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Backlog Alphabet: B is for Borderlands, E is for Elder Scrolls

In my next look at games that have been rotting in the oubliette of my Steam backlog, we have the last of the Borderlands 2 DLC, and the start of some Skyrim DLC!  I was incredibly happy to be done with Borderlands because there are many games that I wanted to get started on!  Unfortunately, they are blocked by the twin gatekeepers of Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas.  Fortunately, I have half beaten both of those games!  Unfortunately, there are a few other games before I get to ones I really am excited for.  Fortunately, they come with a free frogurt, which unfortunately has toppings with 
potassium benzoate. Lets get started!

Borderlands 2:  Hammerlock’s Quest!

The Good:

One of the first things that I noticed about this DLC is that they give you room to work with in each fight - the spaces are open, giving you the chance to actually plan out your attacks, and to really snipe enemies. I had fun with this when they would let me.  They also give you a new vehicle to traverse the land, which was pretty fun because I got to quote Archer quoting Burt Reynolds saying “I’m commandeering this airboat!” every time I spawned one.  The vehicle felt good to control, had some fun weapons, and dropped about 50 skins through my playthrough, which was a bit much.

They did add in a few new enemies to the mix, which I will get into below (foreshadowing), but I actually enjoyed the combat for the most part.  Encounters had to be thought out, the enemies that had crit spots were satisfying, and they generally switched around what you were fighting in each area, so it never felt really stale.  

I think in terms of treasure per minute, this DLC has the most.  It felt like every area had multiple chests to loot, and the very end loot room has an astonishing number of chests.  I didn’t count, but I would estimate at 20 - 25.  I was constantly subbing out gear for marginal improvements, which in a game all about marginal improvements is a very good thing.  As this gets into the later sections you will see why I say this, but the amount of treasure feels like an apology or an appeasement.  “Yeah, we know it was bad, but here is bunch of treasure, so play and like it please?”.  However, like I mentioned above, the combat is pretty satisfying, the loot is there, so the core of the game is all over this DLC.  Unfortunately, the rest of it isn't all together….

The Bad:

The DLC sucks more shit than a sewage pump.  Actually, that is really harsh because the DLC at best is just kind of there.  It doesn’t really offer much of anything new, the humor is all really ‘simple’ jokes - you can see the punch line coming, and it just kind of funny, but not enough to make you laugh, just go ‘of course they would say that’.  They make several jokes in the game where the punchline is “I couldn’t think of a punchline for that”.  It reminds of a moment where someone says something that sounds vaguely sexual, and a friend doesn’t go for ‘thats what she said’, but instead says ‘yeah, there’s a sexual reference in there’ and people laugh a bit, but they also die a little inside.  This DLC killed me a little on the inside.  It’s like the writing staff, after producing 2 decent DLC’s and 1 stellar one just phoned it in.  Even the main story is lackluster at best.  It reminds me of a Venture Brother’s episode, in the same way that gastronomic distress reminds me of Taco Bell.  The main villain is moderately humorous in how much he sucks at being a villain, but the whole thing just seems….soulless.

So, the whole time I played the DLC I was asking myself “is this racist?”, and I think if you have to ask then it probably is.  The bulk of the enemies are just black savages.  There are witch doctors in big voodoo masks, skeleton painted black dudes, dudes with big old shields running at you screaming the equivalent of “derka derka baka laka’.  And they are all obeying the evil white guy because…well, they said they would explain, and then they didn’t.  It just felt really weird to go from shooting bandits and midgets to...just killing stereotypes.  If I wanted to shoot at non white guys, I would play Call of Duty.

Speaking of the enemies, this game didn’t leave a great first impression.  Again, I play as the Sniper.  Sniper snipes things.  If I can get a crit, I am usually a happy man.  First enemy I fight?  Humanoid!  Yay!  But his face is invulnerable except at certain angles from the front, and I think from the back, but that only happens once or twice before 3,000 enemies show up.  Next, they introduced hands down the worst enemy in the entire game:  The Witch Doctors.  What can they do?  More like what can’t they do.  First of all, no crit spot as far as I can tell.  Second, they can heal allies and themselves.  Then, they can level up allies around +4 levels (which actually was free exp for the most part).  One leveled up version of an enemy becomes completely invincible to bullets, which is pretty cool as, you know, a sniper.  The main attack is to shoot orbs of them chemical alignment (fire, corrosion, slag, etc).  The worst though is their stupid tornado move.  They can close virtually any gap between the two of you, and a tornado can take out your entire shield and most of your health in 1 hit if you are lucky.  If you are unlucky, it 1 hit KOs you off a cliff, so watch for that.  Basically, it was me trying to snipe them, they would heal faster than I could kill them, so I had to put a clone of myself in the middle of an AoE grenade and just wait for them to die...which I used as my main combat strategy in the DLC.  Other enemies include floating blobs of elemental damage, cool scorpion things, enemies that definitely aren't skags, enemies that aren’t the giant robots from Half-Life 2, and some other stuff.

The whole experience felt really untested as well.  I found one line that broke an enemy’s path:  he would chase me one way if I was on one side of the line, but the moment I crossed, he had to make a complete U to come at me from the other direction, so I could just bait him into walking away for a second, shoot him in the back, rinse repeat.  After hitting a Bullymong with the airboat, they just lie on the ground forever - not dead, but they don’t ever get back up.  I felt kind of bad killing them after that.  You have to jump over the last stair on a few staircases, otherwise you just get an invisible wall.  It just felt sloppy.  Sloppy and short.  When compared to all the other DLCs for the game, it is easily the worst of the lot, and when you see the greatness that is the D&D campaign it makes it all the more sad.  That being said, it wasn’t a painful experience, but just disappointingly mediocre.  

