Thursday, 11 July 2013

Mini-review: Borderlands 2 Tiny Tina's assault on dragon keep

The fourth and final piece of Borderlands 2 season pass DLC was released a couple of weeks ago with all the promise of being the best DLC released to date for Borderlands 2, at least as far as fans were concerned.  Sadly this final piece isn't the Secret armoury of general Knoxx for this game, instead it's more like the Underdome riot of Borderlands 2.

Unlike previous DLC's which took place after the main story had concluded, this title shifts back to a time after Roland's death at the hands of Handsome Jack.  Tina has invited the remaining original Vault hunters to play a game of bunkers and badasses while the other vault hunters track down and defeat Jack.  So basically this title is narratively bland and not offering anything new as far as the world or story are concerned.  The main part of the plot is how Tina is dealing with the loss of a friend by covering it with a game while also making jabs at tabletop roleplaying in general.
Wizards must have a massive CON because they soak damage
The writing and humour are very good here like the rest of the DLC packs the same writing staff are back and so the jokes are fast and funny and the pop references are too numerous to list here, the return of characters such as Mr.Torgue are welcome and the ribs on roleplaying in general are well thought out and are the only thing that keeps you coming back to finish this DLC.

Sadly the only good thing about Tiny Tina's assault on dragon keep is the writing and visual gags, the gameplay however is poor.  Since the DLC isn't played in Pandora's world you get a slew of re-skinned foes to face ranging from Orcs, Dragons, Skeletons, Knights and other fantasy creatures such as treants and giant spiders but they are all functionally re-skinned versions of existing foes.  Orcs are simply bandits with new dialogue (some of them still have guns for some inexplicable reason) knights are Hyperion soldiers and so on.  They do have realm specific powers such as paladins being able to heal, generate shields and throw magical bolts of energy but it's nothing spectacular.

Combat takes a real hit here as the DLC is relatively short, capable of being completed in a few short hours if you take your time, even quicker just running the main plot.  To make it longer Gearbox have made the enemies absorb a horrendous amount of damage which turns most gun battles into monotonous slogs as you plug literally hundreds of rounds into a single foe before it dies, and enemies always attack in groups.  This has the effect of artificially lengthening the game as the enemies are bullet sponges with very little reward when you beat them finally.  Drops are pathetically poor while missions rewards are mediocre at best.  There is no sense of achievement when you finish a quest line or kill a boss, you simply get an amusing one liner and some random gun which is weaker compared to your current equipment.
Skeletons are bastards to kill quickly and they are fast
I played this on true vault hunter mode at level 50 and barely made any experience against monsters of the same or higher level.  Most enemies could easily one hit kill you and killing them was a massive chore rather than a fun fight.  The environments are bland and utterly devoid of character with the sorcerers tower being a massive cut and paste job almost worthy of Elder scrolls Oblivion's dungeons.  Occasionally Tina will alter something in the environment when the vault hunters complain about it being unbalanced or the such but that's it really.

Of course for the true Borderlands fans this is a must have because it's more of the same shoot and loot gameplay which made Borderlands so fun in the first place, and it does that well enough.  As a fan of the original and the sequel this DLC just felt lazy making even Hammerlocks big game hunt seem fresh and original by comparison.  This was the DLC made by Gearbox and frankly it doesn't deliver, it adds no new story elements, no new vehicles, no new rarity types, no new weapon types and no new characters.  The entire DLC comes off as lacklustre and aside from a more touching ending it adds nothing new to the franchise.

Overall it's fun for a couple of hours but it isn't the grand DLC we have been waiting for from Gearbox.  If you have a season pass play it, otherwise I would recommend waiting until it's cheap on a steam sale before picking it up, you aren't missing much.

SCORE: 5/10


Guest said...

It may have been short but it was part of tiny Tina's character arc and more emotion to a what seem to be just a shoot in loot game

Thadius Cole said...

I understand that and I agree that it was good for the Tiny Tina character arc, but it just felt very un-Borderlands. A game that prides itself on it's irreverant humour, crass jokes and fuck you mentality suddenly developing a conscience about the death of a character is left field. I didn't really hold that against the DLC since the story wasn't all that great to begin with.

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