Should you buy Borderlands 3: Bounty of Blood DLC?
What I liked about Bounty of Blood
The third story DLC takes players to the desert planet of Gehanna, which, like many planets in the Borderlands universe, was left in ruins after a corporation came, used up its resources, and left. Your Vault Hunter travels to the town, called Vestige, and gets embroiled in the conflict between the villagers and a group of bandits called the Devil Riders and their leader, Rose, who has plans in mind to steal a mysterious orb and use it for her own nefarious purposes.
The Borderlands 3 DLCs have offered the same gameplay people enjoy while changing up the settings, the creatures you fight, and introducing new characters. The difference between this DLC and the other settings is that it's Western-inspired. Yes, the Borderlands series was heavily influenced by Westerns as a whole, but Bounty of Blood takes it to a new level. Instead of the Mad Max-style seen in the base game, you're dropped right into The Man with No Name or The Magnificent Seven, where an outsider comes around and sets a town on the right path.
Bounty of Blood borrows heavily from different Western and Spaghetti Western tropes and is all the better for it. You have the unnamed outsider coming between a town and some bandits, a heavily-accented narrator that lets you in on the plot as you go, and the building of a posse to take down the bad guys. By taking elements from across the genre, Gearbox is able to craft a unique story that feels familiar yet shows flexibility. It still has that Borderlands flavor, with sidequests and dialog that feel irreverent and stupid but revel in taking the unexpected route towards a punchline. This is welcome after the Borderlands 3 base game, which seemed to miss a lot of what made the Borderlands series so great in terms of its characters and narrative.
Gearbox also added a new element to doing sidequests. The company said in marketing materials that the choices you make as a player will affect the story. When you first get to Vestige at the beginning of the DLC, the town is close to empty and needlessly violent. As you complete quests for citizens, some who have fled Vestige for the wilds outside in the plains, you can get them to come back to town. If you help a character called The Wanderer, for example, he'll set up inside the local tavern and start playing music. Help a farmer outside the town out and she'll reappear inside the town walls and cheer you on.
This all ties in with the idea that the more good deeds you do, the better of an effect you'll have on everyone around you. It's an interesting concept for the Borderlands series, which enjoys living in this muddy gray area between good and bad. Luckily, The Bounty of Blood never goes completely to the light side, with many of the choices being "kill this person" and "making them prey for mercy."
Otherwise, this is a lot of the same Borderlands you're used to. You get some great guns and new enemies to try them out on. The enemies aren't more unique than what appeared in the base game (a lot of the times just the same ones with slightly different names), but it presents just enough change to keep players entertained. New elements, like plants that spew shrapnel when you melee them, change up gameplay and force you to actually engage with your environment during combat.
What I didn't like about Bounty of Blood
Bounty of Blood is a solid DLC that changes up the Borderlands formula in small but meaningful ways. However, while some of the new elements are fun, but don't add much to either gameplay or story.
The telezappers, for example, are weird pieces of ancient tech that allow you to teleport, but you don't get access to them until far into the main campaign. They allow you to reach certain areas you couldn't before, but mostly just sit to teleport you around a battlefield. It benefits deep explorers or those who don't mind backtracking but get in the way for those who just want to play through the campaign.
There's also a new vehicle called the Jetbeast, which is a hoverbike that can shoot machine-gun like bullets. It makes for a smooth ride, but it's the only one you can use on Gehanna. Some upgrades you can unlock make it tankier or faster, but none of them are too noticeable in practice.
While Bounty of Blood was the first Borderlands 3 DLC to not bring back a previously established character, it did introduce us to a few new ones. Rose starts off as your guide but becomes something more. Juno is a straight-talking brawler who becomes the sheriff of Vestige despite her past with the Devil Riders. There are also countless NPCs that you can interact with.
They both sound intriguing on paper, but none stand out among some of the series' great characters. Rose is a three-dimensional character with distinct motivations for doing what she does, but she's not drastically different from other characters you face throughout the series. Juno, on the other hand, gives you something to run back to at Vestige, but doesn't do enough despite her ability to fight and her need to prove herself to the townsfolk. Most of the other NPCs are forgettable. The big final boss at the end is also standard fare, although is that such a bad thing when the loot is still plentiful?
Bottom line: Should you play Bounty of Blood?
I wasn't too impressed with Borderlands 3. It was missing a lot of the charm from Borderlands 1 and 2, and often seemed to miss the point of its humor. While the series is known for being gruesome and over-the-top, it had these grounded moments, either with its characters or in the story, that gave the violence meaning. Borderlands 3 leaned into the blood and fart jokes and didn't quite hit the mark in terms of its characters.
Bounty of Blood feels like Gearbox is going back to its roots, especially with the sidequests that allow you to either help or kill NPCs. As the Vault Hunter, you feel like you're needed and that you can have an impact, which goes a long way towards leading the player through a few hours of gameplay.
Overall, Bounty of Blood adds some unique ideas to the Borderlands canon while not doing enough with others. The ability to affect the world around you is one we see in other games, but not so much in Borderlands, so to see it reflected here was a nice surprise. It also added more to the story, which is a fun retread of Western pastiches with a Gearbox spin.
I doubt that any of the NPCs will reappear since they ranged from solid C-tier villain to absolutely forgettable, but they didn't get in the way of the campaign, which took me about 7-8 hours to complete with some sidequests thrown in. Even some of the weaker elements don't ruin the experience. They just stand out later as being something that could've been worked on for a little longer.
If you've already been having fun with Borderlands 3 and want to explore yet another planet, you can do a lot worse than Bounty of Blood.
The entire package
When you want it all
Don't have the base game yet and are interested in all the DLC? The Super Deluxe Edition comes with the main game, all four DLC packs, some great cosmetics, Butt Stallion extras, and more.
For when you just want a little more
If you already have the base game and want to get in on the four DLC packs, pick up the Season Pass. With Bounty of Blood out, you'll be getting three, with one more on the way.
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