Good music and excellent level design are ruined by a poorly written plot, with illogical actions by unlikable characters.
There be SPOILERS ahead.
Welcome to my in-depth review of Borderlands 3: Bounty of Blood DLC. So let’s just get this on the table real quick. I didn’t like it, It was mediocre at best. I threw it aside. I thought it was about as good as the main story and it’s clear Gearbox has lost a lot of talent and has opted not to replace them. However, people f****ing love this DLC and it intrigues me. I am not some kind of snooty writer, but the problems were diverse and numerous. From animation issues to poor story structure, and every other conceivable point on the graph, it is absolutely plagued with issues. So why do people praise it so highly? I will be pointing out all these flaws over the next several days as I replay Bounty of Blood for the fourth time and write this article. I will do it justice as well. I truly believe that there were some things in this DLC that were exceptional and deserved to be praised. However, Bounty of Blood was a disappointment and I wasn’t even excited. This isn’t a post of hate, but of love. Love for Gearbox, and a love for Borderlands. I hope to expose the problems with this DLC to show where Gearbox nailed it and where they went horribly wrong. The hope is to aid in increasing Gearbox’s quality targets in the future.
As I have already beat this DLC as Zane three times and as Moze once, and so as a change of pace, I am going to be playing through starting as a level 54 Amara on Mayhem 10. I don’t think this is terribly important, I just want to be thorough.
BLOOD FROM A STONE(Introduction to Rose)
Things start off fairly well with the initial introduction to the plot. It is essentially another welcome to Pandora. A mostly lawless planet that was exploited by companies, sapped for its resources, and then left to its demise, the people along with it. There is a groupust be evenly matched and both fighting for something worth while. It is odd here that the town is both painted to be so desperate to win this “decades long” war, but is also completely unwilling to even consider looking into “The Companies” secrets even though they were here researching weapons for war. If it were a situation where they just believed that the use of weapons of mass destruction was a bad thing, they should have at least been clamoring for control of the weapons and secrets knowing that lawless bandits seeking to destroy the town obviously weren’t restrained by the same inhibitions. So… not a great start, but it was cute.
The company is Jakob’s by the way. The tone and the setting+Gearbox is not going to make an entirely new manufacture= It is Jakob’s. I could have told you that based on the box art, hell I could have told you that based on an inaccurate relaying of the title.
So 15 feet from the drop pod we run into the first animation issue, the scourge flying overhead. Ignoring the fact that those things wouldn’t be able to fly, ever, their flight path and the way they move is just bad. I have seen better flying animations in Borderlands 3 so, I am just going to chock it up to an artistic choice and move on.
It is especially easy to ignore when you get to see the awesomeness that is Rose’s character design and animations. Her little smirk, 10/10. Toge is also so adorable I just wanna squeeze his cute little face until it pops.
This does lead into my first, well that is weird moment. Rose commands Toge with wistles, but also apparently voice commands? Look if you can just command him with wistles, you aren’t going to have a conversation with him as well in real life. You don’t see K9 units being commanded in German and than English, issuing the same command twice would likely just confuse them and why waste the energy? So why does Rose do this? Is the game trying to teach me to speak whistle, is Rose trying to teach Toge English, or does Gearbox just think that I a grown ass man couldn’t figure out she commands him by whistling? It is a nitpick, but it is a microcosm of the ■■■■■■■■ that is in this DLC.
Rose and I then proceed forward about 7 feet and rose says she is going to draw out the devils ahead… so I can fight all of them instead of less of them I guess? Look its a game, I wanted to fight all of them, but this implies we just didn’t have to fight all of them. Either we could have just gone past them all, or when we started fighting some of them, the gunfire and sounds of death apparently wouldn’t have “drawn them out”, you know but her quite little whistle does. Which this makes you think that she can control the wild ones at least to some extent with her whistling. Means I probably can too right? (lol no)
I don’t really care, but the town has a bridge problem. They have three bridges (one destroyed) that would have been extremely hard to build, leading to an area with no strategic value and aggressive fauna. There is no reason for these bridges to exist, besides so that the player can get from their drop to town. A nit pick, and it just isn’t a big deal, but I feel like this was just lazy.
