The lights are on
Yesterday we were surprised to find out that the third DLC add-on
for Borderlands, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, was only one day
away from launch (for Xbox 360 owners, at least). Usually Gearbox
announces its release dates weeks in advance to whip Borderlands fans
up into a frenzy for new content. Sometimes a surprise launch can be
construed as a sign of weakness, that the developers have a reason to
get it out onto the market before anyone has a chance to criticize it.
That's not the case with General Knoxx. Boasting an area twice the size
of The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, an increased level cap, new vehicles,
dozens of new enemy types, and a new class of weapons, The Secret
Armory of General Knoxx is the biggest Borderlands DLC yet. And once I
began playing it, I quickly found out it’s also the hardest.
General Knoxx is Gearbox’s attempt to give fans everything they’ve
asked for, so it makes sense that it starts with a greater emphasis on
story. The new DLC starts where the main game ended. After you opened
the vault and destroyed the giant whatever-that-thing-was, Atlas’
military branch, Crimson Lance, began taking over the planet. To
accomplish this, Crimson Lance put up barricades on all of the highways
to prohibit travel. This angered Moxxi, who returns from Underdome Riot
as your ally and a source of missions.
The Atlas Corporation has also put a bounty on your head, as well as
all of your teammates. As if the inhabitants of Pandora needed any more
of a reason to kill you, the new bounty also attracts squads of Lance
Assassins, deadly female ninjas with glowing neon swords that fall from
the sky inside giant rockets. In other words, it’s just another day on
Why is Brick's bounty so much higher? That's...size discrimination!
I encountered my first squad of Lance Assassins while helping
Scooter track down the pieces for one of Knoxx’s new vehicles, the
Monster. The Monster seats two players and has both a machine gun and
a rocket launcher that shoots multiple heat-seeking missiles. Before I
managed to get the vehicle up and running though, I was blindsided by
ninjas, who move faster than any other enemy type in the game.
I should preface the rest of my exploits with a few caveats. Being a
preview build, Gearbox gave me a character to play as – a level 50
Brick – whom I had no prior experience with. I also had to rely on a
handful of guns I had never tried before, instead of my personal weapons cache. Worst of all, I was playing by myself – not exactly the optimal Borderlands experience.
These facts are not to excuse my suckitude, but rather to reinforce
how important multiplayer has become in Borderlands. Whereas at launch
Borderlands’ co-op was a fun and well implemented feature, at post 50
levels having a strong team and skills and weapons you're comfortable with is a necessity. Trying to play through
General Knoxx alone was not only extremely difficult, but extremely
frustrating. But more on that later.
I managed to punch through the first group of ninjas without too
many problems (though each of the later groups I ran into sported a
more-than-formidable boss). After I finished the Monster, I headed down
You'll spend a lot more time driving in General Knoxx than in the main game
The size of the environments in General Knoxx are impressive, though
the parts I saw were mostly barren and looked the same as the desert
areas from the main game. Giant mines are embedded in the landscape,
and there are a lot more enemy vehicles on the road, but otherwise
there wasn't much to look at. After checking out a small shanty town
full of the familiar bandits and psychos, I made my way up a
dilapidated on-ramp to check out Moxxi’s home. As the video at the end
of this article shows, just getting to the front door was a challenge
in and of itself.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.