Those of us who enjoy Sword & Sorcery no longer have to dwell in the dark corners of the computer lab. The 2010s are run by fantasy-geek producers and writers who happily mainline lore directly into our hungry amigdalas. We have on-demand television series bringing huge sadistic plodding fantasy masterpieces to life with an $8 million per episode budget. We have fully interactive fantasy gaming communities that have spent 6 million human work years questing and fetching and rolling for gear. There are an infinite number of lifetimes one can gladly surrender to fantasy entertainment — which is why having a shallow-water substitute is sometimes a life saver. Enter Borderlands 2 add-on, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep:
On its surface, the add-on is immaculately written, and takes pot shots at some of the mainstays of D&D — people not listening to the DM, the DM having to re-balance the game on the fly, ostracizing a jock who wants to play the game — there is even a quest in which you can spawn-camp simulated l33t FPSers just for the LOLs (and XPs).
Beneath the surface, Tina, like Arya, copes with PTSD after losing both of her parents to a maniacal and ambitious warlord. Unlike Arya, Tina concocts a fantasy world in which her bomb-making and facilitating the anti-Hyperion resistance is couched in a pleasant little-girl setting full of tea parties, stuffed bunnies, and hopscotch.
Shrinks call this Fantasy Coping Theory, which is considered to be a defense mechanism concocted by the ego to protect itself from a cruel outside world. Some theorize that Harry Potter’s entire ascent through Hogwarts was merely the hallucination of an abused orphan forced to live under the staircase. In Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, Tina’s friends, the remaining lieutenants of the resistance, all willingly participate in a flight of fancy, as they allow Tina to construct a tabletop fantasy for them. Little do they know that she’ll use it to paper over the other tragedies that happen throughout the main Borderlands 2 storyline — namely, the death of Bloodwing, and the murder of remaining father figure Roland.
On a meta-level, we all use fantasy as an escape-route from our otherwise too safe and monotonous existences. But given my predilection to dive Ironforge-level deep into these worlds, having a light-hearted parody of a jaunt into one suits me just fine. This add-on is fantasy methadone — just enough to get you through the day, without requiring a 36-hour binge and purge. And for five bucks via a Steam Summer Deal? I say, roll for initiative.