Handsome Jack and Mad Moxxi are by far the most popular characters in the Borderlands universe, closely followed by the polarising Claptrap, so putting both of them in the first Borderlands 3 expansion is truly a stroke of crowd-pleasing genius by Gearbox Software.
Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot builds upon the pair's previous relationship and early on, Moxxi explains that the casino was her idea to build long before Jack stole it when the project was in its latter stages. Thinking back to the glory days of the former Hyperion boss, we know that he's not exactly a modest man but would instead do most anything to get what he wants. This fact is very apparent in the expansion and feeds the notion that Handsome Jack is the most loveable yet frustrating antagonist within the realm of gaming.
The expansion is set up like a classic casino heist and has drawn inspiration from movies with that same theme. You'll be robbing Jack's casino with the help of heist leader Moxxi and this is easier said than done. The casino is overflowing with enemies, two of the game's toughest bosses, loads of secrets, and gambling addicts whose debts have landed them in Jack's casino jail. Soon, you'll be thrown into a weird world of gang formations, strange challenges, glitter and glamour.
That said, we will say that the latter aspect comes from Handsome Jack, who hasn't exactly been shy when it comes to adorning himself as the series' main act, and there are few sequences where you won't stare a shimmering statue of Handsome Jack in the eye in the casino locale. To truly squeeze as much out of this iconic Borderlands character's charm as possible, Gearbox has spread audio logs and holograms across the map and there's a reappearance by Timothy Lawrence (for those of you who know your Borderlands lore). We could complain about Gearbox pushing the dead antagonist's legacy too hard, but instead, we chose to take it all in and take enjoyment from the fan service that's displayed for all to see through hilarious dialogue that's so daring that we assume some will find it a little repulsive and hard to swallow.
Just like previous titles in the series, Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot is a true expansion which contains heaps of new weapons and side missions spread throughout its three to four-hour story campaign.
Sadly, however, we don't think the casino aspect has been handled very well. Sure, you'll be visiting plenty of velvet-clad salons and secret VIP rooms and there are plenty of slot machines and BlackJack games on which to win or lose precious cash and loot when trying one's luck. It just feels as though the true potential has been wasted. We didn't really feel as though we were part of a heist team either, instead, we felt like we were playing a traditional Borderlands game.
The latter isn't really a downside, however. Borderlands 3 is a great game, but we would have liked to see more variety in the expansion, as that would make it clear we were jumping headfirst into a heist experience. That said, there are plenty of upsides to the DLC, such as the bosses, for example. We also think that the humour is better here than it is in the main game and, during a few sequences, we felt like we were taken back to some of the more memorable parts of Borderlands 2, which was lovely.
In the end, we wanted to hit Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot with a score of eight out of ten, but we just couldn't justify it because of two particular things. One of the reasons is the fact that the level capacity hasn't been changed. For those who managed to reach the maximum level prior to starting the expansion, there's not much to strive for other than in-game cash. It would have been nice to take one's level 50 character into the casino to level them up a bit. The other shortcoming is the fact that not many of the issues that plagued the base game have been fixed.
That said, the expansion is a solid overall experience. It's well worth your time to play through and for fans of the series, there's lots to enjoy, particularly the humour, which we thought was phenomenal. Apart from this, we know that more expansions are coming, and if this expansion sets the tone, we're all in for plenty of treats.