A good add-on that doesn’t quite live up to expectations.
When the credits rolled at the end of Borderlands 2, I knew I loved it. Its exceptional writing, fun combat, constant stream of loot, fun quests and the sense of place sucked me into Pandora for hours and left me hankering for more story content. Now that we finally have more, though, in the form of Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty, it’s obvious the original campaign set a high bar that’ll be tough to clear. Pirate’s Booty provides hours of fun for people longing for more Borderlands 2 gameplay, but the story, characters and quests feel flat compared to the core campaign.
As soon as you hit level 15 you can instantly fast travel to Oasis, the starting point for the Pirate’s Booty content. Doing so triggers an awesome cinematic intro where you learn about a long-lost treasure. You’ll also meet Captain Scarlett, a sand pirate who you’ll help in an epic quest to uncover a host of loot. The story starts off great, with hilarious and well-written characters like Shade, but quickly stumbles into mediocrity. A few quests for Shade and you basically never see him again, leaving you with a slew of other characters which, despite having occasionally witty or charming dialogue, largely never come all that close to being as engrossing or great as I’ve come to expect from Borderlands.
Likewise the narrative just doesn’t develop into anything especially good. Captain’s Booty doesn’t have a lead protagonist or antagonist binding it together in the way, Handsome Jack, Angel or Lilith do in the mainline story. As such it suffers, resulting in a story that’s almost entirely predictable (and at times downright boring). Archetypal stories don’t need to be boring (see Star Wars, Lord of the Rings), but Captain’s Booty doesn’t have interesting enough characters or plot twists to make it engrossing. That being said, the last part of Pirate’s Booty is almost enough to redeem it, as the final zones’ story and loot payoff makes the experience feel rewarding.
If all you want is a reason to get more loot, levels (assuming you haven’t maxed out), and to shoot your way through more of Pandora, Captain’s Booty mostly succeeds. Combat encounters remain interesting and fun despite mostly putting you up against re-skinned enemies in pirate get ups, if only because your characters abilities and weapons feel like playing with toys. The occasional unique enemy like the Anchorman helps mix things up, as his ability to yank you to him from far away kills camping strategies. I think it’s good to establish a sense of place, something the DLC does as well as the original campaign with its visual design, but it’d be nice to see more creativity taken with the pirate theme than just putting a captain’s hat or cutlass on the host of familiar foes.
Likewise there’s plenty of loot to collect and quests to fulfill, though the latter doesn’t live up to the quality established by core Borderlands 2 experience. You won’t find any weapons or other gear in the main quest that’ll blow you away, but new level 50 raid bosses, including one you can kill for a new currency called Seraph Crystals, give the most dedicated of us something to chase long after the many hours of Pirate’s Booty quests run out.
Not that most of the quests are particularly interesting – most of them boil down to typical MMO-like fetch and kill quests. The main campaign of Borderlands 2 had its fair share of these objectives as well, but they were peppered throughout a lengthy narrative that also had a large number of inventive and inspired quests, even better writing and a slew of fantastic characters. If you’re susceptible to the more typical and generically structured quests (and I’ll admit, I am), then you’ll find plenty to get sucked into, even if it’s a bit boring and makes you retread environments a lot more when compared to what we’ve seen before.
Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty delivers exactly what you’d expect: more Borderlands. So long as you’re not an overpowered, max-level character you’ll find hours of quests to complete, a host of loot to collect and plenty of pirate-themed baddies to send to an early grave. You’ll also experience the same shortfalls as the core game, including scarcely utilized vehicles, as well as a comparatively disappointing narrative and more generically designed quests. No, Captain’s Booty is not an exceptional follow-up to Borderlands 2, but it is a good piece of content that gives plenty of reasons for anyone to jump back into Pandora.