Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Borderlands 2: Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage

Review: Borderlands 2 'Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage'

2:00 PM on 11.30.2012 // Joseph Leray

Torgue Time

[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, the writer of Borderlands 2, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

The best downloadable content, in my experience, serves as a low-risk workshop to spitball and prototype new ideas. Sometimes those ideas pop up later in, say, sequels: it’s impossible to get from Dragon Age: Origins to Dragon Age II, for example, without incorporating some of the mechanics first introduced in Dragon Age: Awakenings.

Or sometimes, DLC is a way to meet fan demands, to raise a level cap or introduce a weapons storage system into a loot-driven RPG. It’s a way to explore new areas of a game’s story or universe, or to fill in the gaps of some expository history.

It’s also, I guess, a way to sell horse armor, alternate outfits, and snake oil to unsuspecting consumers.

But the long view of the two Borderlands 2 DLC campaigns to date will show that Captain Scarlett and her Pirate Booty and the more recent Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage are addressing the fundamental question of what kind of franchise Borderlands wants to be.

Borderlands 2: Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage: (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Developer: Gearbox Software, Triptych Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Release: November 20, 2012
MSRP: $9.99 / 800 Microsoft Points 

Borderlands is, by and large, about math, about procedurally generating things by filling in certain categories with certain values -- fire rates, monetary value, drop percentages. This happens largely in conjunction with other designs inherited first from PC role-playing games and then from MMORPGs.

Loot drops -- in addition to boss farming -- have been a huge part Borderlands’ continued success, the games’ internal random number generator driving players ever onward in search of the perfect gun or grenade mod. Torgue tokens, a new currency introduced by the Campaign of Carnage, changes that: you can now buy legendary, orange-level weapons right out of a vending machine.

Torgue tokens are randomly dropped by powerful enemies, but they’re also rewarded to industrious Vault Hunters for completing missions. It takes 613 to buy a legendary, Torgue-brand weapon.

The key here, though, is that these missions are short and repeatable. Under the right circumstances, you could grind out enough tokens for a legendary weapon in under an hour, which negates the need to farm these weapons from bosses elsewhere. With a little bit of dedication, anyone can have access to some of the best weapons in the game. The thrill of having the procedural stars align is gone, in favor of a flatter, more predictable system.

This shift actually started in Captain Scarlett, with the introduction of Seraph Crystals and instanced raid bosses, but the concept is the same. Scarlett featured two optional, end-game bosses that a. dropped special crystals that could be traded for Seraph-level guns and b. could only be fought once per day. It takes between a week and ten days to farm for one Seraph gun. (Incidentally, the Campaign of Carnage introduces a new raid boss, Pyro Pete the Invincible, who also drops Seraph Crystals.)

Carnage’s new currency stands out even more because it’s so much easier to use -- the grindable missions are short and don’t have that awful one-boss-per-day instance limitation that Gearbox mind-blowingly placed on Captain Scarlett’s best equipment. The democratization of Borderlands’ loot drops reimagines some of its guiding principles and introduces the possibility for grinding that was never achievable before. It trades luck for patience.

There’s an entire meta-economy of farmers, hoarders, looters, dupers, and modders that ply in the trade of Pandoran weapons, and they’ve had a tiny piece of rug pulled out from under them. The Torgue tokens don’t really affect how fun the Campaign of Carnage missions are or how funny the writing is, but it’s an important shift in the dynamics of the series.

As Brendan Keogh points out, the guns in Borderlands have as much -- if not more -- character and variation as the humanoids do. Each one has a certain feel, independent of the complex calculus that spawned it. If you’re a Torgue loyalist, the easy access to explosive legendaries makes the Campaign of Carnage an easy choice. The same can be said for anyone specced to maximize explosive damage like, say, a Gunpowder-tree Axton player.

The main Borderlands 2 story was generally well-balanced, mixing stupid violence with somewhat characterized, intentional action, but Campaign of Carnage shifts to pure bloodsport: the eponymous Torgue has organized a deathmatch to find Pandora's "number one badass," for whom a new Vault will open. Without characters like Roland and Lillith to balance things, Torgue becomes the tonal center of the story, and Campaign of Carnage wallows in his meatheaded machismo.

It’s not that script or delivery aren’t funny (they are), it’s that Torgue tells the same joke over and over, a joke that was already a large part of Borderlands’ goofy aesthetic. Where Captain Scarlett felt like Borderlands wrapped in a fresh theme, guided by Scarlett’s coquettishness, the Campaign of Carnage feels like re-treaded ground.

The arid desert landscape that surrounds Torgue’s Badass Crater of Badassitude doesn’t help that perception -- we get it, Pandora is a blighted wasteland -- nor does the reappearance of Moxxi, Tiny Tina, Scooter, and Sir Hammerlock. The dearth of new enemy types -- and one of the tournament’s bosses is just an Ellie re-skin -- drives it home.

Again, Captain Scarlett worked because it introduced new characters and new types of places to explore, even while it remained mechanically identical to the main game; the Campaign of Carnage struggles in the same places.

This is surprising for a campaign that goes out of its way to be self aware -- the tournament is structured as a “leaderboard,” and Torgue admits to spoiling plot twists and massaging the results to “maintain dramatic tension” for the televised event. One early sidequest tasks you with hunting down and mudering ECHOnet game reviewers who panned some of Torgue's favorites.

The tournament structure only reinforces the weaknesses of Borderlands’ MMO-derived, nested fetch-quests: it’s easy to justify all sorts of things when you’re saving the world, but being Torgue’s errand boy is harder to swallow. In other words, petty sidequests feel normal as part of Borderlands' vibrant, sprawling world, but they feel out of place in what's supposed to be a focused, structured event like Torgue's badass tournament.

