Arriving nearly nine months after the game’s initial release, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is the fourth piece of add-on narrative content to Borderlands 2, and the final component of the season pass. After the first three DLC packs arrived on a fairly regular schedule, Gearbox really took their time with this one, crafting all new environments and enemies for vault hunters to tackle. While this add-on was enough to bring me back to the game, ultimately the disappointing loot wasn’t enough to keep me there.
Assault on Dragon Keep finds Tina sitting down with Lilith, Brick and Mordecai to play Bunkers and Badasses, Borderland’s fictional version of Dungeons & Dragons. With Tina functioning as dungeon master, the three set out on their quest, with the player inhabiting the world of their game. It’s a neat concept, as enemies and the world periodically change as Tina has to adjust the game on the fly.
The game play is still Borderlands 2, except instead of fighting bandits I was squaring off against skeletons, orcs and the occasional Golem. The world is well realized, and from the forests to the castles the medieval feel works nicely. The music matches as well, and sounds like something one might hear at a renaissance festival. Overall, the whole package manages to feel appreciably different from Borderlands 2, while maintaining the same core game play.
The expansion also carries the Borderlands sense of humor throughout, meshed with the setting. Familiar NPC’s will appear in game-appropriate roles, and there are lots of little touches here and there, like rolling a 20-sided die to determine the quality of loot in a chest. Eridium can be used to activate shrines of defense and ammunition, and side quests included humorous takes on co-op play and even some MMO inspired griefing.
Bunkers and Badasses lives up to its name, and badasses abound in the DLC. More than once I found myself confronted by more than one super badass at a time, and often several in a row. While the challenge was fair, in general the amount of loot dropped felt very sparse, and a vast majority of what fell was well below what I was currently using. In the most incredible example, the final boss of the DLC dropped ONE item. Lots of gold and eridium, but one item (it was an orange, but still). Throughout the entire DLC I found only two guns that were even remotely worth keeping, and that was one of them. For a game driven by the pursuit of loot, the poor drops really killed some of the fun.
Part of the fun of Assault on Dragon Keep is Tina having to change the game on the fly when the players do something unexpected or wander into an area she hadn’t planned for, and she will occasionally have to change enemies if one is too powerful. However, I also encountered glitches numerous times where enemies would randomly be replaced with tougher variants mid-fight, with no reason or warning whatsoever. In particular, the Duke of Orc, who was about four levels above me, would randomly replace enemies. Anyone familiar with Borderlands knows that an enemy that far above you is almost certain death, and that was the case in almost every instance. I also encountered other enemies that would randomly change levels (both up and down), but that was the most extreme case.
There’s plenty to do in Tina’s fictional world, with lots of side quests to accompany the main story ones. My only complaint there was the main story quests were very long, and if I didn’t have time to complete one in a single sitting I had to replay a lot of areas again. Once again, the poor loot drops made doing this especially tedious.
As story content goes, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is a fun addition to Borderlands 2, and it wraps up the game with a different twist and even a little heart. While I enjoyed my time questing, the fact that I barely gained a level and found almost nothing of value the entire time was really disheartening. Overall I had fun, but the experience fell short of what it could have been.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.