So it appears Rose is out here to collect devil rider eggs. However, this is not the case. Rose is actually out here scouting and preparing for her assault on the town. SO WHY IN THE HELL IS SHE OUT HERE GETTING AN EGG?! Why go get something that you are going to have to carry back, and possibly into battle? Why risk fighting the devil’s and drawing attention to yourself? Why risk the loss of your mount, or injury to youself when you are about to go into battle? None of that makes any logical sense so you would not do that in real life! In addition Rose knows the vault hunter is here to collect the bounty on her head, but somehow the vault hunter doesn’t know? What, did Ghenna put out an ad that said we have lots and lots and lots of money for bounty, but can’t afford to send pictures of the targets in a dossier? Either way it must not be very much money because if it was someone like Vladof would just come, nuke the devil riders from orbit, collect the bounties and have a party. Did the vault hunter just hear that there maybe might be a planet somewhere with one single town on it offering bounties for killing bandits? You could make the argument that Rose only recently became the leader of the devil riders, even say that it was this week, she still should have been a big enough deal in the devil riders to where she would be one of the requested bounties. It doesn’t make sense for her to have seen a chance to try and get the jump on the vault hunter and do nothing. What if the vault hunter, who are typically morally grey, decided “na fam, I want dem company secrets” and come at Rose with WMD’s later? She would have sneak attacked them then before they had friends, before they had core weapons, because if they couldn’t beat them right then, they couldn’t beat them later, and they sure as hell could have beat the piss out of the town later. THIS IS BAD WRITING. And no this is not a satirical take on the idiocy of the western genera, the is ode to it. You can’t use bad writing and claim satire and it also not be funny!
And now we come to Toge’s death and one of the worst line deliveries in all of Borderlands 3. So bad that it completely took me out of the game. “Quit struggling Toge, I am trying to save you, damnit”. On paper that line probably seemed like a good idea, but in reality it was absolute garabage. The performance didn’t really match any of Rose’s other deliveries so it was somewhat incoherent, and on top of it the emotion wasn’t natural or convincing. It was so blatantly bad it completely ruined the tension they were actually going for in the scene, and it served no purpose whatsoever. Had they simply cut that voice line and replaced it with some whistles trying to soothe Toge, the scene would have been so much better it is laughable. It was already established the best way to control the devils is whistling, so why did this line even exist in the first place? Because this DLC was written by amateurs.
You may ask yourself, why did Toge need to die? The answer is two fold.
- Rose is the bad guy, look she shot poor Toge, that is how you know and why you don’t like her.
- Because what kind of bad western omage would this be if they didn’t have the cliche “legs broke, gotta shoot it” cliche.
Bet you really hate Rose now because of that huh? You gonna wanna do a murder on her because she killed him aren’t you? Doesn’t matter that you knew exactly what was going to happen in this entire scene the second you got the prompt to check on Toge, it has emotional weight because this dinosaur you met literally 75 seconds ago got shot in his stupid face. ■■■■■■■ kidding me? This is trash.
So the tally is:
- 1 Poor Animation
- 2 Illogical actions by a seemingly logical character
- 1 Illogical lack of action by the same character
- 2 Violations of the “whistling to devil riders” rule
- 1 God awful voice line
- 1 Cliche event
- 1 Dead character who means nothing to me
This is the first five minutes of “The Best Thing in Borderlands 3”. An auspicious start to a great DLC. And in good “new borderlands fashion” I will go ahead and insult your intelligence and explain that was sarcasm.
BLOOD FROM A STONE: WELCOME TO TOWN
Getting into to town is… fine. You meet titus who walks into a building filled with the void, you barge into the saloon, shoot the piano, someone complains about outsiders, you start a fight with half the towns population, and the sheriff stops the fight by shooting his gun. Predictible and cliche, but kind of essential for the whole things they are going for. Not bad, just not really good either.
You meet the sheriff and help him shoot some dicks hat off (I of course as a good Samaritan concerned with the health of the citizens of this town did it with a rocket launcher.) You walk with the sheriff for hear him interacting with the people of the town. He is so loved by the town that everyone wants to say hi to him and he as a likable character, tells them to fk off. So you follow the walking dick with a mustache to the center of town where the giant magic rock. Don’t worry the town is just like "yupp that is our big 'ol rock, we like it. It is nothing like any other rock anywhere else on this planet at all, but we don’t care for thinking about why things is the way they is round here. Even though we are in the future and have fking spaceships." And the devil riders attack.
Even though it has been lest than four minutes since I lost sight of Titus the deputy, that MF is GONE. Just gone. No explanation on why he isn’t helping me or the sherif protect the town or anything. He is just gone. Maybe someone forgot he existed for a bit or was added in last minute or something?