Still, fans of the series who have come this far won’t be surprised that the quest structure has remained largely unchanged. Indeed, repetition is part of Borderlands’ and its DLC’s appeal, like slipping into a worn t-shirt. There is a certain rhythm to life in the borderlands, and the Campaign of Carnage falls in step right away.

Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage features some strong boss setpieces, but the real highlights are its arena fights and a new, dingy urban area north of the Crater called the Beatdown. The arena sections pit different factions against one another, and these different groups will fight amongst themselves if left alone. These fights are timed, though, forcing players to act more aggressively than they’re perhaps used to. It’s a small, subtle shift, but the added pressure of the time limit pays dividends.

The Beatdown is a densely packed favela, all twisty alleys, rooftop-sniping and dead-end cul-de-sacs -- it reminds me most of Old Haven from the original Borderlands. Given that so much of Pandora is open and flat, the skirmishes, choke points, and ambushes of the game’s urban zones are always a treat.

In both the Beatdown and the various arenas, each encounter and firefight is smoothly paced and takes advantage of the game’s level design. It’s a shame there aren’t more of both in the Campaign as a whole.

For anyone deeply invested in Borderlands’ loot design, Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage is the most recent (and comparatively large) step toward shifting away from random number generation as a guiding tool. For everyone else, it’s a competent addition with a few bright spots that won’t make as much of an impact as Mr. Torgue’s own speedfreak sensibilities. And that’s the grand irony of this DLC -- Torgue is just funny enough to emerge as one of Borderland 2’s standout personalities among a pantheon of eccentrics, but not dynamic enough to support an entire story arc, his thirteen pecs enthusiasm notwithstanding.



Borderlands 2: Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage - Reviewed by Joseph Leray
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Joseph Leray, Former Features Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Joseph Leray is a long-time features contributor, reviewer, and (self-styled) editor-at-large for Destructoid. He lives in Nashville with a menagerie of pets and a Final Fantasy IX obsession. more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Borderlands 2: Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

Sharp cut Digital Flatbed Cutter | Sharpcut Flatbed Cutters

Things I'm Thankful For

Cblogs of 11/25/15 + Turkey N Stuff

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 73: Stay Classy

NVGR: Updated Album "ADBC" (No longer an EP)

Fun2Play: Downwell

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Lawman avatarLawman
Black Friday is getting to me. All these games I kinda, maybe want that are at anywhere between respectable and deep discounts, but I'm not sure if I want to bite. I'm wondering if Godzilla's worth $12? After checking review scores, I'm not sure.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Mission complete![IMG][/IMG]
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Black Friday slowly seems to creep its way onto Continental Europe, but I'm not complaining! I managed to get my grubby little paws on a new physical copy of The Wonderful 101 for €20! Thanks, America!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Since I missed yesterday, I am going to do something a little different today. Are there any questions you would like to ask me for a change? If so, please feel free. I may add a second Community Question later today, as well.
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Isn't PES 2016 Free-to-Play model just the demo with extra crap thrown in?
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Damn Gumo, you cold as fuck. [img][/img]
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
While partially responsible for one of the biggest jokes in the metal, Cold Lake by Celtic Frost, Curt Bryant is doing the soundtrack to the game Slain!. I'm digging the shitty garage band vibe.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
How is the Lightening thread STILL GETTING COMMENTS!?!?!? P.S. I am trying to make Chex Mix, but we lost my special recipe I custom designed. sucks man.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Got a deal on a Surface Pro 3 model that I wanted. Now I just need a deal on a PS TV in Canada and I'm golden.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
If you in the UK, don't have a PS4 and don't mind buying used/display goods there's a few reconditioned PS4 (12 month warranty) on amazon for £199.
SirDavies avatarSirDavies
my dilemma this black friday is a PS4 for bloodborne and little else or like half the games on my steam wishlist. I know in my heart which one I'm going to pick.
El Dango avatarEl Dango
"You had all the lasagna you could ever eat, yet you kept going!" "This isn't about the lasagna anymore, Jon, and I didn't come this far just to quit! Tonight, I'm making sure my name will go down in history!"
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Got DeSu2 Break Record from GS' Black Friday sale ($29.99). Love the Arrange CD. It's been far too long since I heard Meguro do something that wasn't tied to Persona. Also grabbed an extra copy of Freedom Wars since they were $5.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Haven't been around a few days. Getting over a cold and working on a review for Superbeat: Xonic on Vita. Starting to feel better, I think / hope.
inspavo avatarinspavo
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
So I'm almost done with my first play through of Undertale and... It's okay. It's in no way bad (and I'm enjoying it more than Fallout 4 which in also playing) but feel... It was overhyped I suppose? Not sure really... Maybe a second play though will help
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Sometimes I wonder why I care. To simply have more vitriol and misery as my reward, to suffer ingrates and fools. That in all I do I'm never afforded the same respect or kindness. Let it be then, and let pain follow. I'm done with this shit.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
I was telling this dead baby joke at dinner tonight, and this lady I don't recognize says, "I'm sorry. That joke isn't funny to me, I have two dead children." At this point, I went over my options in my head and settled with telling her the joke twice.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I really wish the slowpokes at Microsoft would add Forza Horizon to Xbox One backwards compatibility.... It's my favorite racing game. And the soundtrack is honestly flawless.
Parismio avatarParismio
Some green tea and Mario Kart w/ family is a great way to end the day.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -