And we’re back with the final ABG review for Gearbox’s Borderlands 3 – this generation. Presenting the DLC: Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck. Released on September 10th, 2020 The Fantastic Fustercluck takes players to the Depths of Psycho Krieg’s Mind in a chroma-laced, hallucinogenic mindbender. Join us as we review to determine whether it’s worth your time and money.
How one derives fun from a product tends to be highly subjective. Therefore ALL forms of review are opinionated and should be taken with a grain of salt (this included). So let’s review Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck through the lens of more objective metrics such as; graphical fidelity, characters & story, content & length, controls & gameplay, then finally, sound design & cinematics. This product was evaluated on a launch model PlayStation 4, for full transparency: using a purchased copy.
To avoid detailed redundancy in regards to game performance, users can refer to any of our previous Borderlands 3, or DLC reviews. But to recap: framerates aren’t great in splitscreen, though are manageable solo. Load times are somewhat long and this is about as good as it gets on base PS4. Not bad when considering the hardware age. All things considered, what direction does gearbox stylistically take on players’ most recent adventure?
This time around The Fantastic Fustercluck uses trippy visuals in an attempt to wow players. With this, it’s clear where much of the development time ended up – aesthetics. That being said, The Fantastic Fustercluck contains some inception-esque visuals, DOOMish environments & models. From floors warping between your feet, to twisting hallways and stalking eyes that track your every step, the attention to detail is both appreciated and welcome. This is easily the most colourfully, lush and attractive of the DLC’s, followed closely by Moxxi’s Heist. Tonnes of creativity was poured into this DLC introducing some wacky new enemy types (such as literal bullet-riders & one jumbo sized Krieg), unfortunately this is contrasted by plenty of reused models & enemies. We’ll get more into that later though.
Aesthetics are definitely a major selling point for this content pack. It’s going to be the wild “blood horn fountain”, or the uniquely hellish and grim meat landscapes that maintain player retention this time around. There’s a lot here that will make players go “wow, that’s nifty!”, and then promptly forget about it until their next complete playthrough. Seeing a giant dream-like Krieg is super-cool – it’s just that the novelty wears off quickly.
Characters & Story
Taking players on a ride through the complexities of a Psycho’s mind, The Fantastic Fustercluck revolves around reaching the catalyst of their insanity: Vaulthalla. Vault hunters must gain access to this mystical place, while finding balance in the mind of a maddened Psycho. Alongside the return of Borderlands 2’s fan favorite Krieg, is also longtime series character: Tannis. Although personally I always found Tannis to be quite annoying, her inclusion will no doubt be welcome to other longtime fans. Lastly (but not least) we have Maya returning with a very welcome and much stronger performance than the base game. Her presence may not be a dealbreaker for many, but it’s a nice inclusion nonetheless. Gearbox frames her as a substitute “Black Widow” to Krieg’s “Hulk” and that’s all well and good, if a bit cheesy.
Shouldering the majority of this casts burden, however, are the two halves of a whole: Psycho, and Sane Krieg. Hopefully by now you know, I’ve got to be honest. I was not impressed with the hit and miss portrayals & writing of these characters in particular. Sure, the manic Psychos often lack rationality and are prone to fits of extreme rage and dysfunction, but I feel the writing was sharper for previous iterations of Psycho Krieg. That’s not to say things like Krieg’s “meat bicycle made for two” isn’t psychotic in it’s own right, but new Krieg just felt… edgy (at times). Contrasting this is the intentionally “Sane” Krieg, who’s often so straight faced he might as well have a suit and pipe. Hmmm, indubitably. My intention not being to nitpick; I just think a serious & mature version of Krieg could be portrayed without the occasionally dry delivery.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I 100% understand that the direct contrast is intentional. Extreme psychosis distinctly alternative to a stable and logical mentality, I’m merely of the opinion that their portrayals could have been improved on the writing end. Conceptually I love what they were trying to do here, I just think the execution was lacking. Not necessarily bad, though not exemplary either. In my personal opinion this DLC has the weakest story, accompanied by the best side-quests in a Borderlands 3 content pack. I said it was a mixed bag, didn’t I? The main characters, I found middling for the plot’s driving forces when compared to the interesting side missions & characters. Which, speaking of content – let’s talk about that next.
