Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Free DLC for the OG Loot & Shoot game (for the time being)
The Borderlands 2 DLC Commander Lilith and the Battle For Sanctuary is a pretty generous offering from Gearbox Studios, lasting about 5 or more hours and features a ton of new weaponry and bad guys to kill. It also bridges story points between part 2 and part 3 in a fanciful way.
I’ve played through most of it, and it’s definitely worth revisiting the original game just because it reignites your past heartfelt adoration for the series. Without spoilers, you should get it right now before they start charging for it on 9th July. Here are my thoughts in point form.
The Level 30 Character Creation Bit
Right from the get-go, you’re allowed to create a Level 30 Vault Hunter just to play through the expansion. For those who haven’t played the game for a long while and want to try out a different class, this level skip is sorely needed.
8 More Levels To Grind
The DLC bumps up your level cap to 80, which means you’ll have more skill points to allocate and more grinding that needs to be done for all your other level 72 Vault Hunters. Which also means more loot-hunting for level 80 weaponry. Fun!
The Rainbow/Pearlescent Skins
Right around the 2nd or 3rd hour mark, you’ll get vehicle skins that make your Bandit Technical car look a little shinier than usual. Especially in that iridescent colour palette while on the dusty “roads” of Pandora. It doesn’t add any gameplay benefits, but it sure looks purty and makes me drive more than walk.
Them Pearlescent Loot!
Have you ever wanted a sweet-ass sniper rifle that deals TONS of damage and sets people on fire quick? Or an assault rifle that shoots out Shock-laced rockets that drop 3 child grenades on impact? Or a shotgun that launches unicorns? You’ll find a lot of weapons to love in this DLC, proving once again that Gearbox still have a few tricks up its sleeve.
Here’s where things get pretty spoilery. I know it’s a recent expansion to an 8-year old game, but I’ll just put this here in case….
The Follow-Up Narrative Leading To Part 3
Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary picks up right where Borderlands 2 ended. With the Crimson Lance still sorting their stuff out with the Vault Key they have, they suddenly get bombarded by New Pandora troops led by a hard-edged snarky leader (more on him later).
What follows is a half-baked plan on how to save Sanctuary while trying to find a cure for the plant infection they’re bringing in. The main quest line is told in standard Borderlands 2 way filled with a number of callbacks and surprises. We get to see Mordecai’s new pet, hear Lilith’s introspective on trying to live up to the group and keeping them alive, and listen to a few off-cuff snippets of dialogue from Ellie and Moxxxi concerning their respective brother and son, Scooter.
All of this help enrich the tie-in experience and make Borderlands lore fans get the feels that this is the final episode before part 3.
Hector, The New Pandora General
While the campaign is just a good solid 5-6 hours, it was made all the more entertaining thanks to its assholic antagonist Hector. He will constantly heckle and belittle the Vault Hunter and the Crimson Raiders’ efforts, just enough to both get a laugh and rise out of you.
He may have some good points -that your group’s defenses and strategies need work- but this is made all the better that his comeuppance is worth savouring.
The New Enemies & Gas Mechanic
You’ll be fighting a lot of Dahl troops with medics that heal them at every opportunity. They remind me of the Crimson Lance fights in the first Borderlands, but a tad more organized and hard-hitting.
You’ll also be fending off psychos and bandits altered by Hector’s infection; they have plant growth all over their bodies and they hit harder than before. Plants sometimes sprout in the battle arena and hatch out multiple plant bandits if not taken care of. The cleverly-named Lichenthrope are big hulking masses of green that fire spores at you and take brunts of damage before they can go down.
There’s also the matter of the gas these plant creatures huff in. If you’re exposed to it, there’s a poison meter that fills up. When it’s at the lower levels, you’ll gain a short endurance and strength boost, but if you huff too much, you’ll start dying fast. Later in the game, you’ll be immune to it, but at the very least it makes for some tense moments, especially when fighting Lichenthropes and sprouting plant buds in Ultimate Vault Hunter mode.
It’s not easy being green. Neither is killing it in Ultimate Vault Hunter mode.
Vaughn, The Guy From Tales From The Borderlands
After his fall from grace as a Hyperion stooge, he now acts as a former leader to a group of bandits. Well, formerly, since at the early parts of the expansion his team was killed off by Hector and his army, and the first time he bumps into you he’s cowering in fear at your presence.
A Tiny Tina Moment
You cannot cap off the last-ever Borderlands 2 DLC without some appearance or cameo from Borderlands’ resident child demolitions expert voiced by Ashly Burch. She does get real at one point, but most of the time she’s asking you to collect parts for an explosive task while laying out random lines to make the quest line a bit more interesting.
Also, Uranus still makes kids laugh so hard it’ll make your ears hurt.
Technically, if you haven’t bought Borderlands 2 yet, this expansion costs you just US$6. Or US$14 if you’re a tad late. In any case, this is a lovely send-off to a still fun-as-heck 8-year old game, that also helps keep the Steam platform relevant. Gearbox could have just manufactured this in a standard by-the-numbers fashion, but clearly, they’ve put some heart and soul in bidding farewell to the game that placed them on the games industry map.