Well, I finally caved in and tried out Borderlands. It’s alright.
Let’s talk about its Downloadable Content!
(Shortest intro of my life, I think).
The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned: I did enjoy this one. It’s got a lot of fun references and parodies within it, and a load of comedy that’s guaranteed to elicit a chuckle from the player at the very least. As a humor DLC, The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned is a winner. That said, this DLC was originally $10 on release, which I find awfully expensive for it. I bought my copy of Borderlands 1 recently on Steam, and thus I basically only had to pay that much for all 4 DLC packages, so it’s not a problem for me, but I’d have to say that $10 is extremely steep for this. Yes, it’s enjoyable, probably the funniest humor-based DLC I’ve seen to date (granted, though, it’s only the third of its kind that I’ve encountered), but 10 bucks? That’s awfully pricey for some jokes, to me, and there’s not much else this DLC has to offer. I guess it’s alright gameplay-wise, but I don’t consider that to be all that important, as you know, and even if I did, “alright” is not high enough praise for that cost. So ultimately, I’d say I got my money’s worth at (basically) $2.50, but unless earlier customers were really hard up for some laughs, I’d say they overpaid.
Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot: I found this one to be a complete waste of time. There’s basically nothing to this DLC--it unlocks an arena area, in which you can fight. There’s only one quest, and while its reward is substantial, it has no story to it whatsoever. Mad Moxxi herself is at best barely worth notice. Adding an item storage option is a nice touch, but still wholly insubstantial. Not only was this add-on most definitely not worth the $10 it originally sold for, I frankly think that the $2.50 that I paid for it (when all is said and done) is still far too much for it. Thumbs down to the Underdome.
The Secret Armory of General Knoxx: This one was okay. I guess. There’s not much story to it, really, just rescuing an ex-Atlas Corporation assassin and then helping her cause some damage to said company. There was potential for stronger story development than what we get from this, what with it being the first real, significant, outright interaction with and confrontation of one of the major corporations in the Borderlands universe (the main game’s plot doesn’t leave much allowance for more than skirmishes, all things considered), and also potential for better development of characters, too. It’s amusing enough at times, I admit, such as when listening to General Knoxx having to deal with his superior officer and the brief antics of Mr. Shank, but occasional amusement is all there is to find, which ain’t enough for me. I will also give it props for being a very sizable DLC package--the large areas and lengthy quests contained within this add-on will likely keep you occupied for a good several hours, and I do appreciate that. But it’s nonetheless still being occupied mostly with busywork and pure gameplay, not with anything of substance--but then, most of the main game is like that, too, so maybe I shouldn’t judge it too harshly. So in the end, as I said, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx is okay. Not worth the original price of $10, but I don’t feel cheated at having paid more or less $2.50 for it, at least.
Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution: By the time I got to this one, I gotta be honest, the charm of Borderlands 1 was wearing seriously thin for me. I know, I know, everyone is crazy about all things Borderlands, but you know me, I play RPGs for the plot and characters, and it’s only so long that the minimal style of storytelling in Borderlands 1 will hold my attention. Still, I’ll try to be objective. This add-on is, well, basically more of the same. Its story is mildly amusing, though not compelling, and its villain is entertaining, if fairly generic for his archetype. As with the last DLC, I feel like there was a lot of wasted potential here, since another major corporate force of the Borderlands universe, the Hyperion corporation, which was the other of the 2 major corporate players in the main game’s story, had a distinct presence throughout this DLC, yet provided next to no insights to anything beyond the task at hand. I suppose that’s just not Borderlands 1’s style, but it comes across nonetheless as wasted opportunity to me. A better glimpse into the larger setting of this series would have been an ideal way to instill new interest in me (much in the same way that the scope and potential of the Star Wars universe or Mass Effect series initially hooked my attention); as it stands, I am, as I mentioned earlier, losing interest. And unfortunately, I feel like on the gameplay front, which is obviously what Borderlands 1 is more concerned with over anything else, Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution still is a little lacking. The majority of “new” enemies are just old ones with slightly different looks to them, and most of the actually unique new enemies are very simplistic. The final boss fight is good, but overall, this lacks the enemy innovations that The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned and The Secret Fortress of General Knoxx strove to introduce.
Anyway, this DLC isn’t bad, really, because the humor of it does definitely work, and I can’t hold the weak plot against it too much when said plot is, firstly, obviously more tongue-in-cheek than anything else, and secondly, not really any worse than the storytelling of any other part of the game. It’s definitely not worth the original price tag of $10, but having it constitute a quarter of the $10 add-on bundle I got it in is mostly fair, I figure.
So how does Borderlands 1 hold up, DLC-wise? Eh. Not great. None of these packages were worth the original price of $10, and one of them I can’t even justify being a quarter of the 10 bucks I paid for them all. The other three are just the same problem repeating itself that I have with Borderlands 1’s main game--a few jokes that are fairly funny, with very little realization of ideas and plot points that could have been interesting and even immersive. It takes a subtle but masterful touch to make an understated narrative style work, even on a comical level, and Borderlands 1’s DLCs are just as unable to achieve that storytelling functionality as the main game was. I’ve seen games with a worse overall set of DLC (Dragon Age 2’s add-ons and what we have of Mass Effect 3’s downloadable contents, for example), but this is still ultimately a bit of a low point in my DLC experience.