The final DLC for the loot and shoot sequel has finally been released. While I've had my problems with past add-ons, there is something to be said with Gearbox's dedication to bring more and more of what fans love. Promising more of everything, this last quest thrusts your fearless vault hunter (and three friends) into a fantastical world of high adventure -- all wrapped up inside the mind of a disturbed child.
If you read my previous impressions, you'll know that this is a bit of a departure from the standard fare. Here's a quick recap -- Lilith, Brick, and Mordecai are coerced by Tiny Tina into a "Dungeons & Dragons" rip-off called "Bunkers & Baddassess" with Tina acting as the "Bunker Master." It's all very tongue in cheek and much of the humor derives from the old guard bemoaning this nerdy table top game. That's one half of the story, the other takes a more somber tone as Tiny Tina comes to terms with the death of a pal and learns to move on. Check out the beginning of the campaign in the video below and you'll get the gist of what to expect.
Of course, this all just a vehicle to get your character to an exotic location and murder everything in sight. Your quest takes you from the stony shores to a bustling village towards forests, mines, and ultimately the evil wizard's tower. In a neat twist, the events unfold in parallel to the vanilla mission to thwart Handsome Jack. It's a retelling of sorts wrapped in a slick, classic RPG skin.
Story aside, the gameplay is exactly as you would expect "Borderlands" to be -- you'll find hordes of creatures, loot their corpses, and then kill bigger, badder creatures for bigger, badder loot per nausea. The biggest change comes from the types of enemies. Orcs, skeletons, giant spiders, treants, knights, paladins, wizards and any number of other mythical creatures that would fit right at home airbrushed on the side of a 1970's van. Though a good deal of the bestiary is melee, many of the baddies have ranged attacks from magic missiles to fire arrows so you'll still find plenty of challenge. This being said, I found the latest Vault hunter -- Krieg -- to be especially fun given his focus beating the living crap out of anything that moves. Obviously, you don't need him to play but his style is perfect for the add-on missions.
The designs are what the real charm comes from in this DLC, with new details and textures and effects. Gearbox has really polished the season's worth of content and it really shows with their attention to detail. From dark, mystifying forests to thatched taverns, the "TTAODK" artists really knock it out of park with the visual treatment. It's as if the squad had stepped into their very own LARP and is just having a ball.
Missions a hodgepodge of the usual fare -- but more of the one off quick humor quests appear and add a lot of the comic relief. Speaking of which, this DLC probably has more dialogue in it than the other DLCs combined. Since the original cast is role playing, they often chime in with suggestions on how to proceed with the story. As a bonus, fans of table top gaming will be privy to the more esoteric puns and humor. Really, "TTAODK" is a swan song to fans of both genres and to the story of Tiny Tina as well.
Though the campaign is substantial and there are tons of side quests, my gripes about "Borderlands 2" still make an appearance. The monotonous, single-minded gameplay can wear thin at times and if you've already leveled up several characters there's not much more to do after the humor and wit have been spent. But with a few friends you'll find plenty to love about "Assault on Dragon's Keep."
'Tiny Tina's Assault On Dragon Keep' -- Score 4 out of 5
'Tiny Tina's Assault On Dragon Keep' is available for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. It's included in the Season Pass but can be purchased separately for $9.99 or 800MSP.