Claptrap’s Crap Trap

I’ve got a thing for Borderlands, despite its flaws, this is a game that still pulls me back to Pandora today (granted there were other factors – waiting for a plumber to fix the shower that broke after waiting for someone to fix the boiler that broke, I had to find something to do while I waited).

I’ve been to Borderlands’ “Dead Haven”, a re-skinned bluey-green version of “Old Haven” for the Zombie Island of Doctor Ned DLC. I’ve killed skags, I’ve killed midgets, and I’ve killed midgets riding skags. I’ve contended with the strange waypoint system that generally favours sending you to the farthest objective away, so you spend the maximum amount of time knackering the analogue stick running around in circles.

So from a mix of boredom and curiosity, I decided to buy the latest DLC: Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution. It only took 15 minutes to download and install, which was great compared to last time. What really miffed me though is that despite this being the latest DLC, 2K don’t expect the players to be a higher level. Do they not expect them to have completed previous DLC packages and levelled up with them?

I have one character on level 69 (I stopped playing as soon as I hit max level). However, I have two characters who are level 51. I loaded up a 51 and teleported to Tartarus Station to start the Claptrap DLC. I accepted the first quest. It was listed as “trivial” – which means it is too low for your character level. I quit. I loaded up and selected Playthrough 2 instead, hoping this might bump everything up. I accepted the first quest again. It was still trivial.

Never mind, I thought, perhaps after doing a few trivial quests the difficulty will pick up.

I’ve done a few – and it still hasn’t. I killed a boss by shooting in his face for two seconds. I ran around in obligatory circles, backwards and forwards as the map wished me to, picking things up, and retracing my steps to hand in another trivial quest. All the loot dropped was obviously absolutely useless to my higher level character. Every locker, toilet and box is filled with ammo for weapons I do not use, or money that has sat completely dormant in the game for quite some time. Every area in this particular DLC is covered with loot crates and lockers, filled with money, ammo, and bad weapons. I tend to stray into every little alcove in case something valuable is hidden away there. It never is. It’s just more money that I have no use for, or low level enemies that die as soon as they see me.

But above all, there were three things that put an end to this strange love affair:

1. I had a boss fight against General Knoxx. Yes, again. Every boss in this game, despite hiding behind a fierce and/or visually impressive facade, is killed by standing and shooting it in the face, like an oversized grunt. I’m not a fan of the idea that it’s OK to copy and paste a boss to create another boss, especially since I’ve paid extra money for it. Surely a boss fight is an opportunity to try and set up a challenge? Make something new and interesting and make you go “Wow!”

Oh, it's you again

Seeing General Knoxx again did make me go “wow”, but was more of a “wow, seriously?”. I stood in one spot, threw down my turret, and shot him in the face repeatedly for about 20-30 seconds. Knoxx didn’t move much either and I think he only tried to shoot me twice. I looked around and there were some Claptrap robots punching me in the leg, I suppose this is the Claptrap theme “kicking in”.

2. Vehicles, or lack of. Surely as the latest DLC, this is adding on end game content to players who have completed the main game, and/or other DLC. The main game has vehicles so you can get around much faster. General Knoxx’s DLC does, too. So why doesn’t this? There are plenty of wide empty roads, as though the areas were built with vehicles in mind, but instead I am forced to squash the analogue stick and jog everywhere. I don’t understand why.

3. Area design. This is a harder one to explain, because I think the environments look fantastic, I like the cartoon-ish style, the big, dusty landscapes and sparse, imposing buildings. Borderlands has a strong theme and I’m always intrigued to step into a new area and explore every nook and cranny (even if it’s full of useless junk) but travel feels so awkward. This problem is emphasised by the lack of vehicles or fast travel stations – it’s like the game enjoys forcing you to go the long way round.

I explored a cave where referring to the map was completely useless – walls were made of a few scarce dotted lines and perhaps jokingly, but more frustratingly, a question mark. I felt as though I spent 20 un-enjoyable minutes longer inside that dark, dingy cave  than I should have, because no-one wanted to create a map that might help me.

Another gripe was leaving the town to go to said cave. Borderlands shows you which direction to go in, in order to reach an objective. It’s a compass which does not account for obstacles, dead ends, or height, which has lead me to confusion in the past.

Being in a new area, this was the route I took.

I hit a huge impassable wall. Obviously the exit over this wall has to be as far away from my objective as possible. Would it really be that horrible to put an elevator somewhere? Or a tunnel? Or stairs?

Apparently so.

Well, my shower is fixed now. That’s six pounds I won’t see again – but I’m still psyched for a sequel, just as long as 2K create an on-screen minimap, allow more than one objective to be tracked at a time, and for the love of god don’t make me fight General Knoxx YET AGAIN.





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