It’s Tiny Tina time! Get ready to play a new Borderlands experience with everyone’s favourite pint sized crazy person.
Borderlands 2 has a cast of eccentric characters that either tickled your funny bone or irritated the heck out of you, depending on your sense of humour. Personally, I loved the eccentric types that populate the world of Borderlands 2, and none came more eccentric than Tiny Tina.
Much of the main game could be a bit of a slog so it was always a pleasure to get to drop by and see what the little explosives expert was up to. So it’s a real plus for me that this DLC is Tina led.
Essentially a knowing wink to the Dungeons & Dragons games, Dragon Keep puts you right in the middle of one of Tina’s Bunkers and Badasses tabletop gaming sessions. The format allows references to numerous role playing games that may fly over the head of the uninitiated, but the DLC still makes for an interesting spectacle. It also sends up Dungeons & Dragons conventions. Seeing a character get crushed by a massive d20 die remains a highlight.
Just like in a real D&D session, the world changes around the player as Tina and her friends argue about what it should look like. This is both amusing and graphically interesting, plus it also gives rise to some nice stained glass window effects for the vending machines, tying in with the olde-worlde look of the DLC. The visual design throughout is strong and varied from the eerie rustic charms of Flamerock Refuge (which functions as a kind of Sanctuary for the DLC) to the murky gloom of many a beast guarded dungeon.
Gameplay wise there are a slew of cool touches. Having to roll dice to determine how good an item a chest gives you is neat, as is having to pull a sword out of defeated skeletons to ensure they do not rise to fight you again. Enemies from Dwarves to Necromancers keep things fresh and present a real challenge, along with some interesting boss fights. There is also a nice memory puzzle that awaits you and the side quests are varied and generally amusing.
One particularly hilarious moment sends up the behaviour of obnoxious MMO players by having you Tea-bagging one of the douches after you’ve defeated him. First rate stuff. Also, relics appear as a sort of temporary stat boost rune that grants a buff to ammo, defense, etc for a short time. Along with magic lightning spells that can replace your grenade mod, these help to give Dragon’s Keep it’s own distinctive feel.
There are a few minor gripes. During my playthrough, two side quests had to be restarted due to glitches in the DLC that rendered them impossible to complete. In fairness I should note that none of these problems happened to my friends in their playthroughs.
Dragon Keep may be a little light on loot but it does give you some alright raid bosses and a journey that turns out to be surprisingly emotional, revealing Tina as a more rounded character. Any writing that swerves between this and Dark Souls comedy references has the potential to fall flat on it’s face, but Dragon Keep is so well thought out that it feels like a natural progression and works wonderfully.
A big shout out to Jack and Elmo for helping me get some of the more obscure (and obvious) references in Keep. And also for helping me experience the DLC as it should be played – with friends!
Version Reviewed: Xbox 360