Borderlands 2: Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt
Gearbox has been knocking it out of the park with their DLC for Borderlands 2, keeping players coming back for more just when they think they’ve done everything there is to do. The add-ons have been hitting that rare sweet spot of having enough new content and rewards to be satisfying while experimenting with new settings. As the first post-campaign DLC, Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt is the off-key misfire to what has otherwise been a terrific season of expansions.
Installing the new content adds Hunter’s Grotto to the map. Once transported there, dapper chap Sir Hammerlock has planned a rousing weekend of hunting in Aegrus: a swampy area full of new creatures to kill. This wholesome weekend of family-friendly hunting is undermined when the vault hunters run afoul of Hyperion scientist Professor Nakayama and his plans to makes clones from Handsome Jack’s DNA.
Nakayama also has the natives of Aegrus in the palm of his hands, worshiping Jack and throwing themselves at the vault hunters any chance they get. One of the main problems of this DLC is that Professor Nakayama is such an underwhelming adversary that they are literally doing him a favor by even acknowledging his existence. Compared to the likability of Captain Scarlett or Handsome Jack’s underhandedness, Nakayama is way out of his depth, although this is also something of a running gag. Sir Hammerlock himself feels like a background character in his own adventure, perfectly content to sit around his lodge while the vault hunters go after the big game in question.
Regardless, despite the advertisement of big game, the local tribes are actually the most difficult to deal with. Players will quickly learn that the witch doctors are the most irritating of the new enemies as they heal quickly, absorb lots of damage, and have the annoying tendency to level-up nearby tribesmen until they become overwhelming. As for the rest of the enemies, Drifters make their return from the first game and other creatures like floating spores are more of a time-consuming nuisance rather than anything else. It’s highly recommended not to tackle Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt unless you’re level thirty or above.
The main quest is comparatively short to the others and offers no satisfying loot to be had at the end, but it does come with plenty of side missions that’ll keep players busy at least. One of the biggest disappointments is that the level cap hasn’t been increased—an odd decision considering how hard some of the enemies can be. Unlike Captain Scarlett and Mr. Torgue, Sir Hammerlock’s DLC doesn’t offer any new currency for buying newer and more awesome weaponry. The dearth of any sort of payoff makes the whole affair feel like work rather than a rewarding experience.
As for the setting itself, it’s clearly inspired by the adventure serials of days gone by back when the heroic white adventurers journeyed into the heart of Africa to fight off savage tribesmen, but even so the whole thing feels rather crass and tasteless. It’s difficult to feel good about mowing down one bushman after another with the latest high-tech weaponry while they’re throwing spears and using wooden shields, even if they can become a royal pain after a while. Besides, a jungle setting would’ve made far more sense than this massive swampland.
Getting around is done via fanboats that work like the skiffs used in Captain Scarlett, but with the added bonus of doling out corrosive, lightning, or fire damage depending. They’re the preferred mode of conveyance, especially considering how few and far between they are. Aegrus is a craggy marshland with fast travel stations, vendors, and New-U stations spread out far too wide. It’s a slog to get from one place to the next, and overall the quests are placed annoyingly far apart.
Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt isn’t an awful expansion, but it is woefully underwhelming when compared to the wealth of content the others have provided. Frankly, its missions don’t feel nearly as fun or as creative and with no noteworthy loot to be had, no vaults to unlock at the end, there’s really no motivation to complete the quests other than the fact that it’s more Borderlands 2 content. Hopefully Gearbox will take the lessons from Big Game Hunt to heart and get things back on track with the fourth expansion.