It’s OK if you’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons before. You can still appreciate Borderlands 2 shoved into a fantasy-trope skin. Why? Because the whole thing is narrated by Tiny Tina with a few eye-rolly comments from Lilith or an adorably clueless remark by Brick.
And chances are you’ve played some variation of a fantasy game before, and can find a reason to chuckle at the poofy outfits or the overly dramatised dialogue Borderlands 2 uses to poke fun at the genre.
Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep sets you out on a mission to assault the Dragon Keep (surprise, surprise). You're basically acting out a real-life (well, real life in the game) board game a la Dungeons & Dragons that is led by dungeon master Tiny Tina and played between the original vault hunters. As you wander around and set out on missions, you'll hear Tiny Tina's booming, god-like voice from above, which is fitting since she is the god of your board game realm. And why is all this happening? Because it's cool, of course! But, actually, when the DLC opens and you watch a brief cut scene before the fun begins, you soon realise that Tiny Tina isn't dealing with some tragic events from Borderlands 2 quite well. (Spoilers: Roland's death. /spoilers.) It's her method of coping.
That’s the gist of the new DLC but let’s get into some other basic details that you should know about that I learned while playing the game a few weeks ago.
Inside Jokes Make Me Feel Warm And Fuzzy Inside
Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep — which opens in a new area, favouring a dark blue colour palette, called the Unassuming Docks — is the fourth piece of downloadable content that adds to the Borderlands campaign. It is a self-aware game made by people who love games. It’s full of inside jokes and digs at video game staples you’ll all likely recognise.
There’s a quest that makes fun of the fake geek girl trope. Except instead of a girl having to prove her nerd cred, it’s the male vault hunters in Borderlands 2 who can’t step up to the likes of Tiny Tina and Lilith. Then there are quests that are references to specific games. Lead writer Anthony Burch tells me Dark Souls is one of the more notable ones.
More Of Everything Than In Any Other DLC
I’m told there are more new enemies and more content and even more music in this DLC than in any other one released for the sequel in this series.
There are trolls and treants and skeleton enemies. There are skeletons with shields. The immortal skeleton has a sword in his back that you have to pull out first in order to kill him, because otherwise he’s immortal. There are golems, and their elite version, unchained golems. Treants can level up as you injure them, so you better kill them quick. It’s a similar concept to the goliaths that turn into badass versions of themselves the slower you take to kill them.
There are pixies that are neutral until you activate or shoot them. Shooting them makes them your enemy. Activating them with the tap of a button turns them into your friend, and they’ll fly around and give you buffs like to your health and ammo regeneration speed, and even attack enemies for you. There are also giants. And knights with flaming arrows. And probably a bunch of other creatures and soldiers that I didn’t get a chance to bump into during my hour-ish session with the DLC.
Remember the Dark Souls quest I mentioned earlier? And all the other game references embedded into quests? Burch tells me the developers were so excited about the prospect of creating quests to represent their favourite games that everyone wanted a shot at it. So there are more quests in this DLC than any other.
And the music? Well extra content needs extra music to support it. And composer Raison Varner is quite the talented person for the task. I wish I could share it with you, but it reminded me a lot of of Hans Zimmer’s score for The Last Samurai. But it’s appropriately moody and whimsical for the fantasy setting.
A Gun That Shoots Swords
My favourite part was something I didn’t even get to actually see. While I asked lead writer Anthony Burch what sort of new weapons we’d be seeing in this new content, he mentioned guns that shoot objects. Like swords. A gun that shoots swords. Also: grenades that set off massive, elemental explosions.
I didn’t get many other details than that, but I certainly can’t wait to kill every boss and ransack every loot chest in search of these wondrous and mystical weapons.
All The Little Details
To go along with the theme, you’ve got reskinned everything. Some loot chests are decorated with dice. You can roll for legendary weapons, but it’ll cost you eridium. On the other hand, there’s an increased drop rate for eridium. Which goes perfectly with the semi-recent update that lets you increase your ammo upgrade an extra tier for all your weapons.
I mentioned new weapons, right? Well how about Tiny Tina-themed weapons. There are slot machines around the new level — which I haven’t seen with my own two eyes just yet — that will get you some of those crazier ones.
This is also more than likely the last campaign DLC. Of course, if they do decide to do another after this one, it wouldn’t be the first time Gearbox decided, what the hell, here’s more content for you. For now we can guess it may very well be the last. It is, after all, a new console cycle. So Gearbox may want to look ahead by now.
Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep will come out on June 25 for around $10.