This text, initially posted on March 29, 2020, has been republished to amplify black voices in GameSpot’s assist of Black Lives Matter. Donate to the hassle 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 can 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 chance to take action since writing GameSpot’s Borderlands Three evaluate. The Borderlands franchise has usually had an honest observe document in the case of post-launch marketing campaign expansions after all–so I figured, “Why not?”

Nonetheless, I wasn’t significantly 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 creator’s worldview after which does nothing to handle them.

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

When this course of works, it actually works. For instance, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Hold from Borderlands 2, which sends you on a tabletop RPG journey that riffs on Dungeons & Dragons, is a enjoyable DLC, each when it comes to 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 a gorgeous however harmful girl and the planet Pandora appearing as a vault, all of which contributes to the extra fascinating points of Borderlands’ lore.

Weapons, Love, and Tentacles is a Lovecraft-themed DLC, incorporating sure points 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 rework into her beloved until you resolve to do one thing to cease the method. As Hammerlock is rendered a passive bystander for just about your complete DLC (he helps you in your quest to avoid wasting his fiance on just one event), all of the company falls to you.

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

All of it boils right 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 integrated his views on individuals of shade into his literary works. Simply take a look at his poem “On the Creation of Niggers,” which states that the gods created man and beast after which created black individuals as some unexplainable in-between creature.

His hateful opinions relating to individuals of shade prolong to his tales that cowl the occult and cosmic horror as nicely. For example, “The Horror at Pink 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 reside 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 “obligation,” seeing because the group of individuals of shade 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 signify the impure offspring of interracial {couples}.

So now, trying on the storyline of Weapons, Love, and Tentacles, you need to take into consideration 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 fairly spot-on. The 2 black males are too nugatory to assist themselves and have a love that is consistently scrutinized and questioned all through a majority of the DLC, whereas the antagonist is “purifying” their love by reworking one in all 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 rework into her husband first to ensure that the like to be real. A lot of crimson flags there, however very Lovecraft.

The issue is that Gearbox does nothing to dismiss them.

Now, I get it. It is a Borderlands sport. I do not anticipate Borderlands Three to deal with the nuanced ins-and-outs of each side of what makes a Lovecraftian story. But when your sport goes to adapt Lovecraft’s tales and incorporate the themes and messages of these tales, then you must tackle their problematic elements too. Weapons, Love, and Tentacles does not try this. Wainwright and Hammerlock do not even get the possibility 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 without doubt one of the few conditions the place Borderlands’ conventional irreverence may have been sharpley used to mock Lovecraft’s horrible views and truly tackle points together with his work, however the DLC makes no try to take action regardless of the chance.

And, after all, 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 major marketing campaign, you will have 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 provides the DLC’s story a horrible aftertaste that in the end ends in a poor marketing campaign enlargement for Borderlands 3.

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

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