Either way Rose comes in, kills the walking dick with a mustache, shoves a giant pistol so far up her rectum she could cough bullets (seriously she has no holster it is the only explanation) and steals the rock while in proper Borderlands fashion, we in true vault hunter gawk at the scene while it plays out in front of us. Now if even with the vault hunter there Rose, with virtually no resistance, kills the town leader, and steals the rock how the hell has this war been going on for decades? The devil riders are clearly by a large margin more well armed than the town, have more man power than the town, are willing to use company tech and local fauna unlike the town, and are still somehow at war with this incompetent f**k sticks? Are you kidding me? This is like a ■■■■■■■ borderlands fan fiction.
So the sheriff is dead, which he was an incompetent ■■■■■■■, so rather than feeling like getting revenge on Rose, I felt like I should throw her a party. The sheriff then gives me his badge and says that it is Juno’s now. Instead of the badge going to the still weirdly absent Titus, it goes to the solitary machete wielding psycho path living outside of town, who was an ex-devil rider. Let me reiterate, rather than the deputy, the leader of the town’s law enforcement is now some lunatic who once preyed on the town despite having no experience in justice or even leadership. Honestly the only people that would have made less sense to give it to are the vault hunter and claptrap. This is so stupid it makes my bones hurt.
THE NAME OF THE LAW
So you meet Juno carving up devil riders like a Christmas goose. Badass, awesome, tougher than nails, and twice as stupid. Upon hearing the sheriff is dead she asks you to prove it, even though you would have zero motivation to lie. You give her the badge and she questions whether or not she should accept the role… for about 3/5ths of a second before she is just like, “I am the captain now.” But you know, the town is totally cool with it, despite the fact that they supposedly hate Juno so yeah… She gives you an injection that lets you use some magic mushrooms and your just like yeah, I’ll take whatever. Juno then tells you there is a “hideout” in the mountains even though the hideout is a huge ■■■■■■■ fortress that dwarfs the town. If that ■■■■ is a hideout, than what does the devil riders main compound look like? A dyson sphere? To me this just screams, yeah we made the maps and the character models first, and then sort of wrote the story around it. Pure, unfiltered, glacier fed, garbage.
At this point, the game opens up, so I am going to stop with the extreme nit picking, partially because they are less important, but mostly because if I pointed out every subtle flaw I would die of old age before I finished this.
Now, Jetbeasts; I like them. They are nimble, quick, do decent damage, and except for being made of glass and tissue paper on mayhem 10, I thought they fitted well and I liked them. I am going to ignore the fact that it doesn’t ever make sense for someone to ride a devil when you have hover bikes with miniguns, but I really do appreciate the effort in adding the new vehicle. My only real complaint is that we can’t use them in the main game, but you couldn’t use sand-skiffs either so, NBD.
As far as the blast plains. The level design isn’t bad, the music here is pretty good, the natural progression through the use of the core crystals and the tele-zapper is well done. It is a bit empty, but really nothing really wrong with it. I liked the side quest for the troll gun as well as the one with the snake oil elixer, but neither really had me very invested. Overall, everything in this area is fairly unexceptional and safe. None of it is really bad, it is just kind of bland.
Now, one of the things that I think is exceptional in the DLC is level design. While the Blast Plains is pretty meh, Ashfall Peaks is bitchin’. The architecture, the skybox, the terrain, honestly it is properly awesome. My complaint with it, is it just doesn’t make sense. Why the hell is there this giant resort like spa like this? Why would the company build something like this which is so clearly designed to draw tourism? Does Jakobs suddenly care so much about their employees that they are building giant spa get aways for them? Because, no, they don’t. Eden 6 is a prime example. The Jakobs manor has a ■■■■■■■ menagerie while their employees are living in shanty towns with holes in the walls. It is well established in Borderlands that companies don’t care about their people. So this mega spa, just doesn’t make any sense. Now, I know what you are saying. Borderlands does this ■■■■ all of the time in their DLC’s. Remember when you fought a giant snowman on mercenary day and you loved it? Why does this seem to piss you off so much?
This was a question I actually had a hard time answering for a bit. Borderlands 2 had a lot of stuff like this, so why did I love it then, but now it irks me. Have I succumbed to nostalgia?! The short answer is no. The thing is, the DLC takes itself weirdly seriously. It tries to create tension and inspire emotions and player engagement and utterly fails to do so. In addition in this pursuit it skimps on the and nonsense that you would expect to see in a “■■■■ it whatever, it is a western” kind of DLC. When Borderlands takes itself seriously, it typically does it well. I.e. Rolands death, Tiny Tina accepting his death, bloodwing dying. It also knows how to not take itself too seriously: Torgue screaming about the wattlegobbler, shooty mcface, hell in the handsome jackpot when you get to genocide claptraps. This DLC fails at both. Its characters are so weak, its world building so inconsistent and bad, and its emotions meaningless, that taking itself seriously just isn’t an option. As far as humor, I vaguely remember chuckling at the narrator like once, and got a kick out of the quartermaster, but other than that, it just isn’t funny either. So it can’t be taken seriously, and it doesn’t make you laugh, so there just is nothing. It is just bland and it fails everywhere where Borderlands has previously thrived and is still unable to fix where it has failed.
