Often times people remember Borderlands as a silly game that relies heavily on crude humor, but there have been multiple instances of the series offering a touching narrative. This is part of what gave Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep so much staying power. What started as a joke centered around Dungeons and Dragons, evolved into a story about a kid who was having trouble dealing with grief in her own way. It was a welcome end to her story in Borderlands 2 and has shown Borderlands can be more in the right situation. In some ways, the second expansion in Borderlands 3 also touched on similar narrative beats, but there were high expectations of Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck. With several hints of Krieg getting more content and a chance to explore one of the most interesting characters that hint at giving the often killed psychos some depth, will it be the stand out the expansion of the third game or is it a Fustercluck itself.
On paper, Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck sounds like a wonderful idea. Tannis wants you to explore Krieg’s mind to find out more about one of the most unusual Vault Hunters and a place called Vaulthalla. Where things go off the rails isn’t a concept, something that is absolutely there, it’s more execution.
Where stories of weird and unusual characters tend to falter is taking away a big part of what made said character interesting. Krieg’s inner mind is warped, to the point where his consciousness has been split into two distinct personalities. The same man we’ve seen in the past and the broken psycho we now know and, if nothing else, tolerate, who act as your guides to this twisted place. Except, it really isn’t that compelling of a story.
Adventure Time ultimately succeeded in their long term efforts to give Ice King, formerly Simon Petrikov, by making his story unique, gripping, and most importantly, unfortunate. Psycho Krieg doesn’t really have the same benefit. Before you can visit the infamous Vaulthalla, you need to relive three distinct memories. One where he teamed up with the Vault Hunters in the past, another with Maya, and finally one that reveals his origin all leading up to a rather anticlimactic conclusion. Essentially he was a meek man who was broken, went insane, and then ultimately formed some kind of relationship with Maya. Most of this was already known and the rest isn’t interesting enough to honestly carry an expansion, not in a universe filled with larger than life characters, making it all feel so underwhelming.
Instead of focusing on giving us a gripping narrative, we get a lot of amusing dialogue. Sane Krieg also offers some insightful, though often too on the nose, comments about what we see and perceive reality. These alone would be enough to carry the expansion if it made more of an effort.
Since this expansion takes place in Krieg’s mind, there is a lot of reused assets. From enemies to locations, it feels like a wrapped and trippy version of the base game. There is still a good amount of new places, with a few enemies, it just feels rushed. There isn’t the same sense of scale found in the previous expansions, nor do we see the same attention to detail. It really feels like they had an idea, knew where it was going, and thought Krieg’s name would be enough to sell it. Most likely the reality is less that and more problems resulting from COVID-19 lead to a rather lackluster final outing, not that it really excuses the outcome.
Progressing through the expansion really highlights how passionless the expansion feels. A lot of the expansion is linear, with a couple underwhelming quests and tasks tossed in, some of which are just there to say they’re there. For example, one quest is just scratching Krieg’s back, so you go behind, push a button a couple of times, and get a reward. This was fine as a one-off quest, like the guy who asks you to shoot him, but in an expansion like this, it just highlights how straightforward it all is.
Upon finishing, Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck struggles to give you a reason to return. A new quest is given that forces you to return to each, but it really is one of the most underwhelming experiences from the franchise. At least to the point where there isn’t enough standout content to really justify a revisit, as most of the time will be shooting the same familiar faces.
Borderlands 3: Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck Review – Verdict
What makes Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck difficult to review is, the core game is obviously fantastic and the dialogue makes it fun, yet it really isn’t that impressive of an expansion. Familiar locations and expected storytelling take away from the journey, as does the need to play so many things safe. It is fine as part of the season pass or an additional bonus adventure, it just struggles to make the journey worthwhile. At least when compared to the other expansions, which had more to say, do and experience than Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck offers.
[Editor’s Note: Borderlands 3 – Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck were reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]