Review: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragons Keep ends the Season Pass DLC on an incredibly high note
From the very beginning, Borderlands has been a series that oozes insanity out of every possible crevasse, then finds new impossible crevasses and somehow makes insanity ooze out of those too. Yet somehow, the well of that insanity never runs dry.
Okay, so let me put that into less abstract terms: With each additional piece of DLC, I find myself thinking that Gearbox has hit the ceiling on just how creative and weird they can be, and then something new comes out that makes me realize they’ve somehow managed to find new facets into which they can shove their established brand of weirdness.
Now, maybe this is just due to the fact that I’ve allowed myself to step away from the series for a few months, but for me, the latest expansion, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, might just be the best one yet.
Yes, I said “expansion.” See, the phrase “downloadable content” and the acronym “DLC” just don’t do justice to the absolute buffet you get here. Assault on Dragon Keep is gigantic, and just about everything in it is brand new. Even the vending machines got a medieval stained glass makeover for this.
See, the premise is that Tiny Tina gets the Vault Hunters to sit down for a game of Bunkers & Badasses, which is basically Pandora’s equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons. Tina is the bunkermaster, so she’s telling the story and making the rules, and those rules are as unstable and unpredictable as she is.
Your character arrives at the Unassuming Docks of Potentially Little Importance, thus launching a grand epic adventure through exactly the sort of fantasy world a psychopathic thirteen-year-old might come up with. Of course, the Vault Hunters don’t make things any less crazy, with Brick constantly wanting to punch things until they explode. Like, you know those dwarves who were going to help you defeat the evil sorcerer so you could rescue the queen? Yeah, Brick will make one of them explode, and they won’t be of much help to you after that.
Now, I don’t recall exactly where I read this, but I remember Gearbox claiming that there were more new enemy types in this expansion than in any of the others. I can’t say this is one hundred percent true, because I’m just not nerdy enough to actually count them, but I can say that Assault on Dragon’s Keep has an enormous variety of new creatures for you to blast into bloody little piles of limbs and red goo. There are several varieties of orcs, knights, sorcerers, dragons, dwarves, stone golems, and on and on and on.
And not all of these are just reskins of old enemy concepts either. For example, there’s one enemy type called the Immortal Skeletaur, which you will need to remove a glowy sword from immediately after killing or it will come back to life.
The fantasy setting opens up a whole new world of geek culture for Gearbox to poke fun at. You’ll see tongue-in-cheek references to things like Game of Thrones, Dungeons & Dragons, Dark Souls, and so on. And, even though we’ve seen Lord of the Rings references before, Assault on Dragon Keep finds several new ways to riff on its lore. For example, one quest has you cross a narrow bridge, which Claptrap (dressed sort of like a wizard) tries to prevent you from crossing by shouting “You shall not pass!” Of course, your quest objective simply states: “Pass.” Basically if there’s some pop culture franchise that is generally considered to be super nerdy, expect to see it parodied at some point in this expansion.
And it wouldn’t be a Borderlands game without over-the-top, bizarre guns, right? Assault on Dragon Keep delivers, with a brand new gun that shoots swords that explode into smaller swords. It’s a bit unwieldy – and completely unnecessary, even by Borderlands standards – but it’s just too damn weird to pass up, so you’ll want to make sure you pick up the side quest to obtain it.
Oh, and I’ve probably said this before, but I’ll go on record to say it once again: Ashly Burch is a genius, and I want to give her a gigantic hug. Her voice work as Tiny Tina is endlessly entertaining, and is almost worth the price of admission on its own.
Of course, that price tag also comes with a heaping amount of content. In fact, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is a ten-dollar expansion that contains more stuff than a lot of full sixty-dollar titles I’ve played. You’re basically stealing from Gearbox by only paying ten bucks for this.
Even though Gearbox has officially stated that this won’t be the final piece of add-on content for the game, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is an incredibly high note to play the Season Pass content out with.