Handsome Boy Heist School
Having helped usher in the idea of the season pass and one of the few who ever offered a second pass, Gearbox is no stranger to DLC.
In fact, by the time Borderlands 3‘s run is done (in 2030?) it may not even be the same game, seeing as Borderlands 2 got a bridge-DLC nearly seven years after launch. Anything could happen is what I’m saying, and with Moxxi’s Heist of The Handsome Jackpot as the first of the premium lot, wackiness is already on the table.
Borderlands 3: Moxxi’s Heist of The Handsome Jackpot (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Released: December 19, 2019
MSRP: $49.99 (Part of the Season Pass, comprised of four DLCs)
Given Borderlands 3‘s expanded “universe-hopping” feel, the idea of jetting across the galaxy to a fully-enclosed location makes the DLC feel a little more worthy of its premium status. This time you’re raiding Handsome Jack’s casino under the tutelage of Mad Moxxi, who claims that Jack stole the plans for the casino from her. Jack, you son of a bitch! I’m in.
As far as story connections go, Handsome Jackpot is tenuous. Moxxi and Jack are both fan favorites and constantly cosplayed, so I get why Gearbox focused on their feud here. But the myth of Handsome Jack is so far removed from the Borderlands mythos that it’s hard to care about him when there’s so many other characters to focus on, and Moxxi’s motivations and presence are lacking. In other words, it’s a lot like Borderlands 3 as a whole: there’s plenty of reasons to blow stuff up and lots of cool guns to collect, but without a strong reason for being there. Think of Heist as another planet from the core game, with its own fast-travel points and sidequests just like the rest. In case you’re wondering, it’s about as involved as past DLCs: roughly in the three to four-hour mark without extras.
The casino itself is flashy as hell and the holograms of Jack (plus one surprise) are enigmatic enough, despite the overall stink of fanservice. Fortunately for you (in terms of enemy variety), Jack trapped a lot of people inside the casino due to forced overwhelming debt, so you have plenty of humanoid enemies to fight beyond the typical robot Loaders. There’s a sliver of intrigue here that the game never really explores, as factions and gangs slowly arose out of the ashes of an empire built by a dead man.
Blackjack chests (in which you can hit or stay in order to open them) also add a little flavor to the neon-heavy casino world. While I won’t spoil the near-finale, it goes down in a polarizing parody/homage to various heist films. I dug it, and hope that Gearbox experiments further with ideas like this that are vaguely reminiscent of Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep. Yet, that experiment is all too brief as things get back on a more traditional track.
That’s pretty much it. It’s another Borderlands locale to explore with a small-time turf war and some quirky quips. Yet, I was entertained throughout thanks to the strong foundation of Borderlands 3, which hasn’t gotten old. I took my main (FL4K) along, tried out a few different builds and guns, and had a merry time gunning through the DLC. While it’s not exceedingly impressive as a standalone add-on, if all of them are like this, the game will be in good shape down the line.
Borderlands 3‘s first DLC is quirky and action-packed, but I was decidedly left wanting more. Hopefully the other campaigns will take more risks, but in the meantime Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot is more Borderlands, which is typically a good thing.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]