TK Baha’s Bloody Harvest: Yep, Borderlands 2 Still Fun

After having players fight an irradiated corporate douchebag, a giant snake monster, parodies of the teenage mutant ninja turtles, a mad scientist, an ego tripping gladiator and a giant robot, where else can Gearbox Software go with Borderlands 2? Oh, right, a giant pumpkin.

At this point, one year after Borderlands 2 launched to acclaim and healthy sales, it’s almost tedious having to confirm, again and again, that it’s kind of awesome. But such is the hellish world we live in, one in which a major developer managed to release something built on the almost magical idea that combining a decent story with addictive gameplay and great writing will make for a great game. And that continues with the Halloween-themed TK Baha’s Bloody Harvest, at least from what I saw during my all too brief hands-on last week at PAX Prime.

My demo – identical to the floor demo PAX attendees saw – solely concerned what I was told is the final moment in the DLC, a battle with a giant pumpkin demon called Jacques O’Lantern. I played solo, but it’s designed as a sort of low temperature raid boss, scaling up based on how many co-op partners have joined your game. Jacques is tough – he has a ground pound attack that deals out tremendous damage, as well as an army of miniature Pumpkin mooks called Pumplings, who attack you during your battle. Fortunately, as is the case with most of Borderlands 2, you’re laughing a bit too much to care about how many times you die.

I played as a Mechromancer, and having Deathtrap to back me up during the fight helped considerably. I never got close to defeating Jacques – his health regenerates – but I did manage to bring down his health below 50% more than once. Much like Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt and Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, TK Baha’s Bloody Harvest reskins Borderlands 2′s buffs and powerups, this time as packages of halloween candy. Blue candy gives you health, red gives you ammo, and so on. The reskin also applies to the player: your reward for defeating Jacques is the ability to wear his face as your head.

The world region in which the DLC takes place is a forested, fantasy landscape that, at least the limited section I saw, looks a lot like parts of Dragon Keep, though I was told it’s an entirely new zone. Also new is an evolving approach to DLC. With Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep the final lengthy, story-based DLC, Gearbox now plans to test the waters of shorter DLC packets that contain a bit of story, new weapons and enemies, and not much more at a much lower price. In addition, I was told that this DLC will last about 2 hours, with several subquests and the final battle. If it sells well, expect more such packages to come.

Future generations should analyze Borderlands 2 as a case study of how to get DLC right. The vanilla game stands on its own, but every single expansion has given fans more of precisely what they love without ever making the original game feel incomplete. No, I didn’t see enough of TK Baha’s Bloody Harvest to get much of a sense of the thing, but I can confirm it is as fun and violent as you’ve come to expect Borderlands 2 content to be. In the era of on-disc DLC and endless cosmetic packs, it feels like a Christmas miracle. Or at least, a Halloween one.

TK Baha’s Bloody Harvest launches this October on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Don’t miss the rest of our PAX Prime 2013 coverage!

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