly class ship, Serenity. Source: Firefly
Firefly class ship, Serenity. Source: Firefly

At the same time, the Sanctuary III almost seems like an old gas-guzzling muscle car in space. The team working on the game’s art direction also looked to old lo-fi sci-fi films for ways to bring the Wild West feel into space.

There is a personal living space, which changes depending on the character being played, that can be decorated with weapons and shown off to teammates. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew has their own personalized residences. For example, safari expert Sir Hammerlock will put players on quests to hunt down certain beasts. If successful, those creatures will end up as trophies in Hammerlock’s room.

There's plenty of the Borderlands signature style and humor to be found aboard the ship.
There's plenty of the Borderlands signature style and humor to be found aboard the ship.

There’s a sense of openness and plenty of the signature Borderlands humor aboard the ship, from the way the infirmary has neon lights to the graffiti on the walls and floors. Comprised of about three levels, the ship is designed to inspire excitement in players as they explore the vessel. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but players will soon learn to quickly get around the ship using different shafts and tunnels as shortcuts.

Exploring the Sanctuary III

In Borderlands 3, Sanctuary III meant to have the feel of a town similar to Fyrestone in the first game. As such, there are plenty of vending machines located throughout the ship, with one that spits out weapons that were lost during the player’s adventure. Vendors such as Marcus and Crazy Earl also on onboard, ready to sell players weapons and upgrades so that they can face new challenges. Of course, the ship wouldn’t be complete without a bar, and this one is outfitted with deadly slot machines that will either award new weapons or lob live grenades at losers. The crew revealed so far all come from Pandora, so players can leave their original home without having to fully leave it behind.

The main space aboard the Sanctuary III.
The Sanctuary III is meant to feel like a town on Pandora, but set in space, and perhaps has fewer bandit raids. 

The main difference is that while places like Fyrestone were shanty towns that were barely being held together, the Sanctuary III is a bit sturdier. However, when the ship jumps to a new planet, Crimson Raiders leader Lilith says, “We've arrived in one piece. That's a first." So, maybe it's not too different from what players are used to on Pandora after all. 

According to Gearbox, the ship went through numerous iterations, including one where the cargo bay was the central space with everything built around it like a flying garage. But as the ship evolved, the designers realized that – although they didn’t want players to get lost – they still wanted to keep a sense of exploration and discovery.

At the bridge of the ship, players can catch an orbital view of their planet before jumping to the next one. Then they will initially use drop pods to land onto the new planet before being able to use the teleportation system to go to any location they’ve previously visited.

View from the ship's bridge in orbit around Pandora. Players can return to the planet anytime they want.
View from the ship's bridge in orbit around Pandora. Players can return to the planet anytime they want.

Gearbox didn’t go into much detail about the ship’s origins, but given the “Catch A Ride” logo on the side, it’s likely that the ship was pieced together by the mechanic and engineer, Ellie. She is stationed near the cargo bay, ready for a quick chat and will probably provide some work for players to do.

The spaceship illustrates how expansive Borderlands 3 will be by melding new and familiar elements together. There are plenty of new worlds to visit, with different characters to meet and challenges to overcome, but the roots of the franchise can be seen in practically all the aspects of the Sanctuary III.


Steven is a pop culture junkie who regularly binges on sci-fi TV shows, movies, books, and video games before completely overthinking them.