Video Game Review: Borderlands 2 Captain Scarlett DLC
I loved Borderlands 2. I mean, I looooooved it. And having gone through the core game with two different characters already, I got pretty excited over the idea of DLC for Borderlands 2. Though I had left a few side missions uncompleted in both of my playthroughs, and I could go through again in new game plus, what I was really craving was more world to explore and even better loot to find. Since I had already scoured every inch of Pandora available, the promise of new campaign missions on a whole new part of the planet had me pretty pumped. After experiencing what the Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty add-on has to offer, I was a little let down. I should start by explaining that I played through these new missions with my assassin who had just finished the story quest line and was at level thirty-four, which made him a bit more powerful than most players would be by the end of the last mission.
When I booted up the game after downloading the update, I was a bit confused at first, unsure of how I would start playing the DLC instead of continuing where Zero and I had left off. It turned out I could play the new content in either my existing story or after starting True Vault Hunter Mode, but I had to go to a fast travel point in game and hop to the new area that way, which the game didn’t think was necessary to tell me in any way. Because I didn’t want to start my new game plus run yet, I jumped into my existing save and found my way to the brand new town of Oasis.
On my way, I had my first encounter with some of the new enemies, a gang of pirates, which acted a lot like the bandits I had spent many hours killing already, but with new twists. Some threw Molotov cocktails and others carried barrels of gunpowder on their backs, which I could shoot to destroy them along with any nearby enemies. I would later encounter bigger adversaries with swords in each hand, and some using chain weapons that could draw me toward them before stomping the ground and damaging anyone nearby, not to mention the sandworms. This first DLC pack surprised me in how much it changed the way I battle with my assassin (I even respec’ed some of my skill points a couple times) just by adding a few different types of bad guys.
Upon arrival in Oasis, I met a quite annoying quest-giver who introduced the new vehicle, the sand skiff, which was easily my favorite part about this DLC. Hovering over the sand, this new vehicle seems to move quicker and maneuver much better, plus it definitely gets stuck on rocks and other terrain a whole lot less.
I used the new ride to explore the many cliffs and dunes of this desert before meeting Captain Scarlett who set me down the path toward finding the lost treasure of Captain Blade, which she was also after for herself. Her character is kinda fun, openly admitting that she will most likely betray you at some point, and promising that it will surely be later rather than sooner, but this horse is quite dead when they’re still beating it hours later in the game. Scarlett and the rest of the weirdos I met honestly just made me wish I was back in Sanctuary with Moxxi and Claptrap.
After completing several missions for characters I hoped to never speak to again, I was beginning to worry about the difficulty of the quest I was given. The first couple had been level thirty quests and, though the enemies I encountered hadn’t been getting any tougher either, I had originally expected that to go up. I eventually realized nothing was going to scale and that enemies, as well as the weapons I found, would all be tailored to level thirty unless I played it in True Vault Hunter Mode. Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s fine that they capped the level on the DLC where they did, but it should be indicated to the player, either in game or in the details of the DLC description, what level a character should be to get the most out of this content.
Overlooking the fact that everything was a bit easier than it should have been, I started noticing another trend in the missions. Most of the goals I was tasked with, especially in optional missions, had a heavy fetch quest flavor to them. There was a lot of this in the main game as well, but in this case it isn’t wrapped in witty humor. I would say I wish all this fluff had been left out, but the whole package would be quite small without it.
There is a line of missions that task you with finding first a message in a bottle and then a corresponding small stash of Captain Blade’s weapons, requiring a keen eye and lot of careful traversal. These are generally fun, but sometimes ruined by oddly place invisible walls and geometry that’s a bit too easy to get stuck in. I realize Borderlands has never been about platforming, but if they’re going to have me do it, they might as well make sure it’s more fun than frustrating first.
By the time I had finally found Captain Blade’s lost treasure, I was, unfortunately, quite ready to be done searching. There are a few missions left for me to do in Oasis, including killing another supposedly-impossible monster that I’ll need to be level fifty to tackle, but I’m not so excited to go back at the moment. Though Captain Scarlett adds a beautiful new area and some really interesting new enemy types, it lacks the wit and the polish that made the core game so much fun. Unless you have already purchased the season pass, or you just really really need an excuse to play more of this game, I would suggest waiting for the next piece of DLC and hope that what Gearbox adds the next time around will be a bit more fleshed out.
All images via Gearbox Software.
Follow Levi’s thoughts on games and everything else, @biggunsfowler.