Future games in the Borderlands franchise have both a wealth of predecessors to learn from and plenty of room to grow with original features. One particular thing that Borderlands 4 can learn from the past games is Borderlands 2’s Slag Element.

This Elemental damage type ended up being highly problematic and hasn’t yet returned to the Borderlands franchise ever since it was introduced in Borderlands 2. However, Borderlands 4 could learn from Borderlands 2 and potentially bring back the Slag Element for good, ideally without causing a controversy this time around.


It’s Time for Borderlands 4 To Break From One Franchise Pattern

Breaking away from an unnecessary tradition among Borderlands franchise games could be key to one feature’s success in Borderlands 4.

Borderlands 2’s Slag Elemental Damage Controversy Explained

The Slag Element in Borderlands 2 applies a unique status effect to enemies or players that make them take either double or triple increased incoming damage from all other damage types that aren’t Slag. For most common enemies, the Slag damage debuff lasts for eight seconds, while Borderlands 2’s Raid Bosses normally only receive the Slag debuff for one second.

In theory, an Element like this can have some fun implications, but it ultimately ruined the variety of endgame builds in Borderlands 2 because of how the higher difficulties arguably force players to use Slag to defeat enemies. Not only is Slag a required part of every build in Borderlands 2, but one particular Slag weapon has become the game’s sole meta, which is the Grog Nozzle.

The Grog Nozzle is a pistol that has a high chance of applying slag, and it also heals players for a percentage of outgoing damage dealt from any source when it’s equipped.

While this weapon generally isn’t effective at killing enemies on its own in the higher difficulties, its utilities make it an extremely overpowered part of any build nonetheless. Also, thanks to the Grog Nozzle, the Gunzerker class is often considered one of the strongest Vault hunters in the Borderlands franchise, since their Action Skill lets them dual-wield two separate weapons, allowing players to use the Grog Nozzle for utility and another weapon for DPS.

For initial playthroughs, the Slag Element can generally be a fun tool to have, but the difficulty balancing of the subsequent playthroughs in Borderlands 2 is where things went wrong. Consequently, it was for the best that Slag wasn’t present in Borderlands The Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 3.

How Borderlands 4 Could Rework Borderlands 2’s Slag Element

Borderlands 3 Switch Release Date

It may be a tall task, but Borderlands 4 should consider stepping up to the challenge of rebalancing Slag to the point where it can make a welcomed comeback in the Borderlands franchise. While it would be necessary to rework Slag, it would still need to retain its primary function of being a debuff. Even with this in mind, there are still plenty of ways that Borderlands 4 can shake things up to revive Slag while making it less problematic, yet still distinct from any of the existing Elemental damage types in the Borderlands franchise, like Cryo and Radiation:

  • Allow more weapons and skills to apply the Slag debuff
  • Avoid a Grog Nozzle successor
  • Change the Slag debuff to reduce an enemy’s max health instead of providing increased incoming damage
  • Change the Slag debuff’s damage-increase to only apply to non-elemental damage sources
  • Extend the duration of the Slag debuff
  • Reduce the damage boost provided by the Slag debuff

One of the most important things that would need to happen for Slag to return is to nerf the potency of the debuff. This could be a direct decrease in the damage boost that it provides, a total rework of the debuff, or both.

Additionally, extending the duration of the Slag Status Effect and potentially making it permanent could go a long way toward freeing up other endgame builds in the Borderlands franchise. Lastly, the concept of a skeleton-key meta weapon like the Grog Nozzle needs to be avoided at all costs given the weapon variety in the Borderlands franchise that this kind of weapon undermines.



Borderlands is an action RPG first-person shooter created by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games. The series is commonly called a looter shooter set in a space Western style, where players can select from multiple classes that can level up and acquire new skills. The franchise has quickly become one of the best-selling franchises and produced spin-offs like Tales from the Borderlands as well as a film adaptation being developed by Lionsgate. 


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