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Borderlands 3 has a pretty good Skyrim joke

And it's not about taking an arrow to the knee.


Depending on your perspective, the Borderlands universe’s extremely self-aware sense of humour is either a selling point or a constant source eye sprain. The series has always poked fun at gaming conventions and memes, and Borderlands 3 is no different.

When you die in Borderlands 3, you’re “brought back to life” at the last checkpoint you visited. These are called New-U stations, and in the Borderlands universe, they store your DNA in order to make an exact physical replacement of you “in case of accidental death or dismemberment.” It’s a courtesy service provided by Hyperion, one of Borderlands’ megacorporations and arms manufacturers, and they like adding a little message in while you’re being reconstituted during a respawn.

Obviously, it’s ripe territory for jokes, and Borderlands 3 has included a pretty plum Skyrim reference, as some redditors have noticed (and Ali has confirmed). Respawn enough times, and eventually the New-U station will quip, “Hey you, you’re finally awake. You were trying to cross the border, right?”

Ah yes, these are the timeless opening lines from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a game as near and dear to our hearts as we’re sure it is to yours. As that game opens, we find ourselves bound and riding in a horse-drawn cart, on our way to meet the headsman and his axe. Ralof of Riverwood, a member of the Stormcloak rebellion, notices we’ve awoken and speaks these words as the cart trundles toward Helgen.

Sure, it’s now the year 2019 and Skyrim references are perhaps slightly stale on their face. But there are a couple things that make this one work, in my view.

First of all, and mercifully, it isn’t yet another “arrow to the knee” joke, which were already stale just months after Skyrim came out in November 2011. No, this is a different line, it’s likely as much a reference to last year’s ‘Toddroll’ meme as much as it is to Skyrim itself.

What’s Toddroll? So this is a meme that apparently emerged in response to Bethesda’s announcement of Fallout 76. While everyone was still wondering what exactly Fallout 76 was, internet commenters quickly began joking that it was going to be yet another Skyrim release. Everyone in West Virginia evacuates to Vault 76 when the bombs start falling, discover they’re in a testing facility, and find that they’re forced to sit and play a certain videogame forever – “Hey, you, you’re finally awake…” The gag is that we’re all, ultimately, always somehow playing Skyrim in the end, no matter what we think we’re doing.

So, it’s a line that’s become quite a bit more ‘meta’ over the past year, and it makes Borderlands 3’s use of the line quite a bit more relevant than a standard throwaway line reference would have been. It works on another level, too – Borderlands 2 is of the same vintage as Skyrim, and so Borderlands 3 making this little reference also works as a respectful tip of the hat to a fellow traveler.

And now that I’ve gone and explained the joke, I’m sure it’s much funnier because that is how comedy works, right?

That’s just one line from the New-U stations – there are plenty of other wry jokes to be found as you’re waiting to respawn, we’re sure. If you’d like to respawn a bit less often, check out our Borderlands 3 leveling guide to boost your Vault Hunter’s stats stat.