This text, initially posted on March 29, 2020, has been republished to amplify black voices in GameSpot’s help of Black Lives Matter. Donate to the trouble to battle systemic racism here.

With the discharge of Weapons, Love, and Tentacles: The Marriage of Wainwright & Hammerlock, the second story-focused DLC for Borderlands 3, I figured that now could be the most effective time to leap again into Gearbox’s newest entry in its first-person loot shooter franchise, seeing as I hadn’t discovered a possibility to take action since writing GameSpot’s Borderlands Three overview. The Borderlands franchise has sometimes had a good monitor document on the subject of post-launch marketing campaign expansions after all–so I figured, “Why not?”

Nonetheless, I wasn’t notably enthused by my time with Weapons, Love, and Tentacles, largely as a result of Gearbox’s interpretation of H.P. Lovecraft’s work incorporates a few of the problematic elements of the writer’s worldview after which does nothing to handle them.

It is the DLC’s portrayal of black people who irks me probably the most, largely due to the Borderlands franchise’s type of storytelling. Borderlands video games historically discover ideas or items of popular culture by way of sarcasm, satire, or playful homage. Gearbox takes one thing that already exists and adapts it to match its type of irreverent Borderlands mayhem.

When this course of works, it actually works. For instance, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Preserve from Borderlands 2, which sends you on a tabletop RPG journey that riffs on Dungeons & Dragons, is a enjoyable DLC, each by way of theme and gameplay. There’s additionally the entire Greek mythology symbolism that acts as a throughline for all 4 video games, corresponding to every Siren being an attractive however harmful lady and the planet Pandora performing as a vault, all of which contributes to the extra fascinating elements of Borderlands’ lore.

Weapons, Love, and Tentacles is a Lovecraft-themed DLC, incorporating sure elements of H.P. Lovecraft’s tales and the Cthulhu Mythos because the backdrop to the general narrative. Sadly, what makes the DLC really feel extra adaptive than interpretive is in the way it treats Sir Hammerlock and Wainwright Jakobs, the 2 characters who’re on the middle of Weapons, Love, and Tentacles. The DLC is concerning the two characters getting married and going through the unlucky snag of holding the venue on a planet dominated by a cult. The cult’s chief, Eleanor, deems the couple’s like to be impure and weak and so Wainwright turns into the unwilling host of her husband’s spirit–doomed to slowly remodel into her beloved except you determine to do one thing to cease the method. As Hammerlock is rendered a passive bystander for just about the complete DLC (he helps you in your quest to save lots of his fiance on just one event), all of the company falls to you.

So the story of the DLC is {that a} lady who’s primarily an otherworldly witch robs a homosexual couple of their completely satisfied day, questions their relationship, after which tries to repair the “flaw” of their love by remodeling one of many males into her personal husband, in order to create a supposedly extra pure love. That is already a bit of unusual and greater than a bit homophobic, however once you additionally think about that this DLC is Lovecraft-inspired, it turns into much more problematic.

All of it boils all the way down to this: H.P. Lovecraft was racist–and an outspoken white supremacist-level racist at that. This is not a case the place we should separate the artist from his artwork both, as the person included his views on folks of colour into his literary works. Simply have a look at his poem “On the Creation of Niggers,” which states that the gods created man and beast after which created black folks as some unexplainable in-between creature.

His hateful opinions concerning folks of colour prolong to his tales that cowl the occult and cosmic horror as nicely. For example, “The Horror at Purple Hook” refers to Brooklyn, a New York Metropolis borough with a citizenship largely composed of coloured people, as “leporous and cancerous with evil dragged from elder worlds” and the individuals who stay there as “hordes of prowlers” who elicit a “babel of sound and filth.” The third chapter of “The Name of Cthulhu” refers back to the homicide of the “queer and evil-looking crew of Kanakas and half-castes” as a “responsibility,” seeing because the group of individuals of colour and people of combined race are of “abominable high quality.” The Deep Ones in “The Shadow over Innsmouth” are supposed to be monstrously horrifying as a result of they characterize the impure offspring of interracial {couples}.

So now, trying on the storyline of Weapons, Love, and Tentacles, it’s important to keep in mind how Gearbox has written the black characters–in this case, Wainwright and Hammerlock–because that is part of Lovecraft fiction too. And on this sense, Gearbox is reasonably spot-on. The 2 black males are too nugatory to assist themselves and have a love that is continually scrutinized and questioned all through a majority of the DLC, whereas the antagonist is “purifying” their love by remodeling certainly one of them into her white, heterosexual husband. If she simply falls in love with and marries Wainwright, that may be, in Lovecraft’s eyes, a gross intermixing of the races, so Wainwright has to remodel into her husband first to ensure that the like to be real. Numerous pink flags there, however very Lovecraft.

The issue is that Gearbox does nothing to dismiss them.

Now, I get it. It is a Borderlands recreation. I do not count on Borderlands Three to sort out the nuanced ins-and-outs of each side of what makes a Lovecraftian story. But when your recreation goes to adapt Lovecraft’s tales and incorporate the themes and messages of these tales, then it’s best to handle their problematic elements too. Weapons, Love, and Tentacles would not do this. Wainwright and Hammerlock do not even get the prospect to showcase how their love is worthy of overcoming Eleanor and her husband–you defeat the villainous couple whereas your allies helplessly watch. Weapons, Love, and Tentacles is likely one of the few conditions the place Borderlands’ conventional irreverence might have been sharpley used to mock Lovecraft’s horrible views and truly handle points along with his work, however the DLC makes no try to take action regardless of the chance.

And, in fact, in doing so, Weapons, Love, and Tentacles takes on the identical flaws as Lovecraft’s work. The precise mission construction in Weapons, Love, and Tentacles is of okay quality–like Borderlands 3’s principal marketing campaign, you’ve gotten too many annoying platforming sections and bullet-sponge boss fights breaking apart the gratifying bouts of looting and capturing. However Gearbox’s seemingly wilful hand-waving of Lovecraft’s views in Weapons, Love, and Tentacles offers the DLC’s story a horrible aftertaste that finally ends in a poor marketing campaign growth for Borderlands 3.

Now Taking part in: Borderlands Three Weapons, Love, & Tentacles DLC: Every little thing You Want To Know In Beneath 2 Minutes

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