Borderlands 2's 'Tiny Tina' DLC packs big things in small packages

By Steve Watts, Jun 25, 2013 6:00am PDT

With the exception of the misstep with mad Moxxi, Borderlands DLC generally built momentum, culminating in a fourth that blew the others away. Borderlands 2's offerings have been a little more uneven and stumbling, and the most recent didn't leave me very confident. I should have kept the faith, though, because this fourth and final Season Pass piece surprised me with its depth of scope and vision.

Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep is easily the most expansive content in Borderlands history, and that's counting the first game. I knew this one would feature more unique environments and enemies, but I didn't really understand the scope until I had played it. So much has changed, it almost feels like a different game--except for the Borderlands gunplay, of course.

Tiny Tina's scenario isn't exactly inventive. Creative designer Paul Hellquist referred to it as "generic fantasy," but it quickly becomes obvious that more is at play. Tina basically retells the broad strokes of Borderlands 2's story, with a notable difference. She often makes casual reference to deceased characters like Bloodwing and Roland as if they're still alive, as her companions bristle at the painful reminders.

Your effort to take down Handsome Jack's medieval fantasy analog takes you through caverns, castles and towns, with various familiar characters appearing in cameo roles as quest-givers. Mr. Torgue makes an especially great appearance as part of a side-quest that provides incisive, pointed criticism with a bit of sweetness to it.

I also knew the quests would offer new enemy types, but I was concerned they might be mere simple re-skins of existing ones. While a few do offer familiar attack and movement patterns, the staggering mass of new enemy types makes for plenty of new scenarios. It packed a game's worth of enemies into a much smaller package, which made for constant variety and remixes of enemy combos with very little repetition.

I appreciated the new eridium options, like temporary buffs or special treasure chests that granted a better chance for loot with a little investment. Pixies, scattered few and far between, could also grant buffs by simply engaging without attacking.

Borderlands 2's DLC calendar may have been a bit rocky compared to the first game, but with Tiny Tina, Gearbox has shown off its skill at finishing strong. Not only is it the best of the Borderlands 2 DLC, it may just be the best add-on across both games. It's certainly the biggest, and after tiring of similar environments and enemies, it hit the spot.

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