The lights are on
Today, Gearbox officially announced the first DLC campaign for
Borderlands 2, providing us with a few tantalizing details of the upcoming
expansion. Join us as we look back at what worked and didn't work for the DLC offerings
of the original Borderlands, and compare them to the announced features of Captain
Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty.
The Zombie Island of Dr. NedThe first DLC expansion for Borderlands got things off to a
solid start. Zombie Island featured new environments that that stood out from
Pandora's monotonous deserts, providing players with haunted graveyards and
ghost towns to explore. The DLC pack's biggest strength was the plethora of new
enemies it introduced, which included zombified mutations of every major enemy
type in the base game. These new foes also featured more varied attacks,
requiring players to change up their tactics.
The only major complaints players had regarding Zombie
Island was that the DLC didn't provide new items or weapons, and it didn't
increase the level cap. It also didn't provide much of a challenge for veterans
– a complaint Gearbox addressed with its next DLC expansion, to mixed results.
Mad Moxxi's Underdome RiotGearbox took a major stumble with its second DLC offering, Mad
Moxxi's Underdome Riot. While Moxxi herself was more amusing and memorable than
most of the characters in the base game, the expansion was a repetitive grind
that appealed to few players. Three Underdome arenas make up the bulk of the
expansion, and the Horde-style gameplay was more elaborate than most copycats,
providing themed waves and game-changing modifiers. The problem is that the
challenges were way too long, and didn't provide enough rewards; players couldn't
earn XP or weapon proficiency points in the arenas, and the between-round loot was
underwhelming. Underdome Riot did provide a bank for storing weapons and two
additional skill points, but those perks weren't enough to win over fans.
The Secret Armory of General KnoxxGearbox rebounded with its third DLC pack, The Secret Armory
of General Knoxx. Secret Armory featured new (though still bland) environments, enemy
types, and boss battles that easily provided players with dozen hours of
gameplay. It also raised the level cap, introduced new vehicles, and finally gave
players the chance to plunder a giant vault full of loot – even if there was an
annoying time limit attached to it.
Secret Armory didn't scale back the difficulty, either.
Designed as endgame content, the expansion's enemies were significantly more powerful
than the foes of the base game. The DLC's arena-style challenges fixed the
problems that Underdome Riot suffered from, but were still a pain. The end boss, the
dreaded Crawmerax, was capable of devastating even the toughest foursomes.
Despite the difficulty, Secret Armory was the highest reviewed expansion for
Claptrap's New Robot RevolutionThe final expansion of Borderlands gave fans more of the
series' standout character, Claptrap. While the demented robot's revolution was
filled with witty, Andrew Ryan-esque propaganda, the missions highlighted just
how reliant the series was on fetch quests. Many of the new enemies were
cybernetic rehashes of previous enemies, and the expansive, new locations were
comprised of the same brown color palette players knew all too well. The endgame loot was satisfying, but
as a whole, Robot Revolution exposed many of the unfixable problems of the core
What About Captain Scarlett?The features revealed in today's Borderlands 2 DLC announcement should get fans excited. Captain Scarlett features a prominent central character in the same way Underdome Riot and Robot Revolution did,
and the pirate motif provides a clear central theme, similar to Zombie Island. Like Secret Armory, the expansion also features new enemy
types (including sand worms), and a new vehicle (a hovering sand skiff).
president Randy Pitchford stated that the DLC is designed for all players,
not just those who have reached the level cap, which should make it less frustrating
than Underdome Riot or Secret Armory. Our biggest concern at the moment is the environment, which
is described as a Tatooine-esque desert environment. Borderlands 2 did a great
job of changing up location variety – we're not sure if we're ready to go back
to another dusty wasteland.
The announcement also revealed a new currency called seraph
crystals (we're not sure what function this new form of money serves), and
while Gearbox hasn't confirmed it, we're guessing the DLC pack will increase
the level cap as well. Luckily, we won't have to wait long to find out; Captain
Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3,
and PC next Tuesday, October 16.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.