Let’s get this out of the way first: playing as Gaige the Mechromancer will make absolutely no difference to any plot points or story elements. Most disappointingly, every other character in the game will seemingly fail to differentiate you from any other playable character, with the biggest kick in the teeth coming from the fact that most, if not all of the dialogue directed at your character will blindly assume she is male (this may also be the case when playing as Lilith; I haven’t spent enough time with her to know). Having lines like “men like yourself” spoken to your character smacks of laziness, especially given this is a paid DLC.
Similarly, aside from random quips, the nature of Borderland 2 means that your character’s personality isn’t really given a chance to shine, which is a pity here because Gaige’s character is potentially as interesting as Tiny Tina’s (if a little less extreme). As noted in our main review, there are no differences in the game between characters until you reach level 5 and unlock your first skill point, and even then the game doesn’t really change in any meaningful way.
What this means is that this DLC is pretty much about whether you want the Mechromancer’s skill tree. Once you’ve reached level 5, you get to unlock the “Summon Deathtrap” class skill. Deathtrap is a quiet fellow who will appear on the battlefield for a short time and get to work clawing and zapping enemies on your behalf, before vanishing into thin air. It’s similar in principle to Axton’s turret, though mobile and less powerful. Crucially it’s a good skill to have when playing solo, as it’s like having an extra person with you (for those brief moments) to take some of the heat. Interestingly, if Deathtrap earns a kill on your behalf, you still get the XP (and revive you if you’re in “fight for your life”).
As for the rest of the skills, there’s the somewhat controversial “Best Friends Forever” tree which amongst other things, gives missed bullets “a chance to ricochet off towards a nearby enemy”. In other words, you don’t need to hit the target. Further down the tree are other bonuses that can make the player nearly invincible.
The second skill tree, “Little Big Trouble” basically gives you a number of elemental damage bonuses, which are not particularly interesting until you get into the lower tiers and can create what are essentially elemental combo chains.
The last, and most interesting tree (and the one I spent most time with), “Ordered Chaos” gives you a new “Anarchy” resource. You gain Anarchy by killing enemies or reloading only when your clip is entirely spent (or just avoiding pressing the reload button altogether, relying on the fire button to do this for you). Conversely, you lose all your Anarchy from reloading “prematurely”, and gradually whilst in “fight for your life”. As the Anarchy stacks up, your weapon damage gets boosted at the expense of accuracy. What this all means, is that you can arm yourself with an assault rifle (or a shotgun or rocket launcher) and just go nuts, revelling in the carnage. Further down the tree, there are options to allow you to use Anarchy in a number of other ways, such as to boost other stats or cause a mid-air explosion. It serves as a good counterpoint to the BFF tree, and is one of the most interesting skill trees in the game.
Overall then, the Mechromancer is certainly worth a look if you are considering a second playthrough (or are playing through solo for the first time).