Developer: Gearbox Software / Publisher: 2K Games / Played on: Xbox 360 / Price: $9.99, 800 MSP / ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol]
Trotting out your game’s first DLC as a pirate-themed adventure might seem as cliched as say, any zombie DLC, but in the scope of Borderlands 2, this add-on fits well in the bent world of Pandora. Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty follows in the tradition of The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned and Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot DLCs from the previous Borderlands and is well timed with the release of last week’s Mechromancer class.
No surprise, the pirate’s booty is in fact, a legendary treasure, and Captain Scarlett is stoked that you’re willing to hunt it down for her. One can’t help but like Captain Scarlett’s frankness, particularly her easygoing homicidal side. I especially admire her for being up front that she’ll most likely kill you after you’ve found the treasure. It’s almost as if she knows you’re a Borderlands 2 fan and that you’d be willing to face any challenge on Pandora. She is part of a cast of DLC NPCs who are as well-crafted and as twistedly amusing as Sir Hammerlock or Tiny Tina from the main game.
This DLC wastes little time in laying out the welcome mat in the first town, Oasis. You’re greeted by a bunch of hostile pirates, and Gearbox has used every pirate name in the book for these thematic enemy reskins, from Swabbie to Rapscallion to Powder Monkey, just to name a few. After taking out the first batch of pirates, you meet Shade, one of the very few NPCs in Oasis. His loneliness is apparent when he immediately proclaims you as his new best friend forever.
It is also in Oasis where you’ll find the first batch of optional missions. Unfortunately, these are mostly tiresome fetch quests where you’re tasked to find items like a wedding ring and a bottle of whiskey. It’s around the time you meet Scarlett that the side missions become more interesting, where you hunt for actual treasure buried under marked ‘X’es. You also have the option of hunting down one of her deserters and have to execute someone via a sandworm meal.
Shade’s friendship is genuine and he doesn’t hesitate to help you with your story missions, even if it means his BFF will be visiting Oasis less frequently. He’s even happy to lend a sand skiff, although it’s one that hasn’t been properly maintained. Coincidentally, Shade knows where all the necessary parts are, which are spread out amongst his other friends in Oasis. How can that be when he’s supposedly the only person in Oasis? His friends are actually corpses and have been voiced by Shade through tape recorders. Yes, he’s that lonely. Some of the sand skiff parts are easier to reach than others. Brief platforming is needed to get to one part, while another requires taking on a sand worm. Having entered Oasis using a Level 20 Assassin with an automatic sniper rifle, taking care of the worm was an easy task.
There will be many more worms to kill once you drive the now-functional sand skiff. It’s a durable enough vehicle that you don’t even need to fire the skiff’s guns to take out the worms; you can just run over them. The dry, desert environment and the rock-walled paths makes the sand skiff ideal transportation and it’s as easy to drive as any vehicle in Borderlands 2. It takes little time to come across the multiple paths, hinting at the large size of this DLC. One path quickly led to Captain Scarlett, who was in her ship, a transport that wouldn’t be out of place in the Sarlacc Pit battle in Return of the Jedi.
Speaking of loot, Gearbox Software finds a good balance in making the weapons in Pirate’s Booty feel unique enough without making them so special that your friends, who can’t visit Oasis, get jealous. Many of these guns are actually cursed, firearms that deal a lot of damage, but kick back so painful that you’ll actually get hurt with each pull of the trigger. My personal favorite was Captain Blade’s Rapier, a bladed level 17 rifle that does +200% melee damage. There are new seraph-level weapons as well, which you have to earn by defeating the raid bosses. These are fitting rewards for those who have been playing Borderlands 2 non-stop, since you’ll need to be at the minimum level of 50 to defeat these guys.
Visually, Pirate’s Booty art style is fittingly indistinguishable with the main game, with the exception of the countless pirate hats, skeletons, and hooks for hands. Sandman’s area, with its vibrant green creeks and multi-tiered rice paddies are especially eye-catching. Along with Scarlett’s ship, these indoor levels offer the same impressive Borderlands level design tricks, as some areas look deceptively small until you actually go in them.
There’s also a convincing sense of continuity with the sound design, featuring the same kind of post-Western background music befitting Oasis and all the hostilities around it. Shade’s earnest and effeminate vocal delivery is endearing and Captain Scarlett’s English accent works well as a Liz Hurley sound-alike at her most sadistic.
With its pirate theme, Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty is the most novel of all the DLC in the series so far. It does fit with the Borderlands 2 universe, especially when this design doesn’t come at the expense of the series’ core gameplay. In all, it’s a solid start to what is to be a promising roll out of Borderlands 2 DLC and it’s an especially manageable adventure if you’re level 15 or higher in your current playthrough (not counting raid bosses).
- Many fetch quests
+ Entertaining mainline quest
+ Fleshed out characters
8.5 / 10