‘The Horrible Hunger of the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler,’ if you’re not into the whole brevity thing
[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.]
Last month, the first Headhunter DLC pack for Borderlands 2 released, celebrating Halloween with T.K. Baha’s Bloody Harvest. The Headhunter series aims to be quick and inexpensive, offering a couple of holiday-themed missions for just a few dollars apiece.
Next in the series is the Thanksgiving flavored content, with a title as stuffed as our stomachs will be in two days: The Horrible Hunger of the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler. While it follows the same general format as the previous entry, Wattle Gobbler has a bit more of the signature Borderlands charm, which benefits it in the end.
Borderlands 2 Headerhunter 2: The Horrible Hunger of the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler (Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Released: November 26, 2013
Right off the bat, the most important difference between Bloody Harvest and Wattle Gobbler is the “host” of the DLC. The former features T.K. Baha, and while he is a classic character in the Borderlands story, he is not outstandingly charming or funny. The latter is headlined by one of the best characters in all of Borderlands: Mister Torgue.
In the core game, Torgue is only ever heard as a screaming man on a radio advertising his explosive weapons. He was fleshed out in that regard further in Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage, putting together a deadly tournament for the sake of awesomeness alone. It wasn’t until the masterful Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep that fans got to see the other facets of Mister Torgue: he is thoughtful, geeky, and largely misunderstood.
These more human traits are explored further in Wattle Gobbler, which thankfully has a stronger narrative setup than Bloody Harvest‘s lazy “this guy is terrorizing the town; go kill him.” In it, the Vault Hunters are invited to participate in a new reality show hosted by Mister Torgue in which contestants attempt to kill a giant turkey. The catch is that the show’s producers have engineered the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler to be invincible, so Torgue subverts the producers in order to protect his Vault Hunter friends (and so he can eat the Wattle Gobbler once it is killed).
Once the stage is set, it is a fairly standard Borderlands affair, with plenty of shooting and looting, along with the obligatory bandit re-skins (now they’re kitchen workers). There is an overarching play on The Hunger Games, which allows for a few miniboss fights involving battling two tributes at a time, each from various Pandoran cities and settlements. Not counting the tributes, there is only one new basic enemy type, an insect with really basic AI that isn’t particularly interesting to fight.
Strictly speaking, Wattle Gobbler features a smaller area with less action than Bloody Harvest, but it benefits from a more salient storyline and the introduction of Mister Torgue’s grandmother, Grandma Flexington. After defeating the Wattle Gobbler, the remaining missions are only to listen to Grandma Flexington tell stories, and it is surprisingly entertaining. Lead Writer Anthony Burch’s voice is strong in both Mister Torgue and Grandma Flexington. His opinions are laid down thickly with dialogue ranging from silly things like highlighting recent indie games and writing fanfiction to more serious philosophical and social matters like gender politics, personal body image, and what makes a person truly special.
Burch’s pontificating through the Flexingtons is difficult to ignore; players are penalized with a failed mission if they leave Grandma Flexington’s side (even just to kill a stray bandit whose yelling and gunfire block out her lines), forcing players to either restart the dialogue or leave the mission unfinished. Though I found the storytelling missions entertaining, those who play Borderlands for the combat or who disagree with the opinions expressed may be annoyed to have to sit still and just listen for several minutes.
After the disappointingly mediocre T.K. Baha’s Bloody Harvest, I went into The Horrible Hunger of the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler with tempered expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. Though the core gameplay is largely unchanged and the set of missions are just as short in length, Wattle Gobbler features a more fleshed out narrative, with funnier and more important dialogue. Mister Torgue shines as one of the most well-written characters in all of Pandora, and that brilliance helps make this DLC pack more worthwhile than the last one.