I made no secret about my love for Borderlands‘ first bit of DLC – Captain Scarlet and her Pirate’s Booty. It was fresh, funky and it proved to be a great little departure from the main story. A couple of months after we were treated yet again with Mr Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage. An add on which gave us one of the best Borderlands characters of all time, Mr Torgue and certainly didn’t skimp on the laughs. So all in all, it’s been a pretty solid couple of months for Borderlands season pass holders.
Cue the collective sighs, because that winning streak is about to taken down a few pegs by Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt, an add-on that, I’m sad to say, is a bit of a letdown. Sure, it succeeds in its primary goal of giving veteran Vault Hunters some new territory to explore, but it contains none of the wit and sparkle that we’re used to and actually comes off feeling a bit pointless.
The setup, as with every other piece of Borderlands DLC to date, is pretty simple and doesn’t waste time with exposition. Sir Hammerlock has invited you away to his cabin in the savage lands of Aegrus for a weekend of moustaches and hunting. You can accept this most gracious invitation through one of the game’s many fast travel stations and begin the hijinks in true Borderlands style. Giant monsters, savage tribesman and glorious loot await!
Unfortunately, what could have been a lively little jaunt, is brought down by an uninspired quest line, an utterly forgettable antagonist and no level cap increase.
The plot in SHBGH takes for granted that you’ve already killed Handsome Jack, and if you haven’t, then the entire add-on doesn’t make much sense – bit of an oversight on Gearbox’s behalf actually.
It turns out that the wilds of Aegrus are home to more than gigantic loot-filled bosses. An insane individual by the name of Professor Nakayama also takes up residence there. Old Professor N. is a bit of a B-grade villain and longs for a nemesis. He’s also absolutely obsessed with the “late” Handsome Jack and has devoted his entire being to bringing him back to life. Obviously this is something for which you will not stand, so your gentlemanly pursuit of big game has to be put on hold while you save the world … again.
Five minutes in you’ll have a clear idea of where the story is heading and an hour or so later you’ll have completed the main quest. No, I’m not kidding. The main quest line for SHBGH is literally three missions long.
But there is some good news. Sort of. To offset the limp story package, SHBGH crams in more than its fair share of side missions. Tracking and hunting the various beasties, when you do get round to it, will take you anywhere between 5-6 hours and it’s also quite a challenge – even for heroes sporting the best orange gear luck will allow.
Each encounter steadily ramps up in difficulty and by the end of the trek you’ll be facing off against bizarre creatures, the likes of which no white man has ever seen! Jolly good show.
Except… there’s really no point. Gearbox has stated that the focus of this expansion is on difficulty and co-operative play, so if you’ve got a couple of friends eager to test their arsenal on new and exciting creatures, you’re golden. But what if you, like me, are at the level cap, decked out in nothing but legendary loot and are simply looking for some sort of continuation in the epic Borderlands 2 storyline? Well then you’re shit out of luck, son.
Difficulty and co-operative play doesn’t transfer well to one man wolf packs. As such, soloers may find the entire expansion to be an exercise in frustration. Slogging through wave after wave of tribal psycho is a total grind and when you’ve got no story, motivation or level cap increase to keep you going, you’ll wonder why you should take the time.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing broken or majorly reprehensible about SHBGH. After all it’s a bit hard to diss the core gameplay because it’s the same Borderlands 2 formula that we know and love. It just comes off feeling a little unrefined and as I stated before, isn’t as polished as the previous instalments.
Chances are you’ve already got a season pass and therefore have Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt regardless of whether you wanted it. Players with a solid crew will likely enjoy the challenging boss battles, but solo players looking to squeeze a bit more life from the campaign are going to be let down by the subpar plot direction.
I’d honestly suggest waiting until Gearbox raise the level cap before giving this a go. The environments of Aegrus, though incredibly swampy, are actually pretty damn enjoyable to explore. It’s just a shame that the compulsion to explore them just currently isn’t there (raise the damn level cap already!).
- Reviewed On