Complete Map of the East Coast Pandora
|Rotation Period||90 Earth Hours|
|Orbital Period||10 Earth Years (approximate)|
Pandora is the mysterious, planet on which the story of Borderlands and Borderlands 2 takes place. It is a barren, desolate world filled with dangerous creatures. Pandora's habitable regions appear to derive sunlight indirectly from the reflection of its moon Elpis. Pandora has a 90-hour day and takes ten Earth years to orbit its sun (one winter is seven earth years and a summer is three earth years). Pandora was first settled by humans during a winter season, when much of its wildlife was hibernating. After seven earth years, the warming climate in that region has resulted in most of the known native wildlife (excluding rakk hives and some other unknown or undiscovered species) waking from their hibernation, all of which are hostile to Pandora's new human settlers.
The major forms of fauna on Pandora aggressively protect their territory; an approach is usually met with immediate attack. Pandora has many different creatures that are seldom friendly towards the Vault Hunters. These include Skags, Larva Crab Worms, Scythid, Spiderants, Drifters, Rakk, Rakk Hives, Varkids, Sand Worms, Bullymongs, Threshers, Boroks, Scaylions, Crystalisks, and many other dangerous creatures.
There are many undiscovered species on Pandora as well. Patricia Tannis also mentions there are many species of bugs. Some of these bugs are the glowing green flies seen when approaching a skag pile or toilets.
In the Parched Fathoms one can see large structures resembling barnacles. This may indicate that some kind of nautical fauna existed on Pandora, despite drastic climate changes, or these creatures are hiberating during Pandora's summer.
An intelligent species encountered on Pandora are the Guardians, however it is revealed they are AI, controlled husks or models of Eridians. No actual Eridians are encountered, and these Guardians are believed to be protectors from the extinct Eridian civilisation.
There are a variety of plants on Pandora, although the local flora is sparse in many areas. The majority of the vegetation present is similar in appearance to flora found in the south-western United States. One of the most common plants or plant-analogues resembles cacti called cesium cactus with orange glowing 'eyes' found throughout the desert-like environment of the Arid Badlands and beyond. This particular plant is possibly the "cesium cactus" referenced in the mission briefing for Big Game Hunter.
Other types of flora encountered include:
- Mushroom-like growths can be found in the Arid Badlands and many of the cave areas (probably used as food for local animals and human settlers).
- In the Rust Commons, there is some plant life, including moss-like plants on the ground and large, sunflower-style plants that grow with 3 heads. Lilly-pads appear in the large pools of water. Wild grasses, weeds and flowers can be seen to bloom in small patches throughout the zones.
- Dead, blackened trees can be found on various parts of the world. This may be partly because of the winter that has just passed and they haven't awoken yet. One is located in the town of New Haven.
- Bladeflower Plants can be found in Skag Gully and elsewhere. T.K. Baha asks the Vault hunters to collect the seeds from them they are the main cash crop of Pandora and are edible.
- Some of the local plant life introduced in Borderlands 2 are actually dangerous. Firemelons are a prime example, as they explode when disturbed, setting everything around them on fire.
The areas of Pandora encountered in the story consist of snowy or volcanic-ash-strewn mountainous areas, large desert valleys and coastal stretches. The terrain is criss-crossed with canyons, ravines, rocky outcrops and plateaus. Large bodies of water are also present bordering several of the zones. Due to the repeated presence of raised construction it is likely that many of these areas are much wetter environments during different times of the Pandoran year.
One can roughly divide human settlements on Pandora into three different groups.
The first is military encampments, established during first or second Crimson Lance occupation. These are huge, well fortified structures and bunkers, made of steel & concrete. In-game examples include Crimson Enclave (designed to control the heart of ECHOnet) and Fort Knoxx.
The non-hostile civilian establishments constitute the second group. Due to general lack of resources, the inhabitants laid their hands on the only material they had in abundance: scrap metal and garbage (however, occasionally there are more well-made structures made from wood or bricks, like Helena Pierce's office). Although not exactly solid or cozy, these buildings offer some proper conditions and facilities (like power, canalization, etc.), making them a good place to rest or make business. Without proper organization, many of these settlements were constructed virtually ad hoc, turning towns into densely populated mazes of blocks, stair flights, alleys, backyards, etc. When the fauna of Pandora turned hostile and the crime-levels soared, it became necessary for every town to hastily assemble rudimentary fortifications.
The third and the last group is loosely made of bandit camps of various kinds. These gangs reside in various places, occupying defunct industrial installations, inhabiting natural dwellings, or simply stacking up near the roads and towns, hoping for easy prey and loot. Their buildings are relatively simple: mostly huts and shacks, offering little more than primitive shelter, storage, and sometimes toilets. Only the most notorious leaders and the biggest groups manage to reach some kind of higher organization; some of these bases even achieved their own names, like Thor Digtown, Lockdown Palace or Midgetville.
