As-I-Play Borderlands 2: From the Ashes (Part Twelve)

As I mentioned in my last Borderlands 2 post, a good friend (hitherto referred to as “Mike”) took pity on me and replaced my feline-destroyed copy of the game in addition to being willing to join me in co-oping the rest of the game. So at long last, I have returned to Borderlands 2!

The first fifteen or so minutes were all about re-learning the control scheme, accidentally swapping weapons, and reminding myself that in Borderlands, you can fall off a giant cliff and not die (unlike in most games).

Last we saw Maya, she was trapped in a cave deep beneath the earth, being mauled by thresher worms. Well, apparently I bailed on that, because when Mike and I loaded up the game, we were on top of a high hill (Overlook) in the Highlands. Okay. I don’t remember how I got here, but there are quests to be done!

First up, helping some people—Karima and Dave—with a horrible brain disease. First, go get a battery from the clock tower to power their brain machine (Fetch!). Easily done. Karima thanks us, and Dave says “Goddamnit, some jackhole broke the clock tower! How the HELL am I supposed to know what time it is, now?!” Mike calls him an asshole.

Second, we are sent to go get medicine to put in the brain machine (Fetch!). We can buy one sample from a nearby vending machine, but have to go kill a caravan to get the next batch. So we drive over to where the caravan is, and I am reminded that cars are actually amazingly fun in this game. I am also reminded that Mike is a terrible driver, as he somehow manages to drive partway up a pylon and get his car stuck. I, on the other hand, am an excellent driver, so I ram his car repeatedly to knock it free (successfully, too, I might add).

One of the advantages—apparently—of playing with someone much higher level than you (Maya was at level 21 at the start of the evening), is that your cars are suddenly extremely overpowered, and I can mow down those pesky threshers with impunity. There is nothing quite so satisfying as the unmitigated destruction of your most hated foe. (Also, I’m working on my Hit and Run stats for running things over!)

It also means that when you see a shiny green caravan and drive full-speed into it… the whole caravan explodes. Which was awesome. There may have been some maniacal laughter.

With the medicine acquired, we head back to Overlook. Dave graciously tells us “Screw you! You can bring me medicine all day, it don’t make you less of a skagsucker!” Karima thanks us nicely.

Third, go get some shields and dump them in a grinder so that Karima can build a shield for their town. (Fetch!) This one was particularly easy, since Mike’s level 61 soldier just wandered over to the vending machine and bought a whole bunch of shields with his millions of dollars.

During this process, Dave has been weighing in with his opinions, including such internet-troll-worthy gems as “Karima, don’t feel bad Jack fed yer husband to the grinder. Hell, I’ll bed ya, if ya ask nicely! Ahahahahahaha—” and “Hey Karima — you know what’s even better than havin’ a working shield? NOT being a woman” and “Karima, you cain’t make us no techy shieldy thing — you’s a WOMAN! Now, if the town needed someone to make us a big ol’ sandwich, THEN we’d call you.”

Now Karmia sends us off to fire a test mortar at the outlook to make sure their shields work. Okie dokie. When we get to the tower, Dave asks, “Who’s that slagsuckin’ MORON up by that canon?” to which Karima replies, “Please ignore Dave and aim the cannon fifty-five degrees portbound, eighty-six degrees skyloft. We’ll need Overlook to sustain a direct hit from the mortar to test the shield.”

We fire a test shot… which results in the destruction of a precariously perched little house on the side of the cliff, which screams “AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!” as it plummets to the bottom of the cliff. As it turns out, this was Dave’s house. Karima has us try again, this time “with the shield on.” And it works. Karima remarks: “Most efficient! The shield works, Overlook is safe, and…no Dave! This is truly a happy day. Return to me at your earliest convenience.”

When we return to Overlook to turn in the mission Karima gives us some presents and muses, “You know my favorite thing about Dave? He’s dead.” Best line in the game (at least so far).

The Dave-Karima exchange makes me feel better about the earlier Claptrap-sexism episode (here’s my reaction, if you don’t remember back that far). Dave—and I can’t help but think that there’s an “I’m-sorry-Dave,-I-can’t-do-that” joke in here, somewhere—is the quintessential sexist internet troll, and it is so much fun to destroy him (literally!) both because the character who engineers his downfall is female, but also because internet trolls so very rarely get what’s coming to them (this, by the way, should not be taken as an endorsement of mortaring people one dislikes in real life). It’s also particularly vindicating to see a videogame recognize the toxicity that’s part of their fanbase, and to demonstrate that toxicity while applauding its downfall. It’s also hilarious.

But, as Karima says, “Now that our brains aren’t going to rot from the inside, let’s move onto point two on my agenda: revolt.” (Okay, so we did that already by helping her build the shield, but now Mike and I are going to head out on some new quests.)

Sir Hammerlock sends us out to the Wildlife Exploitation Preserve (nice little jab there against Republican attempts to use the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling) in search of something or other, but when we get there, Roland interrupts to ask us to track down an upgrade for Claptrap.

As it turns out, Mordecai has attached that upgrade to Bloodwing (his hawk), and Jack has stolen Bloodwing and trapped her. Okay, fetch the hawk, get the upgrade. Got it. (Fetch!)

On the way, we find all sorts of additional evidence that Jack is a horrible human being who likes to torture both animals and people, including several “History of Pandora” recordings which contain audio of human experimentation. In and of themselves, they aren’t all that interesting, but it is worth noting on the social justice front that they also contain casual reference to the male subject’s husband, as well as the female experimenter’s wife (she is, by the way, only doing Jack’s bidding because he’s threatened the life of said wife). While it might be slightly forced that both pairs of same-sex spouses are in the same recording, I nevertheless appreciate the not-big-deal-ness of the references, and the fact that the development team was willing to include them. Good job on you, Gearbox.

Once we find Bloodwing, who has been transformed (by Jack) into a giant mutant thing, we have to fight (boss fight… ew) her in order to tire her out before Mordecai can tranquilize her. So we do that, then take the upgrade off her collar. Then Jack—who is a much bigger asshole than Dave—detonates an explosive on the collar that kills Bloodwing. Mordecai is rather upset (and, to be honest, so am I—I played as Mordecai in Borderlands and Bloodwing was the best thing about Mordecai, and now she’s been exploded), but there will be time for revenge later.

Now, back to Sanctuary to check in with Roland, return some research to Dr. Tannis, and install the upgrade in Claptrap. With that all done, it seems a good time to stop and start on the next mission (taking some note to some guy for Roland) next time.

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[…] So after the mad-cat incident in which Grimm destroyed my Borderlands 2 disc, and a brief hiatus, I’ve returned to Pandora thanks to a new disc from a friend for my birthday – hence, a return to the As-I-Play Borderlands 2 series on TLF! […]

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