Borderlands 2 Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt DLC review: Endgame-ered species

borderlands 2 sir hammerlocks big game hunt dlc heads to new lands with threats  preview 1

With each new downloadable content drop from Gearbox Software for Borderlands 2, it becomes increasingly clear that the dev team wants to evolve the endgame. High-level, co-op-focused Seraph Guardian bosses have been the standard since they were introduced in the first DLC pack, but Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt – the third of four announced story-expanding DLC packs – is the first to actually depend on players having reached the latest stages of the vanilla adventure across Pandora. You can visit the new Hunter’s Grotto location as soon as the pack is installed, but the story that unfolds from there is designed as a sort of epilogue to Handsome Jack’s defeat.

Big Game Hunt starts out, as the title suggests, with a hunting trip that the Vault Hunters set out on with Sir Hammerlock. The journey takes you to the Pandoran continent of Aegrus, an exotic land that Gearbox claims was inspired by King Kong‘s Skull Island. The dark and gloomy environments offer a refreshing change of pace compared to the bright and colorful Borderlands 2 locations that we’ve visited so far. Aegrus is a vast stretch of land, characterized by fog-shrouded skies, imposing cliff faces, and an extensive network of caves and caverns that offer shelter to a diverse mix of indigenous life.

Aegrus is a hostile environment, throwing up a variety of challenges familiar and unfamiliar. Guns tend to be the focus of things in Borderlands, for understandable reasons, but Big Game Hunt takes the commendable step of offering an assortment of new beasties and humanoids to point your arsenal at. The most common of these new enemies are the Aegran savages. Like Bandits, they come in multiple flavors, ranged and melee, regular and Badass (and Super Badass and Ultimate Badass, ‘natch). The savage that you’ll immediately learn to fear the most, however, is the Witch Doctor.

borderlands 2 continues to evolve with news of a level cap bump third playthrough option  sir hammerlocks big game hunt 1

Witch Doctors double as both an offensive powerhouse and a support role. They too, come in different flavors. Paralyzing Witch Doctors are able to slow the movement of nearby Vault Hunters to a crawl. Shock Witch Doctors hit you with lightning. You get the idea. All of them also possess some additional skills, including the ability to summon more savages to the battlefield, to heal themselves and other allies,  and to level up the abilities of any savages on the field. You run into these guys frequently in Big Game Hunt, often more than one at a time, and they always throw up a challenge.

This speaks to the larger focus of the new DLC: offering players who have hit Borderlands 2‘s endgame a stiff challenge outside of the walled-off Seraph Guardian arenas. Enemy spawns in Aegrus are often close enough to one another that you can easily find yourself fighting an unmanageable horde of baddies. Between the savages, the scorpion-like Scaylions, the stalker-meets-bear Boroks, the spider-like Drifters (back from the original Borderlands!), and the assorted familiar creatures from the vanilla game, there’s a whole lot of hideous death waiting to be found, especially after you factor in the new Seraph Guardian (Voracidous the Invincible) and the towering hidden Drifter boss, Decidous the Invincible.

Giving a sense of purpose to this renewed focus on challenging play is a whole new selection of quests. The five-mission central storyline is shorter in length than the two previous DLC stories, though each task you’re given takes more time to complete than your average Borderlands quest. It’s all worth it too, thanks to a memorable (and hilarious!) final boss encounter and an extremely generous treasure room. Most of the sidequests are built around the idea of hunting rare animals, and while many offer cool twists on what could have easily been rote “go here, kill this” exercises, they also suffer from the same lousy checkpointing that plagues the entire game. With few visual indicators pointing out where some animal track or another is, it’s often frustrating to get some of these quests started.

borderlands 2 continues to evolve with news of a level cap bump third playthrough option  sir hammerlocks big game hunt

Big Game Hunt also adds a new vehicle in the form of a Fan-Boat, which features a few optional secondary turrets, including the new, short-range flamethrower. The new vehicle isn’t terribly useful in the grand scheme. You’ll invariably end up using it far less than you did the Sand Skiff in the first Captain Scarlett DLC. This is mostly due to the fact that many Aegran locations aren’t actually vehicle-friendly. There’s also the issue of the environment being so deadly that you’ll frequently find yourself stumbling away from the ruins of your freshly destroyed Fan-Boat.

Generally speaking, Gearbox continues to struggle with inserting new mobility options into Borderlands 2 DLC. In Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage, the misstep was introducing a new vehicle – a motorcycle – that players couldn’t actually ride in the drive-friendly environments. In Big Game Hunt it’s an issue of space, much as it was in Captain Scarlett. It’s fun to drive a new vehicle, but between these add-on rides being restricted to DLC locations and the limited amount of road space there is to explore, the Fan-Boat (and its Sand Skiff predecessor) just doesn’t feel like it adds much to the experience. It’s a minor misstep, and one that you get the sense is an aspect of a larger work-in-progress.

Conclusion 

The Borderlands 2 DLC released so far has been solid, if unexceptional, but content like the Seraphs and the upcoming level cap bump suggests that Gearbox is working with the long game in mind. Not every idea works in Big Game Hunt, but it embraces the same sense of experimentation that the previous content offerings did. As the balance shifts more in the direction of the endgame with this third DLC, you can start to get a sense of how the developer hopes to turn your 100 hours of investment into 1,000 hours. Just like the rest of the DLC released so far, this one is 100-percent for the fans. If you want more Borderlands 2, you can get it right here with Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt.

(This DLC was reviewed on the Xbox 360 via a copy provided by the publisher)

Product Review

The Division 2 brings the most fun we've ever had to Washington, D.C.

After 55 hours with The Division 2, it’s clear that Ubisoft has improved on the original in almost every way. The world is richly detailed, the story missions are wonderful, gunplay and enemy design are great, and the endgame content is…
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Gaming

Sony to launch State of Play videos for PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR

Sony will debut a new video program named State of Play on March 25. The first episode will focus on new PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR games, and it remains to be seen if Sony will tease the PlayStation 5.
Gaming

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild bug lets Link ignore temperature effects

A newly discovered bug in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild allows players to max out both hearts and stamina. The glitch also disables temperature effects such as the heat of Death Mountain and the cold of Hebra.
Gaming

Report: Nintendo will release two new Switch models in 2019

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Nintendo will unveil two new Switch models at E3 and release them this year. One of the models will target hardcore gamers, while the other will be budget friendly.
Gaming

Twitch streamer somehow beats Bloodborne, all the souls games without getting hit

A Twitch streamer named The Happy Hob has managed to play through all Dark Souls games, Demon's Souls, and Bloodborne in a row without getting hit a single time. He has been attempting the feat for months.
Gaming

Here are the best items a Shinobi should buy in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a brutally challenging game that requires persistent focus and a lot close calls with death. You can make things a bit easier on yourself with by purchasing important items from vendors.
Gaming

Here’s everything you need to know about MLB The Show 19

MLB The Show 19 launches on PlayStation 4 on March 26. If you're interested in finding out what's new in the latest iteration of the annual baseball sim, we've got all the details, from new gameplay mechanics to Road to the Show changes.
Gaming

Newegg slashes prices on PS4 accessories and AAA games like Anthem

Newegg is currently offering big savings on a number of games for PS4 and Xbox One, including Anthem, Metro Exodus, The Division 2, and Kingdom Hearts 3. Accessories including headsets are also on sale.
Gaming

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.
Gaming

Fortnite World Cup kicks off April 13 with $1 million in weekly prizes

The Fortnite World Cup kicks off on April 13 with the start of Online Opens for solo play. $1 million in weekly prizes will be awarded during the Online Open Finals, so get practicing!
Gaming

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC