[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.]
Another holiday is upon us, which means another Borderlands 2 Headhunter pack. Previously, we celebrated Halloween with T.K. Baha's Bloody Harvest, Thanksgiving with The Horrible Hunger of the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler, and Christmas with How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day. This time around, Mad Moxxi teaches us a thing or two about love with the Wedding Day Massacre, just in time for Valentine's Day.
The basic idea here is largely the same: for a few dollars you get one new area, two new missions, an easter egg or two, and new cosmetic customization options for your preferred Vault Hunter. Among those constants throughout the Headhunter series, the most notable variables in play are the choice of which characters to focus on and the dialogue and interactions resulting from that choice. For Wedding Day Massacre, Gearbox chose wisely.
Borderlands 2 Headhunter 4: Mad Moxxi and the Wedding Day Massacre (Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Release: February 11, 2014
Another thing that this piece of downloadable content does differently than the previous entries in the series is in the narrative setup. Where the others drop the Vault Hunters into the new area, introduce the big bad boss, and task players with killing said boss, Wedding Day Massacre begins with a tale of unlikely love. In an attempt to end the clan war between the Hodunks and the Zafords that came to a head through a sidequest in the base game, Moxxi wants the Vault Hunters to help love blossom between members of the feuding families.
As a result, it is not immediately obvious who the main target is, and the narrative feels more realistic than those found in previous Headhunter packs. Without spoiling too much, there is a more interesting story arc here than the "find the bad guy, kill the bad guy" formula, but despite that, it still ends in a boss battle that comes about through clever use of Borderlands lore.
Comedy is more densely packed here than in some of the other Headhunter packs as well. In addition to a few spoken jokes and scripted sequences, there are visual gags worthy of a few laughs alone, including the sight of a crying Goliath baby (who Ellie wants to sacrifice). Still, most of the comedy is in the dialogue. The writing here is among the better work in Borderlands 2, and it includes some Valentine-themed commentary, including digs on negging and the fallacy that persistence wins hearts.
However, one of the smartest things done with the writing is to focus not only on Moxxi, Ellie, and InnuendoBot 5000, but also to give a few choice lines to the Vault Hunters themselves. After playing through the short campaign with Salvador and hearing his responses to certain questions and events, I immediately wanted to hear what Axton and Gaige had to say in those situations. With each of the six Vault Hunters having unique lines during those sequences, there is a bit of replay value for those who play Borderlands 2 for the writing.
Those who play strictly for the combat might be a bit less impressed. There are no signature common enemies in Wedding Day Massacre like Bloody Harvest's Pumplings or Mercenary Day's Frost Nippers. Common enemies that are present are bandit reskins, threshers, and loaders. Of course, the main boss cannot be found elsewhere, though the fight is not as unique as those corresponding to the Pumpkin Kingpin, the Wattle Gobbler, or the Tinder Snowflake.
Easter eggs include a sort of fishing minigame that can result in an optional boss fight, and a leprechaun chase that gives players something to do other than just shoot at things.
All in all, Mad Moxxi and the Wedding Day Massacre is one of the better titles in the Headhunter series. Since there is a lack of truly new enemy types, the combat is the same as it has ever been, which can be good or bad depending on taste. However, the story does something more interesting than previous entries do, and the comedic value is about as densely packed as Borderlands 2 gets.