Pull up a chair and let me tell you a story.
After losing everything at the casino, I’ve started a brand new life. My character Zane was maxed out to lvl57, with nowhere left to go. I received a wedding invitation in the mail to remind me of what’s important. Love! Hammerlock and Wainwright were getting married and wanted their favourite vault hunter to do the honours. Fresh with inspiration, I made a brand new character, FL4K. I’m still the same person, I just look and talk like a robotic slayer now. I’ve also got a pet Skag! He’s a good boy and sometimes coughs up extra ammo.
I discovered a nice new feature of the DLC in this process. Thankfully you don’t have to go through the game’s regular intro if you pick the DLC from the main menu, so I started this fresh character at level 13. It just throws you straight into Sanctuary with the option of playing straight away. Curiously, the wedding is being held on a brand new mysterious planet not many people have been to before.
Welcome to Xylourgos, a planet with a gigantic ominous creature embedded into its very structure. This planet has a mix of natural harsh terrain, man-made structures, caves and mushroom forests with their own ecosystems. The nature here is very different to other Borderlands planets in its tone. It’s very cold and “quiet” on the surface with the occasional giant structure, town or cave providing some indoor warmth.
I’m glad I picked the robot character because otherwise I’d be freezing my human arse off here. The cold is accentuated by snowstorms and harsh wind flooding the screen with graphical effects. Mr. Chew is getting cold now, I guess Skags aren’t meant to be out here too long. If he pisses into the wind it might go all over me. Uh oh, let’s keep moving.
Yes I got hit by this fireball, but it was worth it for a screenshot. This game has a very strong Metroid Prime influence with alien flora, floating bulbs, giant bugs, and epic chorus music bouncing off the cave walls. This feels like an intentional homage considering the badass versions of enemies even have “Prime” added to them. It’s very cool and I have no issues with how blatant it is, as the game’s style is obviously radically different and we have not seen a Metroid Prime game in more than a decade anyway.
Some of the life on this planet is so beautiful that it almost seems too sacred for us to be here with guns. It’s full of giant mushroom trees, glowing crystals, explosive plants, bugs that shoot electricity, and stunning lion-wolves “Wolven” that look like the peak predator of the land. After meeting your human companions at the comfy main Lodge, you slowly start to feel isolated as you head out on quests. You kinda get the feeling that you’re not supposed to be here. You go off and do hunts that nobody else wants to touch. Wolves surround you in a bid to protect their territory. Their howls can be heard in the distance, but your screams can’t.
The music is fantastic once again, with some strong alien atmosphere and haunting vibes with a mix of piercing tones from The X-Files and scattered melodies of Metroid. I’d also like to compliment the voice-acting, there’s a new character named Mancubus who runs The Lodge and his voice is so perfect. Creepy old classic horror butler/bartender who makes every sentence sound like it’ll be the last one you hear. Ehehehe, do enjoy this drink. Okay… I will? There’s also some new villains who are acted very well. Overall this campaign has a very consistent feeling of being in a horror show, with different turns and twists.
Gameplay-wise I ran into a few problems using a new character. Firstly there was one boss fight that I really liked, it had creative platforming and a fun structure. The problem was I ran out of ammo before I could beat it and had to retry several times, just because I didn’t have the ammo upgrades that come a bit later in the game. It didn’t seem to take that into account, with no way to refill ammo in the fight itself since Mr. Chew was too busy fighting. Guess we’ll both die. Secondly, some areas stayed low-level the entire time and I wasn’t getting much EXP. The opening area for example still had level 12 enemies when I was level 22. Not unplayable, but I can see how this DLC would be better when you’re already high level. It’s just a shame that level cap is so low that if you play the B3 content in order of release, you’ll be maxed out before you start this one. Small problem overall though, I’m glad to have the option of playing it at any level.
There are some harsh landscapes but it’s not all snow and caves, as you can see from this structurally stable town built on tentacles that could move at any second. Eh, we’ll just rebuild it right? Townspeople walk around under some kind of spell, it seems the cultists run this town. They aren’t the type of human scum we saw in the Cartel or Casino campaigns, this is actually some bizarre kind of alien race / human hybrid with mini tentacles and spells who worship their beast overlord with black magic. This plays largely into the story but I won’t spoil any of that.
Borderlands continues to be relevant and exciting with another high-quality campaign. It offers a brand new aesthetic, chilling story, beautiful landscapes, and lots of fun missions. Some of the best missions are optional as well, so make sure you look around for quest markers outside the main story. For anyone going to Xylourgos for the first time, it’s worth stopping at The Lodge for a fine Borscht meal with a shot of Gythian’s Harvest. Now if you’ll excuse me… I need to use the restroom.