Moving on the journey up Ashfall Peak is fine, and you finally find Titus! The narrator acknowledges it is weird for him to be taken prisoner rather than just killed, but I still don’t have a good reason why they would do that. There is also no explanation for why he is here and captured, when he was captured, or by whom. He is just kind of here… I guess to provide you with the company tool that he inexplicably able to steal, that just so happens to be critical for you advancement through the plot. This ^ this is bad writing.
Essentially he gives you a pair of brass knuckles that lets you punch core crystals which explode. It is important to note just how volatile these crystals are from Titus’s perspective. He also comments “Now I see why the sheriff outlawed company goods”, but this makes zero sense. If they had been fighting the devil riders for decades, and I repeat decades, no sensible person would ever, ever say “we shouldn’t use the weapons our enemies are.” What this essentially says is that the devil riders have better weapons and are more well equipped than the townsfolk, because the sheriff said so. This is moronic. Even if the sheriff had absolute control and had been in control before this war started, he would have been overthrown years ago because he was letting his people die to a more well armed force, and rather than improve his people armaments he outlawed them. This is bad writing.
Titus leaves you further up the mountain to a town and a facility that absolutely dwarfs the town of Vestige. Basically what this says is not only is the town less equipped than the devil riders, they are far outnumbered by them. This is a problem for two reasons.
- The town should have been beaten years ago. The devil riders could have demolished the town and pissed on the ashes by the time you show up.
- Bandits should never feasibly outnumber civilized people. Which means these either aren’t bandits and just an opposing faction that is more successful, or they cannot be bandits. This really doesn’t fit with the narrative they are telling.
Now Rose here was going to say something very important something along the lines of “I was going to ask you to join the devil riders” before the narrator interrupted to explain that I had decided to crash the party even though that had already been established. From talking with my SO apparently Rose was going to explain that she was going to ask us to join but we had come for the bounty so she couldn’t. I am sure you can figure out what is wrong here.
Titus now departs to go talk to Juno, who has clearly stated that he doesn’t trust and her newly gifted authority doesn’t make sense. I spent the next like 10 minutes killing three times the towns population in devil riders… Overall the fight was fun the level was awesome. It was good even. Moving on to the first Boss of the DLC Kormash.
He mentions something along the lines of “following the code” for our fight, like it is just something the people of this planet follow. We he thinks we should know what that means is lost on me, and why the people who wrote that dialogue put that in there is beyond me. Whether a huge amount of world building got cut, or someone just thought it sounded cool, but either way it comes off as random, and pointless. Moving on to Kormash himself, sweet character design, beefy guy with glowing tattoos, no immortal instagib disrupts, good job on his design. However this boss fight is really really lacking in mechanics and challenge. He punches the core which is pretty cool, but that is kind of it. He is squishy and he really doesn’t provide any real threat so meh. There is very little build up to this fight and then there is no real climax. It just kind of happens and is fairly forgettable. Now, this fight could have been made a lot more interesting and way better with very little effort. It is as simple as require the player to use the core against him in meaningful way. Something like to where it acts as a disrupt to a powerful attack or health recovery, or to where it staggers him to open up for a bunch of critical damage something like that. Make him a little tougher and make the fight a whole lot more interesting because as of now all it is, is shoot 'em 'til he dies, so he is just a bigger enemy with slightly more health, not a proper boss fight.
Now where this boos fight utterly fails is the context and build up to the boss fight. Now, let’s talk about Captain Flint. Captain Flint isn’t a revolutionary boss fight, but it is a solid boss fight. It is unique and even in UVH it can be somewhat challenging without a nonsense broken build. Regardless of the mechanics of his boss fight Captain Flint has a ton of build up. Claptrap’s stories about dodge the blow torch, and don’t get dunked in the pool of acid, give you an idea what his like. It is further elaborated on through him yelling at you through your echo, as well as the PA system. Overall the climb into his big ass dragon ship is a sweet experience. You know who Captain Flint is, and his role in the world of Pandora waaay before you ever fight him. He is brought up in increasing frequency and the boss fight is built up to a satisfactory climax. So who is Captain Flint:
He is the ruthless sadistic bandit leader of the Southern Shelf of Pandora. He enjoys torture, fire, and thrones. He is a big fan of money, hates claptrap (so not a bad guy really), and he lives on a big 'ol boat that was left in the sky after Pandora’s long winter came to an end.
