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Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina’s Assualt on Dragon Keep Hands-On Preview

/ Jun 19th, 2013 No Comments

[adsense250itp]E3 Day 3 is a reminder of exactly all the terrible decisions you have made in the week from only sleeping 8 hours between three days to taking too many pointless appointments or staying up until 3 a.m. to write a review (seriously though, check it out, it is pretty good). By Day 3, everyone is on empty, angry and ready to cut off the heads of people there simply for swag, swag, swag. Near the end of Day 3, all anyone wants to do is blow off all their remaining appointments and simply sleep on Deep Silver’s purple couch for the rest of the day. Yet, what can one do when that final appointment is unofficially there and gives you the chance to check out some brand spanking new DLC early with the lead level designer of it, Ryan Heaton from Gearbox Software? Get over the exhaustion, the existential crisises brewing inside and make your way to the NVIDIA booth (avoiding being asked to try out Project Shield). Then gird your loins, Sally Draper, and prepare to play Borderlands 2‘s latest DLC campaign, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep because it will give you 2 million CC’s of crunk juice right to the spinal base flushing the E3 doldrums away.

Borderlands 2

Just another Sunday.

From the very beginning of the Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep DLC, it has that signature Borderlands 2 humor and tone. Gearbox Software developed the entire DLC campaign from the ground up internally, so it features Anthony Burch’s clever and smart writing. Tiny Tina is hosting a tabletop role-playing game and she invited the entire gang to play; Brick, Mordecai and Lilith. Everyone has picked a character (a figurine of the Borderlands 2 characters) and Brick’s is the prettiest. All they need to play is for Roland to show up…but wait. The game starts without him and sees Tiny Tina learning the finer points of being a Dungeon Master (DM) on the fly. She has the player start off by fighting a hugely overpowered dragon only to change it into a tiny imp the player can easily fill with shells. Heaton promises the campaign will break the fourth wall more throughout the game. This narrative structure with Tiny Tina as DM should lead to some new interesting and hilarious story experiences in Dragon Keep.

When asked about whether story or gameplay comes first when creating Borderlands 2 or new content, Heaton replied that Burch always fits his writing to whatever the development team creates in terms of gameplay, so structure follows form. This practice makes sense given Burch’s attitude on gameplay that he advocates in Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’. While the comedy that worked so well and made Borderlands 2 such an incredible title is back, Heaton promises that the story gets quite heavy and serious near its conclusion. Spoilers for Borderlands 2 (anyone who has not played it yet should be ashamed of themselves because it is a damn fine game and Gaming Illustrated’s 2012 FPS of the year) – Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is a story about dealing with loss and the ways in which people cope with trauma and grief. The coping mechanism is something that should be intimately familiar to gamers.

Borderlands 2

Them leggings add +22 adorableness.

Immediately in the DLC, the first area is brand new. Heaton said that Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep features completely new art, assets and environments. The environments are gorgeous, featuring several new areas to explore as players make their way to the giant tower looming ever present in the distance. Reaching that tower is the goal of the campaign (players need to track down the evil Handsome Sorcerer  to rescue the Queen of Flamerock Refuge) and players will have to grind out against tough new enemies to get there. Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep will span more than 6 hours, making it an impressive chunk of new DLC for the game’s already impressive playtime.

Enemies in Dragon Keep will not be reskins of older enemies and no psychos will appear in the new campaign. Dragon Keep will contain 11 new enemies that run the gamut of fantasy mainstays (dwarves, skeletons, orcs, etc.), including new rare spawns like Bad Ass Skeletons (which suck if someone is trying to figure out how to use mouse & keyboard controls for the first time). The campaign has new bosses that level up and can switch equipment, as well as a group of four goblin bosses that will aid each other. Dragon Keep will contain tons of new stuff including loot (and give players an opportunity to work on maxing out those new level caps and flex that Kreig).

This is a hugely ambitious new DLC campaign for Gearbox. The team loved the subject matter and the Dungeons & Dragons theme that so much they could have continued work on it. The team did not originally intend for it to be as large, but once they got into it, they said **** it and just went with it. Heaton said they could have made a whole game out of this material alone, but at some point they had to ship the DLC, a pressure the developer knows all too well with Borderlands 2.

Borderlands 2

The Evil Dead we deserve!

Gearbox has put massive amounts of work into the new DLC and it is encouraging. Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep has no reskins and uses entirely new assets and art. Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is part of the season pass, making the bundle a steal with its inclusion. From the early portions of Dragon Keep, the new campaign looks amazing. It has everything that made Borderlands 2 great while trying out something fresh and different gameplay wise and narritavely.

Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep releases on June 25 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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