Free DLC is great, but there’s something better than free DLC. Free early DLC!
Early last week fans of Borderlands 2, Gearbox’s Shooter/RPG hybrid got a little gift that came in the form of a whole new class. The Mechromancer, is the first nugget of DLC to be released with more coming on October 16th. Gamers who per-ordered Borderlands 2 should have the all new character Gaige and her pet D374-TP (or DeathTrap) already available, but if you picked up the game after release you can still grab some mech slashing mayhem for $9.99. Over the weekend, I spent some time with my new friends and Gaige and DeathTrap and found the experience to be a welcome change from my brooding haiku laden journey through the Borderlands playing as Zer0. I played through the game’s first ten levels as the newest vault hunter and despite enjoying the new experience, I’m kind of glad I didn’t pay for the privilege.
Meet the Mech
Much like Axton the Commando, Gaige the Mechromancer can summon a robotic buddy to help them fight the bandits and raiders of Pandora. Deathtrap functions like a tank/bodyguard directly engaging enemies in the area. He’s pretty independent and will select his own targets and will keep slashing with his robotic laser claws until his target is dead. There is also a finite amount of time that DeathTrap will be around once summoned. This is indicated by a gauge that will slowly tick down until depleted. Also, DeathTrap can only take so much damage before diapering. The action skill used to summon your robot friend will then enter a sixty-second cool down before you can summon him again. The first thing I noticed about DeathTrap was that he will relentlessly pursue enemies, there was a few times I even lost track of him because he was off fighting some random skags. He would always come hovering back like a good little robo-puppy though. One particularly helpful thing I also noticed is that his robot laser claws are amazing at taking down an enemies shields. One swipe was all it would take before I could come in a finish our now shield-less prey. Overall I enjoyed having a little buddy with me, Pandora can be such a lonely place without some fellow vault hunters to back you up. So for those people out there who like to play solo, this is definitely a class you should try.
Gaige the Mechromancer comes with three all new skills tree for you to explore. The Best Friends forever skill tree allows you to augment DeathTrap’s abilities and I found it to be geared toward more team oriented play. The Little Big Trouble tree features more Gaige-centric abilities like those that grant you resistance to certain damage types and increase you melee damage. Finally the Ordered Chaos tree seems to be a little stage granting you access to the Anarchy ability. The Anarchy ability has you dealing out more damage at the expense of accuracy. This damage bonus tied to how many Anarchy stacks you currently have. An Anarchy stack is granted every time you kill an enemy or fully emptying your gun’s magazine while in combat. I didn’t get a chance to try out this mechanic myself but seems to feature a lot of careful management and requires some serious skill to take full advantage of. As far as the approach to combat was concerned I found the Mechromancer to be most effective at medium range. Often I would have DeathTrap engage enemies while I stayed a little further back using assault rifles to great success. Since my first play through had been as Zer0, whom I found to particularly week at medium range, I think that Zer0-Gaige team-up would be a particularly sharp thorn in Handsome Jack’s side.
I’m super excited for all the DLC that Gearbox has planned for Borderlands 2. On Steam you can buy the entire season for $29.99 which isn’t too bad a price. However, I do find that $9.99 is a little steep just to add another class to the game. I’m sure a lot of people out there per-ordered the game and have gotten this extra character at no charge but if you’re not one of those people you way want to wait for a price drop. There’s already four drastically different characters to choose from in the base game which is a lot for you to explore. So unless you’re looking for some more female representation I wouldn’t rush out to drop 10 bucks on the Mechromancer. You might be disappointed when you find out she plays only slightly differently than Axton the Commando. That said, for those that got this one as a freebie, enjoy it because I certainly am. If you haven’t tried the Commando yet the Mechromancer is surely worth a try. I think I might actually put mine and Zer0′s attempt to assassinate Handsome Jack on hold and have Gaige and DeathTrap bring their own brand of metallic justice to Jack smug little face instead.