Borderlands 2 Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty Hands-On Preview – Stiffs, Skiffs and Pirate Ninjas
Written Monday, October 15, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
It's always good to start strong, and with Borderlands 2's first proper batch of DLC incoming, following the release of the Mechromancer last week, Gearbox is looking to fly right out of the gates with its Season Pass offerings. Where Borderlands is concerned, Gearbox knows exactly how to do DLC – Mad Moxxi excepted, of course – and Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty appears to be no different to the stellar add-on content that's gone before. It's got flippin' pirate ninjas in it for crying out loud. You already know it's going to be good, right?
Like Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx or Claptrap's Robot Revolution, Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty is a good 8-10 hour chunk of story with new quests and side missions, filled with the same kind of grotesque, OTT characters and tongue-in-cheek humour that's become a Borderlands' staple. Set in the sand-blasted, former paradise settlement of Oasis, you're a stranger in a town that's been taken over by a nasty bunch of pirates led by the hulking No-Beard. Your first task is to clear up the plaza to protect the town's sole living inhabitant, a weird Hunter S. Thompson-esque character called Shade.
With the filthy sand pirates trying to steal his water, Shade requires your help, and eradicating the army of pirate ninjas and their boss from his town earns you access to the sand skiff at any Catch-a-Ride station in Pandora. Or at least it does once you've collected the parts for it having excitedly gunned the engine and blown it up. Discovering the first part hanging from a cable suspended over a sandy valley, we leap for it only to see the component snaffled up by a leaping sandworm. Chasing it down, we quickly blast it into bits using our level 50 Mechromancer – despite playing the game in the more challenging True Vault Hunter mode - and salvage the part from its stomach. The other parts to the skiff are being held by the various dehydrated and deceased residents of Oasis, whose dead bodies are propped up using an elaborate system of ropes and metal spikes.
It's a typically twisted slice of Borderlands weirdness, with each corpse fitted with a loudspeaker so they can speak and interact. Gathering the components, we're able to reassemble the sand skiff and jet off to Wurmwater, hovering just above the desert plains like Jabba's skiff vessel in Return of the Jedi. There's room for two on the skiff, with one controlling the guns, rockets or grappling hook – there's three variants to choose from – while the other pilots the rig. Zipping through the Wurmwater canyon, shooting sandworms, we soon come across the eponymous pirate queen's hovering galleon.
Boarding the huge ship, we meet Captain Scarlett herself, who has nothing to do with the namesake British Gerry Anderson puppet show from the 60s. Obviously. Instead, she's a wise-cracking pirate who's hot on the trail of Captain Blade's treasure, and she needs a stooge do all of the legwork for her. Enter your intrepid Vault Hunter, who has to unearth both pieces of Blade's missing compass that'll lead Scarlett to the fabled lost treasure. Jumping in our skiff, we scoot off to ambush a Hyperion caravan that's holding the first piece of the compass, taking down Gun Loaders using Gaige's faithful robot companion Deathtrap, who wreaks complete havoc once he's unleashed.
Gaige meanwhile has so many perks and abilities being level 50, with all three skill trees – entitled Best Friends Forever, Little Big Trouble and Ordered Chaos – maxed out, meaning we're able to make short work of the enemies and snatch the first compass piece. Venturing to the waterlogged caves of Hayter's Folly next, we run into more pirate ninjas, violent pirates, huge buccaneers and midget pirates, and we don't hesitate in showing them the business end of a corrosive shotgun, rocket launcher, pistol or SMG. If they get too close, and deplete Gaige's shield, her 'Shock and AAAGGGGHHH!' ability kicks in, frying everyone in the immediate vicinity, while her melee attack is a nice big Wolverine-style claw. “Snikt, snikt, bub!” she exclaims as she swipes at enemies. Neat.
Navigating our way across wooden walkways suspended over craters filled with iridescent water and fighting through the hostile pirate hordes, we soon encounter the mysterious, yet diminutive Sandman and his musclebound bodyguard, The Big Sleep who are guarding the precious compass piece. A manic battle ensues as more pirate minions join the fray, and we let Deathtrap off the leash once again. With Sandman and The Big Sleep duly dispatched after a lot of strafing and shooting, we're able to retrieve the second piece of the compass from one of the new treasure chest-style loot boxes, before backtracking out of Hayter's Folly's network of bright green caverns to the exit.
Returning the compass pieces to Captain Scarlett, we're then sent out to the Rustyards to seek out an ex-crew member called Herman the Hermit, who's become obsessed with the sassy pirate queen. Venturing out to his shack, we manage to chat to Herman before our time with the DLC is at an end, and we're booted out. Playing for just 90 minutes and having to be torn away from the controller indicates that we're still utterly enthralled by Borderlands 2's own brand of looting and shooting, so the promise of new enemies, new locations and new quests is evidently going to be just too good to pass up.
Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty is more Borderlands 2, and that alone should serve as enough of an endorsement to get you excited. If the thought of more Borderlands 2 action isn't good enough however (what's wrong with you?!), the thought of cruising across the deserts in a sand skiff, shooting sandworms, blasting rival pirate skiffs into pieces and hunting for lost pirate booty ought to push all of the right buttons. To summarise then: it's more Borderlands 2, it's got pirate ninjas in it, sandworms and sand skiffs. It's guaranteed to be awesome and it's a pretty compelling argument for buying a Borderlands 2 Season Pass. Yo ho ho!
Borderlands 2's Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty will be walking the plank on October 16th (that's tomorrow!) for $9.99 or you can download it as part of the Season Pass, which costs $29.99.