The planet of Pandora has no shortage of strange places to visit, hostile creatures to fight, and shiny objects to loot, a fact that the original Borderlands established with four downloadable content packs of generally high quality. Now Borderlands 2 is getting the DLC train rolling in earnest with Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty, a suggestively titled yet surprisingly tame add-on adventure. The new characters provide some mild entertainment, but most of the appeal comes from some feisty new enemies and some lush new environments. This isn’t Borderlands 2 at its best, but there’s a lot of fun to be found in the fairly lengthy search for pirate treasure.
The titular heroine is, as you may have guessed, a sexy pirate lady on the hunt for some legendary loot. She leaves most pirate stereotypes behind for a kind of peppy determination, and once you join her search, her casual mentions of how she will inevitably betray you make for some amusing moments. There are also two lonely weirdos with whom you converse, each consumed by his own obsession, as well as some entertaining audio-log-only personalities. There are hearty chuckles and witty moments, but Pirate’s Booty’s humor starts to run dry a few hours in, making it feel like a tepid scion of the main game.
Conversely, the environments don’t start off strong, but they get better as you go on. The dried-up resort town of Oasis (the spot you must fast-travel to in order to start the DLC) is saturated with the dusty brown tones that grew tiresome during the first hours of the original Borderlands. You can shake off this sense of deja vu by skimming around the dry seabed on a new hover-vehicle, squishing angry worms, and getting ridiculously floaty air off of jumps. Then later, you journey underground to a lush, glittering cavern, and the vibrant color palette is almost palpably refreshing. Sparkling streams and colorful pools are a welcome sight for your weary eyes, and a few other places have a similarly novel appeal.
Of course, all of these places are filled with things that want to kill you. From a creature standpoint, the mealy worms and sauced-up stalkers don’t provide much excitement. The new pirate enemies, on the other hand, have a few interesting tricks up their billowy sleeves. At first they seem like little more than desert bandits, but then they start disappearing temporarily, drawing health from you, or dragging you into melee range with huge anchors that they throw through the air. These fresh tactics make things feel lively and a bit different, spurring you onward and making it easy to relish the challenge of combat.
Pirate’s Booty scales well to wherever you are on your first or second playthrough of the game (new characters be warned: enemies start at level 15) and even packs in two high-level raid bosses for those seeking a serious challenge. A thorough playthrough could stretch from 6 to 8 hours, so the 880 MS point asking price is reasonable, even though awkward scripting makes the ending oddly anticlimactic. There are a few technical hitches to contend with, including some texture pop-in and jaggy environmental edges that can cause some odd visual stuttering.
Fortunately, these stumbles won’t be a burden as you blast your way through Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty. Though the humor becomes one-note after a while, it’s good enough to make you smile as you tangle with anchor-throwing demon pirates. This DLC is a good way to spice up your second playthrough and a fun detour for your first, making it appealing to anyone looking for a fresh way to rake in the badass points.