Borderlands 3 “Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck” Review

Gaming
6.5

Fair

Borderlands 3 “Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck”

Developer: Gearbox
Publisher: 2K
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: 10 September 2020
Price:  $14.99 USD/$22.95 AUD – Available Here

Video Review

Overview

Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck” is the fourth and final story DLC for Borderlands 3. Tannis is sending the Vault Hunters into Krieg the psycho’s mind in search of Vaulthalla. Players will discover the relationships between Krieg and the Vault Hunters, learn of Krieg’s traumatic past, and help Krieg work through his clashing inner voices.

Story

The plot is one of the most mature stories the Borderlands writers have told. The themes of social perception, self-image, trauma, and loneliness are handled well, yet the game still manages to keep the franchise’s signature over the top, inane, and silly storytelling style. The constant swing between the mature storyline and the immature style of storytelling prevents the DLC from becoming too heavy for a Borderlands title while still giving gamers something meatier to chew on.

While Krieg at least appeared in Borderlands 3, his relationship with other Vault Hunters has always been a difficult story to tell due to Krieg’s nonsensical style of communication. Previous content allowed players to take a small peek into Krieg’s history; the DLC finally gives him some much-needed depth by properly linking him to the rest of the Crimson Raiders. I really enjoy how each of Krieg’s personalities view each Vault Hunter given the same set of interactions, as it not only fleshes out the relationship between him and the raiders but also each personality.

The plot itself is a bit predictable. The plots twists and turns are gentle and are signaled well in advance, but the journey is done so well that the predictability never hinders the quality of the story.

Gameplay

Combat has not changed much. “Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck” adds new weapons and equipment to the game along with increasing the level cap to 65. The additions changes combat slightly by offering new options and builds for players.

The level design is where the DLC struggles the most. The main story quests are the best of what the DLC has to offer. They are linear and focused missions that are paced for intense action interrupted by the odd jumping puzzle. The side quests are extremely disappointing. Many are simple excuses to tell a story with the minimal character interaction and to throw some experience, loot, and money at the player. There are a few moments where the developers showed some excellent creativity by using quest objectives as comedic devices, but these flashes of brilliance are drowned out by the flood of dull visual novel-style quests. There are a handful of side quests with actual gameplay content. Many require players to finish the main quest in the area then return to complete the side quest. The fact these objectives are located deep within the levels is infuriating, even as a FL4K player using Fade Away to sneak past engagements.

There are some new enemies introduced to the game, but a vast majority are new bosses. The boss encounters are a bit of a disappointment. They are generally straight forward fights and are light on mechanics, even for Borderlands standards.

Overall, the DLC is painfully short. It feels like a lot of design decisions were made to generate gameplay hours just for the sake of stretching out the gameplay instead of having meaningful content. The length of the game would have been more tolerable if Gearbox did not price “Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck” at the same price as the previous three DLCs.

Visuals

Having a DLC set in someone’s mind instead of a planet gave the artists a lot of room for creativity. The artists have done a good job seizing the opportunity by reimagining Borderlands 3 through the lens of a hallucinogenic trip. The environments are in true Psycho fashion with over the top blood and gore combined with trippy visual effects. The artists integrated classic horror visuals to great success. Sometimes it is used as a form of parody, while other times it is used as an effective storytelling device during key moments.

Audio

The audio experience in “Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck” is enjoyable. The voice acting is excellent. Krieg’s voice actor does a great job with the voice of Sane Krieg by using an even keeled tone to round out Psycho Krieg’s wild babbling without becoming completely lifeless. The two performances could be easily mistaken as being done by two separate actors. The sound effects continue to be of high quality. The DLC has a fantastic new soundtrack. It mixes dark video game scores, electronic music, and hip-hop beats. The soundtrack has been clearly influenced by horror and video game scores, giving the soundtrack a distinct style compared to previous Borderlands soundtracks.

Overall

“Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck” is frustrating. The DLC swings from the extremes, much like Krieg himself. On one hand, the story is one of the better tales Gearbox has produced for the franchise, and the soundtrack is excellent. On the other hand, the side quests are probably the weakest in the entire franchise, and the DLC is painfully short. I am disappointed in the DLC, but not because it is a total train wreck. I feel more like a disappointed parent who sees flashes of brilliance in their child that are dragged down by sheer laziness.

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Summary

While it's one of the better stories in the franchise, the terrible mission design hobbles the DLC. This is not the DLC Borderlands 3 deserved to go out on.
6.5

Fair

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