Centuries, or perhaps even millennia before the events of Borderlands, the Eridian civilization came to dominate Pandora. Little is known about what the Eridians have done on the planet, however by the presence of The Destroyer, and the Guardians it can be inferred that it was used as a remote prison location.
The Atlas Colonization
The Atlas corporation arrived at least 70 years before the events of Borderlands, and evidently did so during one of the long Pandoran 'winters'. The company set up facilities in the search for the alien technology that was believed to be hidden on the planet. Outposts were established during this frenzy of activity, and new colonists began to settle in and around these makeshift archaeological digs.
Little or nothing was found, however word spread about the anticipated cache of technology the locals began to dub The Vault. Rumors soon circulated, triggering a second wave of fortune hunters to touch down on the marginally developed planet. Many of these people were heavily armed, highly driven, competitive, and had no affiliation with Atlas.
The Commerce Grid was most likely established as these freelancers started trading amongst themselves and Atlas employees. The Fast Travel Network was also likely established during this period to help facilitate the easy transmission of goods and services.
The First Summer
Pandora, despite the massive influx of people, was still largely unexplored when climatic conditions changed for the warmer. With the rising temperatures, the previously hibernating Pandoran fauna and dormant flora began to stir, presenting a new threat to the colonists. Within weeks many or all of the population were forced to retreat to safer areas, defend themselves, or die.
These decimated communities began to fortify when the Crimson Lance arrived. The Lance weren't gentle with the population, but their firepower and training were helpful in protecting civilians against native predators or criminal elements. However, faced with an increasingly hostile environment, an increasingly lawless and desperate population, and Pandora's lack of profitability, Atlas began withdrawing from the planet.
The Dahl Arrival
Decades before the events of Borderlands, the Dahl corporation arrived upon Pandora. The Crimson Lance, and by extension Atlas, still held the strongest controlling interest on Pandora at that time, so it is likely that Dahl entered under the pretext of mining Pandora's abundant mineral wealth. This was a boon to the local populace as it meant a sudden, prolonged influx of supplies, products, and materials for expansion. With the material came a new wave of trained, educated specialists, managers and planners. A new city, dubbed "Haven", was founded close to the Headstone Eridium mines, well away from Atlas interference.
New outposts were founded around mining resources. Prefabricated refineries and other large industrial facilities were quickly erected and put into operation to process the ore. In addition to the vast quantities of industrial might, slave labor was imported to Pandora in the form of off-world convicts.
The Dahl Withdrawal
In the previous decades, Dahl investment on the planet has reached its peak, with the only real regular contribution being a steady trickle of off-world convicts, and a few essential goods. A kind of economic homeostasis has been reached; life was about as good on Pandora as it had ever been (which isn't saying much).
A little over two years before the events of Borderlands, Patricia Tannis took her first steps onto Pandora. The ECHOnet was established, or at least perfected, with technical expertise from Tannis. The first key fragment to the Vault was also discovered in or around Headstone Mine. Atlas somehow received word of the discovery, and deployed a large unit of Crimson Lance to Pandora, the 3rd Starborne Brigade out of D Company. Faced with the impending invasion of Atlas's soldiers, Dahl was forced to abandon their plans for Pandora and flee the planet.
The Dahl withdrawal was messy, leaving hundreds, if not thousands, of employees and their families behind. Little effort was made to take the heavy, expensive mining machinery off-world, apparently having been deemed too unimportant to risk more casualties or delays in extraction efforts. Among the resources that Dahl left behind was their mining vessel Sanctuary, which the Crimson Lance fortified into a large human settlement and put under martial law. As to Tannis, she was directed to abandon her work, although ultimately her research into the Vault gave her incentive enough to refuse her orders and she remained behind.
The offworld convicts were also left behind. They broke out from their various labor camps, using the materials and weapons of their former guards and eventually codified into feudal and tribal arrangements. A number of bandit lords rose to prominence among their number, each controlling various regions, some arranged in loose hierarchies with lesser leaders showing allegiance to the more powerful gangs. Haven was overrun by the bandits, prompting the residents to establish a new town further to the west, finding building materials easy to come by within a massive dump - New Haven.
The bandit lord Sledge, in possession of a Vault key fragment, rallied other unnamed bandit tribes under his banner. Through force of arms and ruthlessness, he terrorized the areas surrounding Headstone Mine in the effort to find more key fragments. Another key fragment initially found by Tannis fell into the hands of Krom, a rival bandit lord. Tannis, with her own agenda to open the Vault, had her transmissions intercepted by the Crimson Lance force led by Commandant Steele, who herself coveted the key to the Vault and began to hatch a plan to seize it for herself. And as all this was going on, four Vault Hunters sitting on a bus were suddenly contacted by a Guardian Angel...
Fall of Atlas
After the opening of the Vault, Atlas began to suffer a string of disasters. The first was the death of Commandant Steele during the Vault's opening, causing significant chaos in the ranks of the Crimson Lance. General Alphonso Knoxx made an (admittedly half-hearted) attempt to restore order to Pandora, but was also killed. The Atlas CEO was later poisoned and killed.
