Gearbox provided what is arguably the best value Season Pass yet in its Borderlands 2 offering, with two excellent DLC packs and one mediocre. Thankfully, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is a vast improvement over Sir Hammerlock’s disappointing release, and is comfortably the best DLC of the bunch.
This DLC is all played within the frame of a Dungeons and Dragons-esque tabletop game, with the players being the original Borderland’s Vault Hunters, and the Dungeon Master role taken by Tiny Tina herself. Within the fantasy land of Tina’s creation, the Queen has been kidnapped by the sinister ‘Handsome Sorcerer’, and it’s up to the Vault Hunters to save the day.
After the swampy boredom of Hammerlock’s DLC, it’s wonderful to finally see somewhere so vivid and filled with life, although there’s something of an over focus on grim forests and nasty sights, with the rare moments of beauty actually being rather stunning to behold. Although this DLC naturally plays with and winks at fantasy genre clichés, the manic mind of Tiny Tina ensures that we’ll always have a fresh spin on established tropes.
The plot is actually surprisingly excellent, not just incredibly funny (which, oh my God, it totally is) but also with some genuine emotion and feeling. Gearbox recognise here, in a similar way to how Community did in its second season, the potential in DnD as therapy, with the entirety of Tina’s campaign overshadowed by the death of a major character during the main game. Although Tina’s obviously an entirely ridiculous character, if this DLC fails to genuinely tug at your heartstrings you have a heart of stone.
Naturally, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep is chockablock with references to other fantasy games, books and films, with the best ones being those which are tied into the very missions themselves. There’s an excellent parody of Dark Souls, as well as painfully hilarious Game of Thrones mission, and plenty more. The best parodies are those made by people who clearly love and know their source material, and it’s clear that Gearbox really know their fantasy geekery…and man, is this DLC funny. Classic characters such as Mr. Torgue and Ellie make hilarious cameos, with the regular interjections from Tina and the Vault Hunters also providing a lot of laughs. Gearbox also aren’t afraid to turn a mirror to the uglier side of the gamer community, with a great mission about MMO etiquette and a fantastic one in which Mr. Torgue is accused of being a ‘fake geek guy’ because he has muscles and likes sport.
This DLC is a good length as well, with a decent main campaign and plenty of funny sidequests which showcase Borderlands 2 at its best. If all companies offered as much value for money as Gearbox, DLC wouldn’t have as much of an image issue. The new loot is fun too, with the highlight having to be the gun which shoots swords which then explode, turning into four swords which then also explode (designed, unsurprisingly, by Mr. Torgue).
The production is absolutely top notch as well, with a surprisingly lovely soundtrack, excellent voice work and gorgeous visuals. Gearbox really pulled out all the stops for their final Borderlands 2 release, and that effort and investment really shows.
Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is definitely the best DLC for Borderlands 2, and one of the best pieces of DLC that I’ve ever played. Now that the book is closed on Borderlands 2, I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this unique franchise.