Trailer Tuesdays: Battleborn

Fresh off the Borderlands wagon, developers at Gearbox have put forth an entirely new IP which hopes to both retain their old audience and bring in new faces. This IP is Battleborn! The exclamation point seems necessary because it should be exciting. I should want to play this, but I’m just not… quite there yet. This could, of course, end up being similar to my reaction to the Borderlands pre-sequel; in which I start out unimpressed with the game, but slowly end up getting hyped for its release despite myself. Or this hype train could take a turn at “could have been better” station; only time can really tell.

For now, however, we have the facts. Most important of which is this: Battleborn is not a MOBA (“multiplayer online battle arena”—think League of Legends or DOTA).

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Rin Plays: T.K. Baha’s Bloody Harvest

I love it when games release content for the holidays, and when the heads behind Borderlands 2 announced the release of a Halloween-themed DLC, I knew I had to get it. Even though Halloween proper is still a week off, I snapped it up on its release date back on Tuesday.

I know I didn't review the Tiny Tina DLC. I'm getting to it

I know I didn’t review the Tiny Tina DLC. I’m getting to it.

In addition to being something special for this time of year, T.K. Baha’s Bloody Harvest also gives way to a new type of DLC: head hunts. As the name implies, the goal of the quest line is to eventually win a special head—it’s what it sounds like: a facial customization for your character that changes most, if not all, parts of the head. Whereas I will agree that releasing so many ‘pay-to-get’ DLC customization options is a bit money grubbing—there have been fifteen in total—what I like about the head hunts is that it gives you an entirely new environment to run around in and new enemies to fend off. At least that’s what it seems like given the contents of this DLC. The question is: is it worth the three dollars? Spoilers under the cut.

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Hammerlock: A Gentleman and a Scholar

Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt Borderlands 2Today is the day, my fellow vault hunters. Today we travel to the uncivilized continent of Aegrus to traverse swamp and mountain in search of harder enemies, better loot, and… Handsome Jack? Well, maybe we’re not searching for him. I dare say in Borderlands’ newest DLC, Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt, the person I’m going to be most interested in is the titular character himself. So, allow me this time to gush about how much I absolutely adore this monocle’d zoologist: it is his big day, after all.

I think the first thing that’s obvious is that Sir Hammerlock is the classiest badass to roam the lands of Pandora. He’s got that Victorian gentleman vibe going on (in all the best ways, especially the accent) but he starts the relationship between your character and himself by electrocuting your robot guide, then shoving its eye back into its socket.

Okay, it may not be as badass as Ellie’s introduction, but he’s been living completely alone—except maybe for visits from Claptrap—in the bandit-infested village of Liar’s Burg for who knows how long and he’s managed to stay alive. I’m sure there’ve been nights where he’s sniped bandits from the top of his roof just to lure them into that electrical fence. You may have also noticed that his right arm is missing completely? Yeah, it was ripped off by quite possibly the largest thresher on Pandora, no big deal. Hammerlock lives for his work and, if past trends continue, it’s quite possible he may end up dying for his work someday.

However, besides being a character with such a frustrating lack of backstory, Hammerlock also plays an important role in one of the most understated initiatives in a game I’ve experienced. If you do side-quests (if you don’t, I don’t want to talk to you), he’ll eventually ask your character to find the lost manuscripts of a rough and tumble kind-of-scientist-but-not-really, Taggart, who also happens to be his old boyfriend. Borderlands 2 was the game that really made it apparent that the developers wanted their universe of Pandora and vault hunters to allow for equal opportunity in both treasure looting and getting killed by literally everything and as such many of the characters, whether they be in the backstory or available for interaction, were discussed as being of a non-heteronormative sexuality. Of course, there were complaints about characters being made so explicitly “gay”, but it was so much more nuanced than that. Characters were not defined by their sexuality; rather their sexuality was just another aspect of their character which is how it should be done. Hammerlock didn’t constantly gush about all that hot yaoi sex he was having with his boyfriend, it was something he mentioned while reminiscing about his past relationship with the most-likely dead Taggart. Even if he did constantly gush about it, it would still be amazing to see such a nuanced homosexual character, especially in a genre where these things are usually shied away from.

So come on, give this scholar and his creators some love and join him on his expedition. See him in his natural habitat—‘he’s’ been giving you weapons all weekend so show at least a little respect—and download Big Game Hunt. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to see some more of that badassery that we’ve all come to love (who am I kidding? We definitely will).

Strong Female Characters: Gearbox, You’re Doing it Right

In all the hubbub of Borderlands 2, what with its delightful new and old cast and (roughly) kajillion side-quests, I think it’s important to step back and appreciate the timeless things. The simple things.

But mostly that Ellie is the best character in the game.

I’ve already given my partial opinion about larger people in the media, so when I saw her concept art I was seriously worried what would come of such a character, especially when every other female in Borderlands is thin as a whistle. Would she be played off for jokes?  …The bad kind, that is, not the kind that Borderlands is revered for. I should have had more faith in Gearbox because this lady is faboo.

From her introduction I loved her—seriously? Smashing a bandit in a car compactor? Bad. Ass.— because it was such a great example of what was to come. She doesn’t take shit, she’s clever and resourceful as hell, and she’s fun. She’s an actual 3-dimensional character. Gasp, be still my beating heart.

Playing along her questline further also reveals an intricacy that not many other Borderlands characters have in my opinion. She has motivations beyond “wow, I better not die” and she has something to prove, but not to herself. Being Scooter’s sister, that also means that she’s Mad Moxxi’s, the voluptuous vixen manager of the Ring O’ Death’s, daughter. By doing Ellie’s quests, Ellie ends up venting about how her mom wants her to lose weight and essentially be like Moxxi. In fact, her mother doesn’t believe that Ellie can even take care of herself on her own out in the Dust. Ha! Allow Ellie to prove her wrong. The great thing about Ellie is that she’s completely okay with her life and her choices. She knows smart enough to survive and that she’s damn  sexy to boot. Her confidence in her skills and in her body isn’t played for laughs, so the player is able to come to respect this unlikely paragon of beauty. And gosh, it’s just great.

I could gush more, but why don’t you take a look at what the designers at Gearbox have to say on the mechanic yourself?