Atlas was ultimately forced to leave Pandora, abandoning what remained of the Crimson Lance. With no sense of command anymore, the Lance went rogue. Some of them sought refuge in Old Haven and essentially shot at anybody that moved, but they were later wiped out by the Vault Hunters. Others were mentioned as having joined bandit tribes.
Five years after the events of Borderlands, Handsome Jack, now leader of the Hyperion corporation, took all credit for the opening of The Vault and became an overnight trillionaire with the discovery of Eridium and patenting of E-tech technologies. He then took on the task of 'liberating' Pandora from its outlaw population using an army of loader robots, starting with the destruction of New Haven and its residents. He then proceeded with the goal of uncovering a second Vault, this time to gain control of an ancient Eridian weapon referred to as The Warrior. Combating the Hyperion takeover was the Crimson Raiders, a resistance force made up of former Vault Hunters and Crimson Lance that operated from Sanctuary, though it alone was clearly not enough to so much as put a dent in the corporate giant's power.
In order to stop others from awakening the Warrior before he could, Jack sent an off-world communique, hoping to attract treasure hunters to Pandora, where he would have them killed before they reached their goal. Little did he know that some treasure hunters don't die so easily...
- Arid Badlands
- Dahl Headlands
- Rust Commons West
- Rust Commons East
- Salt Flats
- Jakobs Cove
- Parched Fathoms
- Windshear Waste
- New Haven
- Old Haven
- Jakobs Cove
- T-Bone Junction
- The Beatdown
- Tartarus Station
Some of the settlements under civilian control serve as bases of operations for player activity. These locations are generally stocked with many amenities from transportation systems to supplies, and also provide starting points for most of the missions available throughout the story.
Notes and Speculation
- The map that comes with the Borderlands GOTY edition states that the game takes place on the east coast of Pandora.
- Correspondingly, an in-game texture taken from Borderlands 2 (seen above) indicates that game takes place in "Northwest Coast Section 12".
- Despite both games sharing at least one location (Arid Nexus - Badlands/The Arid Badlands), the included map makes its specific location unclear. However, based on the location of its connection to the Eridium Blight, the Arid Badlands (and much of the previous game's areas) are to the North of most Borderlands 2 locations.
- If the Headstone Mine area is any indication, then Pandora is an extremely mineral-rich world. Iridium, being the second densest element upon the periodic table, would naturally sink into the core of the world during its early 'hot period' and become inaccessible to mining in large quantities (like it is on Earth). There are two explanations for the second presumption: sheer abundance, or an extremely short geologically active period in the planet's history. Since volcanoes and caldera are seen to be active, the latter hypothesis seems unlikely and that metals of various types are, indeed, common upon Pandora. Most notably, the metals in and around the platinum series (assuming this is true, Pandora would have to be a very small planet; even if it were Earth-sized the density of the materials would exhibit a huge gravitational force). This would influence native fauna and its evolutionary cycles. As Iridium is not terribly toxic yet bindable, it could stand to reason that this dense, durable metal is actually metabolised by the native life. This quirk of biochemistry would explain why certain creatures are so heavily armored against supersonic projectiles, and why they seem to have trouble digesting/absorbing human bones made out of calcium and phosphorous, two much more chemically bindable substances.
- Since Pandora's winter season is much longer than that of its summer season, seasons on Pandora may be determined by the planet's orbital distance from its star, rather than the tilt of the planet's axis relative to the ecliptic plane. This suggests Pandora's orbit is much more eccentric than that of Earth.
- The player encounters a large number of stranded boats, bridges over dried up rivers, houses on stilts and towns with docks far from water, the town of Oasis in particular which is built like a seaside resort but has no water and has recently experienced a drought that has killed all the townsfolk except one. This suggests that the sea level on Pandora fluctuates wildly and that winter is a 'wet' season while summer is a 'drought' season. This unexpected rapid change in climate could have contributed to the hardships of the first settlers and led to the colonists adapting by storing water in the many water towers during the winter to survive through the summer.
- In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympius and gave it to man, Zeus punished Prometheus by creating Pandora. For fear of additional reprisals, Prometheus warned his brother Epimetheus against accepting any gifts from Zeus, but Epimetheus did not listen, and married Pandora. Pandora had been given a large jar (Pandora's box) and instruction by Zeus to keep it closed, but she had also been given the gift of curiosity, and ultimately opened it. When she opened it, all of the evils, ills, diseases, and burdensome labor that mankind had not known previously, escaped from the jar. As she quickly tried to close it again, all of the content in the jar already escaped, except for the one thing at the very bottom: hope.
- Pandora's moon is called Elpis. In Greek Mythology, Elpis is the spirit/god of Hope and the last thing freed from Pandora's Box.
- Pandora is one of many Greek Mythology references in the game.
- "Pandora" and "Prometheus" are two of Saturn's inner moons.