Who is Kormash: He is a devil rider, Rose put him in charge of this bath house, he has tattoos that glow, and he really likes to take baths with hot water.
That’s it. This fight means nothing, it is just there. It is a minor blip on the flat line that is this DLC. This fight made me feel nothing, it was no challenge, and has no payoff. It is a box to check and nothing else. So, the boss fight isn’t great on a mechanics level, it is bad on a story level, the only saving grace is character design. At best I would consider this boss fight bland and pointless.
Moving on the golden fruit that he drops that allows you to proceed landed up in the ceiling so I couldn’t go on. The golden fruit opens a secret room (which didn’t need to be secret) with no more explanation than “every good hideout needs secret rooms!” Even though this place obviously was not constructed to be a hideout. Rose finally admits that “She should have killed you when she had the chance” which hey they finally at least acknowledged that whole part at the beginning didn’t make sense. The stone of course isn’t there because they can teleport it through space and time at virtually a moments notice, so duh? There is a member of the town that you find that was apparently being held prisoner so that he could “play a melody for the egg”. This is extremely dumb. This obviously means that the melody can be taught to others, which means they didn’t specifically need him since there is no way he is the only recorder player on gehenna or something. Even then he doesn’t still need to be alive, they could have forced him to do it once, recorded it, and then played it on a loop before turning him into a modern art painting. Even then there is no reason for him to still be alive as they are skipping town, he obviously will have picked up on some of what you are trying to do. You would either bring him, or put a bullet in him so that the people cannot use the melody he knows, or any other information he knows against you. He is literally just there to tell you that it is an egg and to point out some conveniently left behind documents for you, and they made up a piss poor explanation for why he was there. In addition the documents just being there is absolutely moronic, you would absolutely have kept or destroyed the documents exposing what your plan is and likely how to stop it. So in short, this whole thing is just another contrivance to keep the plot moving forward. Also if you look at the documents “the object emits immense amounts of heat and radioactive energy… Avoid prolonged exposure at all costs.” So the town had this death rock just sitting in the middle of town. If the town was using this thing to generate power or something, but it is just sitting there un-shielded in the middle of town. Everyone in that town should have been dead of acute radiation sickness. The war wouldn’t have lasted years, it would have lasted weeks as the entire town died off, and even then the population of the town wouldn’t have grown because of how dangerous this would have been for fetal development. The town should be a radioactive waste land. This is horrible, down right awful story telling. (BTW, radiation doesn’t make you grow a third arm, or glow, it just kills you.)
Now one of the laziest, most garbage, absolute no excuse vomit inducing things can be found right here in this section of the DLC. The 7 FPS, we paid 3 dollars on a stock image website, garbage fire animation. The glowy hole left by the death stone would look cool if it wasn’t full of the worst fire I have seen in a video game for a decade. This fire looks like the kind of ■■■■ that you would find in OG Playstation titles and even then you would be like “wow they really half ass-ed that. That is some bad fire.” This low quality garbage is unacceptable to be in the foreground of modern video game. If it was a part of a particle effect in the skybox, or waaay off in the distance, than whatever, but it is in your face and no one stopped and said, this look bad. The kicker is in the tittle screen of this game, you see a barrel filled with fire, and its animation is 100 times better than this no-budget feces. For Christ sake, the Fire Sale Long Musket exists. Give one of these a bottomless clip, put it below the map, and have it shoot continuously. Boom better fire animation. This DLC is low effort, low quality garbage.
So you get to vestige, it is a nice entrance to someone playing guitar and singing. I have heard it was good, but at this point I just want to get through this, so I will go ahead and assume it was the best song ever about how awesome I am and an A+ and move on. You enter the Sheriffs office and Titus and Juno are arguing about the badge. Thank God some people are reacting to things like people in the real world. If this argument didn’t exist this would make the DLC so much worse.At some point in it though Juno uses “That is what the bounty hunter said, and why would they lie?” and “why would I lie” was exactly my reaction to Juno asking me to prove that the sheriff is dead. So someone, somewhere in all of this ■■■■■■■■ does actually know what logic is. If only that logical voice had existed in 90% of this DLC I wouldn’t be spending my precious free time on this 8000 word expose. The argument eventually boils down to Titus making some good points about why Juno doesn’t deserve it and how illogical it is that she has the badge, and she essentially is just like meh, lets fight about it and the conversation ends. We give the documents to Juno, and explain what we found. Amara says “it’s and egg and the company created monster inside is the ruiner.” This is a blatant contradiction to the documents we just found which explain that it was excavated by the company. I don’t remember if all the vault hunters say this but Amara is either wrong or the documents are wrong.
