This is the true, angry endgame of Borderlands 2: What I think about The Raid on Digistruct Peak

Digistruct Peak loading screen

I threw a tantrum at the latest DLC for Borderlands 2, The Raid on Digistruct Peak (part of the Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2 DLC) a few days ago. I haven’t been this angry since I lost several rounds of Melty Blood to an online scrub back in 2012. I rammed my fist so hard on my computer desk, the entire table shook and the deafening thud could be heard all throughout the house, scaring my sister and parents. I had died once again, so close to the finish line, and was forced to respawn and restart the entire gauntlet from scratch.

I wanted to blame the unfair enemy combinations in Digistruct Peak, like how mechanical Surveyors are not supposed to be able to heal biological Spiderants and Rabid Skags. But the truth is, I was too reckless with my strategy. I became greedy and equipped The Bee shield in order to boost my damage, when a more tanky shield such as the Antagonist or Flame of the Firehawk would have greatly increased my Mechromancer’s survivability (and that of my Deathtrap too). I should have advanced slowly, carefully kiting enemies one by one, instead of charging in like a fool and being overconfident that my Storm Front and Rubi would keep me alive no matter what sort of damage I take.

One of my gaming buddies, who has been my co-op partner since the game was released last year, decided to go cold turkey and stop playing Borderlands 2 once he reached level 61. “The game has become an endless black hole of diminishing returns,” he said, referring to the lack of content after you had reached max level. Yes, you could tackle the raid bosses, and farm for Seraph vendor loot, but after obtaining your desired max-level equipment, there was nothing else for you to test your new weapons on — except to kill the same boring raid bosses all over again.

It seems that Gearbox has been listening to my friend’s complaints, and finally figured out a way to truly push the practical, high-end limit of Borderlands 2’s combat. Instead of making you fight an enemy with quite literally, over one billion hitpoints, you are placed in a gauntlet with multiple arenas, each with different waves of enemies to face. Think of Moxxi’s Underdome in Borderlands 1, but with new areas unlocked as you beat more waves, and you get the idea.

Complete Digistruct Peak at level 72, and you unlock Overpower Level 1 (OP1). There are a total of eight OP Levels, and each OP increases the level of the enemies you face — at OP8 for instance, level 80 enemies start appearing. Those who understand how damage scaling works in the Borderlands series should know: the higher an overleveled enemy, the more damage you take from him, and your own damage output becomes scaled down. This makes the later OP5-OP8 levels even harder and more terrifying. The tradeoff for completing an OP level, is that you can now drop OP loot, far more powerful than their vanilla level 72 versions. Yup, another black-hole cycle of farming. Except that this time, your new OP loot will be used to help you to conquer the next OP level. You can even take your OP levels back into the main game of Borderlands 2 and the rest of its DLCs.

Unlike Assault on Dragon Keep, there is very little story or character development in Digistruct Peak. Patricia Tannis is the only NPC in this DLC, explaining that she created this combat simulation to test the skills of the Crimson Raiders. She does make some offhand jokes about Lilith and Roland’s first date, and how certain enemies on Pandora originated. But none of this is vital to the narrative of Borderlands 2 — you can safely skip Digistruct Peak and not miss out on anything. If the thought of reaching the game’s max level (which is now harder because of the level 72 increase) and farming for equipment turns you off, then Digistruct Peak and the Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2 are not for you. I highly recommend saving your US$4.99 if you don’t care about OP levels, OP loot, and neverending combat.

But for the rest of the hardcore FPS/RPG fans, those who are willing to put in the effort to grind and farm, Digistruct Peak is a unique experience that no other other FPS comes close to matching. Gearbox has already succeeded in creating the world’s first MMORPGFPS, a first-person shooter with addictive RPG looting and raid bosses. Now, with Digistruct Peak, they have created the FPS equivalent of Dark Souls. It’s challenging, it’s frustrating, but it is never grossly unfair or impossible. It teaches us perseverance, tactics, and the importance of teamwork.

One noteworthy boss battle arena in Digistruct Peak stands out to me the most. It is an enclosed space, with very little places to run or hide, except for a giant pipe and fan duct. At level 72, four powerful bandits will spawn in one by one. At OP2, two of the bandits will spawn in together as a pair. At OP3, Surveyors will join in the fight, providing healing to the bandits. At OP4, the Surveyors vanish, replaced by Hyperion turrets instead. Each OP level throws up different surprises like this, and each time me and my friend would curse and swear as we both died because we didn’t know what to expect. And each time, we would restart from scratch and keep trying and trying again with a different tactic — my Assassin friend and I would take cover behind the pipes while he sniped the turrets down, and my Deathtrap would distract the bandits as soon as they spawned. My years of playing Unreal Tournament could finally be put to good use, as I had to circle strafe around the bandits, pop in and out of cover, and try to hit a moving target with 100 Anarchy stacks. All with tonnes of particles and bullets exploding on screen.

When you die in Digistruct Peak, it’s absolutely infuriating. But when you finally conquer an OP level, when you can finally kill those damned bandits with nothing more than your skills, tactics, and a bit of luck, it is the greatest feeling in the world.

The Raid on Digistruct Peak is part of the Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2, which was released on 3 September 2013. It is currently selling for US$4.99 on PC (Steam), Xbox 360, and PS3.

Have your say. Add your comments:

  • ceedoubleyou

    Bah.

  • http://nogamenotalk.com/ Edward Pang

    Your comment isn’t very helpful. Is there something wrong with my review? Speak your mind so I can address it.

