There's a hidden oasis in Pandora that you never knew about, with palm trees and crystal clear water that I want to die in (which, incidentally, probably happened a few times).
Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty is the first in a series of planned campaign add-ons for Borderlands 2. It introduces funny new characters, some really great new weapons, more challenges, a lot of new quests and an amazing vehicle. Heck, even some of the loot chests sport new designs. It's all very new and exciting.
The first person you'll meet in Oasis -- a dried up pile of dust that was once apparently a beautiful resort settled by an equally beautiful ocean -- is Shade. He's basically the most exaggerated version of Johnny Depp's character -- Raoul Duke -- from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, complete with the glasses and hat and the crazy face. He's lonely, and ever so pleased to have a new friend roll into town. Creepily pleased.
He's also a little bit insane, like most of the people you'll meet in a Borderlands game. Insane is the new normal on Pandora. His loneliness and insanity combine to create delusion, in which Shade insists he's not actually alone on his tiny, desolate oasis. Just look at those people in the centre of town! You see that one over there, slouched over that bed? She's totally not a corpse, all pinned up with a megaphone shoved in her mouth. No, not at all. In fact, go talk to her to collect a quest item that you'll need to repair the new vehicle: a sand skiff that fits two players. Well, technically fits two players, anyway (more on that later).
Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty
Platforms: Xbox 360 (played), PS3, PC
Released: October 16
Type of game: First-Person Shooter/Role-Playing Game hybrid
What I played: Six hours of the main storyline and a handful of side missions.
My Two favourite Things
- A gorgeous new environment.
- An amazing new vehicle, the sand skiff, that can be used to run over new enemies to death.
My Two Least-Favorite Things
- Side quests tend to be more fetch-oriented than the creative ones found in the main game.
- Still lots of invisible walls to get stuck in.
- "Let's agree to have sand skiffs built into every game moving forward." -- Tina Amini, Kotaku.com
- "Borderlands 2's impressive loot teaches me that being a hoarder is not a problem, it's a very important way of life." -- Tina Amini, Kotaku.com
The sand skiff is the most exciting vehicle in the Borderlands universe yet. It hovers and strafes, and shoots harpoons that explode on impact. It's fast and can crash into bandit camps, unlike the other vehicles. It still can't go beyond those invisible walls set up outside most quest areas, but it's fun to infiltrate the few that do allow you to ram your hovering skiff into them to wreck unfair damage on unsuspecting enemies. It might be my favourite thing about the new DLC.
All of the enemies are designed to fit the pirate theme. Like a mini-boss named Nobeard, and NPCs -- like Captain Scarlett herself -- with eyepatches, peg legs and hook hands. Soon after you enter Oasis, you'll be sand skiffing around the barren ocean floor, running over sand worms and fighting off crazed pirate bandits riding in their own sand skiffs. You feel less special in your sand skiff now.
When you finally make your way over to Captain Scarlett, you'll meet the infamous pirate leader who's known for being a backstabber (but, hey, she's honest about it). That bodes well for your new alliance and the mission that tasks you with helping the English-accented pirate find the treasure she seeks.
Once you set off on her assigned mission and wander into the real hidden oasis filled with palm trees and gorgeous iceberg-blue water, you'll forget to worry about why you're there in the first place.
And then once you meet the barrage of new, electricity-damaging crystalisks and skags, you'll forget about the beauty of the place you're in. But not really. Cause it's really, really pretty. The water glows and there's a lot of natural green and palm trees in this pirate-infested area. I even caught myself often admiring the adorable little midgets with pirate hats too big for them and scarves wrapped around their faces. Put a shotgun in their hands that throws them backwards with the gun's kickback force and I'm d'awwing all over the place.
I have to admit I wasn't expecting to fight as many loaders -- those mechs you fought in the main game -- as I did, though. They're not my favourite enemies of the bunch, but fortunately the new DLC adds a few more of those insanely hard, you-will-certainly-die, raid-boss enemies that take a team and an all-nighter to pull off. These end-game bosses will grant you a new form of currency -- seraph crystals -- which you can use to buy sweeter-than-usual loot.
Randy Pitchford described this first campaign DLC as something on par with Borderlands 1's General Knoxx add-on. Without spoiling anything, this is an incredibly accurate comparison, and not just in terms of length and amount of new content. But since we're on the topic, the new DLC provides plenty of side quests alongside the one main mission Captain Scarlett sets you off on. I mentioned in my review of Borderlands 2 that side quests felt more creative when you consider how fetch-focused the first game's bulk of side missions were.
Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty certainly has a healthy amount of extra missions, but they are more reminiscent of the fetch side quests in the first game than the creative ones of the second. Fortunately the writing is so superb that it won't matter that you've been asked to deliver that bottle of whiskey or a bunch of pirate peg legs when you're giggling over having to deal with the menace that is a pervy robot or laughing at a deluded old man's love letters to the foxy Scarlett.
I loved every DLC that came out for Borderlands 1. Yes, even the Mad Moxxi one that was just wave after wave of enemies (and not just because it finally introduced a bank system). Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty feels like a continuation of that legacy that Gearbox has built for themselves. When you pop in a Borderlands game, you expect to have dialogue with quirky characters and to exchange your reliable elemental weapons for a shiny new purple one. And that's exactly what you get with this new add-on. The first DLC is well worth your time, even if it's just for that amazing sand skiff and some really impressive new weapons.