The conversation is conveniently cut short by a devil rider attack, which Juno openly states “doesn’t make sense” Which it doesn’t. Rose knows we are coming for that ass so she would be consolidating troops and protecting key locations, not indiscriminately attacking with her forces. So I am assuming this is literally just here as a distraction? It serves no real purpose it just kind of happens. If it is jarring, it messes the pacing up, and just shouldn’t happen. The only thing I can think of is that they are trying to make it to where there are absolutely no points at which you are not shooting things so you can actually absorb the illogical plot.
Now when talking to Juno you call her sheriff and say “aw now don’t you call me that”. So why was she arguing with Titus about the badge? She obviously doesn’t want it, it clearly doesn’t suit her character, so why not just give it to Titus? Is she just a dick? Does she just want the power but none of the responsibility? This plot is nothing but illogical contradictions.
Another contridiction, from what Juno says the Devil Riders used to be proper bandits. They would just raid the town for supplies. However when Rose took over she wanted to destroy the town. So did Rose establish proper infrastructure for agriculture, medicine, and education for the devil riders so they could be their own society and stop needing the town or where they going to kill their food source? And if killing the town was their goal, and as I have already established the devil riders have more people and better weapons than the towns folk, than why is the town still around. It could have been wiped off the map within the past year easy, but it still exists? This is another contrivance, where the town is still alive because plot.
They try to add some character development here for Juno, but her entire backstory is generic and cliche. It has her suddenly grow a conscience with no explanation and no triggering events so it is artificial and meaningless. She is yet another bland generic character who means absolutely nothing to me.
OFF THE RAILS
So Juno who knows nothing about Rose’s plan, once again bringing into question why she would be a reasonable choice as sheriff, and sends the vault hunter to talk to an old woman in the Obsidian Forrest. I think the Obsidian Forest is incredible. I love the way it looks, the fauna, the core mines, the music, the use of god rays, everything. There are a few nit picks like, why are there Skag skulls if there are no skags, the plants are a little lazy and don’t look great, but overall I am a big fan of the design of the obsidian forest. We then meet Oletta.
Now Oletta says more about how the ruiner may be engineered by Jakobs which sort of further implies the documents we got were incorrect. We could get into theories about attempts at misinformation by Rose, but let’s just call it what it is: bad communication. The people actually making these in-game documents obviously were either not in the loop about what the story was, or what I think is far more likely, the levels and music was made, and then a story was written around it.
Moving on Oletta provides pretty much no information on the ruiner, and instead tells us about her menta gnats, aka mind control gnats. On a logical level these things make no sense. Agitating their plants would likely mean that they would mind control you rather than near by enemies, and even then logically they would serve only to pasify the creatures/people because it isn’t like everyone is conveniently carrying friend or foe transponders that the gnats are all carrying around. It doesn’t make sense on a logical level but on a gameplay level, it is fine, so I am going to let it slide. The thing I won’t let slide is how utterly worthless they are on mayhem 10. The generic baddies don’t do virtually any damage to each other for the gnats to have any real value, and I would suspect that this is pretty much the same on every difficulty. At the end of the day, shoot em til they die is far more of an effective method than bothering with them. For mind control to be worth time in video games your enemies need to be significantly stronger than you, or provide some key advantage, and in this they don’t. So it is a pointless mechanic. It doesn’t even progress the plot, it is just kind of there.
Moving on from this Oletta opens a door and says that Rose is loading a train full of core to hatch the ruiner, and then other than one side quest, she serves absolutely no role in the rest of the DLC. She is just kind of there. Another character who is there to be there. We know almost nothing about her, she has very little role in anything, she is just kind of there. Your average sanctuary citizen is only slightly less fleshed out than Oletta.
