Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx Review
After one pretty good DLC pack in The Zombie Island of Dr Ned and one disappointing one in the form of Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot Gearbox are back with their biggest undertaking yet – an all new DLC pack that actually expands and continues the story of Borderlands – The Secret Armory of General Knoxx.
On paper this third expansion pack is already looking pretty damn good – it fixes most of the issues that fans have been shouting out about since the release of the game. It raises the level cap, adds new enemies instead of recycling old ones, adds new types of weapon and class mods in the form of new effects the previous game doesn’t have and even continues the actual storyline of the game.
In terms of storyline, the add-on pack takes place after the player characters have opened the mysterious vault. Things have moved on somewhat on Pandora, but the Atlas Corporation – somewhat antagonists of the main game – aren’t quite done yet. They’re a tad annoyed at the player and their party for everything they did in the main game and have despatched the disinterested old General Knoxx and his armies of elites to try to take you down.
General Knoxx is quite a fun character, as interestingly developed and as amusing as the rest of the main characters in main game and its add-on packs. He’s strangely detached from the entire situation, a tired old general who sees you as something of a pest rather than a genuine adversary.
In many ways, he’s right. He and his team of elite assassins are a rock-solid challenge, especially if you’re level 50 or above. I died more in this add-on content than I probably did throughout most of the entire original game, and that was even when I was playing with a full team of allies.
Scooter has a bunch of new vehicles on offer of various varieties – some heavy and slow with massive firepower, some light and speedy. You’ll spend a lot of time navigating massive highways throughout this pack, with enemy vehicles dogging you. I found myself spending most of my time with heavy vehicles, as the extra firepower was handy.
Fans of co-operative play will be pleased to hear that the vehicles actually have seats for all four players this time around, each with unique turrets that can deal out different types of damage in different ways.
The highways that link the various new areas in this DLC are key to travel about, but sometimes they can be frustrating to navigate as they’re constantly populated by enemy vehicles, combat drones and powerful assassins on-foot. Combat drones follow you forever, and while they have next to no health taking down their shields takes an age – and dying over and over on the roads quickly became really annoying.
The areas past the highways are all decent, often populated with new enemies – some of them all-new and others reskinned variants of enemies seen elsewhere in the Borderlands world. The quests out there are standard Borderlands fare, fetch quests and assassination missions to take out specific marks – and they’re all as fun as ever, improved by the newer, wider variety of weapon types and vehicles, which have a newfound importance in this DLC pack.
The storyline and character development isn’t quite as strong here as it was in Borderlands and The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, but it’s still incredibly tactfully and well-handled, keeping the storyline minimal and pushing the gameplay to the forefront of the experience.
The plot is delivered just like the rest of Borderlands, through audio logs and messages played over the airwaves rather than traditional cutscenes. Even Mad Moxxi makes a nice appearance here, using her character better than it was even in her disappointing self-named content pack.
Once the plot is complete and you’ve likely hit the new level cap at level 61 there’s still content to be had in the form of some MMO-style post-game content. There are a couple of missions that are designed to be near-impossible, even for those who have hit the level cap again and are Borderlands expert, and you’ll certainly need a full party of four to even stand the remotest chance.
These ‘raid’ style missions are undoubtedly the best in this content pack but also some of the best in Borderlands overall. In fact General Knoxx offers the best variety, loot and the biggest challenge in the entire Borderlands experience.
While the storyline stumbles somewhat, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx places the overbearing emphasis on gameplay and in turn provides some of the best combat experiences Borderlands has to offer. It takes some small but significant steps to actually improve the gameplay from the ground-up, and if this is an indication of where Borderlands is headed in the future, colour us excited.