Bunkers & Badasses!
by Arthur Kotsopoulos
©2013 Arthur Kotsopoulos
To listen whilst you read: Listen to the Flamerock Refuge theme, it’ll draw you into the fantasy world. It’ll open in a new tab, so don’t worry.
Whilst both the Halo and Call of Duty franchise receive Map Packs, racers such as Forza receives new tracks and cars for players to drive, there’s one particular title that seems to get a plethora of new post content support, stacking on countless hours of entertainment.
That said game is, Borderlands 2.
Currently having seen it’s final fully fledged DLC add on in the form of Tiny Tinas Assault on Dragon Keep, this new DLC adds roughly 8-10 hours of additional gameplay if you’re on your own to an already amazing title.
With a group of 4 that estimated completion time could vary and for the better too.
Not only does Dragon Keep add new locations, but it introduces us to new characters, as well as rehashing the old. It adds dozens of new weapons, one particular shotgun that shoots out exploding swords and not only that, but it seems to be heavily populated by new grenade mods.
You’ll come across over a dozen new enemies within the varied environments, from Gnomes, Spiders, Orcs, walking trees, Pixies and much more. New challenges will also keep players glued to their screens achieving new Badass token improving existing attributes.
Live and learn
When comparing Assault on Dragon Keep to the previous offerings Gearbox released for Borderlands 2, they all pale in comparison.
Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty started off strong and gave me hope that we’d see a steady release of quality DLC. New weapons, enemies, a new currency “Seraph” and new challenges were just a small taste of what this first DLC included.
Suffice to say, I had held my hopes to high if I thought the DLC that would follow would be of the same quality.
Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt was big in its landscape in the sense that I spent more time running and driving around in the hover boat than killing enemies.
One particular side quest needed me to trap Borok in a cage.
This meant I needed to travel to a new area, successfully lure this creature into the cage and continue to the next cage until I had captured all the necessary Boroks. Upon failure, I found out I needed to go all the way back to the notice board, accept the mission again and start over.
I couldn’t justify that amount of backtracking just to accept a side quest which didn’t exactly give me much experience.
To me It felt empty and uninteresting to travel within, especially when a mission was as cruel as that.
Mr Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage had an interesting premise but sadly didn’t execute it well. Its story was extremely short and the bulk of this add on was left to side missions that weren’t that much fun.
Again, I found that I was doing a lot of backtracking to areas I didn’t feel were inspiring or interesting enough to hold my attention.
Whilst the new Vault Hunters beat information regarding the access codes for the Hyperion Moon base from an enemy combatant downstairs at the City Archives, Tina decides to host a game of Bunkers & Badasses with the old Vault Hunters to pass the time.
We get a good amount of banter from these characters during cut scenes and gameplay, as their conversations can be heard whilst playing the game.
Assault on Dragon Keep continues the story of the original Borderlands 2 campaign and is a way for Tiny Tina to cope with the loss of a friend. At the start of the campaign you arrive by boat at the docks of Flamerock Refuge with Tiny Tina narrating.
This sparks Tiny Tina to dynamically alter the game world and whilst it isn’t random, it does give us a good change of pace from what we’ve come to expect from Borderlands 2.
This level of interaction isn’t limited to just environmental changes, character interactions with the board and set pieces are altered and various actions of Brick cause unprecedented outcomes for you, the player.
It’s damn good fun and it never grows tiresome.
We’ve got content, great level design, varied enemies to combat and once again we have a phenomenal soundtrack that ranks with the best. Gearbox have collaborated with various composers to create a fantasy filled soundtrack that draw players into this world.
I’m not sure how long I’ve racked up listening to the Flamerock Refuge theme, but it’s absolutely amazing. (I hope you opened up the theme up at the top and heard most of it by the time you got to here)
As fun as Assault on Dragon Keep is though I did find that some of the side missions follow the same route from previous add-ons. Various characters in the world seemed to need our services in finding an item that had either been stolen or lost.
By the end of the quest, it’s revealed the item was never lost nor stolen but in fact back at where we had accepted the quest in the first place. This resulted in a moan and a groan from my party of friends because we had just completed a mission earlier which was similar.
Not only that but we instantly knew the outcome of the mission from the moment we had accepted it.
Someone mixed the potions wrong
The Golden Golem can be accessed by grenade jumps and farmed an unlimited amount of times in hopes of receiving the Infinity Pistol, certain enemies will glitch through the environment like the Badasses in the Barroom Beatdown in Torgues campaign and at some points various enemies won’t spawn at all.
When you’ve played Borderlands 2 for a collective of 140+ hours like I have, you notice these, a lot.
Despite the technical glitches within the this new add on, I cannot seem to fault Assault on Dragon Keep on anything else.
Gearbox have managed to pull off the fantasy setting exceptionally well. The soundtrack, enemies and environments assimilate together to create the best DLC I have played for a game this generation.
Every area in Assault on Dragon Keep is vast and interesting. You’ll want to explore every nook and cranny due to how many secrets are within this add on, like Dice chest which take Eridium for a better chance of good loot,
The campaign missions make you progress onto new areas rather than backtrack to complete objectives for a small amount of experience.
If you love Borderlands humour, that’s untouched and at some parts the game gets extremely meta, you’ll love it. The charm is consistent and whilst some missions lack flair this DLC is definitely the best of the four.
Gearbox announced and shall soon be releasing new content in the form of an increased level cap, new bosses, character heads and loot. I just hope they announce a Hyperion Moon base DLC to close out this arc until we eventually get Borderlands 3 on next gen consoles.