Borderlands 2: Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt review
Any excuse to return to Pandora is okay with us…
Given that Borderlands 2’s endgame is all about peppering gigantic creatures with bullets until they keel over and spill their gun-flavoured innards, we can’t imagine a better fit for an expansion than a hunting theme. And within such a thing, there could be no better guide in the Borderlands universe than well-spoken cyborg Sir Hammerlock. But despite the fact that all the jigsaw pieces fit together perfectly, the sad truth is that the picture they create simply isn’t as impressive as Gearbox’s previous works.
With dreams of safari treks, sprawling savannah plains and hulking beasties, we travelled to the new Hunter’s Grotto area only to be let down on all three counts. The thrill of the hunt is nowhere to be seen, the new areas – while absolutely massive (perhaps even slightly too big) – are among the most washed-out and drab so far and despite the title, big game hunting is a rare treat rather than a frequent thrill. That said, the host of new smaller enemies is the best yet and from aggressive scorpion-like critters to lolloping spore beasts that cloud the sky, it’s a far cry from simply dressing up Bandits in pirate costumes or biker gear.
Elsewhere, there are indigenous tribesmen (who just about fall on the right side of being offensive) to slaughter, infuriating Witch Doctors to murder and a secondary cast of ‘rare’ versions of regular enemies to hunt down. And all of these guys are tough too – with enemies whose levels creep into the mid-50s and another two obscene raid bosses to be killed by, this is Borderlands 2 at its toughest.
We wouldn’t say that this is a bad expansion, rather one that doesn’t live up to its awesome promise. It’s the shortest of the three packs so far, though it makes up for its narrative brevity with a bevy of side missions. Sadly, few of these offer decent rewards (mostly just cash and experience), meaning that players already banging their heads on the level cap will see little reason to undertake many of them. Which is a shame, because there are some awesome missions in there, even if they are perhaps better saved for when the level cap is eventually raised. Which, by the sound of things, should be happening in the next DLC pack, which will be the fourth and final covered by the Season Pass. Not that we can see it being the last…
Between farming The Warrior and Terramorphous and the lootsplosions that celebrated the ends of the last two DLC packs, we’re somewhat spoiled for great gear now. But even so, we’re always on the hunt for guns, shields, grenades and mods that just outclass the ones we’re rocking. Sadly, Big Game Hunt isn’t the best place to look, it would seem. Outside of custom skins for the new Fan Boat, we didn’t see a single drop above Blue rarity and even then, there weren’t nearly as many unique items as there have been in the other expansions. Shame. Still, with a level cap increase on the horizon, maybe it’s best that we don’t get too attached to our level 50 arsenal anyway – it’ll all be obsolete soon.
The weakest of the three current DLC packs it may be, but the fact that Big Game Hunt still outclasses the majority of downloadable expansions from other studios speaks volumes on Gearbox’s mastery of its craft. If you’re still on your way to level 50, it’s worth taking in the sights here along the way. If you’re maxed out, however, you might want to join the hunt after the cap has been raised – it’ll feel much more worthwhile if you do.