Mr. Torgue is quite a character. He likes badasses, anything with fuel, and explosions. And also shouting. During the six or so hours it took to play through the bulk of the Borderlands 2 add-on, I never got bored of listening to him.
The expansion starts as does the Pirate’s Booty one: via a new fast-travel location (“The Badass Crater of Badassitude”). Upon arrival, you’ll sign up for a tournament, get a sponsor, and then battle in a large arena. I know what you’re thinking– there’s already an arena level in the main game– but this one is different. You get thrust into the massive arena almost immediately, which is an improvement over the slower-paced Pirate’s Booty. The arena is truly a sight to behold. There are multiple ramps, platforms and regenerating crates that hint at some truly badass battles.
It’s tragic then, that these battles never happen. Despite the storyline requiring you to take on 5 “champions” in the tournament, there are only two battles that take place in the arena, and neither of them use it in a particularly interesting way. I was expecting something epic along the lines of Thunderdome, but in fact more of the expansion takes place in the corridors around the arena than in the center. There are other new things in this expansion though. There’s a series of “deathraces”, which involve racing through a series of checkpoints whilst under fire, but again don’t feel like they live up to their potential. Much better are the “bar fights” where you’ll need to eliminate a number of enemies within a time limit, and indeed, these can be a lot of fun. Also new are “Torgue” vending machines. These sell high-quality weapons (including some uniques), but require currency in the form of “Torgue tokens”, which you’ll accrue from completing some missions, and in drops from badass enemies encountered in the DLC (although it’s unlikely you’ll be able to accumulate enough tokens if playing solo to make any real use of them).
The standard enemies get a reskin, as they did in the Pirate DLC, but this time the rogue’s gallery isn’t particularly inspired (with the exception of the motorbike and sidecar goons). The bosses on the other hand, are more interesting but a mixed bag to play against. The first few bosses you’ll encounter are fun and have a decent set of tricks that’ll probably mean experimenting with tactics in order to beat. The final two however, well they’re just not as much fun. There’s an airborne boss you’ll have to battle against (which spawns other airborne enemies), which is painful enough in itself, but this is actually made worse by having homing rockets fired at you constantly, meaning you’ll spend more time ducking behind cover than doing any damage. Did I mention that this happens at the top of a very tall tower? A tower which is surrounded by lava no less, meaning careless footing (easily done given that you’re looking up at the sky the whole time) means death and a respawn. At the bottom of the bloody tower.
The final boss fight just feels incredibly cheap, resulting in constant death, at least until you figure out what you’re supposed to do, at which point the boss becomes a sitting duck, posing no threat at all and leaving you to destroy him with mere melee attacks if you like. Beat him, and you’re rewarded with a “lootsplosion”, where you are literally showered with loot. It’s an incredibly cathartic moment, but then your fun is immediately interrupted by a credit roller before you can claim any of it. Very odd indeed.
So it’s unexpected therefore that what I enjoyed the most in the expansion were the characters. Moxxi and Tina make a welcome reappearance, and Torgue’s constant high-octane banter, with lines such as “there’s nothing more badass than treating a woman with respect!” are the most memorable parts of the DLC.
It’s a shame that the arena doesn’t live up to the expectations of the start of the expansion. But if you’re playing (or plan to play) Borderlands 2 with a group, or are just after more of the Borderlands 2 experience, you’ll certainly have a great time with Mr. Torgue.