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Borderlands 2 'Dragon Keep' preview: Tiny Tina as omnipotent being

by Steve Watts, May 28, 2013 8:00am PDT

Borderlands 2 is finishing out its season of content in June with Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep. The divisive character takes a lead role this time, as a dungeon-master playing "Bunkers and Badasses" with the first game's protagonists, Lilith, Brick, and Mordecai. That means you'll be tinkering in a playground of Tina's imagination, and as you might expect, that's a pretty manic place.

"The main reason we went with the D&D idea, initially, was that we liked the idea of having a character who was in complete omnipotent control of a location," creative designer Paul Hellquist told Shacknews. "So if they wanted to, they could switch around levels randomly, or they could change a boss fight on a whim, or change day to night in front of you -- which you'll see once you start playing the DLC. It's basically an opportunity to break the fourth wall as much as we want to without actually breaking it."

Tina's quest isn't itself all that revolutionary. Hellquist describes it as "generic fantasy," but the twist comes from the conversation at the table changing the game world on the fly. You'll be exploring a setting different from the others on Pandora, complete with trees, clouds, and a brighter color palette. Even the vending machines have gotten a makeover, and the DLC introduces new class mods with titles like "Lawful Good Ranger" and "Chaotic Neutral Sorceress." A new pixie enemy is a series first, as it only attacks you if you attack it first. If you instead hit the action command, it can follow you around for buffs.

You'll still find gear in this DLC, but it doesn't go out of its way to invent an explanation why it's there or why you can keep it. "That's one of those weird things that we have to just be okay with," writer Anthony Burch told us. "I killed this skeleton, and he dropped a submachine gun."

Gearbox boasts that it's listened to fans closely for this final bit of season pass DLC. Characters will talk more during story sequences, so you get to hear more of your voice outside battle dialogue. Plus, the new raid boss is actually a group of dragons, rather than one singular enemy.

You'll also get plenty of new spots to spend your eridium, after Gearbox noted that a lot of higher-level players were hitting their max. You can gamble it away at a new slot machine with better gear, or invest in magical shrines for buffs. Treasure chests will roll a D20 die to determine the quality of your loot, but spending some eridium can roll two D20s to double your chances for good gear.

As for the selection of Tina to lead the proceedings, Burch said she's been toned down this time. "Knowing going in that Tina was going to be this relevant to the plot, I did pull her back a little bit for those people who don't care for her," he said. "She's a little less in-your-face. In this one she's your omnipotent narrator, so she's still got that manic unpredictability but she's not going to be screaming at the top of her lungs all the time."

Burch also mentioned that he hopes this one will show a softer side to the character. "It becomes obvious as you're going through the DLC that she doesn't realize that a lot of her friends are dead," he said. "And the actual playing of Dungeons & Dragons is a therapeutic thing to work through some of her issues. My hope there is that people who thought she was just a one-note, irritating character will see her break down a bit and maybe she'll be humanized a little by the end of it."

This might be the final piece of planned Season Pass content, but Borderlands 2 has been quite the success for 2K. Since this is the last one that was set in stone, though, they attempted to tie a bow on the game, similar to the way Claptrap's Robot Revolution put a button at the end of the first Borderlands.

"There is a line at the end of this DLC that implies something very definite but I don't know if we're going to follow up on it or not," Burch said. "We leave the door open for a couple of very specific things at the end of this DLC but this DLC is hopefully going to be the epilogue to the Borderlands 2 tale. So there's a little something to maybe look forward to in another adventure. There's something in there but it's not an explicit promise."

Hellquist added, "We know this is the last one we're for-sure doing, so let's take the opportunity to have that epilogue moment that the main game kind of didn't have. But if there is opportunity to do more in the future we're not against it."

Borderlands 2's "Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep" launches June 25 for $10, or as part of the Season Pass.





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