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (DLC!)

Date Purchased: The...summer steam sale...not all games have been here a long time I guess!
Playtime:  No idea!  

Yes, another game where I acquired the DLC after putting hour after hour into the vanilla version, but broke down and got the DLC.  In addition, this game holds a special place deep in the cockles of my heart.  Maybe the sub cockles.  This game was the game that I used to benchmark the hardware that went into my system - I was aiming for 60 FPS at Ultra settings for Skyrim for less than the cost of an arm and or a leg.  Spoilers:  got there.  Everyone knows the fun part of the game is the mods, so I do want to touch on those as well before I hit the DLC, specifically Dat Grass.

Dat Grass is the future of gaming.

I can see the futuuuuure!

Polygons have limits.  We are guaranteed to see diminishing returns on how ‘realistic’ something looks in the next console as far as models go, so I am deeply hoping that instead of going ‘up’ the move is ‘lateral’.  Imagine a game where every blade of grass sways in the wind.  A game where a bush isn’t just six cross sections of twigs, but a series of individual branches.  Every enemy made up not of a ragdoll, but of organs and bones and muscles.  I think there is so much ground to be gained in polishing the world and the systems more than more polygons more emotions.  The problem for my rig, sadly, is that Dat Grass eats 45 of my frames away, rendering the game beautifully unplayable.  On the same topic, when I played Tomb Raider, the TressFX was actually really impressive.  Worth the graphical hit impressive.  Couldn’t play without it on impressive.  Details are the wave of the future, guys.

I threw in a bunch of other mods, ranging from HD vegetation, better water, improved lighting, magic scaling, and oh yeah, every mudcrab has a monocle and top hat.  That one is my favorite because I always forget it is installed, and mudcrabs are kind of rare.  Anyway!  DLC!


I was actively trying to make Kesha when creating this character

The Good:

The name sounds like it has a ‘dong’ in it, which reminds me of my mom, so there’s that.  I also played a lot of the story quest while going through it, sometimes because I had to, sometimes just because I like to wander.  In any event, I don’t remember what was and wasn’t related to Dawnguard specifically, so please forgive me for that.

I decided to go with the vampire quest part of things, so I will be touching on that, so elephant in the room:  its pretty neat.  I say ‘neat’ because there is a lot about it that I don’t like, but the parts that I do are pretty cool.  The new powers, new skilltree, and new passive abilities, which as a min maxer make me happy.  I was playing a mage, so I had the ability to craft up some fire resistance, so having frost resistance plus poison immunity was super nice.  

The plot is actually really cool and crosses over with the main storyline in several places which I thought was pretty cool.  As someone who never got into previous Elder Scroll games I always get excited when I find an Elder Scroll and do something with it.  I really liked what I assume is an homage to 300 where you get arrows that literally blot out the sun.  The whole quest feels sprawling, and (I swear it isn’t internet talk) epic.  This is odd, because when placed side to side with the quest log and my own memories of it, it seems rather short, but overall this was money very well spent.

One thing that Skyrim always does well (in my opinion) is creating incredibly interesting areas to look at.  I remember the giant mushroom fields from the first time I played - I know they aren’t mushrooms, by the way, but let me have my fun - as being incredible to look at.  Looking back at Dear Esther and my love for Mario, maybe I just love shrooms.  Either way, this tradition continues with the Soul Cairn, which is a pretty dang awesome looking afterlife plane.  

But have you ever played Skryim.....on DRUGS?!  Yeah, me neither.

The Bad:

I never felt it was worthwhile to become a vampire.  Like, ever.  It is basically a fourth spec for you to go into:  stealth, fisticuffs, magic, or vampire.  You don’t level up any of your core skills (as a mage) when you are in vampire form, just vampire powers, which are substantially worse than just casting the flaming deathballs at my disposal.  Plus, you can’t vampire (natively) in first person, so you are often in a Drugar cave with a third of the screen taken up by your bat wings (not to be confused with ‘the goat’), unable to really aim your magics.  

Oh, can I complain about being a vampire some more?  Just kidding, I dont need your permission.  Basically, deciding to become a vampire means that you get enormous debuffs.  This includes reduced regen of stamina, health, and magica if the sun is out, which never gets old when you need to walk somewhere (better known as always).  You also gain a fire debuff which really sucks if you aren’t planning around it.  Mostly, the vampire form just feels inconvenient.  Its just a thing that happened to you, that you could reverse, but then you feel stupid for spending money to get a DLC specifically to let you do that anyway.  It is a dead dove situation though.

The companion that you get, while helpful, desperately needs about three hundred more lines of combat dialog.  Every encounter she says one of three dialogues, and after the three hundredth troll, it begins to get a little old.  Her slowing ice magic was a nice compliment to my inability to run, so I guess it all kind of works out.

I also had to read up online on the effects of quest items.  Apparently quest items have no weight, despite their weight value, but I spent about an hour trying to figure out how to discard my 60 pounds of Elder Scrolls without using an ‘infinite carrying weight’ mod.  I gained the ability to summon a dragon, but instructions were unclear, so I have yet to do so.  Really, this is the full Elder Scrolls experience, odd designs and all, but if you like the original, more of the same is definitely nice.
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About taterchimpone of us since 6:01 PM on 06.06.2008

My Belmont Run for Dark Souls can be seen


I also did a blind run of the DLC, which you can view

And here

I also covered the progress of building my own gaming PC. I had no experience, and overall, it wasn't all bad! If you are on the fence about it, I suggest you read about my efforts

And here

The series never had a part 3, because I was having waaaaay too much fun playing it. Suffice to say that it does alright these days.

Thanks for stopping by my blawg!
Xbox LIVE:Taterchimp


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