As a fan of Borderlands I was thrilled to see The Pre-Sequel get a piece of DLC that was an actual campaign expansion and not just another playable character or a “circle of slaughter” arena. I’ve already mentioned before that I was pretty disappointed in the way the season pass and four pieces of DLC for the The Pre-Sequel were marketed in a way that mimicked the previous expansions for Borderlands 1 and 2. The reason this marketing was disappointing is that it was passively misleading, looking like 4 campaign DLC expansions, but was instead two extra characters, a circle of slaughter, and only one campaign expansion. While the Claptastic expansion is good and adds 10 more levels to the level cap, Ultimate Vaulter Mode is plagued with enemy leveling problems and xp pacing issues. So the Claptastic DLC adds to the story and level cap, but is attached to a game that sullies the extra levels with poor pacing and sloppy development in the third playthrough. And then this final DLC finishes its own story with lazy over powered boss fights.
Looks amazing, but why bother?
I have to commend the creative team that came up with the idea and execution of the Claptastic DLC. It reminded me of the Blood Dragon DLC for Far Cry 3 with its bizarro addition to the franchise and Tron-like color scheme and music. The new weapons are also a very cool and innovative addition to the Borderlands universe as they glitch and change in appearance offering different buffs and effects with each graphical change. Unfortunately, as I already stated above, this DLC raises the level cap to 70, which means most people will be engaging with it in UVHM, the third playthrough, with characters in the mid to high 50’s.
UVHM is when the Pre-Sequel really rears its ugly and underdeveloped head. My wife and I started the third go around at level 48 and skipped only side missions with blue mission items. If you are unfamiliar with Borderlands, on the third playthrough all missions, reward items, and enemies scale to your level. This means that if you wait to accept side missions with unique reward items, you can receive them at the level cap. So I like to wait until I hit the highest level before going back through and accepting them. When we finally beat the final boss on UVHM we had only leveled from 48 to 54. So after playing through every single story mission, killing hundreds of enemies, and even farming a few bosses as well as the Holodome, we only managed to level up six times. This turns what used to be the best part of Borderlands, your last run through, into a boring and slow slog in a game already hampered by slow pacing. That is why I say, “Why bother?” with one of the most creative and innovative pieces of Borderlands DLC to date.
The worst part about this DLC is that I decided, “You know what, it looks amazing and the weapons are cool, who cares if I’m not max level, I will just play for the experience.” I hate to inform you that the final bosses of this DLC are nothing more than cheap bullet sponges with at least one major design flaw when fighting Eclipse, the second phase of the final boss. If you want to watch my video where I give you a brief run through of what happened to me in the second phase of the boss fight with gameplay footage and commentary just click here. The first phase was a ridiculously frustrating encounter where Shadow-Trap just stands there, taking clip after clip of massive amounts of electric damage, and then once his shield drops to a certain threshold he just teleports and gets it all back if you don’t find him in time. If you are by yourself this fight is basically impossible as you can rarely find him fast enough to stop him from getting his entire shield back. Bear in mind it takes forever just to get his shield to halfway, which is typically when he would teleport and spawn fake versions of himself giving him plenty of time to regenerate full shields. It’s like a frustrating bout with deja-vu as you do the same thing over and over, only to have all your damage reset in the blink of an eye.
I actually managed to beat the first phase with some people from my twitch stream and the final phase, EOS, with a few other guys from the stream as well. However, neither of those engagements were fun or exciting as Shadow-Trap just soaked in damage like a sponge and EOS just slowly moved back and forth reigning down high damage while we slowly picked at his health from far away. The most frustrating part about the middle phase, Eclipse, is that he actually moves around and could be an exciting fight. Admiral Bahroo had great success and actually had a pretty intense fight with him. But as I point out in my video, he is using the Doppelganger, and his deployed Jacks attract almost all of the agro, meaning Bahroo gets hit by almost none of the insta-death rocket barrages. So this is one of those boss fights where one character type has a huge advantage. My recommendation in my video is that you should either go in with 4 people and split up, preparing for a long and death filled fight where you try to keep at least one living person in the arena, or use a character with deployables like Jack or Willhelm. And be aware of the major design flaw in the shield protecting Eclipse from being shot form where you spawn as it doesn’t protect you. There are numerous times in my video where you see this in action, but absent from the video are the countless times where we died right next to the spawning station.
Brace for impact
As a self-professed huge Borderlands fan, this is doubly frustrating because it’s the last piece of DLC in the franchise until Borderlands 3 comes out. This is a horribly embarrassing way to land the plane of a massive platform that has an insane amount of content, replayability, and class. If you get The Handsome Collection, my recommendation still stands: play The Pre-Sequel first because it is a good game with fun and creative character classes and a great story arc. Just don’t waste your time with the third playthrough. Stay in True Vault Hunter mode, and enjoy the Claptrap DLC, and once you get to the boss fights, proceed with caution, because they just might put a bad taste in your mouth. Then jump into Borderlands 2, make numerous characters, max them out, play all the DLC, and come to raid boss runs with me on my twitch stream. I kept saying on my stream, and I’ll say it here, don’t let any of this shade what you think of the Borderlands franchise. In the grand scheme of things it’s a very small slice of the pie when you look at all of the content available to you. My hope is that the original Borderlands game gets ported since Randy Pitchford has hinted at the possibility numerous times and The Handsome Collection sales are more than enough proof that fans want the game on next-gen. Then the lasting memory of Borderlands on the new systems will be of the original, gritty, and content-heavy classic that made so many of us life time fans of the franchise instead of this Claptastic sloppy mess.
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