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Venture into the Borderlands – Part 3: The Worst Fear & Loathing Tribute Band

So, for those whose memory is as vague as mine, we last left off the previous Venture into the Borderlands with Rolo screaming at me to “follow the damn train, Axton!” If you’re new to the scene, you can find links to the previous parts at the bottom. So, like last time I was told to help him, I decided to do precisely not that. Instead, I ventured off into the wonderful (or woeful) world of DLC. Thumbing through the vast selection and glancing through recommended levels to play them (which I can tell we’re going to have a long long chat about this at some point), I had settled on a mental coin-flip between Captain’s Quest For Scarlet Booty and TORGUE’S FULL CAPS DLC.

I went with pirates and, well, I don’t know how to feel because I don’t remember. I know things happened, but my drink got spiked, I got my head beaten with a sap, and someone wiped my bloody nose (from cracking it on the pavement upon falling) with a chloroform rag. Perhaps if I do it chronologically, I can piece together what even happened.

So after I load up the game, went shopping for more backpack space, and experienced Marcus yelling at orphans, off I go into a town being raided by bandits for water (which, fortunately, had collected in a fountain but no one seemed to go anywhere near it, as though they knew something I didn’t). After staining the sands with blood, I got to meet the DLC’s version of Claptrap: Shade, who looks like a deranged version of Johnny Depp from Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas. Who, by the way, is lonely and wants you to know it time and time and time again throughout Booty Scarlet’s Quest For Pirate Captain. In fact, that is his only characteristic.

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(Borderlands 2, 2K Games)

He is, as I said in the subtitle, the worst Fear & Loathing tribute band.

To me, this humour situation strikes me as unusual. Not due to the rarity of such a thing nor even rarity in the game, as it does rise every so often as a comedy predator. What feels unusual about Shade, I think, is just the mere concept of a human being as one-dimensional as Shade is for the purpose of being a comedy vehicle. While I am not good at comedy, it does strike me that most forms of it are built upon either empathy, satirical, or absurdism.

Ignoring the latter two, which tends to derive humour from analysing a concept and portraying it in a particular style, empathy partially requires the viewer to buy into and associate with what is going on. From there, humour like schadenfreude, black and slap-stick can then be created through relating to the situation.

So it seems weird the idea that humour is able to be derived from an unbelievable character showcasing their singular characteristic (e.g. Shade, who is seriously alone). Well, at least for others. For me, I just found it annoying and tedious every time Shade appeared to remind you that he really wants friends.

Are people able to find humour in 1-D characters you can not buy? Maybe it is just me who isn’t too thrilled every time a writer believes they can build a character just upon a singular punchline; I personally think that often the comedy vehicle simply careens off a cliff. Partially because the noticeable ones are usually noticeable due to how often they appear with the same joke (time that could have been spent creating depth), ready to beat you to unconsciousness with it. If others do enjoy Shade, though, fair enough.

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(Borderlands 2, 2K Games)

I don’t think they died of dehydration. I think Shade’s personality killed everyone.

Anyway, so off I go to do some run-around for Shade (including helping some surprisingly non-decomposed non-mummified bodies) and then set up some transportation to help find some buried treasure (y’know, so my time isn’t wasted). So, naturally, I got a boat to help sail the 7-mile seas. Although, in case you didn’t pick up on Shade screaming about it in his ramblings, there is no water. “So,” you ask, “how the hell are you going to sail a boat with no water?”

Ah-ha! Well of course you get a boat and strap some hover-technology to it! How else?! “Well, wouldn’t that just render the point of the boat moot? And if Scooter’s Catch-A-Ride is still about, why not just ride on those?” To this I say… Shut up! …Okay? Damn it, I don’t know why this game sacrifices basic logic for flavour. Just roll with it.

