When will we leave the world of “Borderlands 2”? There has never been a game that I have written more about nor have I played for longer. Even the great multiplayer FPS games like “Battlefield: Bad Company” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” sucked me in for about a year of levelling up, finetuning my loadouts, and upping my kill/death ratios. Gearbox Software and 2K Games have done something remarkable with “Borderlands 2,” a game that I already named the best of 2012, by spacing out DLC over 18 months after the game’s initial release, starting with a great series of meaty, lengthy DLC add-ons, and now moving in the last 6 months to holiday-themed “Headhunter Packs” that cost a mere $3 and give gamers another reason to go back to “Borderlands 2”. Used game stores have to hate 2K Games. Who would sell this title when there are new adventures to be held within its world every few months?
Having said that, I’m about ready to plan my departure. The news this week that Gearbox is not working on a “Borderlands 3” quite yet (because it’s going to be so massive and world-changing that they don’t want to rush it and have more plans for “Borderlands 2” it sounds) is sad because I think the developers have started to run out of ideas. “Borderlands 2: Mad Moxxi and the Wedding Day Massacre” has some clever bits and concepts and it’s virtually impossible to complain too loudly about something that costs less than an HD movie rental. However, it’s the most narratively-thin title to date; offering the least engaging new world to the “Borderlands 2” experience. Mad Moxxi is still a fun character, it makes sense to have a Valentine’s Day-themed Headhunter pack. But the villains are dull, the environments are almost incomplete, and the narrative is the most direct of any “BL2” DLC. Start at point A, progress to point B. Again, it’s totally worth $3. But only after you’ve played all of the other add-ons.
It makes sense that this world of incredibly dark humor would take a black comedy approach to the Hallmark holiday, even if the approach isn’t as creative as the Halloween-themed “TK Baha's Bloody Harvest” or Christmas-themed “How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day”. “Borderlands” fans will appreciate the return of the Innuendo Bot 5000 and its creator, Mad Moxxi. They have set out to bring two rival clans known as the Hodunks and the Zafords together with a shotgun, crazy wedding. It’s your job to traverse this new addition to the massive world of Pandora and find the ingredients to make a love potion to create the amore that will make for a wonderful wedding day. Of course, finding said ingredients will involve a WHOLE lot of killing of creatures, robots, and other enemies who want to end your days.
Like all of the “Headhunter” releases, players who complete “Wedding Day Massacre” will get a new head and skin for each character class. This time, they’ll also get an inside look at the Vault Hunters’ past upon completion of what was just announced as the penultimate “Borderlands 2” release. The final, “Borderlands 2: Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax,” hits the PlayStation Store in April.
When is enough enough? I clearly love “Borderlands 2” to an inordinate degree. I like the chance to revisit this world, find some new loot (although new weapons are light in this DLC), and continue my experience with arguably the best game of the ‘10s. And yet, for really the first time in my experience with these games, this installment felt like something of an obligation more than the pure entertainment that has come before. The dialogue is mediocre, the characters are thin, and even the little things like the purple balloons that can be shot to produce loot, feel underdeveloped. “Mad Moxxi and the Wedding Day Massacre” didn’t create the connection that a Valentine’s Day-themed “Borderlands 2” release might have 12 months ago. Is it possible that no game can manage to release great DLC for this long? Has moving on to the PS4 generation added to the feeling that this video game party guest may have stayed too long?
I know what you’re saying. It’s three dollars! Yes, when one factors in the fact this costs about 5% of a new video game, it’s almost impossible to complain. It’s a “Borderlands 2” expansion, which means it has the same streamlined, tight, fantastic gameplay as the award-winning full game and it’s only $3. Most people will play through it, enjoy it, and never think twice about how it compares to other “Borderlands 2” expansions. That’s my job. But even those people would likely admit that it’s a DLC that may be easy to like but is almost impossible to completely love.