Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty DLC Review

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Borderlands 2 was a game that was released this year that I enjoyed; it wasn’t a perfect game, and was largely derivitave of the original, but it was fun enough for me to sink several dozen hours into and complete the main story along with a majority of the side quests. The first DLC pack for Borderlands 2 (Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s booty) was released a few weeks ago. I’ll speak of the content a bit later on, but first I’d like to talk a bit about just how perfect of a DLC pack Captain Scarlett is. Let me explain.

There are two huge complaints from gamers when it comes to DLC. The first is that it is often used to sell us junk, either unlockable costumes, unlockable challenge maps or maybe a new game mode if you are lucky. The worst part is that they usually slap a $10-$15 price tag on it when it’s closer to $1-$2 worth of content. Too often, the DLC just isn’t worth the cost of admission.

The second biggest complaint is that developers will deliberatley withhold content to release later as DLC. This is most evident with the dreaded ‘on-disk’ DLC – content that already exists on the game disk that you bought, yet you must pay $10 to unlock it. Mass Effect 3 and Resident Evil 5 are prime examples of this.

Thankfully, Captain Scarlett is ‘how DLC should be’

Smaller DLC complaints include being released too long after the game launch, requiring you to have completed specific tasks in the main game to activate and feeling like the game is ‘incomplete’ if you don’t buy the DLC.

Captain Scarlett, amazingly, squashes all of these complaints. First up, it has a lot of new content. There is a whole set of new zones, complete with dozens of story and sidequests, new enemies, new weapons and a new vehicle. All up, it’s anywhere from 5 to 10 hours of new content. It’s certainly not just a new schoolgirl outfit for Chun-li, and worth the $10 Gearbox are charging for it.

Second, it was definetly not included on the disk. It was released several weeks after the game came out – a perfect time for gamers that were just finishing off the main story and getting bored with the game. Althought it requires level 15 to activate, it can be activated at any point during any playthrough (the enemies and quests scale to your current level), is it’s own self-contained story, and doesn’t spoil anything from the main Borderlands 2 storyline.

Captain Scarlett has it’s fair share of new enemies, locales, and of course, loot.

To top it all off, Captain Scarlett is included in the Borderlands 2 ‘Season Pass’, a new kind of DLC delivery method where developers can sell you several DLC packs in a single package at a discount. Those of us who grew up with Expansion Packs will rejoyce – for us, it is a lot more satisfying to drop $30 on a single ‘pack’ than $10 every four months.

The season pass also guarantees me a steady stream of Borderlands 2 content throughout the year. It is literarlly the perfect way to handle DLC and I am suppirsed more developers haven’t jumped on the boat. Offering a Game of the Year edition that includes all the released DLC at a discount (such as with Fallout 3 and New Vegas) serves only to punish your loyal customers that want the DLC on release. You want to be rewarding those kind of people, it’s why pre-order incentives have become so commonplace.

So, enough talk about why Captain Scarlett succeeds as a DLC pack, let’s have a look at it’s success as a game. Like I mentioned earlier, the story is its own little self-contained thing. It revolves around finding a bunch of compass peices and finding some lost treasure – stock standard Borderlands stuff. The characters are well written and amusing, in particular, the definetnly-not-dead citizens of Oasis, and the Captain herself.

There are plenty of side-quests to distract you from the main story, the most interesting of all being the ‘message-in-a-bottle’ quests, which will have you search in a specific area for buried treasure. It took me roughly 8 hours to finish the game, but I didn’t really dilly-dally too long with sidequests.

Definitely not dead

The new hovercraft vehicle is a welcome addition, using Borderlands 2’s horrible driving physics against itself by allowing you to simply hover over all kinds of terrain. I said in my Borderlands 2 Review that the perfect solution would be to eliminate the need for driving altogether, but this is an adequate band-aid. It’s a shame you can’t take the hovercraft with you to the areas of the original Borderlands game.

The new enemies are a little uninspired, as most of them were just re-skins of the same bandits you’ve killed hundreds of times already. There are a few cool unique ones, such as the Ghost Pirate or Anchorman, but it still gets bland pretty quickly. The game adds two new ‘raid bosses’ – extremely difficult bosses that drop quite impressive loot, but usually require a group of max level players to kill. But of course, Borderlands 2 is all about picking up guns and comparing numbers, and Captain Scarlett wouldn’t be a Borderlands DLC pack without a wealth of new loot.

First up, there are a bunch of new unique ‘cursed’ items, from the ‘message in a bottle’ quests. The premise being that the items are somewhat more powerful than equivlinate level items, with the drawback of having a ‘curse’ attached to them that gives you a negative debuff. Also added is a whole new quality of weapon – seraph – and a new currency to buy them with – seraph crystals. Unfortunately, the general consensus on these weapons seems to be that they suck, with many orange or purple quality weapons outshining their seraph quality counterparts. You also can’t gain access to them until completing the DLC, reaching level 50 and killing raid bosses.

The ‘Whalers’ are reminiscent of Bioshock’s Big Daddies, attacking you with giant anchors

Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty is how DLC should be. But, is it for you? Did you enjoy the heck out of Borderlands 2? Are you literally twitching in your pants at the thought of clearing a room full of bandits (pirates) and the opening dozens of boxes? Then you’ll probably enjoy Captain Scarlett.

On the other hand, if you thought Borderlands 2 was ‘meh’, and you didn’t finish the main story or you didn’t enjoy it’s central mechanics, I’d probably skip this one. Many of the problems that I had with Borderlands (especially the terrible map/quest tracking system) are still preavlant in the DLC. If you are going to buy it though, buy the season pass instead of individually  as I’m sure you’ll enjoy the next DLC’s to be released and you’ll save money this way!

Verdict: Buy it (In the season pass pack)

Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty is available both individually ($9.99) and as a part of the Borderlands 2 ‘Season Pass’ ($29.99) on the steam store.  If you liked Steve’s article be sure to check out his “Borderlands 2 Review”

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