Anyway, off to see Captain Scarlet, who the game loves to remind you over and over will betray you at some point and run off with the treasure of Captain Blade. However, to find the buried treasure, we must go off and find the four pieces of the sacred macguffin. Captain Lets Scar has one, Sandman (who, by the way, the captain betrayed as yet another nudge of what will occur) has the second, a Hyperion convoy has the third, and the fourth… Well, that’s with Herbert.

Very quickly you’ll get the second and third pieces (i.e. raid two places), but the fourth one will take a bit more time. You see, Capt. Scar used to employ Herbert due to his intimate knowledge of the buried booty until he got a bit too stalker-y. As in, having recorded footage of the Captain sleeping, as well as having dolls and softcore pornographic pictures of her. In fact, about an hour is spent rounding up tapes of Herbert being creepy so you can give it to her as a way to “win her back.”

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(Borderlands 2, 2K Games)

Psychopaths are funny guys, Borderlands 2 taught me so much…

Anyway, leaving that be, so it turns out the final part was in a chest in front of Herbert’s shack. Just, you needed the tapes first. However, it turns out to be a bit stuck so he asks you to shoot the lock. Through luck somehow worse than having to spend time with all the people you have, and with a knowing grin you’ll have to spend more time with him, Herbet tells you that you just shredded the part with your gunshot.

However, it is okay, because it is repairable! Lucky that.

Off you go, then, to go collect metal while the game makes more comedy material I probably would have given a lighter time with if it wasn’t for the rest of the cast wearing me down. Something about a robot who wants to censor pornography, but who also wants to study it carefully for how disgusting it is and wants you to get 3 ½ floppy disks with pirated software on it (GET IT, BECAUSE PIRACY PIRATES, HAR HAR HAR!) so he can destroy it.

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(Borderlands 2, 2K Games)

INSERT NUDGE-NUDGE-WINK-WINK.EXE

So the final part is created from the harvested metal and, along with the tapes, you bring the last piece of the macguffin to Let’s Captain Scar. At this point, I stopped because I realised I needed to kick this out the door and I was on my 6th hour. I had hoped to finish the DLC in one go, but I guess that simply wasn’t meant to be.

So far, playing through this DLC, chances are I’ve forgotten things. I know I’ve skimmed over a side-quest chain that might feature the best comedy in the DLC so far; even if that is not saying much. Basically, a disgruntled woman has just inherited some things from her great-grandmother, and she just can not be bothered with it so you have to go out to destroy it. I especially smirked at how she revealed reluctantly as you’re blowing up a boat to get rid of evidence that her great-grandmother used to do some terrible things like “child-schmafficking” and “a bit of schmannibalism.”

Even then, all this comedy is presented in the single note of “woman who is in her late teens and can’t be bothered with anything at all ever.” I had to look up her name through the screenshots to find out what it was because, well, I guess my mind just wiped it. In case you’re curious: Aubrey Callahan III. Although her picture on the HUD when she’s talking looks oddly like Janey Springs (who I’ve only encountered on Tales From The Borderlands). Maybe related? Oh well.

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(Borderlands 2, 2K Games)

Seriously, am I nuts in saying she looks a bit like Janey Springs?

Besides that side-quest, I only have small fragments of memory of what stupid side-quests I was tasked to do. Something about killing union workers? Which makes me curious why they’re stealing comedy routines from the 70s/80s. Something else about some bandit smelling so awful you have to get some condiments so monsters eat him? A bit about stealing a diamond ring so Shade can propose to a corpse so he wouldn’t feel lonely? It is a garbled muddle in comparison to the main game.

Annoyingly, I’ve still got the last leg of the DLC to go before I’m free to perhaps help Roland with Train-ing Day. This does feel like some form of punishment for asking Rolo to just wait while I do anything but help him. I even expect the final revelation of the treasure to be that it is just someone’s buttocks, because that would be on par with how lousy the rest of the jokes are.

Assuming I don’t get too angry with faux-Johnny Depp and uninstall Borderlands 2, I’ll see you next week!

[Part 1: Funny Little Robot] [Part 2: Roland’s Disapproving Gaze]

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