Skipping ahead a bit. You find the train being filled, blow up what is filling it up and Rose comes over the PA personally to say it already has enough and to move the train out. Plausible but nothing more than that. Some fetch questing later you finally get Rose’s first hint about why she wants to wake the ruiner. Something along the lines of taming Ghenna which is definitely just a mirroring of Jack’s motives in BL2. Unlike Jack who could reduce the planet to rubble and then pave over it, Rose doesn’t have Hyperion backing her, so I guess her goal is to destroy the planet… so that she has a destroyed planet? Even then she doesn’t even need the ruiner. She already has this ■■■■ on lock and releasing a giant beastie that just she can maybe control is a bit of a bad idea. Earlier in the game she even said that she could control the devils, but them taking a bite out of you was always still a risk. At the end of the day “I am going to finish what gran ma ma started” is a stupid motive. People don’t do that in real life.
After a bit of running around you finally get to the train tracks, throw some core bombs and blow it up. Train derails, and crashes, and we saved the day! But of course we didn’t because then how would you fight the ruiner?! You jump down into the train wreckage, fight a giant belik who they claim is a boss. Unlike Kormash I won’t even give them points on character design or anything else. it is just a big ass belik. This isn’t even worth recognizing as a boss fight. After this big enemy confrontation you talk to the conductor bleeding out on the ground you ask him where the train was going. He says"F-facility. Doesn’t matter now. Was the last shipment… You’re too late" This is the dumbest ■■■■ I have ever heard. If it was in fact the last shipment, than not only were we not too late, but we stopped it at the critical point. You could argue that “oh well maybe this was just extra that they were getting just in case”, but that is nothing more than an excuse for bad writing. They are mining this stuff, not just putting it on a train, so basically they were filling an entire train, and spending all of the labor and effort on it “just cause”? And even if that were true, that means Rose right this second already has plenty to get it done, which means she has probably has had it for weeks since you know they have to mine and refine enough of this to fill an entire God damn train?! This is Twilight levels of bad writing. Someone got paid money to write this garbage. There is fan fiction out there that no one got paid for that far surpasses the quality of this DLC and it befuddles me. This DLC’s story is beyond subpar, it is beyond unsatisfactory, it is one of if not the worst story in triple A gaming that I have seen, ever.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
Back in vestige, it looks like the giant belik i just killed has been mounted in the saloon. Not sure if that was always there or I just noticed it, but regardless of how that doesn’t make chronological sense, hey that’s pretty neat. It is back to the blast plains to talk to Juno, who gives you an echo upgrade so that you can now use the teleporters and access the facility. On a narrative level this doesn’t make a ton of sense, but on a gameplay level, it is fine so it gets a pass.
Juno elaborates on things a bit and I still don’t quite understand them. I think she was saying we could use a weapon to crack the egg, or maybe Rose was planning to use it to hatch the egg but I am still not quite positive which? Eh, I am tired and at this point I just want this to be over so moving on.
Bloodsun Canyon. Solid map design, creatures that are boring, lots of enemies that are exactly the same as the base game, blah blah. Same as obsidian forest and ashfall peak. Rock solid map, good use of portal mechanic, everything still manages to feel completely pointless and hollow. Moving on.
Story wise Juno is still mad at Titus, Rose is still talking about family legacies. We get to the big reveal of it being Jakobs. More things I can’t even put the effort into giving a crap happen and I find, but the world building is so lame that 99% of the explanations for anything are because core and because the company. This works for eridium and eridian technology because we know there is something behind it we are not being told. Core doesn’t have that so it is just a contrivance.
Rose bitches about how her grandma was smarter than the company, the narrator explains you through a jumping puzzle, and you get introduced to the quartermaster 7 seconds before you fight him. Exact same problem as Kormash, 0 meaning to me, melted him in 15 seconds fight over moving on.
This section was 15 minutes beginning to end for me. 15 minutes. At least it ended with THE COOLEST ■■■■■■■ BANG EVER! No one disagrees, that blast was ■■■■■■■ amazing. It doesn’t redeem anything, it simply stands as a monument to what could of been. Had they put this level of effort into everything in the DLC, this DLC could have been amazing.
RIDING TO RUIN:
Back in vestige Juno and Titus are fighting like cats and dogs as they should be when Juno mentions that she needs him to keep the peace. He acts like she just said that he is the only one that can win the Matrix or something. I am not going to waste the time bashing this scene because it is so insanely brief and it was an attempt at character development even though it was horribly executed and unrealistic.
The debris from the blast starts raining down after patiently waiting for Juno and I’s 3 sentence conversation to end. The devil riders are attacking… again… because? Rose should already have the ruiner at this point and the town is being bombarded with debris from the blast, so I guess she either just hates her men or has too many mouths to feed?
