The Crimson Lance are the highly trained private military force of the Atlas Corporation. They impose a form of dictatorial law upon civilians in their dominion.
When the colonization of Pandora went bad, the Crimson Lance brigade on the planet decided to build a base and fortify it. They are known to heavily prefer the use of military might to get their way.
Some in-game evidence suggests that at some point the Atlas Corporation had employed at least one gang of bandits on Pandora as extra hired goons, but an event occurred which resulted in Atlas deploying the Crimson Lance to wipe out the bandits instead, and take over Old Haven. Similarly, Helena Pierce mentions that they've turned Sanctuary into their fiefdom, requiring Sanctuary's population to be subservient to the Lance.
As the Vault hunters finish up with bandits in the Arid Badlands area, their acquisition of the first Vault key fragment attracts the attention of the local Lance garrison commander Commandant Steele. She insists that the newcomers hand over any Vault-related findings and promptly silences the transmission.
The Crimson Lance are physically encountered much later in the story, first in Old Haven when smoke signals are witnessed rising from the old town and must be investigated. This is revealed to be a plot to snare bandits, although this action also brings the Crimson Lance into direct conflict with the adventurers, heralding many battles to come.
Some time later, after the defeat of the bandit lord Baron Flynt, Commandant Steele declares martial law on Pandora. At this point the Vault hunters are declared enemies of the Crimson Lance and are to be arrested or killed. The military lock down is witnessed in the Salt Flats as Lance assault pods pepper the area and the Crimson Lance immediately replace much of the area's bandit population.
Many battles ensue as the Vault hunters pursue Steele into the heart of the Crimson Fastness and begin to sabotage the Lance's stranglehold on the planet. Steele escapes however, and leads the chase into a new struggle, pitting the Lance against ancient Guardians tasked to protect the prize that everyone is seeking, the Vault. This brings about a brutal three-way struggle between the Lance, the Vault hunters and the Guardians, all focused on eliminating the other parties. The Crimson Lance manage to reach the objective first, and with the Vault hunters as witnesses Commandant Steele performs the final act of the Lance; opening the Vault and unleashing the horror within.
Later on, in the third DLC, they are shown to be bringing greater force to bear on Pandora to regain control of the planet, and take revenge on the adventurers. In a propaganda-like message, they blame the Vault Hunters to be thieves and mass murderers who unleashed the Destroyer onto the world and furthermore the Lance claims to have killed it themselves.
Sometime after the death of General Knoxx, the Crimson Lance forces on Pandora became disorganized due to Atlas' abandonment of the system. Roland used this opportunity to rally the abandoned Lance soldiers on the planet under his command, forming the Crimson Raiders, a resistance group dedicated to overthrowing Hyperion's rule over Pandora. However, not all of the Lance joined the resistance; others went to Old Haven and became bandits, who were then wiped out by Roland and Lilith.
In order of appearance:
Crimson Lance Units
The Secret Armory of General Knoxx
- Lance Assassin
- Lance Chemical Trooper
- Lance Combat Medic
- Lance Pyro
- Lance Rocketeer
- Lance Shock Trooper
Badass, Badmutha, Superbad Crimson Lance
Badass versions of all Crimson Lance units, excluding Royal Guards and Combat Medics, can be found in the game. These elite Lance soldiers are easily identified by their hulking size due to the heavier armor they wear. Their stark, monochromatic color scheme easily tells their type:
- Infantry: White, with red
- Defender: Red, with black
- Engineer: Black
- Devastator: Black, with red
- Pyro, Chemical Trooper, Shock Trooper: Black, with element color
- Assassin: Black
Notable Crimson Lance Characters
- Roland - Playable character who deserted the Crimson Lance.
- Commandant Steele - Leader of Crimson Lance forces on Pandora.
- Master McCloud - High-ranked officer and member of Crimson Lance Royal Guard.
The Secret Armory of General Knoxx
- Ajax - A Lance commander who uses a jetpack to fight airborne at his outpost in Road's End.
- Athena - A defector who lends aid towards destroying the Crimson Armory.
- Ceresia - A Lance Assassin officer who ambushes the player at the beginning of Road's End.
- General Knoxx - A Lance general and the titular character of The Secret Armory of General Knoxx.
- Hera - A Lance Assassin officer who ambushes the player outside of Moxxi's Redlight.
- Helicon - A Lance Assassin officer who ambushes the player in front of the Crimson Armory main entrance.
- Kyros - A Lance lieutenant who is in charge of the northern Lance blockade in The Ridgeway.
- Minerva - A Lance Assassin officer who ambushes the player at The Ridgeway.
- Typhon - A Lance lieutenant who is in charge of the southern Lance blockade in The Ridgeway.
- Vulcana - A Lance Assassin officer who ambushes the player in T-Bone Junction.
Strategy and Tactics
The Crimson Lance are the most well-equipped human opponents in Borderlands. They carry weapons and equipment of higher quality than is seen in Bandit hands - uncommon or better weapons and modded grenades - and many also use orb shields, while all of them wear body armor. Anyone facing them must take care as their high quality equipment gives them considerable firepower and added lasting power. On the other hand, their being better equipped does mean they will always drop some loot: any combination of the gun, grenade mod and shield they were using. This can make them a prime source of excellent loot particularly in four-player games.
