There’s an extremely mischievous, subversive intelligence at work in the ridiculous hijinks of Gearbox’s final expansion to Borderlands 2. The last piece of DLC is ostensibly an excuse for Gearbox to throw players into a fantasy setting, but for writer Anthony Burch, it was also an opportunity to examine the psychology, tropes and traditions of the RPG and blow large, hilarious holes in them. Borderlands fans of a satirical mindset are in for a real treat with Tiny Tina’s Assault On Dragon’s Keep.
Roll To Save Versus Self-Awareness
The premise of TTAODK is that Tiny Tina is hosting a game of “Bunkers & Bad Asses” and has gathered the original Vault Hunters to play. In essence, players are interacting with an “in-game simulation” of what’s happening on the table as dice are rolled and players argue with a Dungeon Master about whether a particular event is legit or not. The DLC hilariously analyzes and skewers the D&D culture, fantasy clichés, geeks in general and even has one of the funniest examples of nerd exclusion committed to a videogame. In other words, this DLC is comedy gold.
There’s no point getting into mechanics or presentation here; this is Borderlands 2, it plays exactly the way it always has. As with past DLC, this gives the art team an excuse to stretch their muscles, and the result is that players finally get a chance to wander around in a magical fantasy realm filled with orcs and fairies, and shoot them with high powered automatic weapons. For anyone that ever wished they could bring an arsenal of guns into the world of Diablo, this is about as close as you’re going to get. There’s something deeply satisfying about seeing an aged, wondrous Treant roaming on the horizon and getting it in your sights with a Maliwan fire sniper rifle for a critical damage headshot.
The enemies here are tough; the DLC assumes you’ve torn through all the previous content, and have a fair amount of experience dealing with bosses and other high powered enemies with ridiculously huge health bars. So even though this DLC will be available to players straight out of the gate when they finally unlock fast travel terminals, it’s NOT recommended as a destination for new players. Get some XP, level up and get some decent guns, otherwise you will be overwhelmed when you hit this place.
For those who have the wherewithal to brave this DLC, you’re coming here for the laughs and maybe the XP if you haven’t already maxed out the new level cap. The combat is still as fun and challenging as it ever was. The running commentary from the Vault Hunters as players, and Tina as the deranged Dungeon Master is exactly the kind of thing you’d hear in a typical D&D game, or even the sorts of questions one would ask of any suspicious plot point or mechanic in a fantasy game.
If you ever poked holes at flimsy fantasy set-ups, this DLC is bound to elicit a laugh. The only real downside to this DLC is lack of loot. Most of the rewards are straight up money and XP, with little of the generosity for new guns that was shown in earlier DLC like Captain Scarlett & Her Pirate’s Booty. Of course, there are still new bosses and such to farm, but specific quest loot as a reward is in short supply here. That aside, this is a worthy capstone on the Borderlands 2 DLC, and fans of the series should enjoy their last jaunt on Pandora.