Juno goes down and Titus is now calling her sheriff because apparently he has the memory of the goldfish and got told that he was needed. He of course “saves her damn life” and now they best fwens. This is the absolute laziest, worst, most Vercuvian ham-fisted character development that I have ever seen in a form of media, ever. I have seen better character development in amateur porn. Really, it doesn’t even need to happen. We all work with someone we cannot stand. However you can put it aside like a professional and get the job done regardless. That is what real character growth looks like, not this Saturday morning cartoon garbage.
We start the ride, Juno and Titus still being all buddy buddy after their 10 second conversation and Titus “not letting Juno dying” which I am told, even though she had just been dropped to her knees and isn’t now in the hospital. You know so boo boo at best, air knocked out of her at worst. Titus and Juno are fondly remembering the narcissistic douche bag that was the sheriff, talking about how much the miss him. There is however one of the few jokes in this that I found amusing. Titus says he was born with guns in his hands and Juno comments “Your poor mother.” The game still doesn’t have any idea how to properly let a joke land so of course Titus ruins it with a needless explanation.
So we enter the crater. Remember that bad fire animation I was talking about earlier in the bath house? Well it is everywhere now, and very much in the foreground. It looks so god damn horrible that I was actively angry when playing this the first time. This level of incompetence and lack of quality control is unacceptable in a AAA title. There is no excuse for this at all and gearbox should be ■■■■■■■ ashamed of this. The person who put these animations in here now has a permanent monument to what a complete failure they are as an artist. I am leaving it here because the end boss fight didn’t even matter to me. I was fighting someone I didn’t care about who meant nothing to me an a big ass critter I didn’t care about because. I had no engament, no motive, nothing, and I had just had my eyes assulted with the sandpaper that was the fire.
This story is absolutely horrible. 4/10 is the most generous I could be.
So what is a DLC supposed to be? Well It is just more game but you have a lot of creative freedoms with DLC that Borderlands has especially taken advantage of. But in the president of previous Borderlands games it is to tell a new story, expand on existing characters, introduce new characters, and provide new end game content. Lets analyze this DLC in the context of Captain Scarlet and Her Pirate Booty. Both have a new vehicles, both rely on all new characters, and both rely on a unique aesthetic.
Captain Scarlet’s story was not revolutionary I would give it probably a C- at best, but what gave it strength was the characters. Shade was fun and completely out of his ■■■■■■■ mind. From his character design to his voice acting, his side quests etc. Shade was extremely memorable, and fun. No one in this DLC is like this. They have the depth of Oasis’s water supply, which is none because they don’t have any water! Shades corney jokes and things like that gave him so much personality that the characters in this just didn’t have and it was a total waste of potential.
However a dlc with a weak story can really shine in additional content. Captain Scarlet did this by adding TWO new raid bosses in addition to a new currency and a new weapon class, in addition they added a bunch of new iconic weapons like the sandhawk and the pimpernel! BoB added… um hold on… they added… the unkempt harold! wait no that was a weapon from BL2… They added about 15 new legendary weapons. About a third of those are totally broken, and most builds probably contain 2 weapons from this DLC. They added grav lifts! wait nope those were already in the game. They added the mind control! Wait no that was a mechanic that was already in the game. They added the teleporters and the core punching! Neither of which have a large impact on gameplay.
So if this DLC didn’t have a good story, and it didn’t have end game content, what did it have? THE ASTHETIC!! This is not an argument for something being good, this is an argument for something looking appealing. A cake can look amazing, but if the cake internally is made out of ■■■■ and tape worms it can have a beautiful aesthetic but you aren’t going to put that in your mouth. All this does is look like a western and fall into the same pitfalls as every bad western while failing to pick up on any of the good things westerns do. The sad part is it isn’t satirizing it and making fun of it, it is just doing it.
Other than that this DLC has a lot of crew challenges. You know those kind of things that Ubisoft is so good at in there poor quality sandboxes, that basically leads to increased game time for crazy people obsessed with busy work. That kind of content isn’t content, it is the illusion of content. It is a way of putting minimal effort in to get game play out of people who are compulsive box checkers.
- Excellent Level Design
- Great OST
- Zane impersonating Ember and saying “Fire solves many things”
- Everything related to characters or story
- An utter lack of end game content
- Boring Bosses
- The Animations
- Poor voice acting
- Poor world building
- Repetitive Enemies
- The lack good humor
Regardless of whether you enjoyed it, it was sloppy and low effort and gearbox both could and should have done better. My subjective opinion is that Bounty of Blood is a dumpster fire. But objectively I will just say
Bounty of Blood is Not Good