Borderlands, as a property, has a pretty good track record with DLC. It’s had a few stinkers over the years, sure, but it’s also had its fair share of absolute bangers. Most notable among them, in my humble opinion, was Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep, which transported the action to a re-imagined fantasy world and managed to tell a very sweet, surprisingly moving story at the same time. It’s this DLC that came to mind most often while playing through Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck, the fourth expansion for Borderlands 3.
To clarify, this does not tell a sweet story, but rather invites you to delve into the mind of Krieg, who ironically came into the universe himself as a DLC character for Borderlands 2. Hardly the most three-dimensional individual, those who played the second game will remember Krieg as a 7-foot nutjob who speaks largely in horrific nonsense verse. He does the same here, too, bringing some form of mildly disturbing body horror imagery to even the shortest conversation. Insanity is like a virus, a disease, you see, and resident scientist Tannis needs to send you directly into Krieg’s mind to find a cure, along with a mysterious Vault containing untold riches. Or something. It doesn’t really matter. The upshot is that you’ll spend the best part of three hours traversing locales that either look like the inside of an ogre’s stomach or the front cover of an 80s heavy metal album, while battling the same enemies you’ve seen before with Borderlands trademark hodge-podged weaponry.
Inside Krieg’s mind you’ll meet two sides of his psyche. The first is the standard growling headcase we’ve met before, but the other is a much more balanced and cultured version that comes as close to boyfriend material as Borderlands has ever gotten, whose clear and rational take on the goings-on around him is actually pretty refreshing. It’s rare to meet a character in this universe who isn’t raving about something. Sane Krieg wants out, and Insane Krieg wants to be left alone, but in order to give both of them what they desire you’ll need to help them understand that they’re both essential – while unraveling the mystery of what drove Krieg this way in the first place. And you do this by visiting various periods in Krieg’s past via his somewhat distorted memories and murdering everything you meet there.
Borderlands has a strange relationship with insanity, but if you’re expecting the Fantastic Fustercluck to get deep or emotional, you’re in the wrong place. Which is a shame, as there are genuine things that could have been explored here if one of the main characters didn’t spend the entire time screaming about slicing people’s flesh off, etc. Instead it does what Borderlands has mostly always done, and throws enemies at you in huge numbers, hits you with a couple of boss fights, and generally dances around flinging its own crap at the wall in the hopes that some of it makes you laugh while making also you nauseous – and be honest: that’s why we’re here.
While I found the environments on the whole to be okay, none had me as impressed as the first area did – a green and verdant field that seemed too beautiful to really fit, until a giant representation of Krieg appeared and started throwing boulders, psychos and rocket-riding bandits at me. The rest is a mix of craggy fortresses, lava, chains, and huge eyes embedded in the various body parts that make up the decor. A boss fight that sees you taking on a corrupted Brick and Mordecai was probably the low point, since my level wasn’t quite high enough and they were such relentless bullet sponges that I actually fully ran out of ammo during the fight and had to finish it with nothing but my special abilities.
After this it did improve though, and by the time I was being hunted by a nigh-unstoppable train (seriously, a sentient train) called the Locomobius that mows through scenery and enemies with a weirdly haunting choo-choo and a singular desire to destroy me, I was pretty much in all the way anyway. Ultimately, your goal here is Vaulthalla, a mythical room filled with loot, and to be honest that’s enough of a reason to play – that’s what the entirety of Borderlands is, after all: one long train of loot and mayhem. While Psycho Krieg & the Fantastic Fustercluck doesn’t add anything that feels super new, it at least offers up an incredibly Borderlands-y expansion filled with meat chunks and silly weapons – and it’s the only game this year that’ll let you shoot down the actual moon, go on a mini quest to retrieve it, load it into a catapult and use it to batter down the walls of a meat castle. So, y’know, there’s that.
Quite funny throughout
Sane Krieg is cool
Locomobius is a great boss encounter
Adds nothing new