Content & Length
The Fantastic Fustercluck is quite a contradictory piece of content. While it may be dense, creative and exciting at times – it’s also too damn short and just somewhat “meh”, at others. It took me approximately 6 hours to beat everything this DLC has to offer, with averages placed between 3.5-6 hours of gameplay. Enter: the Depths of Krieg’s Mind where the vault hunters are tasked with acquiring three quest items for the Krieg duo before defeating the big boss and calling it a day. Locations visited are quite visually satisfying with their vivid bright colour palette. That being said how content looks and plays are two very separate things. I found level design to be rather basic when compared to previous DLC’s, comprising mostly of hallways & arena-style open fight segments. A slight step back from some of the creative level design portrayed in The Bounty of Blood.
Contrasting the inclusion of some new enemy types, are sprinkled in reiterations of know archetypes like spiderants and even (minor spoiler) clone variants of known characters. Honestly, I can overlook this, considering most enemies are simply bullet-fodder at this point. Especially when accounting for the intriguing side quests on offer. I oftentimes found myself laughing out loud more during this DLC than others. I found myself thinking that this content was designed to maximize entertainment. It leans towards being visually exciting to provide value, rather than attempting to maximize content/dollar. Allocation of resources & man hours aren’t unlimited, and this focus on aesthetic value is likely the cause for shorter content. This is understandable but a tradeoff, for better or worse, you can decide for yourself.
Simply because I want to drive the point home on the stellar nature of the creative content included with this DLC, I’ll detail a few standout examples. First of which (you can see a photo of below), The Fantastic Fustercluck contains compelling questlines involving more talking guns. Meet: P.A.T. I like P.A.T., he’s awesome. Then there’s quests involving incubating babyguns (don’t ask), and loads of references including a personal favorite: a ‘Matrix’ checkpoint/lobby shootout. The point being? There’s less content, but what we do get is (in my opinion), denser and more fun. As a final note, I am and continue to be disappointed by the non-inclusion of a new playable class. I see this as a blatant reduction in value accompanying this season’s DLC’s when compared to the previous standard set. This has been touched on in previous DLC’s so I won’t beat a dead horse. That being said, in it’s current state I would argue that Borderlands 2 had a better 4-DLC run inducing longer player retention while (subjectively) better and providing potentially (don’t know gameplay hours compared for certain) more content per dollar. This is not including the headhunter packs.
Controls & Gameplay
Similar to our previous Borderlands reviews, this DLC doesn’t make any changes to controls. In regards to gameplay, there are few changes as well. The majority of additions within this DLC are directed towards providing additional content for players. And while these may effect the nuances of gameplay, they don’t alter it by and large.
Sound Design & Cinematics
Don’t do LSD? Too bad! With Krieg’s Fantastic Fustercluck, you’re strapped in for a psychedelic ride. Stylistically speaking some of the cinematics take on the form of comic-esque hand drawn panel art. This is an interesting direction that may be commended by some for its dedicated application of creative method. Cinematics are qualitatively on par with what we’ve come to expect from Gearbox’s Borderlands. Next up in audio, we’ll talk about vocal performances. Now, this DLC contained a lot of underutilized talent to work with here. I found the performances carried a half ass script that missed it’s mark about as much as it hit it. Voice acting gets a thumbs up here, though I wish the writing were better for this generation of Borderlands.
Finally on the topic of sound, this content’s music was appropriately tweaky. Taking into consideration the setting the OST blends well, bringing with it a sort of eerie weirdness; befitting a product of a Psychos unhinged state of mind.
In conjunction, these combinations of elements don’t necessarily make a bad Borderlands experience, merely a middling and often underwhelming one. While it may grip you with dazzling displays, it felt over as soon as it had begun. Long story short: it’s a pretty package of hard burning, little-lasting content. To be clear, The Fantastic Fustercluck is enjoyable, just maybe not the BANG Borderlands 3 wanted to go out on. I cannot, however, in good conscience recommend it at its current price point – wait for a sale. 6.0/10. Worthwhile returning to Borderlands 3 if players own a seasons pass, I’d pay no more than $10 for the provided content; as it’s playability simply doesn’t justify the maintained price when compared to previous DLCs.
If you enjoyed this Borderlands 3 content review, be sure to check out our comprehensive reviews for the full game and each DLC.
What did you think of Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck? Let us know in the comments. If you enjoyed this content, why not check out our Borderlands 3: Bounty of Blood Review?
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Qualitatively Up To Par, But Too Damn Short
- Score - 6/106/10
+ Aesthetically beautiful
+ Quite Creative
– Short Overall Length
– Weak Writing
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