You’ve got to love Gearbox, a company who not only has one of the more likable figureheads as it’s leader but also seems to do nice things for its fan base often and with great effect.
This time it was letting the rabid loot-hunting mass of Borderlands 2 players early access to the 5th playable character yesterday. Totaling at 800 MS points (or free if you are a premium club member), the Mechromancer DLC lets you jump into the stripy stocking of Gaige, a teenage tech wizard who can summon a mobile artillery base called the “Death Trap”.
I downloaded this last night, boosted her to level 11 thanks to a level 43 friend and gave her a solid road test across The Dust and The Highlands to see the difference between organic and robotic enemies.
Lets start with the aesthetics of the character, Gearbox has really nailed the look of a this vault hunting fan girl. From the tightly pulled twin ponytails to the vault hunter logos plastered over her boots and jacket, Gaige comes across as a little girl with a big attitude, a “Scene” kid who is trying to bust out of the shadows of the other Vault hunters and into the spotlight.
Because of her slight frame and young age, you can see that in this universe that she would be overlooked as a “tough” choice, but therein lies the deceit, for with a wave of her hand she can digistruct one of the most imposing characters in the game And let’s not beat around the bush, Death-Trap IS a fully fledged character. His motives may be simple but he has a life to him that presents more of a relationship than Axton with his turret (who he affectionately calls ‘Darling'” From the way he swoops in front of Gaige to protect her or switches target to the last person to deal her damage, he present the feeling of an over protective brother or father figure.
As a result the look and feel of the character sits nicely into a world so filled with tech and ties the two together with the harmonious union of Gaige and Death-Trap
The skill tree of the Mechromancer offers a completely new style of play in that you almost don’t have to be a good shot to get far with this class as you can sink points into skills that let shots ricochet off the ground and walls to hit their intended target, or even synch up to Death-Trap giving him your shields to make him last longer in the fight.
This means that you can hand back and effectively supercharge him into a weapon of true destruction.
As you would expect, being a robot means that you can “upgrade” Death Trap with skills like a laser eye-beam called “The Stare” and you can even shoot him with elemental weapons to imbue him with this to pass on to enemies! The playbook is really re-written with this character class as you are necessarily charging forth or turtle defencing, you are marching slowly through the enemies, bouncing bullets off walls to hit those behind cover, regenerating health by having a full clip (so useful) and then summoning the mighty Death Trap to burn all others away with his laser eyes and tearing them to shreds with his electric claws.
This truly is the class for the cocky, for people willing to expose themselves to danger only so they can obliterate people with a quick call for backup.
HOWEVER, there are a few problems which stop this from being another perfect gem for the Borderlands Universe.
The first and foremost is that I really didn’t get a feel that Gaige was fully integrated into the series as well as she could have been. She didn’t feel like she could ever fit in with the 4 original VHunters from Borderlands 2 as she is simply plopped into the world. It would have been nice to have even a one min vid explaining her desire for the vault (maybe about having something to prove to her dad who she has reference in her ECHO logs on the Twitter page).
This is further exemplified in that my Gaige seemingly only spouted 2 lines of dialogue and had no jump/fall/out of breath sounds. It made her seems a bit too static and it didnt push the attitude feulled personality that is given in the ECHO recordings.
The other complaint is one touted by all dlc purchases this close after release. Did it have to cost 800 MS points? I know its a new perspective on the game but there aren’t any story lines or new weapons tied to this purchase. I would feel reluctant to part with 800 on this if I didn’t know first hand how much fun she was to play. If Gearbox is going to issue more of these characters then maybe a trial character test could be implemented (maybe starts at lvl 5 and you can use until lvl 7?)
Regardless, I got this for free and I would heartily recommend this to anyone looking to get a bit of a different playstyle into the game. After testing I can confirm that she is worth the price and she is literally a blast to play.
Overall Score : 8/10 – Must Buy!