There's something about the fantasy genre that lends itself rather well to parody, plus it's easy to draw parallels between the stat-heavy world of Dungeons & Dragons and Borderlands 2. The most recent (and presumably last) downloadable content outing plays up these parallels, creating a post-campaign episode that lampoons the likes of Tolkein, Game of Thrones, and of course the classic tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons.
The story finds the remaining original vault hunters playing a round of Bunkers & Badasses (a tabletop game that looks suspiciously familiar), with Tiny Tina filling the role of dungeon master. It's clear that Bunkers & Badasses serves as a means for Tina to escape reality, and near the end of the DLC things take a sharp turn from the comedic to the dramatic in a somewhat creaky transition. Before then, Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon's Keep packs the most humor out of all the previous DLC add-ons. So much so, that there's probably more than the others combined.
The landscape abruptly changes as Tiny Tina changes the story to suit her own needs. Impossible bosses turn into manageable foes, and giant twenty-sided dice drop out of the sky to squash characters. It all enforces the game-within-a-game vibe, and that Tina is making it up as she goes along while the other vault hunters only have a slight grasp on the game's mechanics. Orcs, knights, dragons skeletons, mages, and golems serve as the enemies instead of bandits and Hyperion loaders, and they each come with their own unique attack patterns and little tricks to discover.
Skeletons with a sword stuck in their ribcage can only be defeated after it's pulled out, while badass orcs can level-up at a moment's notice. This makes the DLC ideal for players that have either beaten the game already or at least reached beyond level thirty as it's not easy, but no where near as difficult as Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt could get due to the annoying witch doctors. The setting is also much more palatable than that boggy swamp, with things like castles, magic forests, villages, and of course dungeons to round out the fantasy motif.
The main quest feels a little shorter in comparison to the other add-ons, but Assault on Dragon's Keep tries to make up for this by being the most fleshed-out in terms of setting and character development. There's still plenty of side-questing to be done with their own ridiculous sub-plots to deal with. There's another circle of slaughter, a raid boss, and ancillary quests such as getting drunken dwarfs to take a lethal walk into some mining equipment before gathering their beards for Claptrap (whose fashioning a wizard's beard out of them). Let us not also forget the standard menagerie of 'go here to kill and/or collect something' quests.
What this DLC has a surprising lack of is noteworthy loot, and the rookie mistake of not ending the campaign with the unveiling of a treasure room stuffed with goodies. Given the source material, it was a great opportunity to have players go treasure-hunting for rare, fantasy-themed weapons. Outside of a shotgun that shoots swords (seriously), and some artifacts, there's nothing here that couldn't be found anywhere else in the game. Granted, this DLC is primarily driven by plot and to get players into the experience, but some nice rewards would've been appreciated along the way.
Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon's Keep has a lot of heart and humor that go a long way, and it does fill many of the prerequisites one expects out of an add-on, and for some this will be enough. More hardcore Borderlands 2 might be disappointed at its lack of unique items to be found and as a finale it's a tad lacking, but effort has been put in making the main quest compelling and for the most part it hit the high notes of what makes Borderlands 2 an enjoyable experience.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
|» Tiny Tina's role.|
|» Humour is there in spades.|
|» Decent plot.|
|» The lack of loot.|
|» Hardcore players may be a bit disappointed.|
|» It feels a little bit lacking.|