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Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett DLC Review

By Jeff Buckland, 10/21/2012

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It's been less than a month since Gearbox Software's ridiculously good FPS Borderlands 2 was released, and the developer has been pretty busy since. They released the promised DLC for the fifth playable class, the Mechromancer, a week early - but the bigger surprise was the rather abrupt announcement and release of the first story DLC: Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty. While this new DLC is roughly within what we've come to expect from Gearbox, it does feel just a little bit rushed in both its launch and in-game itself.

Scarlett introduces several new characters - some of whom have died and are being impersonated by another rather crazy individual - along with a whole pirate-themed crew of enemies with new abilities and such, although astute gamers will notice that aside from a few special new enemies, most of the grunt-level pirates are just re-skinned Marauders from BL2 with the same abilities and even some shared animations. You'll also be hit by the odd Stalker or Skag, but at least one relief is that Cliff Racers Rakks haven't found their way to the new zones. (Rabid Stalkers did make it over, though. Damn you, Gearbox!)

The whole playable area of Scarlett, which is several fairly large zones with plenty of quests throughout, is themed after some kind of Caribbean-style sea that has since dried up, and you'll travel through the now parched seabeds, finding ways up to what used to be islands for many of the quests. The new vehicle type you'll be driving is a hovering skiff that reminds me of the vehicles in the Sarlacc Pit scene in Return of the Jedi. The skiff can have one of three weapons on it along with a machine gun for a second player (or alt-fire on the driver), and the skiff is very agile, making it really fun to drive. You can stop on a dime and turn around very quickly, so the few rare battles you have with enemy skiffs are a blast.

As you probably expect, though, most of your time will be spent on foot as you run around completing quests looking for buried treasure and generally fixing people's problems for them with violence and explosions. You'll meet Captain Scarlett shortly into the DLC's start, and her errands that revolve around putting together a compass to find a huge cache of loot are generally really entertaining, and the sort of dried-up pirate island theme makes for some nice visuals and a welcome change from anything we've seen in the Borderlands franchise. The funny part about Scarlett herself is that this DLC's introduction of her purposely marks her intentions right from the start. Unfortunately, the ending comes rather abruptly with a gaping-wide plot hole that I don't want to spoil, but it left me confused and a little bewildered at the end.

Still, the journey to that ending is really pretty fantastic, and even after you've completed the main quest for the DLC, there are a couple of new high-end bosses that will give you way more troubles than Terramorphous ever did in the base game. There are two major new bosses after you beat the game here and you can turn in a new kind of currency gained from them to get some crazy new Seraph gear that's denoted by a pink-colored text and some high stats, but at this point it's not really clear if it's intended to be better than orange gear, and Gearbox has actually put a timer on each of these two bosses so that you can only get one kill per day. Assuming that the loot does wind up being an appreciable upgrade from some of the orange items, then this DLC adds a high-end value for those who love farming the end-bosses for the best possible gear, and this alone makes this DLC a must-have for some gamers out there. Only time will tell whether the Seraph items and structure of fighting these bosses really adds that much, however.

The question is inevitably going to come up: could Gearbox possibly deliver the same quality of DLC as they did back with General Knoxx and Claptrap's New Robot Revolution for Borderlands 1? I don't actually think they're quite there yet, but this is only the first pack for this game, and it's a great start at $10, or as one of four parts of the $30 season pass that publisher 2K is selling. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the DLC now, especially since it seems unlikely that this is the best of the four planned DLCs for Borderlands 2. If you haven't gotten the Season Pass yet because you're waiting to see how the first DLC turns out, then I'd say run over and get it now, because if history repeats itself on this one, I think we're in for some great new adventures from Gearbox.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a Steam copy provided by the publisher.

Overall: 8 out of 10



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