In addition, all Crimson Lance soldiers wear body armor that primarily covers their head, chest, arms and shins. This armor reduces non-elemental bullet damage considerably, making them difficult to kill. Though they have the same weak spot as all other human enemies (the head), their armor also reduces the damage inflicted by head shots, while their movement and constant output of suppressing firepower makes aiming for their heads difficult. A player can aim at their exposed thighs if given no other options. The armor comes not without a price: Incendiary and especially Corrosive weapons are very effective against them; while the damage-over-time effect is active, corrosion also temporarily weakens their armor, mitigating some of its damage reduction and allowing other attacks to penetrate more effectively. However, take especial care of the occasional Lance soldier equipped with a Corrosive resistance orb shield; like any other enemy or player equipped with such a shield, they will flash green when hit.
The ballistic shields wielded by Defenders cover most of their body when they are facing attackers, and any shots striking it will do zero damage. Powerful or sustained shots to their shield can knock it aside, allowing an opportunity to shoot at their bodies or heads. The shields are also not tall enough to completely protect their heads so a decent marksman should be able to shoot over the shield and hit them for critical damage. The shields will also never cover their feet, so if they are not behind other cover this is also a viable target. Lastly, the splash effect from most elemental weapons can often get around the shield to hit the soldiers themselves. Elemental weapons, sniper rifles and automatic weapons are therefore highly regarded for use against Defenders.
Engineers can deploy a Scorpio Turret which supplements their own firepower. Because the Scorpio is stationary and has a fixed fire arc, players can avoid its damage by jumping over it or moving around and outside its range of rotation. The turret is quite durable but vanishes when the Engineer dies, so the Engineer is usually the preferred target. The turret can otherwise be used for Second Wind if it remains exposed when the Engineer gets behind cover.
Finally, Crimson Lance Badasses have a lot more health and even more armor than their ordinary counterparts. All of them wear additional armor plates, including large shoulder guards that block line of sight to their heads from most angles and completely negate bullet damage in that location the same way the shields of Defenders do. Furthermore, every part of their body is covered in damage-reducing armor. They are virtually immune to normal gunfire, though critical hits will still do some damage. They also seem to be more aggressive and more willing to get close or pursue the player during firefights than the rank-and-file Lance mercenaries.
Despite how formidable they are, these Badasses otherwise behave like their respective type. Infantry are very mobile and aggressive; Defenders will have shields and will flinch once these shields absorb enough damage; Engineers will drop Scorpio Turrets. The recommended tactics against their ordinary versions still apply but extra care must be taken. The use of elemental weapons, specifically Corrosive guns, are especially emphasized in dealing with them.
- Crimson Lance can occasionally be found wielding Eridian weapons. Such weapons are commonly found on high-level Lance Infantry and Elemental Troopers.
- The Crimson Lance use assault pods for quick force deployment, which can be seen in the Salt Flats, Crimson Enclave and Eridian Promontory. The pods also appear in The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, where the player uses one to escape from a horde of zombies. In the third DLC, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, some of these assault pods can be seen arriving from a distance, and standing in the way of the flying rocket's landing zone will result in death due to pod impact.
- The Crimson Lance operating on Pandora under Commander Steele are part of the Crimson Lance D Company 3rd Starborne Brigade, dispatched under the orders of General Knoxx.
- Lance soldiers can take a day off for a "personal ice cream leave of absence", code 3.5.31 in the Manual; see video for the ECHO log.
- Coincidentally, the "Crimson Lance" can also appear as the name of a particular model of Hyperion-manufactured Sniper Rifle when the "Crimson" prefix appears on a Lance rifle.
- In the elevator on the way into Dead Haven, the corpse of a Crimson Lance soldier can be seen propped up against the wall and holding a bunch of yellow daisies.
- Shit! (Grenade is thrown near them or wounded)
- Drop 'em! (Attacking)
- Get down! (Grenade is thrown near them or wounded)
- Chaaaarge! (Attacking)
- Taking fire here! (Attacking)
- Engaging! (Attacking)
- This is your last warning. (When heard)
- Get back at once. (When heard)
- Turn back or we will open fire!
Note: Only Crimson Lance that have elemental specialities say these with subtitles appearing. However, one can still hear normal Crimson Lance say similar lines, except with heavy radio static.
- "Hostiles, fire!" (when they spot a target)
- "Fire at will!" (when they spot a target)
- "There they are, attack!" (when they spot a target)
- "I need some support!" (if they're pinned)
- "Suppress that target!" (if they're pinned)
- "Powering shields!" (when their shields are depleted)
- "Recharging!" (when their shields are depleted)
- "Shields down!" (when their shields are depleted)
- "I'm hit!" (after taking significant damage to health)
- "I need a medic!" (after taking significant damage to health)
- "Need med evac now!" (if a Lance soldier near them is killed)
- "I need evac!" (if a Lance soldier near them is killed)
- "Lancemate down!" (if a Lance soldier near them is killed)
- "We're taking casualties!" (if a Lance soldier near them is killed)