  • ceedoubleyou

    Oh! No dude, I wasn’t reacting to your article (which I mostly agreed with), I was reacting to Gearbox making the Digistruct level so very very very difficult for solo players. (Though I might slightly disagree that Digistruct is “never grossly unfair.” It’s a great feeling when you get through it, but the whole time I played it, I had the overriding sense that Gearbox MEANT for it to be unfair).

  • http://nogamenotalk.com/ Edward Pang

    I see! Well, Digistruct Peak is very specifically designed to be a co-op experience. If you have at least one other friend (and one of you is a Siren), it becomes quite manageable because of the Siren’s Res skill.

    For solo-ing, I think only Maya and Gaige will stand a remote chance. Maya’s Phaselock is powerful for crowd control and perfect for keeping enemies off you. Gaige’s Deathtrap is a very useful distraction and can deal a lot of tank-spank damage if you are specced into BFF and have a Flame of the Firehawk shield.

  • ceedoubleyou

    Sadly, long ago I committed to Zero, the assassin, and he seems to be the weakest of the characters for fighting raid bosses and the like. I’m always sorta jealous when I see video of folks using Maya’s phaselock.

    Oh well, I guess I’ve done pretty well, considering (Level 72, overpowered 1). I keep playing but I think I’ve come about as far as I can on my own. Great game though. I can’t think of another game that has had so much staying power with me.

  • http://nogamenotalk.com/ Edward Pang

    With the right sniper rifle (i.e. Pimpernel, Lyuda), Zero has the ability to deal the highest ranged burst damage. I know this because I’ve played alongside my Zero friend for a long time and I am always amazed by his ridiculously fast damage output.

    Only problem is that a sniper Zero cannot take a hit to save his life, he has no proper tanking skills for that build and Deception doesn’t really help. So you really really, cannot afford to get hit at all costs. His single and most glaring weakness. That’s where having a co-op buddy will really help because someone else is there to keep the enemies off you while you focus on damage.

    I’ve seen Melee Zeros on YouTube but their style is very different from Krieg or even Salvador: they hit really hard with their melee but cannot take hits in return.

  • ceedoubleyou

    I know, Zero is best at a distance. I snipe whenever I can as I can’t seem to get the hang of playing him as a melee character. I’ve also had a lot of success with pistols; the grog nozzle and magic missile for slag with a DP Harold and a Thunderball Fist. I also usually have a Sand Hawk ready (which is awesome with the Bee but not so much without it) in case I run out of pistol ammo.

    It works pretty well much of the time, but if I get hit directly (like by a rabid skag), I’m done for.

  • HaswellCore

    Melee Zer0 is the best char for Digistr. Peak or Gunzerker

  • http://gfoppy.wordpress.com/ GFoppy

    Melee Zero is the hardest to gear up though.

  • ceedoubleyou

    I have to say that I finally stopped played Borderlands about ten months ago, but I am very pleased to know that people are still enjoying it. When I get weary of Destiny (and that moment is coming up) I’ll probably try out the pre-sequel…

    Great game!

  • sebastianboehm

    What a nice idea, to create a singleplayer game and then ask singleplayer gamers to “co-op”. I just call it unfair and unbalanced.
    There are some people out there, who do not play mulitplayer. I only have few friends (and i dont want to have more) and they have been choosen for other requirements than gaming.
    A game that is sold as singleplayer should be equally easy be playable in single player mode than in multiplayer. Sadly no review or information about this game ending in multiplayer only mode in endgame was available before purchase.
    And don’t tell me i should go multiplayer, i hate it to rely on other people to reach my goals. I love to do my things alone without all the fuck|ng effort to get others to do what i want. In the end, they want me to do something for them to or even wors, think that i am interested in wasting more time with them after i got my OP levels. :(

  • sebastianboehm

    Zero has other abilities, for example reaching the next respawn station without dealing wit most of the enemies by running fast and using his hiding skill to get past some badassh0les 😀 So he is cool for most of the game.
    But you are right, he is worse in other regards. I am also stuck in single player mode at level 72 :/

  • http://gfoppy.wordpress.com/ GFoppy

    That’s not a very fair criticism. The Borderlands series has and always been designed to be a “co-op” experience, but the main story and quests can also be easily completed in singleplayer. Same goes for Destiny.

    Only the endgame raids and Digistruct Peak were specifically designed to be co-op experiences. You can solo some of the endgame content, but that would depend on your class/equipment and your own individual skill.

    Multiplayer-centric endgames have their flaws: it requires huge time commitment from multiple players, and all it takes is one idiot to mess up the entire team’s performance. But at the end of the day, nothing is more satisfying than relying on teamwork to achieve a common goal.

    Speaking of Destiny, Bungie nailed Destiny’s endgame way better than Borderlands 2. I agree that BL2’s endgame is fundamentally flawed in many ways.

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  • studiumcirclus

    Kind of disagree with this. Poor scaling per player is just bad design. I think his criticism was fair.

    There are all different types of people in this world, some less social than others. I think it’s fair to put the emphasis on multiplayer, but to make some areas nigh impossible in single-player is just… poor, I guess.

    Some people get lots of satisfaction from teamwork. Others get more satisfaction from soloing. I don’t think its the moral duty of games dev companies to force people into a team-playing experience. Cooperating with others isn’t morally superior to being the single badass who can take things down on his own.

    Myself: I WAY prefer Digistruct Peak multiplayer and have a great co-op partner. We got to OP4 without failing once and it was awesome.

    I did try to solo OP4 when he was offline, screw that! The difficulty scaling for solo just isn’t mathematically sound – that’s a fact.

    Really I’m surprised at gearbox for such poor ‘per player’ difficulty scaling. Putting emphasis on multiplayer is no reason to have shabby, badly built single player.

    It should all be rock solid.