|System: PC, PS3*, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Gearbox Software|
|Pub: 2K Games|
|Release: October 16, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol|
by Josh Wirtanen
When I was growing up, I thought pirates were pretty much the coolest thing ever. And ever since reading Frank Herbert's Dune, I've had a fondness for sandworms. So you can imagine that when I found out one of my favorite games of 2012 so far, Borderlands 2, would be getting DLC based on pirates and sandworms, I pretty much wet myself and sobbed tears of happiness.
You see, the focus of Borderlands 2's newest content, Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty, is sand pirates. This mangy group of no-good scallywags is perhaps a bit out of sorts in the deserts of Pandora, but they're here nonetheless. Among them is the titular Captain Scarlett, a lass with a penchant for murder, treasure, and double-crossing her friends. During the game's story, you'll be asked to help her piece together a compass that will reveal the location of a legendary treasure. Oh yeah, from the second you meet this clever lady, you're warned that she's most likely going to betray you. So take that for what it's worth. (I'm also ninety percent sure she stole her ship design from Jabba the Hutt's Sail Barge.)
This story allows you to explore a never-before-seen nook of Pandora, a town by the name of Oasis. The name is ironic, you see, because there's no water here. In fact, almost all of its residents have died of dehydration. But that doesn't keep Shade, (a character who you're told is "Your new BFF") from talking to them, and even proposing to one of them. Yeah, this guy's a bit on the creepy side.
But if that weren't true, he wouldn't really fit into the insane world Gearbox has created with the Borderlands series. Just ask Aubrey Callahan III, an apathetic hipster chick whose grandma was into child trafficking and cannibalism. Yes, Aubrey is another one of the new characters you'll get to meet, and you'll even be asked to murder her family pet because she finds it to be "gross." (She seems much less bothered by the fact that her grandmother used to feed orphans to it.)
And with the new locale and new characters comes a bevy of new other things too. As I mentioned before, the sandworm arrives as a new enemy type. Which, as I also mentioned before, is awesome. (Sure, it's pretty much just a Thresher. But straight-up calling it a Sandworm makes it way cooler.) All the traditional bandits and midgets are now decked out in pirate garb, and yes, there's indeed a new enemy type called the Badass Pirate. One particularly terrifying new entry to the roster is the Anchorman, who will grapple you with chains so he can melee you to a bloody pulp.
So, remember how fans complained about the vehicle controls in the original Borderlands? Apparently Gearbox responded with, "Okay then, Borderlands 2 will have ridiculously awesomer vehicles! Enjoy!" What I'm saying is, there's a new vehicle type that comes with the DLC, and it's downright amazing. The sand skiff allows you to ride around the desert in style (once you help Shade fix it, of course), and it can even strafe. Yes, Borderlands now has a strafing vehicle type, which makes simultaneously driving and shooting much easier. (Solo players will undoubtedly be thankful for this.)
And did I mention the loot? Dear lord, the loot is amazing. I had completely swapped out almost my entire arsenal within the first twenty minutes. The guns and shields here are exponentially better than what you'll typically find in the base game. Now, since you can start the Scarlett DLC at any time (as long as your character is level 15 or higher), you'll have to consider whether you want to take this on early and have your badass guns for the early part of the game, or if you'd rather wait until you level higher so that the base level of your loot is higher. You see, the Scarlett DLC auto-scales to your level, so no matter what level you start at (so long as it's 15 or higher), you'll have an experience that's compatible with your character's damage output.
And there's a new set of Badass Challenges too, which means you'll get to push your Badass Rank even further and earn even more of those tokens you love so much.
There's just so much cool stuff in this package that it's hard to justify not picking this up. In fact, I'd go as far to say that the Scarlett DLC is a lesson plan in how DLC should be handled, and that every other developer out there needs to respect it as such. This is no series of cosmetic microtransactions; this takes everything we love about Borderlands and gives us more of that, painting it with a fresh theme that makes us look at the world of Pandora from a slightly different angle.