There are a number of video game companies that are universally viewed as companies to ignore. EA, Activision, and Microsoft are all companies that have built an empire on pissing off gamers. Gearbox Software, however, is a company that gives gamers every reason to be divided on their feelings for the studio. While Gearbox seems to take great pride in their own games, the Aliens: Colonial Marines debacle proved that they should not be trusted when contracted to develop games. As a huge fan of Borderlands, I grew a bit concerned when Gearbox charged five dollars for a level cap increase and ten dollars for an ill-conceived additional class. That being said, I was looking forward to Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, the latest content pack for Borderlands 2, although I did have my reservations.
Besides millions of guns, Borderlands and its sequel have been known to be some of the few games to have downloadable content that is worth the price of admission. Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep does nothing but solidify this image. Taking place in the world of Bunkers & Badasses, Pandora’s version of Dungeons & Dragons, the setting is like nothing seen before in the series. The barren, alien landscape of Pandora is replaced by a fantasy world that is home to areas like the Immortal Forest and the Unassuming Docks of Potentially Little Importance. The change-up in settings is one of the things that really sets this DLC apart from the previous offerings. The Bunker Master for the round of B&B is everybody’s favorite twelve-year-old, Tiny Tina (that sentence feels a little too Dyackian).
Having Tiny Tina at the helm of the campaign makes it all feel a bit unpredictable. Within the first ten minutes of the story, I was confronted by an invincible dragon that was only changed to a more manageable enemy once Tina was reminded that it is not good BM etiquette to kill off the entire party at the start of the adventure. Later, while walking down a side path in the forest, I was told to be careful as Tina did not have a chance to combat balance anything beyond the main path. Ignoring her warnings, I came across a trio of enemies that were thirty levels above mine, only to be saved by the BM’s hasty changes. With the game world being invented by Tina, expect to see many familiar faces making appearances in the campaign. Mister Torgue Flexington returns as eager as ever to be apart of the chaos, only to be put through a nerd trivia test by Lilith, despite his claims that he is a lover of “Sci-Fi, fantasy, Unicorns, and *BLEEP*”.
To go along with the fantasy setting, the enemies have been given a matching fantasy overhaul. While the previous content packs have featured slight reworkings of enemies in the main game, the enemies in Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep are quite different. Fights with orcs and skeletons seem a bit odd at first as they rely on swords and magic to attack as opposed to the gun-toting enemies I have become accustomed to in Borderlands. While the difference in enemy types caught me off guard, I did not have much time to appreciate it as these enemies are quite tough. My Mechcromancer sits at level fifty right now, but I often come into combat against enemies that are as high as level fifty-five, leading to some long fights. Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep feels more difficult than the main game, although I am playing the content solo which probably does not help.
The Borderlands games and their content packs have never missed an opportunity for a humorous pop culture reference and Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is no exception. This time around, however, the references are tied more closely to nerd culture. Everything from The Lord of the Rings to World of Warcraft have been represented during my trip into the world of Bunkers & Badasses. Although the game is loaded with these references, they never feel forced or overused as the writers have worked them into the dialogue and quests flawlessly.
Gearbox has really smashed a home run with this DLC. Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep joins Super Luigi U as an example of DLC done right. It takes everything that gamers love about the base game, but adds enough new content to make it not feel as just more of the same. Although I sit at around the half-way point of the ten hour DLC, I am confident that it will appeal to any fan of Borderlands. The change in scenery and enemies really makes the game feel fresh even though it is still the “Shoot-n-Loot” gameplay that fans have come to expect from the series. My lone complaint about the content pack is that there are a few fights that are obviously designed to be played with a party. Apart from that, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is a fantastic, humor-loaded addition to Borderlands 2. Even those who are not enamored with Tiny Tina should not hesitate in picking up this awesome conclusion to the first “season” of Borderlands 2 DLC.