We often forget that the absurd is a domain that video games have an inborn claim to. There's no such thing as “too much” in a virtual world of our own creation. While most games do little more than tepidly inch their way towards the edge, Borderlands 2 bounds up to it confidently and, in the case of its new DLC release, Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage, gleefully leaps from it, cackling maniacally all the way down into the Badass Crater of Badassitude.
I, uhhh, didn't make that name up. That's one of the central areas in this second major new chunk of content added to the game since launch. Sound ridiculous? Well it kind of is, and you can expect something even more ridiculous (and awesome) every time Mr. Torgue gets on the mic, which will be often seeing as he's the star of the show. As owner of Pandora's most literally explosive weapons manufacturer, he has a penchant for making things go blowy-uppy, and this fondness of things that go boom involves everything from the places you'll visit to the enemies you fight.
I only got around 45 minutes with the new campaign, but it got me laughing right away. Some people don't dig Borderlands 2's sense of humor. They find it grating or lacking in finesse. If you're one of those people whose comedic sensibilities are “simply too refined” to enjoy the writing in the main game, Mr. Torgue is going to drive you batty inside of five minutes. But if Borderlands 2 is one of the few pieces of entertainment that actually makes you chuckle (myself included), he'll have you in stitches almost immediately. He's a walking Powerthirst commercial, a testosterone-injected hybrid of “Macho Man“ Randy Savage and Michael Bay. I missed half of what he said in the intro because I was too busy trying not to snarf the OJ I was drinking through my nose.
What I did catch was something about a tournament he puts on and televises, in which everyone tries to kill one another for the right to be considered the ultimate badass in the land, and he wants you to enter, like, yesterday. Of course, you first need to sign some legal forms and releases and such. Just when I was thinking to myself how boring of an objective that sounded, I find myself embroiled in a pitched firefight against muscle-bound enemies toting explosive Torgue weaponry. Mr. Torgue thinks menial tasks are boring too, so he'd rather keep you killing and blowing things up. This mentality defined my entire hands-on. I never spent more than a minute or two wandering about without a healthy dose of action.
And just like Captain Scarlett before it, Campaign of Carnage introduces more opportunities for earning epic-level gear. You'll be able to face one more raid-style, max-level boss for seraph crystals, which you can spend at special vendors to purchase super high-end gear. In addition, a brand new currency called Torgue Coins will start dropping from enemies occasionally. These can be popped into special Torgue vending machines to score powerful new weapons. And the real kicker is that the “item of the day” at these machines is always an orange of some kind.
These items are extremely rare if you wait for one to drop, so being able to save up for and buy them is no small deal. The only compromise is that you can't get anything but Torgue-brand gear from them, so while you could deck your character out with some serious firepower, you can't rely on this method to complement every style of build. But if you like explosions (and who doesn't?), you'll definitely find something you like.
The minute-to-minute action has some neat new twists as well. Fighting the new motorbike goons is a blast. Standing your ground as they charge you and blowing them sky-high with a volley of explosive shotgun rounds feels immensely satisfying. And the new arena battles are similar to the wave-based mayhem of Mad Moxxi's Underdome from Borderlands 1, but with one key difference: Since everyone is competing to win Mr. Torgue's tournament, they'll be just as willing to kill each other as they are to kill you, a fact you can use to your advantage to hilarious effect. These tweaks don't reinvent the game, but they help keep things fresh for players who have already sunk a ton of time into the game.
While I only got a small taste of the approximately eight hour-long campaign, I can already tell it's going to satisfy players who might have found the last DLC questline a bit slow. With new ways to acquire sick loot, special cameos from fan favorite characters, and a level of action and humor more in line with the core game, Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage looks like it will be worth every penny when it drops on November 20th.