Saturday, December 8, 2012

Scarlett's Booty is Kind of "Meh"

The first DLC campaign for Borderlands 2, Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty, sends you to the town of Oasis, a former beachfront resort, in the hopes of eventually finding the legendary lost treasure of Captain Blade. There you meet with Shade, the lonely and somewhat deranged sole survivor of Oasis, and eventually ally with Captain Scarlett in rebuilding the compass that will point the way to Blade's treasure. There are some interesting things going on in this DLC, but the whole thing is kind of "meh." Its best aspect is simply the fact that it's more Borderlands 2, but it's not all that invigorating for someone who's already exhausted their time with the base game.

Since I'm feeling kind of lazy, I'll just put my thoughts into a bullet point list:
1) Most of the environments are really cool. The bulk of the new areas consist of dried out sea beds, something you don't see much of in games or other media. So you've basically got a big, dried-up desert wasteland to explore (kind of like in BL1), but you've got stuff like coral, fish bones, and sea shells scattering the environment, complete with lots of canals and ravines from the water, making the actual landmass much more complicated than a flat, boring desert. The other cool area that I really liked is the underground caverns with water springs. These places were fun to explore just because of the aesthetics.
2) Some of the new music is really good. In the main area of Wurmwater, for example, you've got this really calm, soothing underwater pirate music that just feels great for the area. It might be my favorite music from the entire game, excluding the main menu theme. The music for Hayter's Folly is pretty good too, though for reasons I can't quite describe. It made those underground caverns a lot more fun and groovy to explore.
3) There's a lot of missed potential with the town of Oasis; kind of like how Gearbox set up a convincing society in Sanctuary and then did practically nothing with Overlook, Opportunity, and Lynchwood, Oasis feels like just another clever excuse to only have a single NPC in the town. I was not amused by Shade's antics, pretending to be the voices of other deceased NPCs. In fact I just felt annoyed by the contrived situation, once again annoyed by the lack of an actual society.
4) The quests start out decently enough, but in the second half of the DLC, they start turning into arbitrary item-fetching. Item-fetching is boring in any game, but that was a major factor in the first game being such a tedious, boring slogfest. As such, it's just annoying in Scarlett's Booty when you're going through the main questline intending to get one of the final pieces of the compass, and then you have to a dumb sidequest to fetch echo recorders first, and then they spread out over the entire area and force you to trudge through a bunch of combat to get the job done. Later sidequests feel like a complete waste of time.
5) There's not a whole lot of unique loot to acquire, except for the rewards from the "Message in a Bottle" questline. These quests send you to search for small stashes of Captain Blade's treasure, and each one comes with some kind of special bonus as well as some kind of special downside. The unique shotgun does incredibly high damage for such a low pellet count, but it causes damage to you each time you fire; a unique relic heals you when you kill an enemy, but reduces "fight for your life time." Some of these items are kind of fun, but for the most part they feel like gimmicks that most players wouldn't really want to work into their active arsenal.
6) The new vehicle, the sand skiff, is sort of interesting, but not really that exciting. The coolest feature is that it you can strafe side-to-side with it, and the harpoon attacks are kind of nice as well. Other than that, there's not much else going for it, except that it resembles the sand skiffs from Return of the Jedi. A slight amusement at first that quickly wears off.
7) The new raid bosses are absolute bullshit. Following Terramorphous the Invincible and Vermivorous the Invincible, we now have two new "invincible" raid bosses, Hyperius and Master Gee. The problem is that both of these bosses are about a thousand times cheaper than Terra or Vermi ever were. Hyperius periodically sends out a super high-powered blast that hits every cubic foot of the arena, and it's almost impossible to regen enough health between blasts to stay alive. 
Meanwhile, when fighting Master Gee, a boss who's literally invulnerable to weapon damage, there comes a time when you start suffering constant damage-over-time, completely nullifying shield regen and only barely offset by full HP-regenning gear. I tried fighting Hyperius with my friend (a level 50 gunzerker) and we barely even scratched Hyperius before we died, in multiple consecutive attempts. During both boss fights, whenever you're revived from "fight for your life" mode you suffer a penalty to maximum health. They've made these bosses so difficult through superficial means that skill isn't even a factor in success -- seems like they've taken things way too far.
8) The main reason to fight the two new invincible raid bosses is to acquire Seraph Crystals, a currency for buying unique Seraph gear. Most items cost about 120 crystals to buy, and Hyperius and Master Gee have a chance to drop about 10 crystals. Both bosses can only be killed once in a 24 hour period. So basically, acquiring any of these Seraph items is a huge waste of time, since both of those bosses are already so difficult to kill, they don't even have a guaranteed drop rate for crystals, and you can't farm them in any reasonable time frame. But it doesn't really matter, since most of the seraph items aren't that exciting, especially not for the intense amount of time and effort it takes to get them.
9) In general, there's hardly anything to look forward to if you go into the DLC at max level like I did. None of the loot can be considered a direct upgrade to any gear you may already have acquired from farming the bass game, and it doesn't even give you skill points like Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot did in BL1. The best thing I got out of it was the unique pirate-style customization head for Maya -- other than that, I got no lasting, tangible reward for doing the DLC.  
And those are my thoughts on Scarlett's Booty. All-in-all, I'm not really impressed with the DLC, but that could be attributed largely to the fact that I exhausted nearly everything possible in the base game before moving on to the DLC. Having played the main story nearly five time through, having leveled two characters to 50, and having farmed my ideal set of "end-game" legendary gear, there just wasn't much for me to enjoy in Scarlett's Booty. And the new end-game challenges in Scarlett's Booty are just not that fun for me. They're just stupidly tedious and frustrating. So I guess it's time to move on to Mr Torgue's Carnal Campaign of Chaotic Carnage of Badassitude and Explosions or whatever the hell it's called.


  1. Is there a connection between this Capt Scarlett and the one from the puppet show ca 1970?

    1. I'm pretty sure it's meant to be a direct reference to it. Almost everything in the game is a reference to something.