Bridging the gap between the end of Borderlands 2 and the beginning of Borderlands 3, the new DLC Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary has been released for free, for owners of BL2 or the Handsome Collection.
Released as a somewhat surprise drop, aside from the leaks of the DLC’s imminent arrival, Fight for Sanctuary opens up on our heroes after the deaths of both the Warrior and Handsome Jack. Leaderless and with ambitious future plans, the Crimson Raiders are at a crucial crossroads.
Enter Hector, the plant-loving douchebag and leader of the New Pandora Army. Former Dahl soldiers, New Pandora dreams of a paradise that they can create and mould, much like Handsome Jack, though without a lot of Jacks particular brand of charm. That being said, Hector, like many of the villains and heroes of the Borderlands universe, communicates to you via Echo, at random intervals and with the occasional joke.
However, as a character, Hector is quite two dimensional, not having much time to flesh out every facet of his personality. He is essentially a rather large target in which to aim your assortment of overly large weaponry.
And weaponry you will have in abundance, particularly with the addition of an all new weapon rarity tier, known as Effervescent. Sitting above Legendaries in the grand scheme of things, Effervescent weapons are incredibly rare, kaleidoscopic tools of destruction allowing you to dispatch your foes with particular ease.
That particular SMG for instance, is thrown when reloaded like other Tediore weapons but also continues to shoot before eventually exploding. I’m sure you’ll agree, this is rather awesome and something players have come to expect from a Borderlands game. Since they are so rare, there are undoubtedly numerous Effervescent weapons to collect, to be used to blow apart the faces, limbs, and stamens of your foes.
To create the paradise he so desires, Hector implements a biological agent that adds delightful botanical accents to the desert. Oh and we cannot forget the bandits themselves, who have sprouted (hehe) into our brand new foe. Aside from the new look, there are very few changes to the way these hostiles play.
You’ve got psychos-turned-floral-displays trying to pummel the Vault Hunters to death, walking Goliath-shaped vines launching themselves at you, and the variety of heavily armed, highly trained New Pandora soldiers. Pretty much the norm for Vault Hunters of our calibre.
From a gameplay perspective, the new enemies are essentially just reskins of common Borderlands enemies, but it’s still fun to indiscriminately murder, blow up, and dismember their rampaging leafy bodies.
The gameplay difference comes in with a new mechanic tied directly to the mutating poison gas. The gas will provide a noticeable damage buff when standing in it but as a delightful side effect will start to fill up a poisometer. As Tannis says, yes I made up that word but all words are made up.
When the poisometer reaches capacity you’ll start to take damage, ultimately culminating in you falling into Fight For Your Life. While the gas does occur naturally throughout the many vine-infested areas of the expansion, there are Infected Flowers which release the gas when shot, providing interesting strategic gameplay opportunities.
Ultimately, throughout the short campaign, your goal is to prevent Hector’s wack idea of paradise from coming to fruition, with the help of a few quirky allies, of whom you might be familiar.
Your squad from the many previous, death defying adventures are all with you in various capacities within Fight for Sanctuary, from Tannis and her arousing view of science, to Moxxi, Ellie, and even Crazy Earl. All the colourful characters we’ve come to know and love will be with you during this conflict.
Hammerlock even makes an appearance to provide with the final Raid boss on Pandora. Haderax, like many previous Raid bosses is a complete bullet sponge but for seasoned Vault Hunters, it shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, the summoning for Haderax was my personal favourite across all the expansions.
There were even incredible tributes and mementos carefully placed within Fight for Sanctuary for Scooter, done in such a way that it brought tears to my eyes. Gearbox definitely didn’t leave him out in the cold. By closing off his arc, starting a new one, and leaving a physical mark on Pandora that can always be revisited, Scooter will always live on.
It wouldn’t be a Borderlands DLC without an abundance of campaign missions and side quests, from the wacky to the emotionally touching. These revolve, for the most part, around what you’d expect for each particular character. Fight for Sanctuary doesn’t change the classic Borderlands formula, just gives players more of what they want and gives Dr Zed more to work with, if you catch my meaning.
The title for this DLC is Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary and in almost all ways, this is what we get. Seeing our home for almost seven years (September 2012) twisted and morphed, as we battle to save Sanctuary adds an emotional element that heightened the final confrontations. Fighting through the cramped streets with the propaganda posters, glowing signs, and all the fixings of home brings out a wonderful sense of nostalgia and finality.
Sanctuary is a small city, not designed for large scale conflicts, which intensified the boss battle. You’ve got projectiles and enemies, of all sizes (small, big, and even bigger) honing in on you and hampering your progress. Playing as my high-level Zer0, damage avoidance wasn’t much of a problem, what with the holographic decoys, but as you are swarmed and boxed in, the battle is both exciting and energising.
While Hector does have a significant health pool, you aren’t just sitting there aimlessly firing at him and watching his health bar trickle down. There are multiple phases and gameplay changes to keep you on your toes, making the fight less monotonous.
The final stages of the main story also allow you to find the answer to one key question that many players may have been curious about; what does Earl do with all that Eridium?
Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary is designed to bridge the gap between games, show how we got from a floating city in the skies of Pandora, to a ship in space. This expansion does this in leaps and bounds, tying up the loose ends we have accumulated out on the wastelands, and delivering an impressive amount of character development for the titular character, in such a short period of time.
Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary is a small DLC, able to be completed in a few hours but it’s an emotionally enriching experience and a touching sendoff for the wasteland we’ve called home for many years. While we can always revisit Pandora, continuing playthroughs and starting new ones, the story has seamlessly moved on and we have a clear path, straight to Borderlands 3 and the Children of the Vault. After all, there’s no rest for the wicked.