Gearbox Software is committed to delivering significant chunks of DLC for Borderlands 2 fans and Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty, the first of four promised packs, set the bar high. The follow-up, Mister Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage, represents a little bit of a backwards step. While it’s still something I’d recommend to any fan because, at the end of the day it’s “more Borderlands,” the content in this new campaign expansion is less impactful and misses a lot of golden opportunities to further expand on the core game.
Campaign of Carnage sends Vault Hunters to the new Badass Crater of Badassitude location, where yet another vault has been discovered for treasure hunters to scour. Unfortunately, vaults are a pretty popular thing on Pandora these days and everyone with a gun and a set of balls wants a crack at collecting the treasures locked away inside it. That’s where the titular CEO comes in: Mister Torgue is a muscular, explosion-loving meathead who basically amounts to “Macho Man” Randy Savage (R.I.P.) with a sociopathic streak. He comes up with the idea of pitting prospective Vault Hunters against one another in a series of arena battles; the last person standing becomes the lucky looter.
You might read this and think that Campaign of Carnage offers a new twist on the previous game’s Mad Moxxi DLC. And you’d be wrong. While the narrative is built around pitting you against the folks ahead of you on Mister Torgue’s leaderboard, the framework remains pretty standard for Borderlands 2 in that you’re presented with a series of “Story Missions” that serve to advance the plot. This isn’t a knock against the DLC at all, it’s simply a fact. There are some arena battle missions in Campaign of Carnage, but the structure of the unfolding story is pretty much the standard for this series.
It’s a fun story too. Your task isn’t as simple as facing off against the higher-ranked combatants. All need to be drawn out and impressed into fighting you by your blood-spilling actions. In fact, the mission variety in Campaign of Carnage is back to where it was in vanilla Borderlands 2. At one point, you’ll need to start a barroom brawl. Another calls for racing against time around a paved racetrack; admittedly a bit of a misstep, but a noble attempt at the very least. The fundamentally great run-and-gun shooting is still at the heart of the action, but the circumstances that bring you to each new encounter feel undeniably fresh.
That same praise goes for the characters as well, with a mix of newcomers and returning favorites marked by the same high standard of writing that Borderlands 2 boasted. Fans will most definitely be happy to see Tiny Tina show up again, especially since she’s still the same murderous misfit that she was before. Mister Torgue is also welcome as a constant companion, with his hyperbolic speech patterns and overbearing demeanor casting him as the most hilarious of dudebro send-ups. Other new characters are equally memorable, especially those who fill out the ranks of the leaderboard that the story has you climb through.
Unfortunately, for all of the hits that Campaign of Carnage brings, there are an awful lot of misses as well. So many missed opportunities, in fact, that you have to wonder if Gearbox wasn’t working on a deadline to get this DLC out by a certain date. One example: the new environments are brimming over with motorcycle-riding bandits, but there isn’t any kind of new vehicle — motorcycle or otherwise –to be found. Or how about the fact that the main feature of the Badass Crater of Badassitude is a giant arena, but there’s no Mad Moxxi’s Underdome-like “arena mode” to be found, either before or after you complete the story.
The new dangling carrot comes in the form of Torgue Tokens, a type of currency that can be spent at Torgue-only weapon machines found all over the DLC’s maps (as well as a new set of slot machines). You’ll get these from the assorted story missions and sidequests as well as random enemy drops at roughly the same rate that you see Eridium. The tokens are best saved and spent on the gold “Legendary” weapons that are always featured in every Torgue machine’s Item of the Day slot. It takes awhile though, with gold-quality items costing a whopping 600+ tokens.
Campaign of Carnage also adds a single new raid boss for endgame players to tackle, which amounts to one less than the two that were featured in Captain Scarlett. No spoilers, but the new level 50 super-boss adds some interesting wrinkles that were touched on in Master Gee the Invincible but feel more developed here. The final story boss is also pretty farm-worthy, offering a level of challenge that falls close to but isn’t quite on par with the game’s raid bosses. All of this, of course, is part of the eternal pursuit in Borderlands for more loot. The new once-per-day raid boss drops Seraph crystals just like his two DLC predecessors, and you’ll want to hoard those to buy the pink Seraph class weapons
Once again, Borderlands 2‘s latest DLC offering is a highly recommended outing for any fan, even if that recommendation is slightly less emphatic than it was for DLC1. Gearbox seems to be using these content packs as test chambers for trying out new ideas, and the continually evolving endgame in Borderlands 2 remains the most compelling aspect of those efforts. Mister Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage may take fewer chances, but it’s still more Borderlands. And for that, fans can be thankful.